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Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4

Not many wireless earbuds can match or even get close to what Apple has done over the past few years with its AirPods models. The pinnacle of these products has been the Apple AirPods Pro. And although there are some models from other brands that can match this quality, the competition is limited.

One of the most interesting comparisons would be the Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4 argument. Sony has made a real challenge to the crown with this model. And anyone who has used them has very positive experiences and reviews.

If you use Apple devices like an iPhone or iPad, nothing can match AirPods or Beats products. But it’s an entirely different game if you use Android devices. Let’s compare the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM4 to find out which one comes out on top.

Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4

Apple and Sony Do Design a Bit Differently 

The truth is that Apple and Sony have different philosophies regarding design and feel. Apple is all about creating something in line with its brand’s feel and style, while Sony focuses more on usability and reliability. Whether it’s the company ethos or the way they design their earbud products, there is much to love about the differences between AirPods Pro and Sony XM4 earbuds

Apple AirPods Pro Design…

Apple uses a fresh and clean-cut design for the AirPods Pro. The size and shape of the design are sometimes seen as bulky. Although some people think it’s a bit too much, I prefer something to grab when I need to remove them in a hurry. They are white, as you would expect, and that gives them a very stylish and modern look.

Some users love the stems on these earbuds, and others don’t. The downside is they can get caught on things and that can result in them falling to the floor. However, a major positive is the AirPods Pro comes with three different sets of silicone ear tips. These can fit ears of all sizes and shapes comfortably while ensuring a tight seal for active noise-canceling features.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Design…

The Sony WF-1000XM4 design has its own advantages and disadvantages. The design is much simpler and streamlined when compared to the AirPods, but that’s neither here nor there. They don’t have stems, so that might be a good thing for you as it was for me. 

You can choose from either the black/copper or the white/copper look, depending on your preference. The curved earbud housing design makes them very comfortable to wear. It also ensures more surface space for controls.

You get three pairs of memory foam tips that come in S, M, and L sizes. In my opinion, the memory foam makes them more stable and easier to wear than the AirPods Pro. All while still offering a great seal for ANC features and an IPX4 rating. A downside is that memory foam wears out quicker than silicone, but that’s the price you pay for the best comfort. 

Similar design features

Both earbuds are very different in design. But there are some similar design features as well. They both have integrated vents for pressure relief. That means you get almost no suction whatsoever when wearing them with a tight seal when ANC is on. 

They also share the same automatic ear-detection feature. This automatically pauses the music when a bud or both buds have fallen out or been removed from your ears. However, the AirPods Pro ear detection only works when used with an iPhone.

Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4 – Controls and Configurations

What I like about both of these models is they both have customizable touch controls. Both models have touch controls on the buds that are easy to use and can control almost anything with just a few quick taps. Check out the controls for both below:

Apple AirPods Pro Controls 

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  • One Tap – Play, pause, and answer calls.
  • Two Taps – Go to the next track.
  • Three Taps – Go to the previous track.
  • Press & Hold – Toggle ANC & Transparency modes.
  • “Hey, Siri” – Request directions, change volume, receive messages, and playback control.
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Sony WF-1000MX4 Controls

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  • One Tap – ANC/Mute/Ambient sound (left bud) – Play/Pause (right bud).
  • Two Taps – Answer call / go to next track (right bud).
  • Three Taps – Go to the previous track (right bud).
  • Press & Hold – Smart assistant (right bud).
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If you are using an Apple device with an iOS or iPadOS system…

You can easily configure the touch controls on the Apple AirPods Pro in the Settings app. Alternatively, if you are using some kind of Android device with your AirPods, you won’t be able to customize the controls and will have to use the default configuration. The harsh truth is that these are not Android-friendly, and there’s not much you can do about that.

It’s also worth pointing out that both cases can be used to charge wirelessly and can also stand horizontally. The charging input for the AirPods Pro case is slightly different from the Sony case. That’s because it needs a Lightning cable as opposed to the USB-C cable that is used on the Sony. The cases are both small and compact and could easily fit in your pocket.

Do Sony Earbuds and Apple AirPods Connect via Bluetooth?

Bluetooth

Connecting to Bluetooth is more important than ever before, especially for wireless headphones and earbuds. The Sony WF-1000MX4 comes into its own where Bluetooth codecs support is concerned. This is one advantage of the Sony WF-1000XM4 over Apple AirPods Pro.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 supports more Bluetooth codecs than the Apple AirPods Pro. It supports AAC, SBC, and LDAC. Therefore, you can enjoy high-quality streaming for both iOS and Android devices alike. It also uses Bluetooth 5.2. Furthermore, you can take advantage of the Connect App to prioritize either the connection stability or the sound quality.

The Apple AirPods Pro supports AAC binary and SBC codecs. It also uses Bluetooth 5.0, which is fantastic if you are trying to be more power efficient. The truth is that the Sony WF-1000XM4 outperforms the Apple AirPods Pro in this category by a long shot. 

Which Earbuds Have a Better Battery Life?

They are both very similar when it comes to battery life, although one is clearly better. If you connect the AirPods to a device with an iOS system, the battery lasts around five hours. And that’s with the active noise canceling (ANC) enabled. The case gives you an extra 19.5 hours of playtime on a full charge with a lightning cable. 

The battery life of the Sony WF-1000XM4 is around seven hours 40 minutes, which is substantially greater than the Apple pods. However, the case gives you two extra charge cycles. So, in effect, the battery of the Sony is better, but the battery of the Apple case has more battery life. 

All in all, you get a very similar experience across the board. A side note is that the case for the Sony WF-1000XM4 charges twice as fast as the Apple case.

Differences in Apple and Sony Software

A major gripe I sometimes have with Apple products is they can only be used in tandem with Apple software. On the other hand, Sony’s app is open-source, which really helps when it comes to compatibility across the board. 

You can easily download the Sony Headphones Connect App on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. It’s very easy to use and comes equipped with a bunch of customizable options, no matter your operating system.

It gets better…

You can tailor and customize your Sony WF-1000XM4’s sounds in the multi-band graphic equalizer on the app. Additionally, you can toggle between ANC and Ambient Sound functions and also check the status of your battery at the same time. 

Test out your ear tip fits, select your preferred voice assistant, and even remap all your controls via the app. The ear tip thing is great because you can ensure you have the right fit for your ear size. That makes a massive difference when you are trying to optimize isolation for your ANC.

Apple and iPhone Connect features…

When you use Apple AirPods Pro with an iPhone, you get loads of access to many things. For example, the Find My AirPods feature that will help you find your lost pods. You can also access Adaptive EQ functions, battery status and optimization, hands-free Siri and Spatial Audio, which is essentially Apple’s take on surround sound. 

If you use or own multiple Apple devices, the AirPods Pro is great because you can use automatic device switching if you have a unified iCloud account. I love the customizable EQ module on Apple apps. The exclusive features that Apple offers its users are amazing but can only be used on Apple hardware.

Does the Apple AirPods Pro or Sony WF-1000XM4 have Better ANC Features?

This is another department where the Sony WF-1000XM4 is better than the Apple AirPods Pro. It has better active noise-canceling features than the Apple AirPods Pro, and it’s not even close.

That doesn’t mean that the ANC on the AirPods Pro is poor… 

Rather it’s a testament to the quality of the Sony model. It can cut down sounds that are higher than 50 Hz and get them down to 1/4 to 1/16 as loud as they would be when listening without the ANC active. 

The reason why the ANC on the Sony XM4 outperforms the AirPods Pro is largely down to the memory foam ear tips. They do a great job of blocking out unwanted noises and sounds that are higher than 1kHz. The vast majority of ANC technology struggles to affect incidental noises that are around 1kHz or higher. The isolation factors of the tips play a major role here.

As I said, the ANC on the Apple AirPods Pro isn’t a duffer, it’s actually very good. But the truth is that these Sony buds are one of the best ANC earphones in the marketplace when it comes to blocking out unwanted noise. 

Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4 – Sound Quality

Sound Quality

It’s been a very close contest so far, but the real deal-breaker is sound and audio quality. This is where wars are won and lost. Unbiased testing shows that the sound and audio quality of the Apple AirPods is much more accurate than that of the Sony model. 

However, the sound quality coming out of both sets of earbuds should impress you. And it’s important to mention that you can only adjust the frequency response on the Sony WF-1000XM4. This also makes them very bass-heavy, but not too much where it’s an issue.

If you like to listen to Pop and Rap music…

You’ll enjoy the Sony sound right up from the low end to the Middle-C sound. But, if the music you are listening to is vocal-heavy, the bass can sometimes mask those harmonies and can seem like some details are missing. 

This is because the volume differences between the sounds and the frequencies are messing with your head. You can fix this by lowering the mid-range and the bass response in the equalizer. 

What About the AirPods’ Audio Quality?

As I mentioned, the audio quality and frequency response on the Apple AirPods Pro is much more accurate across a wider range of musical styles. If you like Electronic music genres, this is the best choice. Apple believes that you shouldn’t have to keep tinkering with your sound to make it great. 

The only possible downside is the bass notes are a little quiet for some users. But, if you reduce the volume, it’s more difficult to notice. Because the bass response is tempered, you get massive benefits across the midrange frequencies. And when it comes to audio and sound quality, these are some of the most important things.

Does the Sony WF-1000MX4 or Apple AirPods Pro a Better Microphone?

Microphones on earbuds are important to some people but pointless for others. So, this section might or might not mean much to you. However, because both models are market-leading products, they both have decent microphones. They are both fine for personal or professional use, so this probably won’t be a defining factor.

Sure, both mics are not as good as a real external mic or a dedicated desktop mic on your PC. But they still both have wind-reduction features, so they can effectively be used outdoors if needed. If you record your voice with the mic on the Sony WF-1000XM4 or the Apple AirPods Pro, they both sound the same to me. 

Are There Alternatives to The Sony and Apple Earbuds?

There are some fantastic wireless headphones and earbud models out there. So, yes, there are some solid AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4 alternatives

If you are a stickler for Apple products and want an upgraded version, you can always check out these Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation). The ANC is a bit better on the second generation and is more in line with the ANC quality of the Sony WF-1000XM4.

But, if you are looking for something that is still great for iOS devices but also works well with Android, maybe you should buy this Beats Fit Pro set. They have an H1 chip and also have other Apple features, such as the Spatial Audio function. 

I also enjoy using Samsung headphones because they offer great sound quality and work with all manner of devices. Take a look at these Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earphones if you need good ANC, an IPX7 water-resistant rating, and good sound quality.

Apple AirPods Pro vs Sony WF-1000XM4 – Conclusion

I believe this one is a close but clear decision. If you want earbuds that are compatible with all the latest and greatest Apple software and iPhone and iPad iOS systems, you should probably buy the Apple AirPods Pro. But if that compatibility isn’t a factor. I recommend that you buy Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds. That’s because they are the best in most categories. 

Even the prices aren’t much different…

The Sony model has the best and tightest fit that aids isolation. They also have the best active noise-canceling (ANC) features. Although, the AirPods are no slouch in that regard either. 

These features make the sound quality of the Sony model very similar across the board. Especially where the low and mid ranges are concerned. They also support Bluetooth 5.2 as opposed to the 5.0 version. Furthermore, they support more codecs and can also be used with both Apple and Android devices. 

Although it was a good contest, I found more reasons to buy the Sony WF-1000XM4. But there are also some major upsides to buying Apple AirPods for Apple users, so it’s still up for debate.

Until next time, happy listening.

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