Sony WF-XB700: More bass, no ANC

Sony’s WF-1000XM3 truly wireless in-ear headphones are my favourite truly wireless headphones, hands down. Its deadly combination of great sound, great noise cancellation, great fit and great price is a recipe to be reckoned with. So far, I haven’t found a pair I’ve liked more. Then, Sony launched a new pair of headphones in their WF-series. They’re called the WF-XB700, and looking at it, I find it very hard to justify buying these headphones over the already excellent WF-1000XM3.

Now, if you’re familiar with Sony’s headphone product naming scheme, you’ll probably know that they have some of the most terrible product names in the business. But, you will also probably recognise the moniker “XB” which is in reference to the company’s Xtra Bass line of headphones. So, with a product like the WF-XB700, you already know that it’s all about that bass.

Besides that, the headphones also have a much sleeker design than the chunky WF-1000XM3. They’re a little weird-looking but the overall aesthetic is pretty clean. I am a little disappointed that the headphones don’t have touch controls and instead rely on buttons. But, the buttons have been cleverly placed at the side of the earbud, so you sort of pinch them to control them, which I think is a better implementation.

The more conventional way requires that you press the button by pressing the earbud into your ear like the Redmi Airdots. If the button is stiff, that can actually hurt and change the headphone’s position in your ear—which is something I hate.

On top of that, these headphones also come with IPX4 water resistance. Now, water resistance has been something people have been really upset about with the Sony WF-1000XM3 because those don’t have any advertised water or splash resistance. With an IPX4, Sony says you should be fine with sweat and splashes.

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However, that’s where the good news pretty much ends. The rest of it feels a lot more like a watered down WF-1000XM3. For starters, total battery life has been shaved significantly down. While the WF-1000XM3 could do 32 hours with ANC off and 24 hours with ANC on, these WF-XB700 tops out at 18 hours. But, the upside is that out of case standalone battery life is up to 9 hours with these, which is a solid 3 hours more than the WF-1000XM3.

That said, this could be down to the fact that the WF-XB700 doesn’t have active noise cancellation (ANC). I know right? Super bummer. What’s more, the materials that have been used to make this look way less premium than the ones on the WF-1000XM3. In a sense, it looks a lot more like what they did with the WH-XB900N over-ear headphones. I will say that it could feel really good, but I can’t really confirm that through photos. The case will definitely be less premium though.

And finally, there’ the price. The Sony WF-XB700 are priced at USD129.99, which translates to about RM565. If you’ve been paying attention to the sale price of the WF-1000XM3, then you’ll know that these two devices are actually currently priced very similarly.

With that in mind, for someone like me, I don’t really see a reason to pick up the WF-XB700 over the WF-1000XM3. The latter already has a great bass and a nice warm and full sound, plus ANC, longer total battery life, and touch controls. Personally, I think if there was any more bass it would be too much, but then again I’m not a bass head. I am also not someone who finds myself frequently caught in the rain with my headphones in, nor am I a particularly active person. So far, I haven’t been able to damage my headphones with sweat yet, so there’s that.

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But, let me know what you think of these headphones. Currently, there’s no information on the Malaysian pricing just yet, but if we hear about it I’ll let you know.