Headphones Comparison: Sony WF-1000XM3 vs. Apple AirPods Pro

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If you are shopping for truly wireless headphones, the Sony WF-1000XM3 and the Apple AirPods Pro are two of the best options on the market. They are noise-canceling in-ear headphones that are suitable for everyday use, with their small form factor making them more portable and easier to carry than other types of headphones. While they are on the expensive side, with both products normally selling for more than $200, they are worth the money.

Choosing between the WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro is not an easy task, as both earphones bring individual strengths. In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll give you a detailed look at the strengths and weaknesses of these two premium wireless earphones, as well as their similarities, to help you make a more informed decision in the end.

Quick Look

Sony WF-1000XM3Apple AirPods Pro
TypeTruly wireless in-earTruly wireless in-ear
EnclosureClosed-backClosed-back
ANCYesYes
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
Battery6 hours4.5 hours
WeightHeadphones: 0.6 oz
Case: 2.8 oz
Headphones: 0.38 oz
Case: 1.6 oz
PriceAmazonAmazon

Design

The WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro are both well-designed earphones, but the latter is the better-designed product overall, though not by a considerable margin. The Apple earphones have better water resistance backed by an official IP rating and feature hands-free Siri support. They look sleeker and are more portable due to their smaller case. Moreover, it’s easier to get a comfortable and stable fit with their ear tips.

On the other hand, the Sony earphones have a better and more customizable control scheme and come with more ear tip options, including foam tips. They are also available in two color options instead of just one. However, their comfort and stability heavily depend on whether you can get a good fit with any of the included ear tips, which are larger than usual.

Fit

Although the WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro both have a comfortable and stable in-ear fit, the latter has the edge in this category. They are lighter and sleeker and include ear tips that many people will find easier to get a good fit for better comfort and stability. They stay securely in your ears despite lacking stability fins or ear hooks, which is especially beneficial if you plan to use them for running, and are barely noticeable once you have them in your ears.

Compared with most earphones, the ear tips included with the WF-1000XM3 are larger than usual, making it more difficult to find a comfortable and stable fit. The good news is that there are seven pairs of ear tips included – four pairs of silicone ear tips and three pairs of foam ear tips – giving you more options. If you can get a tight seal with any of the included ear tips, then great. But if not, then you’ll want to look into third-party ear tips.

Build

Sony WF-1000XM3

The WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro are both well-built earphones that look and feel like premium products that are sturdy and durable. Their respective charging cases are also sturdy and include magnets to keep the earphones more secure inside. Regarding overall build quality, the two earphones are similar, but when it comes to the structure design, the AirPods Pro are the winner.

While not everyone is a fan of their short protruding stems, the Apple earphones have a sleeker and more compact design. Their case is also smaller, making it easier to slip into small pockets, which is a big plus for many people. They are also better-protected against sweat, featuring an IPX4 rating for water resistance, which is helpful when using them while running or working out.

Unlike the Apple earphones, the WF-1000XM3 lack an official IP rating. In addition, they are bulkier and look more noticeable in your ears. Their case is also not the most pocket-friendly, though it’s still very compact and easy to carry for everyday use. On the plus side, the Sony earphones are available in two color options – black and silver – while the Apple earphones still have the familiar white color scheme of other AirPods models, with no other color options as of this writing.

Controls

Both the WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro feature touch-based control schemes, but their implementations are a bit different. Both also have an auto-pause function, with the audio automatically pausing when you remove one unit from your ear, which is convenient in some situations. The audio automatically resumes when you put it back in your ear.

The Sony earphones have a more conventional touch-based control scheme, with both of their earpieces featuring small, circular touchpads. Using tap and tap-and-hold gestures, their touch controls allow you to manage your calls and music, activate your voice assistant, and toggle between active noise cancellation (ANC) and ambient sound modes.

You can also cover the left touchpad with your finger to instantly lower the volume and let background sounds in. This allows you to have a quick conversation with someone or monitor your surroundings for a moment without removing your earphones. While there is no way to adjust the volume using the touch controls by default, you can add that function using the companion app.

The AirPods Pro, on the other hand, have force sensors, which are indented and located on the small stems protruding from their earpieces. Unlike traditional touch-based controls, you need to pinch on them to register input. You can use the force sensors to manage your calls and music and toggle between ANC and ambient sound modes. If you have an iOS device, you also get hands-free Siri support, which is not available for the WF-1000XM3.

Overall, the WF-1000XM3 have better controls than the AirPods Pro. Their touch controls are more user-friendly and can be customized on both Android and iOS devices, with the option to add a volume control function. However, if you have an iOS device, the AirPods Pro are better, mainly because of their hands-free Siri support.

Portability

The WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro are both extremely compact and lightweight earphones that are easy to carry for everyday use. Both are much more portable than other types of headphones – including neckband headphones – even with their charging cases factored in. But while both earphones have excellent portability, the AirPods Pro are more portable than the WF-1000XM3, though only by a small margin.

As mentioned, they are lighter and less bulky than the Sony earphones and come with a smaller case that will easily fit into small pockets. Their case is actually one of the smallest and lightest among truly wireless headphones, measuring 1.8 inches in height, 2.4 inches in length, and 0.9 inches in width, with a weight of just 1.6 ounces.

For comparison, the bulkier case of the WF-1000XM3 is roughly 1.1 inches in height, 3.1 inches in length, and 2.2 inches in width and weighs more than a full ounce heavier at 2.8 ounces. It will have more trouble fitting into small pockets and will produce a noticeable bulge when stored in the pocket of tight-fitting pants.

Accessories

The WF-1000XM3 include more items in the box than the AirPods Pro. In addition to the charging case and the USB-C cable, they come with three pairs of silicone ear tips and three pairs of foam ear tips, along with the silicone ear tips that are already attached to the earphones. On the other hand, the AirPods Pro only include three different sizes of silicone ear tips, along with the charging case and the Lightning cable.

While there are fewer options, most people will find it easier to get a comfortable fit with the ear tips of the AirPods Pro. As mentioned, the ear tips included with the WF-1000XM3 are larger than usual, which makes it more difficult to find an ideal fit, not only for the best comfort and stability but also for the best noise isolation.

Performance

The WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro are similar in several performance categories – including audio reproduction, total battery life, mic performance, and sound leakage – but also have notable individual strengths. The Sony earphones support NFC technology for faster pairing and have a better battery life per charge. Additionally, their app support is significantly better, with more customization options whether on iOS or Android devices. On the other hand, the Apple earphones have a more consistent noise isolation performance and a better ambient sound mode. They also integrate better with iOS devices, offering convenient hands-free Siri support.

Sound

The WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro are two of the best-sounding truly wireless earphones on the market. Both sound balanced and detailed and are suitable for different music genres. They can clearly reproduce vocals and instruments and have good imaging. Their bass is clean and controlled, but the WF-1000XM3 have a more emphasized bass that some people will prefer, especially for genres like electronic dance music. In addition to listening to music, both earphones are also good for listening to podcasts and audiobooks and for general media consumption.

If you want to tinker with the sound profile, the WF-1000XM3 have a companion app that includes a graphic equalizer and sound presets. You can tweak the sound to give the bass more punch or to make it more suitable for vocal-centric music genres. With the AirPods Pro, you can’t modify the sound profile since they lack a dedicated companion app for sound customization, but this shouldn’t be a big issue for most consumers.

Isolation

Apple AirPods Pro

Suitable for masking background noise in the office and during commutes and flights, the WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro are known for their great noise isolation performances. Both are good at masking low-frequency noises and ambient chatter and are decent at reducing high-frequency noises. Moreover, their sound leakages are both low even at high volume levels, allowing you to listen to loud music to further conceal ambient noise without bothering people around you.

However, the WF-1000XM3 have a big asterisk, as their noise isolation performance relies heavily on whether you can get a tight seal with their ear tips. As mentioned, it’s more difficult to get a good fit with their silicone and foam ear tips because their size options are larger than usual. If you can get a tight seal with the ear tips, their noise isolation is one of the very best. If you can’t get a tight seal, their noise isolation is still good but inferior to that of the AirPods Pro.

Overall, the AirPods Pro will have a more consistent noise isolation performance among different users because it’s easier to get a tight seal with their silicone ear tips. This gives them a slight edge over the WF-1000XM3 regarding noise isolation. With the Sony earphones, their noise isolation performance can be inconsistent among different users due to their ear tip fit issues.

Both earphones also feature ambient sound modes for monitoring your surroundings without needing to remove them from your ears, which is convenient in some situations. The AirPods Pro have a better ambient sound mode, with the background sounds filtered in sounding more natural. On the other hand, the WF-1000XM3 have a more customizable ambient sound mode, with their companion app allowing you to adjust how much sound is being filtered in.

Mic

Don’t expect too much regarding mic performance, as truly wireless headphones are generally not that good regarding mic quality due to their design. The WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro both have fairly decent integrated mics for phone calls and video conferences, but they are best used in a quiet room for better voice pick-up. The Sony earphones have slightly better recording quality, though many people will not be able to tell the difference, while the Apple earphones are better at noise reduction for clearer calls in moderately noisy environments.

Battery

Capable of running up to six hours with ANC enabled, the WF-1000XM3 are better than the AirPods Pro when it comes to battery life per charge. With ANC disabled, their battery life increases to eight hours, which is a good mark for truly wireless earphones. Their case also holds three additional charges, increasing the total battery life to 24 hours (or 32 hours with ANC disabled). They have a customizable auto-off timer for power-saving and include a quick-charge feature that allows for 90 minutes of playback after 10 minutes of charge time.

Although the AirPods Pro are limited to four and a half hours per charge when ANC is enabled and the volume set to 50 percent, their total battery life is more than 24 hours with the additional charges in the case. With both ANC and ambient sound mode disabled, they can run up to five hours per charge, which is still short and not suitable for all-day use in the office and very long flights. On the bright side, their quick-charge feature is better, allowing for one hour of playback after just five minutes of charge time. Their case also supports Qi wireless charging, which is a big plus for some people.

Connectivity

The WF-1000XM3 and the AirPods Pro both have great wireless ranges and relatively low latency when connected to smartphones, but they still don’t support Qualcomm aptX codecs as of this writing. Both also lack multi-device pairing features and are limited to Bluetooth connectivity, with no option to switch to wired mode when their batteries are depleted, unlike some wireless earphones like the Sony WI-1000X.

Featuring NFC support for faster pairing, the WF-1000XM3 have much better app support on both iOS and Android devices. Using the Sony Headphones Connect app – one of the best headphone apps out there – you get a good amount of customization options. You can modify the sound, adjust the ANC and ambient sound mode, and customize the touch controls, among other functions. This allows for a more personalized setup, especially in the sound department.

On the other hand, the AirPods Pro, which are equipped with the Apple H1 chip, work best when paired with iOS devices, which is hardly surprising. They seamlessly pair with iOS devices and allow for improved battery efficiency, better connection range and stability, and hands-free Siri support when connected to an iOS device. However, they lack an actual companion app for customization. You can only change a few things in the settings when paired with an iOS device.

Wrap-up

Sony WF-1000XM3
The WF-1000XM3 are excellent truly wireless earphones that many consider as the best overall in the entire field. They are highly portable earphones that are good for office use, commuting, and traveling, though their charging case is on the bulky side. Their sound quality and build quality are good while their noise isolation performance with ANC is great, but only if you can get a tight seal with the included ear tips.

Compared to the AirPods Pro, they have a better touch-based control scheme and boast significantly better app support, with their companion app allowing you to modify their sound profile and touch controls, among other aspects. Their battery life per charge is also longer and one of the better ones among truly wireless earphones and they support NFC pairing. If you own an Android device, they are the better earphones. Even if you use an iOS device, they are still worth considering, especially if battery life and customization options are very important factors for you.
ProsCons
  • Good audio reproduction
  • Silicone and foam ear tip options
  • User-friendly touch controls
  • Great noise isolation with proper seal
  • NFC support
  • Good app customization options
  • Bulky charging case
  • Larger-than-usual ear tip sizes
  • No official IP rating
Apple AirPods Pro
The AirPods Pro are some of the best noise-canceling earphones on the market, boasting great noise isolation performance that makes them ideal for blocking out ambient noise at the office and during commutes and flights. They are good-sounding earphones that include a pocket-friendly case, making them very easy to carry for everyday use. While they are not as customizable and have a shorter battery life per charge, the AirPods Pro are better than the WF-1000XM3 in several important areas.

Their water resistance is better, making them more suitable for sports use, especially considering their sleeker design and more stable fit. They also integrate better with iOS devices, with hands-free Siri support. Most importantly, it’s easier to get a good fit with their ear tips, which affects comfort, stability, and noise isolation performance. If you have an iOS device, they are a better pick than the WF-1000XM3. You can also use them for Android devices, but some features will be unavailable.
ProsCons
  • Good sound quality
  • IPX4 rating for water resistance
  • Very small charging case
  • Great noise isolation performance
  • Hands-free Siri support on iOS
  • Qi wireless charging support
  • Short battery life per charge
  • No dedicated app for customization
  • Limited onboard controls