Sony's AirPods Max beaters are here — the WH-1000XM5 headphones cost $399

Sony Wh 1000xm5 Headphones Black And White
Sony Wh 1000xm5 Headphones Black And White (Image credit: Sony)

What you need to know

  • Sony has announced the new WH-1000XM5 ANC headphones.
  • The new headphones will go on sale on May 20 for $399.99.
  • The current WH-1000XM4 will remain on sale for $349.99.

After all the rumors Sony's new WH-1000XM5 headphones are official. They'll go on sale on May 20 for $399.00 and come in two colors with what is sure to be world-beating noise cancelation technology.

The new headphones come with the same 30-hour battery life as the previous WH-1000XM4 models but the array of eight microphones and two processors should enable the industry-leading active noise cancelation technology to be even better than before. Early reviews suggest that's the case, although the built-in transparency mode is said to be found lacking beside Apple's $550 AirPods Max.

In terms of construction, the WH-1000XM5 do look more modern than the models that came before, but that comes at a price. The headphones no longer fold, making them just as cumbersome to travel with as AirPods Max. Still, Sony seems happy with its choice and the switch to synthetic soft-fit leather is sure to be a popular one.

For those familiar with the iconic design of the WH-1000X series, the WH-1000XM5 introduces a beautifully crafted evolution in the style for the range. An all-new noiseless design is beautifully finished in a newly developed soft fit leather with a stepless slider. The new synthetic soft fit leather material fits snugly around the head taking the pressure off your ears and blocking out external noise, so you can keep listening all day, free of discomfort.

Sony also says that we should expect "exceptional sound" from the new headphones, something that the previous iterations were already pretty great at.

The specially designed 30mm driver unit with a light and rigid dome uses carbon fibre composite material that improves high frequency sensitivity for more natural sound quality. Sony's unique technologies also include a premium-lead free solder containing gold for excellent connectivity and optimised circuitry that ensures you're experiencing clear, consistent sound with every track.

If all of that sounds good to you, and it really should, you're probably already getting ready to place your order in a week's time. But those who want to save can do exactly that — the previous WH-1000MX4 headphones will hang around, priced at $349.99. You'll probably find them cheaper than that, though, should you shop around.

Of course, the best iPhone headphones remain the AirPods Max or AirPods Pro thanks to the instant pairing and device switching capabilities. That's something that Sony can't match, but if you want something cheaper than Apple's premium offering or need even better ANC tech, these headphones are a solid option.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.