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Leak: Are these Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones?

Hot on the heels of a Sonos soundbar leak, we now have what might be the very first images of Sony’s next-generation WH-1000XM5 noise-canceling headphones. The images were published by German tech blog TechnikNews, which claims to have gotten them from an unnamed retailer. The source also suggested that the timing for the announcement of the new Sony cans is imminent.

You can never say for sure when dealing with leaked images whether or not they truly represent a real product, but these pics bear all of the hallmarks of Sony’s design language, from the copper-colored accents to the sleek, understated, low-profile shape. TechnikNews has credited Sony for all of the images.

The images show us several notable design changes from the current WH-1000XM4 (which were released in 2020), like the adoption of a combined earcup fork and pivot mechanism that is reminiscent of both the Apple AirPods Max, as well as the Jabra Elite 45h. That new assembly extends into a cylinder-shaped headband slider that replaces the current flat design.

Given the almost total absence of physical buttons, it’s fair to conclude that Sony is sticking with its touch-based controls for these new cans. Other features that appear to be sticking around are a dedicated button for switching between active noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency modes, a 3.5mm jack for wired operation, and a USB-C port for charging.

Curiously, Sony seems to have moved to a physical switch for its combo power/Bluetooth pairing control from the current press-button arrangement. This could solve one of the minor annoyances we had about the XM4 model — it takes too long to power the headphones on and off because of the need to press and hold that button. A switch might make powering up and down instant.

TechnikNews doesn’t share much about the technical specs for these purported new cans, but it does claim that battery life has been increased to 40 hours with ANC turned on (10 more hours than the XM4) and that they can fully charge in 3.5 hours (30 minutes slower than the XM4).

The leak also claims that Sony will be using a new driver for this model, and that ANC will be controlled by a pair of processors, which could mean the XM5 will be even better at canceling noise.

If it’s true that Sony is about to formally announce these headphones, we’ll be sure to update this post as soon as that happens.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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