In other words, Sony has a pretty great streak going on. So I was excited to see leaks of the new WH-1000XM5 begin to pop up.
Leaked images of the new headphones posted by The Walkman Blog show a design that departs significantly from Sony’s usual aesthetic. Behold:
Someone on Reddit also posted an image of what appears to be a retail unit, seemingly confirming the design and a few specifications.
For reference, here’s what the previous model looked like:
It’s a much cleaner look if you ask me. The previous design has started to look a little dated, and this new one hints at the old design while introducing a far more minimalist look.
That said, so far it doesn’t seem Sony is planning on introducing more colors, instead sticking to the black and off-white-ish silver of previous models.
Curiously, the headphones appear to be missing the extra hinges of the original, which allowed them to fold into a very compact shape. Instead, the WH-1000XM5 seems to only fold flat by turning the ear cups, as with most portable headphones.
Some users are sure to miss the more compact design, but I’ve long thought Sony’s noise-canceling headphones have felt a little flimsy (I’ve seen the hinges break on previous models). Hopefully, this new design is sturdier in the long run.
The lack of hinges allows the new headphones to have a wider and thicker headband, and they also seem to sport thicker ear padding.
Of course, whether they are actually more comfortable remains to be seen, but they do at least look cushier.
Comfort aside, thicker padding should help ensure a more consistent seal for better isolation and improved sound consistency — especially for glasses wearers and people with big hair.
Based on the leaked packaging, the headphones are sporting 30 hours of battery life, a figure that has traditionally referred to performance with ANC on. It also continues to support both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Notably, the box lists ‘’Ok Google” support, suggesting it has full-fledged hot word detection, like the Pixel Buds or Sony’s own LinkBuds, rather than forcing you to hold down a button to invoke the assistant. This makes you much more likely to actually use voice commands, in my experience.
Sony has improved its noise canceling performance with each generation, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same here. The leaked packaging shows that the headphones will continue to support Sony’s spatial audio technologies.
But I’m just as excited about rumors the headphones will be able to connect to multiple devices at once and switch between them on the fly. Previous Sony headphone have supported pairing to multiple devices, but you’d have to manually switch between them. Bluetooth 5.2 should help the headphones switch between devices quickly, depending on which is playing audio.
And that’s about it. The Walkman Blog suggests the headphones may launch in August, as that’s when the confidentiality period ends for an earlier FCC leak. But considering the onslaught of leaks — not to mention retail packing — it’s possible they could be released earlier.