Sony finally unveiled the successor of the XM4 wireless headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM5. Before the announcement, a few leaks suggested that Sony would unveil the XM5 headphones alongside the new Sony LinkBuds S, but it looks like the company needed a week to take the spotlight off of its new flagship headphones. The new LinkBuds S is finally here.
The Sony LinkBuds S has ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) and Ambient mode to help you hear your surroundings and cancel out noise in noisy and loud environments. The new wireless earbuds cost $200, and each earbud weighs only 4.8 g. The earbuds support Sony’s high-quality LDAC Bluetooth codec for a better sounding experience, but the earbuds themselves are more of a traditional earbud, as opposed to the previously announced Sony LinkBuds open ear earbuds.
Sony says that the “Link” part in the name stands for can link your outside and digital life with impressive features that make the transition seamless (via TheVerge). While it features the ambient mode that can be found on the original LinkBuds earbuds, it’s a completely different set of earbuds.
The earbuds feature a 5mm audio driver, and the sound quality is said to be improved a lot compared to other high-end and premium Sony wireless earbuds. When it comes to battery life, Sony says that it can last for up to six hours with ANC on, and nine hours with ANC turned off. The case can provide an additional 20 hours of playback. The charging case takes up to three hours to be fully charged via a USB-C port on the back. There’s no wireless charging.
The new LinkBuds S is also IPX4 rated, which means that it can survive some splashes of water, rain, and sweat, making it ideal for gym users who want to take advantage of ANC and the ambient mode features. The earbuds are available in three colors, Black, Desert Sand (Cream), and White. The earbuds start at $200, and are already available at Amazon and BestBuy. The Desert Sand color appears to be exclusively available at BestBuy.
Sony LinkBuds S
The new Sony LinkBuds S comes with an up to 6 hours of battery life, and 20 hours with the charging case. It features ANC and Ambient Sound features, and it has a noticeable improvement in sound quality compared to other competitive wireless earbuds.
Premium price doesn’t mean premium features
It might seem silly, but at $200 the Sony LinkBuds S isn’t just a standard cheap pair of wireless earbuds. The higher price tag means that it packs more features, and while the sound quality is said to be improved, and the ANC, Ambient Mode and microphone are all praised by early reviews, we must highlight the fact that wireless earbuds must have wireless charging capabilities at this price tag.
Wireless charging is a deal-breaker for me, and I could look past that feature for the traditional LinkBuds that cost slightly less, but it’s hard to overlook it for the LinkBuds S. I only ever charge my wireless audio gear with a cable when I’m in a hurry and they’re out of juice. Cable is faster and more efficient, but wireless charging allows me to throw them on the charging pad during the day and forget about it until I use them, usually at night or late evenings.
If the original LinkBuds and the LinkBuds S were both about $30 cheaper, it could easily be said that it’s to save on costs, but at $200, it’s an entirely different story. Let’s hope that the next generation of these two earbuds will get wireless charging.
I was excited to try these out for their seemingly superior Ambient mode, and while I’m still going to try and take it for a spin, I highly doubt they’ll become my new go-to wireless earbuds, unless the sound quality and overall set of features amaze me to the point that I no longer care about the deal-breaking wireless charging feature.
Sony LinkBuds S alternatives
Depending on your needs, you might be disappointed about the lack of wireless charging, but you might also not understand what this person is complaining about, after all, it’s not something that you might be using and relying on a day-to-day basis, as I do. That’s a fair point, but here are a few alternatives that cost roughly about the same price and come with the feature, making the Linkbuds S a hard to recommend, unless the Sony audio quality, great microphone, and excellent ANC/Ambient features are what you’re after.
Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds
Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds have one of the best noise-canceling features on the market today, and it has excellent audio drivers that deliver crisp and clear sound.
Apple AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro offers Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode to hear the world around you, and Adaptive EQ to fine-tune audio to your ears. The earbuds are sweat and water-resistant and last up to 6-hours on a single charge.
The new TWS Sony LinkBuds come with a unique ring-like open-ear design that lets you listen to your favorite music, and hear your surround sound. It doesn't have wireless charging, unlike other earbuds on this list.
Nothing Ear (1)
Excellent pair of wireless earbuds in a unique transparent design and great battery life. Nothing Ear (1) is also compatible with both Android and iOS, and packs all of the features that you're looking for in wireless earbuds at this price point.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Galaxy Buds 2 are the latest TWS product from Samsung, which promises a great listening experience with ANC in a new lightweight design. At $149.99, it is hard to ignore them, especially if you already own a smartphone from Samsung.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro has impressive ANC and Ambient Mode features, supports wireless charging, and comes with overall OK battery life. They pair well with Samsung smartphones, as well as other Android devices and even iPhones.