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Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2: Which earbuds to get?

Both bring their A game, but only one can be the best.
By

Published onMarch 15, 2024

Sony WF-1000XM5
MSRP: $299.99
Check price
Positives
Excellent noise canceling and isolation
Microphones effectively suppress background noise during calls
Comfortable memory foam ear tips (XS-L)
Great mobile app with custom EQ
Long battery life with ANC on
Negatives
Earbuds can jostle loose when running
Touch controls are a tad sensitive
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
MSRP: $249.00
Check price
Positives
Effective ANC
Great sound quality
Great auto-wear detection
Water-resistant buds and case
USB-C charging
Good fit with four ear tip options
Negatives
Many Apple-exclusive features
No way to customize the EQ without third-party app

Sony makes some of the best active noise canceling (ANC) headphones and earbuds around, and the WF-1000XM5 are its latest earbuds. In today’s market, many wireless earbuds have certain features exclusive to specific devices, but Sony’s earbuds work just as well on Android as they do on iOS. Today, we are pitting the Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2 to see which flagship buds are best for your lifestyle.

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2: At a glance

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and WF-1000XM5 are similar in many ways, but there are key differences to consider:

  • The WF-1000XM5 retail for $299, while the AirPods Pro 2 come in cheaper at $249.
  • There is no official AirPods app for Android, but the Sony Headphones Connect app works on iOS and Android.
  • Anyone can equalize the Sony WF-1000XM5, but there's no Apple-sanctioned method of changing the AirPods' sound profile.
  • The Sony WF-1000XM5 cancel out more sub-bass frequency noise than the AirPods Pro 2.
  • The AirPods Pro 2 case has an IP54 water and dust-resistant rating, while the WF-1000XM5 case lacks water and dust resistance.
  • The WF-1000XM5 have a standard earbud design, and the AirPods Pro 2 feature short stems.

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs AirPods Pro 2: Specs

Sony WF-1000XM5Apple AirPods Pro 2
Bluetooth codecs and audio
Sony WF-1000XM5
Bluetooth 5.3
SBC, AAC, LDAC
LE audio
DSEE Extreme upscaling
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Bluetooth 5.3
SBC, AAC
Water resistance
Sony WF-1000XM5
Earbuds: IPX4 water-resistant build
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Earbuds: IP54 (2023)
Case: IP54 (2023)
Earbuds: IPX4
Case: IPX4
Battery
Sony WF-1000XM5
Earbuds, ANC on: 8 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC on: 24 hours
Earbuds, ANC off: 12 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC off: 36 hours
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Earbuds, ANC on: 6 hours
Earbuds, personalized Spatial Audio and head tracking: 5.5 hours
Case and earbuds, ANC on: up to 30 hours
Charging
Sony WF-1000XM5
USB-C
Wireless
Fast charging
Apple AirPods Pro 2
USB-C (2023 case)
Lightning
MagSafe
Wireless
Fast charging
Audio hardware
Sony WF-1000XM5
8.4mm dynamic driver (aka Dynamic Driver X)
Six-microphone array
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Custom high-excursion Apple driver
Custom high dynamic range amplifier
Vent system for pressure equalization
Dual beamforming microphones
Inward-facing microphone
Sensors
Sony WF-1000XM5
Bone conduction sensor
Motion-detecting accelerometer
Proximity sensor
Touch control
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Force sensor
Motion-detecting accelerometer
Skin-detect sensor
Speech-detecting accelerometer
Touch control
Chipset
Sony WF-1000XM5
QN2e chip
V2 processor
Apple AirPods Pro 2
H2 (earbuds)
U1 (case)
Spatial audio
Sony WF-1000XM5
Personalized 360 Reality Audio
Head tracking
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Personalized Apple Spatial Audio with head tracking
Features
Sony WF-1000XM5
Adaptive Sound Control
Ambient Sound Control
Automatic wear detection
Ear tip fit test
Google Fast Pair
Mono mode
Multipoint connectivity
Speak-to-Chat
Swift Pair
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Automatic wear detection
Automatic switching across iCloud devices
Battery optimization
Conversation Boost
Ear tip fit test
Listen Live audio
Headphone levels
Headphone Accommodations
Mono mode

Upcoming, fall 2023:
Adaptive Audio
Conversation Awareness
Mute/unmute
Personalized Volume
Noise canceling
Sony WF-1000XM5
Yes
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Yes
Ambient sound mode
Sony WF-1000XM5
Yes
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Yes, Adaptive Transparency
Ear tip selection
Sony WF-1000XM5
XS, S, M, L
Apple AirPods Pro 2
XS, S, M, L
Release date
Sony WF-1000XM5
July 24, 2023
Apple AirPods Pro 2
September 23, 2022
Price
Sony WF-1000XM5
$299.99
Apple AirPods Pro 2
$249

Let’s get right to the point: the Apple AirPods Pro 2 are $50 cheaper than the Sony WF-1000XM5. On its face, the price difference makes it seem like the AirPods Pro 2 are the better value, but that’s only if you own an iPhone. Apple locks its software features down to its operating systems. Pairing the AirPods Pro 2 to an Android phone works, but you miss out on many features. On the other hand, the Sony WF-1000XM5 offer an OS-agnostic experience across devices, which could make the extra $50 worth it.

Sony WF 1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation cases open iPhone Asus Zenfone.jpg
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

The WF-1000XM5 work with the Sony Headphones Connect app, freely available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. This app lets you customize specific touch controls, toggle automatic wear detection on and off, and enable multipoint connectivity. With multipoint, you can connect the WF-1000XM5 to two devices at once. I like this feature because it lets me engage in a video chat from my laptop while remaining aware of incoming phone calls. Notably, Sony’s app also hosts a five-band custom equalizer and a selection of EQ presets to affect the sound freely, which is something you don’t get with the AirPods Pro 2.

As of October 2023, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and Sony WF-1000XM5 come with Speak-to-Chat features. This lets you hold a conversation without removing the earbuds. Both earbuds host Adaptive Sound Control features, which adjust the ANC and ambient aware modes depending on your environment and activity. Additionally, the AirPods Pro 2 boast Personalised Volume, which adjusts the media volume based on your environment by studying your listening preferences over time.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 are great for Android phone or iPhone owners, while the AirPods Pro 2 are best for iPhones.

The WF-1000XM5 and AirPods Pro 2 pause music when you remove and resume music when you wear them. Both sets of buds also have mono playback with the left or right earbud. The AirPods Pro 2 support “Hey, Siri,” and the WF-1000XM5 let you say, “Ok, Google,” or “Alexa” if they’re set up on your device. You get personalized spatial audio with head tracking no matter which buds you buy, but Sony’s works on any OS, whereas you need an iPhone to use these head tracking features with the AirPods Pro 2. However, spatial audio itself works with any device and streaming service that offers it.

To locate the earbuds, you’ll need the Google Find My Device app for the WF-1000XM5 and the Apple Find My app for the AirPods Pro 2. Apple one-ups other companies with its carrying case, which you can separately locate through the Find My app. The AirPods Pro 2 case even has a speaker that emits a sound when you prompt it. This has helped me find it under a pile of (clean) laundry many times.

You won’t mistake the Apple AirPods Pro 2 for the WF-1000XM5. Apple’s earbuds have short, contoured stems that let you control the listening experience with squeezes and swipes. In contrast, the WF-1000XM5 have a rounded shape and support touch controls. Thankfully, Apple and Sony let you adjust the volume from either set of buds.

Sony and Apple’s earbuds resist omnidirectional water splashes so you can use them for working out. However, the updated AirPods Pro 2 and charging case post-September 22, 2023 come equipped with an IP54 water and dust-resistant rating, which the WF-1000XM5 lacks.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 come in silver or black, and the AirPods Pro 2 come in white.

WF-1000XM5 vs AirPods Pro 2: Noise canceling

Sony WF 1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation hands hold earbuds
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

The Sony WF-1000XM5 have better sub-bass noise canceling than the AirPods Pro 2. Extremely low frequencies (<70Hz), like airplane engines, will sound quieter through Sony’s buds than Apple’s. However, Apple’s earbuds exceed Sony’s when canceling midrange frequencies like the drone of a dishwasher.

If you need your earbuds to block out high-frequency content like chatty cubicle mates and clacking keyboards, the WF-1000XM5 beat the AirPods Pro 2. Sony’s memory foam ear tips make a world of difference, essentially muting ambient sounds. Apple’s silicone ear tips also block background noise with ANC off, but it’s less effective than memory foam.

The WF-1000XM5 cancel extremely low frequencies better than the AirPods Pro 2.

When it comes to ANC, we’re splitting hairs. Both earbuds are great companions for long-haul travel and morning commutes. I’ve taken a handful of international flights with my AirPods Pro 2. After deplaning, Apple’s flagship buds always impress me with how well they hush my surroundings, and the WF-1000XM5 are that much better.

Sony WF 1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation comparison ANC attenuation performance chart

To get technical, look at the Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2 comparison chart above from our sister site SoundGuys. The cyan line represents the WF-1000XM5, and the dashed pink link represents the AirPods Pro 2. The higher the line, the more the earbuds quiet a specific frequency. As you can see, the AirPods Pro 2 line is higher than the WF-1000XM5 line from 150-1,000Hz, covering those aforementioned midrange frequencies. Meanwhile, the Sony earbuds cancel and block out more noise from 20-70Hz and 1-11kHz.

You’ll need to select the appropriately sized ear tip to get the best performance.

WF-1000XM5 vs AirPods Pro 2: Sound quality

Sony WF 1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation cases earbuds iPhone Asus Zenfone
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have similar sound quality, with Sony’s buds adding a touch more bass than Apple’s. No matter your music tastes, both sets of buds will make your favorite tracks sound good.

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) have a modest bass boost and tempered treble emphasis. When I listen to pop and hip-hop, kick drums have an expected impact without making it hard to hear vocals and guitar notes. Further, cymbal crashes and shakers come through clearly in songs like “Detroit Basketball” by the Bad Bad Hats. The WF-1000XM5 make bass and treble frequencies a bit louder.

Sound quality is neck and neck between these earbuds, but Sony's sound is a bit bassier than Apple's.

Sony makes changing how the WF-1000XM5 sound easy with its custom EQ in the Headphones Connect app. Apple has Adaptive EQ, which is always on, no matter what device you use. Adaptive EQ equalizes the bass and mids in real-time for consistent audio quality in any listening condition. Sony doesn’t have a comparable feature.

Sony WF 1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation comparison frequency response chart

We can visualize how similar these earbuds sound in our Sony WF-1000XM5 vs AirPods Pro 2 frequency response chart. The cyan and yellow, dotted lines represent Sony and Apple’s buds, respectively. The pink link represents SoundGuys‘ Headphone Preference Curve — SoundGuys is our audio-focused sister site. As you can see, both earbuds hew close to SoundGuys‘ curve, but the AirPods Pro 2 are a bit closer through the bass and midrange frequencies.

Again, both sets of buds sound great. The casual listener will have to strain to hear the difference between the WF-1000XM5 and AirPods Pro 2.

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs AirPods Pro 2: Microphone quality

Sony improved microphone performance from the WF-1000XM4 to the WF-1000XM5, using three mics per earbud and an AI-based noise reduction algorithm. Unfortunately, our WF-1000XM5 pre-production unit doesn’t have microphone quality that accurately represents the WF-1000XM5. We’ll update this section with microphone samples when we get a market-ready unit.

To give you an idea of how the microphones compare, we’ve added the Sony WF-1000XM4 mic sample. This is the baseline for what we expect the WF-1000XM5 to sound like. You can compare this to the AirPods Pro 2, which sound clear in ideal conditions but suppresses the speaker’s voice now and then.

Sony WF-1000XM4 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sony WF-1000XM4 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Office conditions):

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2: Battery and charging

Sony WF 1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation case charging ports
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

According to Sony, the WF-1000XM5 last eight hours on a single charge with ANC on, and the case provides an extra 16 hours of ANC listening. Apple states that the AirPods Pro 2 last six hours with ANC on, and the case supplies an extra 30 hours of ANC usage.

According to our testing, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) last five hours and 43 minutes with ANC on, which is close to what Apple claims. According to testing carried out by our sister site SoundGuys, the WF-1000XM5 last over nine hours on a single charge with ANC on. This is nearly two hours more than the battery life of their predecessor, the WF-1000XM4 earbuds.

Although Apple’s standalone playtime falls short of Sony’s, the AirPods Pro 2 use battery optimization when paired with an iPhone. This feature extends the life of your AirPods Pro 2. It preserves the battery life by preventing the earbuds from charging past 80%. The case will only charge the earbuds to 100% right before the software (iOS 15/iPadOS15 or later) predicts you’ll use the buds. This feature works reliably if you have a predictable daily commute and listen to music on the train.

Although the WF-1000XM5 boast a longer battery life, Apple's AirPods Pro 2 case supplies more on-the-go power.

Fast-charging the AirPods Pro 2 for five minutes or the WF-1000XM5 for three minutes yields one hour of playtime. Sony and Apple’s cases support Qi wireless charging, but only Apple’s case works with MagSafe charging pads. To charge the WF-1000XM5 case wired, you can use a USB-C cable. Likewise, as of 22 September 2023, the AirPods Pro 2 case charges via USB-C.

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2: Price

  • Sony WF-1000XM5: $299 / CA$429 / £259 / €320
  • Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation): $249 / CA$329 / £249 / €299

The Sony WF-1000XM5 cost $299, and the AirPods Pro 2 cost $249. There’s no way around it: Sony’s earbuds are expensive. Unfortunately, tier-one companies are inching closer to the $300 mark. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 ($249 at Amazon) and Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 ($299 at Amazon) also debuted for $299. Fortunately, Sony and Apple’s earbuds have historically gone on sale around various holidays. We’ve seen the AirPods Pro 2 drop to $199, and the last-gen Sony WF-1000XM4 ($278 at Amazon) go on promotion for $178.

WF-1000XM5 vs AirPods Pro 2: Which earbuds should you buy?

Sony WF 1000XM5 vs Apple AirPods Pro 2nd generation hands hold comparison
Harley Maranan / Android Authority

Even though they’re more expensive, the Sony WF-1000XM5 are a better value for Android phone owners. With Sony’s latest earbuds, you get a host of features through the Headphones Connect app; keen among them is a custom equalizer. Sony’s ANC is slightly better than Apple’s when it comes to reducing extra-low frequencies, and the memory foam ear tips offer a more individualized fit than Apple’s silicone tips. The biggest drawback of the WF-1000XM5 is that the buds protrude from our ears much more than the AirPods Pro 2.

While we love Sony’s latest buds, the fact remains: the AirPods Pro 2 are the best earbuds for iPhone owners. Seamlessly switching between Apple devices is a cinch with the AirPods Pro 2, and battery optimization means the earbuds will outlast the competition. I prefer Apple’s force sensor controls to touch controls and think the AirPods Pro 2 are easier to operate when exercising. Further, the AirPods Pro 2 sound slightly better than the WF-1000XM5. Remember, though, you can tailor how Sony’s buds sound, and to do the same with Apple’s you need a third-party app.

Which earbuds would you rather own?

90 votes

Frankly, the Sony WF-1000XM5 and AirPods Pro 2 are at the top of their class. I highly recommend that Android phone owners save up for the Sony WF-1000XM5 over the AirPods Pro 2 because you get much more functionality out of Sony’s earphones. iPhone owners have a more difficult decision ahead: both sets of earbuds are full of features on iOS. Sony gives you more control, while Apple gives you a smoother experience. The choice is yours.

See price at Amazon
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Impressive ANC
Comfortable fit
Wireless charging
See price at Amazon
Sony WF-1000XM5
1%off
Sony WF-1000XM5
Great ANC
Improved sound quality
Comfortable fit with four ear tip options

FAQs

When it comes to Android, the Sony WF-1000XM5 are likely to be a better companion than the AirPods Pro 2. However, iOS fans may wish to consider the WF-1000XM5, Nothing Ear 2 ($149 at Amazon), or Beats Fit Pro ($159 at Amazon.)

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and Apple AirPods Pro 2 are some of the best earbuds on the market. However, the WF-1000XM5 have better sub-bass noise cancellation, a native custom EQ, and a bassier sound profile. The AirPods Pro 2 substitute greater customization for a smoother user experience and seamless integration with iOS devices. Ultimately, what constitutes the best earbuds is subjective based on your bespoke needs.

Yes, the WF-1000XM5 plays very nicely with iPhones. The OS-agnostic Sony Headphones Connect app allows users to customize touch controls, toggle automatic wear detection, and enable multipoint connectivity. It also hosts a five-band custom equalizer and a selection of EQ presets, as well as spatial audio with head tracking.

The AirPods Pro 2 will sound better to most listeners than the Sony WF-1000XM4. However, much like the XM5, Sony’s earbuds have greater audio customization through the Sony Headphones Connect app than Apple provides with the AirPods Pro 2. For example, Sony fans can make use of a five-band custom EQ, customizable touch controls, and toggle Bluetooth Multipoint with the WF-1000XM4 earbuds. Sony’s XM4 earbuds also last two hours longer on a single charge than Apple’s AirPods Pro 2. Nevertheless, the AirPods Pro 2 are an excellent companion for iPhone users.

Technically speaking, the Sony WF-1000XM5 has a slight edge over the AirPods Pro 2 when it comes to noise canceling. However, the AirPods Pro 2 are still able to attenuate frequencies by up to 35dB.

Yes, both the Sony WF-1000XM5 and AirPods Pro 2 cases have wireless charging, but only the AirPods Pro 2 case is MagSafe-compatible.

The AirPods Pro 2 work with Android, but you don’t get all the same features that you do when paired to an iPhone. Using the AirPods with an Android phone means you miss out on things like personalized spatial audio with head tracking, battery optimization, and automatic device switching.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 support multipoint connectivity for two simultaneous connections — a feature the AirPods Pro 2 lack.

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