Sony WF-1000XM3 vs AirPods Pro Best True Wireless Earbuds in 2020

Ever since Apple launched the AirPods Pro late last year, there’s been plenty of debate with regards to the best true wireless earbuds out there. The competition is pretty stiff as it is given that there are multiple earbuds in this segment, including from manufacturers like Sony.

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So if you’re considering the AirPods Pro’s competitors right now, top of the list will be the Sony WF-1000XM3, which are also true wireless earbuds. So it’s only fair that we take a look at both earbuds more closely to properly understand which one is better suited for you.

So let’s take a look at our Sony WF-1000XM3 vs AirPods Pro comparison.

Sony WF-1000XM3 vs AirPods Pro Best True Wireless Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM3

Features

What’s noticeable at first glance here is that the Sony WF-1000XM3 is slightly larger than conventional wireless earbuds. But that’s a necessary adjustment that the company had to make given the amount of technology built inside.

It comes with “industry leading” digital noise cancellation using Sony’s proprietary QN1e chip, which in the company’s words provides industry-leading noise cancellation. It also uses a 24-bit audio processor to offer high-quality audio performance.

One of the features that make this stand out is the fact that Alexa comes built-in on the WF-1000XM3, allowing you to control your smart home appliances or even the lightings and cameras at home. Moreover, it offers simultaneous Bluetooth transmission to the left and right earbud for an uninterrupted listening experience.

Sony offers three sets of Triple comfort earbuds and three sets of long hybrid silicone rubber earbuds in S, M, and L sizes. Sony offers the WF-1000XM3 in two colors – Black and Silver.

The large size of the earbuds are not always a disadvantage as we’ve found. Sony is using circular glossy touch panels which can detect taps. So changing music or answering/hanging up on calls is fairly easy. What’s good about this is the fact that the company offers multiple tap combinations that can be customized from the company’s Headphones Connect app.

Pros and Cons

Any device claiming to be the best in its class is bound to have its pros and cons, and the same can be said about the Sony WF-1000XM3. These earbuds come with a pretty snug fit, although it protrudes on the outside a little too much. While this is understandable from a features perspective, it won’t look attractive to everyone.

These earbuds come with automatic ear detection using proximity sensors. This basically means the music or audio will stop playing when you simply remove one of the earbuds. This is an excellent feature and something that many consider vital for true wireless earbuds.

However, the earbuds make up for this with its impeccable audio quality as well as battery life. Sony offers a wireless charging case with the WF-1000XM3 which can keep the earbuds running for around 24 hours. Further, a quick 10-minute charge can fetch you 90 minutes of usage, making this a truly powerful device. These earbuds can run for up to 6 hours at a time, which is fairly decent considering the competition.

We also like the fact that it has a dedicated ambient sound mode to help you hear what’s going on around you. In addition to this, and a lot of other earbuds related controls can be accessed from Sony’s Headphones Connect app which also lets you customize the name of your headphones and check battery levels among other things.

What’s also special about these earbuds is the fact that they come with adaptive sound control which can automatically detect your activity and switch to ambient sound mode in an instant. Thankfully, this feature can be turned off from the Settings, so it’s not forced upon the users.

Barring the fact that it may look slightly bigger on your ear, the Sony WF-1000XM3 also has one major concern to consider. Despite fitting into the ear comfortably, it does have a tendency to fall off your ear every now and then. This probably won’t happen to everyone but is still a factor to consider when you’re buying true wireless earbuds. It offers excellent noise cancellation, and thanks to the aforementioned battery life and fast charging capabilities, you can be assured that these are the only headphones you need. As you probably guessed, these earbuds work on both Android and iOS platforms with dedicated apps for both.

What I consider to be a major negative with the Sony WF-1000XM3 is the fact that it doesn’t support wireless charging. Its case can only be charged with a USB C cable, although Sony is kind enough to offer a charging cable with the retail packaging.

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AirPods Pro

Features

So the Sony WF-1000XM3s are pretty great, but what about the AirPods Pro? Well, Apple is struggling to keep up with the demand for these earbuds, mostly due to production hurdles it’s currently facing. However, this doesn’t change the fact that a lot of fans are flocking to buy Apple’s latest and greatest earbuds.

A variation on the original AirPods, the AirPods Pro adds a game-changing feature – Active Noise Cancellation or ANC. This puts in the league of several other earbuds as well as headphones. Given the convenience of the Apple ecosystem, and the changes that Apple made to iOS with AirPods Pro, these earbuds are definitely more attractive than any other ANC earbuds out there, particularly if you own an iPhone.

It runs on Apple’s custom H1 chip, which has been developed specifically to provide features like Transparency Mode as well as noise cancellation in general. Additionally, the AirPods Pro supports AAC codecs that provide lag-free and high-quality audio streaming.

Thanks to features like Transparency Mode, the AirPods Pro can instantly switch from canceling out ambient noise to giving you clear audio of whatever is happening around you. The company uses two microphones with one positioned on the outside for this purpose. This outward-facing microphone can also detect external noise to analyze the noise in your surroundings.

AirPods Pro users can use gestures as well, although they’re slightly different in terms of functionality. Since there’s practically no space to swipe on a surface, Apple offers a squeeze gesture which can be remapped by going to your iPhone’s Bluetooth menu and tapping the “i” next to the AirPods Pro. Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t appear to exist when used with Android devices.

Pros and Cons

The AirPods Pro comes with something known as Adaptive EQ which can automatically adjust to the shape of your ear. These earbuds work spectacularly well with Apple devices including iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Just like Sony’s offering, Apple also offers automatic ear detection, so the two are not too dissimilar in many regards.

This also means that setting up your AirPods Pro can be done in a matter of seconds on Apple devices. However, the story is entirely different if you’re an Android user. While you can set up the AirPods Pro with an Android smartphone, it won’t offer most of the features that we talked about above, including Transparency Mode.

Apple claims that the wireless charging case can deliver “more than” 24 hours of battery life. This claim is mostly true, although you also have to factor in the amount of time spent to recharge your earbuds from time to time. It is said that the AirPods Pro can last for around five hours, while some say it lasts for even lesser time sometimes. This is a major disadvantage if you’re looking to use features like ANC on a noisy flight. However, on other occasions, ANC can work like magic on the AirPods Pro, and the inclusion of Transparency Mode helps a great deal as well, provided you are an iPhone user.

The AirPods Pro also comes with features like “Hey Siri” (also limited to iPhones) which allows you to request to send a message, make a call or just ask a general query via Siri. The aforementioned dual microphones also do an excellent job of handling phone calls. Voice clarity is crystal clear on both ends, and this is thanks largely to the beamforming microphones. It’s quite evident that the AirPods Pro is significantly ahead of Sony’s offering in this regard.

One thing that definitely has to be considered here is comfort. The AirPods Pro is by far, the most comfortable set of earbuds you can buy. Additionally, the soft ear tips that Apple offers complement the entire earbuds pretty well. However, unlike Sony, Apple doesn’t offer two different sets of ear tips, sticking to just three soft touch silicone tips to fit practically any ear in large, medium and small sizes. We feel Apple could’ve done more here given what Sony provides with its offering.

Despite the shortcomings in the battery department, the AirPods Pro does have one big advantage – wireless charging. This means if you have a Qi wireless charging mat at your disposal, all you have to do is place the AirPods Pro case on it and let it charge. But if you don’t have a wireless charger, you will be limited to charging the case via the Lightning port. Thankfully, much like Sony, Apple offers a Lightning to USB C cable to charge the case in that manner.

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Verdict

It’s clear that the AirPods Pro is an instant choice for the thousands of Apple users out there. However, the choice can be a little more complex. When it comes down to aspects like battery life, there’s really no beating the Sony WF-1000XM3. In all accounts, the Sony earbuds offer around 2.5 to 3 hours of additional battery life, which can be crucial in several situations.

But what if you’re an Apple iPhone user and simply don’t care about the additional battery life? Well, then the AirPods Pro is a more sensible choice for you simply because of the iOS-exclusive features it offers. Moreover, it’s perfectly suited for your morning jogs as well as a commute on public transport. Noise cancellation works marginally better on the Sony offering, but it’s barely distinguishable to the human ear, so you probably won’t be able to tell the difference anyway.

What’s also immediately noticeable to customers is the fact that the Sony charging case is significantly bigger than Apple’s offering. This can also be a major factor as Apple’s variant is clearly more portable. Though it has its downsides, we feel the AirPods Pro is the earbuds for all seasons, especially if you own an iPhone. Is this an upgrade over the standard AirPods? Yes, and the fit is much better too.

So who should get the Sony WF-1000XM3? Well, I would say this is the best option for Android users. This is particularly because of the lackluster Android support with the AirPods Pro. While you can pair and unpair just as easily as on an iPhone, these earbuds lack a lot of features as we’ve discussed above, while you also won’t be able to modify the sound too much, which is something that third-party EQ apps on Android can do for you.

Keeping this in mind, we can comfortably recommend the Sony WF-1000XM3 for Android users considering the features it comes with. As a bonus, you also get superior sound quality in comparison to the AirPods Pro, as well as marginally better noise cancellation. Furthermore, Sony’s companion app for the earbuds is also available on the iTunes App Store with the ability to control features like Adaptive Sound Control. As we’ve already talked about above, the WF-1000XM3 also comes with superior noise-canceling tech underneath.

However, Apple doesn’t have an app for Android users, which means you can solely pair it with your device from the Bluetooth settings and not do much else. This is a major disadvantage that Apple faces, although the company will probably defend itself saying that the AirPods Pro was only meant to work with Apple devices.

So there you have it. While both earbuds are excellent in their own right, it comes down to what mobile platform you’re going to use it on. If you own an iPhone, the AirPods Pro is an instant choice, while Android users will feel much more comfortable with the Sony WF-1000XM3.

ProductBrandNamePrice
AppleApple AirPods ProCheck Price on Amazon
SonySony WF-1000XM3Check Price on Amazon

* If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.