Sony might not have gained the same supremacy in the smartphone category as it has with gaming consoles and audio products. If you're looking for the ideal headphones to pair with your smartphone, Sony has quite an extensive lineup, but the WH-1000XM3 are definitely worth considering.
I received the Sony WH-1000XM3 review unit and after using the wireless noise-cancelling headphones over a couple of days, I have come to a few conclusions. There are a few misses, but Sony has overachieved in some areas that will hardly make notice those setbacks.
Design and comfort
Sony hasn't changed much in terms of design and comfort in the 1000XM3 as compared to its predecessor. But there's nothing wrong about it. We loved the WH-1000XM2 and the 1000XM3 makes sure those binge-watching hours have a minimal strain on your head or ears. There's cushion padding on the headband for more comfort and it surely helps. The copper engraving for the Sony logo on the sides is just a visual treat on the 1000XM3.
The leather cups outlining the cushions inside perfectly cover the ears, which also add to better noise cancellation. The right earcup is touch-enabled and allows functions like play, pause, and volume up and down. It's pretty convenient and precise and I didn't miss having physical buttons for the same. This also helped Sony achieve a minimalistic design, which we love the most in the 1000XM3 headphones.
One of my favourite features on the right cup alone is covering the cup with my palm to briefly activate ambient sound. Since I travel a lot, this helps while interacting with air hostesses or listen to important flight announcements. Taking the palm off the ear cup will put the headphone back to noise cancelling mode, which is just brilliant.
On the left ear cup are two main buttons – one controls power and the other one to switch between noise cancellation and ambient modes. Pressing the power button once will also tell the remaining battery on the headphones, while the NC button can also be used to activate Google Assistant – that's quite handy when you're too lazy to take the phone out of your pocket.
In addition to that, there's a port so you can plug the headphone to your phone with a wire. But it's only for phones 3.5mm headphone jack, which I bid adieu a long time ago and couldn't really test it during my review. But the performance should remain the same regardless.
Finally, there's a USB Type-C port for charging, which is personally very convenient as most phones these days only come with Type-C chargers. I did not have to carry a separate charger for the headphones alone.
The support for high-end audio codecs: AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC definitely played a vital role in the Sony 1000XM3. Most of my usage involved video streaming on apps (Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video) and a little bit of music too. I found the audio to be crisp with solid bass. The highs are crisp and clear, so are mids and lows, even when you're listening to some bass-heavy music.
Overall, Sony WH-1000XM3 delivers impressively on the audio fronts and hard-core audiophiles will find little to no reason to complain here.
My review for Sony 1000XM3's audio performance was mainly with noise cancelling activated, so it's safe to say I used the headphones mostly with the feature on. I must admit, Sony has mastered the art of noise-cancelling on 1000XM3 and even beats rivals with a close range.
Sony 1000XM3 is not only the best wireless active noise-cancelling headphones in the market right now, but they are also supremely satisfying when it comes to battery life. With noise-cancelling, I was able to achieve 26 hours of pure video streaming. Add some standby hours, and it will easily reach the promised 30-hour battery life mark.
For me, battery life is the biggest concern in wireless headphones, which is why I refuse to give in to the truly-wireless earphones' temptation. But the sweetness of exhilarating audio performance paired with lasting battery life and best-in-class noise cancellation has convinced me that Sony 1000XM3 are the headphones to settle for all my music needs.
Adding to the list of pros is the fast charging capability of this pair. I was able to fully charge the headphones in less than an hour's time, giving me a full week of usage (of course it would be different if you use headphones more often than I do). The company claims charging the 1000XM3 for ten minutes can give you 5 hours of uninterrupted use, but I would say that would include some standby time as well.
For those who want personalised audio experience, Sony has the perfect solution. Simply download the free Sony Headphones Connect app from Play Store or App Store and pair your Sony 1000XM3 to the phone and start exploring some useful customisation options.
The app allowed me to adjust the levels of ambient sound, choose different sound position controls, take advantage of equalizer settings and go for adaptive sound control where the app detects the best setting based on where you are. I used the app rarely, but it was mainly because I had all the customisations in place the first time I used the Sony app.
Should you buy Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones or not? It all boils down to this and in my opinion, these headphones are not for everyone. Sure, audiophiles who do not mind spending Rs 30,000 on a pair can definitely make the purchase, but if you already have the 10000XM2, you're not missing out on much besides Google Assistant and USB Type-C fast charging support.
But if you're in the market freshly looking out for some good audio gear, Sony justifies that price tag pretty well. But again, it's purely for someone with deep pockets and not for those who will drain out their savings on this one alone.
I would have loved to see Sony go with Bluetooth 5.0, but there's always room for improvement. Maybe next time?