Sony WH-1000XM5 leak shows off sleek new design for flagship headphones

Sony’s WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones have been one of the best options since their debut in 2020, but it looks like the company is gearing up to release the next generation. German technology news site TechnikNews published some pictures and specs of the successor, apparently called the WH-1000XM5 (Going through Gizmodo).

The first thing you might notice is a sleek new design, specifically a slimmer headband. The 1000XM3 and 1000XM4 were nearly identical, but Sony could change the look of the new 1000XM5s.

Instead of a wrapped arm that pivots, the arm is exposed, with a single point of contact replacing the XM4’s larger folding hinge on the ear cups. It also changes the design of the ear cups, but suggests a bit more space is available for elements that affect what you hear.

This arm feels thinner than the previous design and could contribute to a lighter weight that hopefully doesn’t give up strength and durability. Like Gizmodo underlines (via Notebookcheck and The Walkman’s Blog), filings from the FCC and other regulators outlining a new model were spotted in February. A key element revealed is that the FCC labeling has been moved from the headband itself to under an ear pad, which The Walkman’s Blog speculated could mean the band is now made of metal instead of plastic.

Picture: TechnikNews

Photos of the leaked models in their carrying cases show a design that ditches the collapsible fold of the XM4 that slid one cup into the other. Yet in these images, it seems unlikely that they’ll take up much more room on a desk, stand, or in your bag.

According to TechnikNews retail source, the WH-1000XM5 will have an estimated battery life of up to 40 hours with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), 10 hours longer than the XM4, with a total charge time of 3.5 hours via USB- C, about 30 minutes longer than the XM4. They also report that it will use two processors for ANC instead of one, and audio will be produced by a new driver, although there are no details on what has changed. They still sport three microphones to pick up your voice and detect noise to cancel it, but the positioning has changed.

The button previously labeled “Custom” is in the same place as before but now labeled NC/Ambient, which probably reflects what most people use it for, rather than built-in voice assistants or something else.

Last year’s model iterated on its award-winning predecessor with “Speak to Chat,” which silences the music if it hears you trying to talk to someone, and multipoint Bluetooth audio that stayed connected to more one device at a time. This last feature was much more useful, although it had some issues at launch. Software updates have helped it run better, but any improvements to help the headphones decide which device to connect to and when would be welcome.

There’s no word on pricing or a release date, but the WH-1000XM4 cost $349.99 at launch, and retailers like best buy and Amazon maintain this price today. The price of earphones has sometimes dropped during the sales which Verge Deals indicates when they appear, and it’s not clear whether changes in a new model will move the bar in any direction.

Abdul J. Gaspar