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Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Google Pixel Buds Pro

Two great options for Android users looking for earbuds, but what explains the $100 difference in price?
By
August 3, 2023
Sony WF-1000XM5
MSRP: $299.99
8.7
Check price
Positives
Excellent ANC and Isolation
Comfortable
SBC, AAC, and LDAC support
Great app support
Great battery life
Negatives
Price
Default sound too bassy
Google Pixel Buds Pro
MSRP: $199.00
8
Check price
Positives
ANC with transparency mode
Hands-free Google Assistant
Above average battery life
Water-resistant case and buds
Fast pair and multipoint connectivity
Custom EQ (after updates)
Negatives
No aptX
Fit is a bit loose for some people
Microphone underperforms in noisy environments

Android enthusiasts take note: one of these could be the next best choice for a pair of wireless earbuds. The recently released Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Google Pixel Buds Pro are both true wireless earbuds with a decent fit and effective active noise canceling (ANC). But which one of them is the best? Is the $100 difference between them enough to compensate for other shortcomings? Let’s find out!

Editor’s note: this article was published on August 4th, 2023, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

What’s it like to use the Sony WF-1000XM5 compared to the Google Pixel Buds Pro?

A hand holds the Pixel Buds Pro and WF-1000XM5 earbuds.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Pixel Buds Pro have a more circular shape than the WF-1000XM5.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Google Pixel Buds Pro are both in-ear earbuds made of similar materials (mostly plastic) with similar design styles. The Google Pixel Buds Pro are more spherical than the Sony WF-1000XM5, which may impact fit. The Sony earbuds come with four different silicone ear tip sizes (XS-L), whereas the Google Pixel Buds Pro come with only three (S-L). Google and Sony’s flagship buds are IPX4 rated, meaning they’ll do just fine when exposed to a bit of water. (Don’t submerge either pair of buds!) Overall we found both to be good or great when it comes to comfort, but a good fit depends on the shape of your ears.

How do you control the Sony WF-1000XM5 and Google Pixel Buds Pro?

The Sony WF-1000XM5 use a fairly simple approach to controls where you can tap either of the earbuds to play/pause, change volume, or turn the ANC on or off. This is an improvement from the Sony WF-1000XM4, which have slightly more limited actions.

INPUTACTION (left bud)ACTION (right bud)
INPUT
ONE TAP
ACTION (left bud)
ANC/Ambient sound
ACTION (right bud)
Play/Pause
INPUT
TWO TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Access
ACTION (right bud)
Next
INPUT
THREE TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Access
ACTION (right bud)
Previous
INPUT
FOUR TAPS
ACTION (left bud)
Volume Down
ACTION (right bud)
Volume Up
INPUT
TAP AND HOLD
ACTION (left bud)
Quick Attention
ACTION (right bud)
Voice Assistant

The Google Pixel Buds Pro, on the other hand, use a system of swipes and touches to do many of those same actions. Swiping the earbuds could loosen the fit a bit when changing volume, but that’s not always the case.

ACTIONEFFECT (music)EFFECT (phone)
ACTION
One tap
EFFECT (music)
Play / Pause
EFFECT (phone)
Answer call
ACTION
Two taps
EFFECT (music)
Next track

EFFECT (phone)
Reject call
ACTION
Three taps
EFFECT (music)
Previous track
EFFECT (phone)

ACTION
Tap and hold
EFFECT (music)
Toggle ANC/transparency modes
EFFECT (phone)

ACTION
Swipe forward
EFFECT (music)
Volume up
EFFECT (phone)
Volume up
ACTION
Swipe backward
EFFECT (music)
Volume down
EFFECT (phone)
Volume down
ACTION
"Hey, Google"
EFFECT (music)
Voice your request or inquiry
EFFECT (phone)

The Pixel Buds Pro and WF-1000XM5 automatically pause your music if you remove them from your ears. The buds immediately resume playback when you wear them again. You can disable automatic ear detection from Sony and Google’s mobile apps.

Should you use the apps of either Sony WF-1000XM5 or Google Pixel Buds Pro?

The apps for both of these earbuds are similar in terms of features. The Sony Headphones Connect app offers a custom EQ, firmware updates, control adjustments, and the Sony 360 Reality Audio personaliztion for spatial audio content. The Pixel Buds app likewise has some EQ customization, firmware updates, device settings, and its own spatial audio head-tracking solution. It’s important to note that there’s no app for iOS users of the Google Pixel Buds Pro. Anyone with an iPhone should look to the Sony WF-1000XM5 as these support both iOS and Android.

How do the Sony WF-1000XM5 and Google Pixel Buds Pro connect?

Both of pairs earbuds support Bluetooth multipoint. The newer Sony WF-1000XM5 is based on Bluetooth 5.3, offering support for SBC and AAC,  Sony’s higher-quality LDAC codec, and, importantly, LE audio for low-latency streaming. The Bluetooth 5.0-based Google Pixel Buds Pro support only SBC and AAC codecs. You may run into noticeable latency issues when watching videos depending on the device and application you’re using.

Is battery life better on the Sony WF-1000XM5 or Google Pixel Buds Pro?

The Google Pixel Buds Pro and WF-1000XM5 cases next to each other with the earbuds showing.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Pixel Buds Pro case is a little larger than the WF-1000XM5 case.

Our testing shows the Sony WF-1000XM5 have a superior battery life compared to the Google Pixel Buds Pro. With ANC on, the Sony WF-1000XM5 lasts 9 hours, 32 minutes on a single charge, and according to Sony, the charging case provides 24 hours of battery total. With ANC on, the Google Pixel Buds Pro deliver 7 hours, 6 minutes on a single charge in our test, and up to 31 hours total listening time (Google’s spec) with the wireless charging case. Both have support for charging with USB-C as well as wireless charging.

Do the Sony WF-1000XM5 or Google Pixel Buds Pro block noise better?

The Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Google Pixel Buds Pro noise attenuation chart, showing fairly comparable performance across the frequency spectrum, with a slight advantage to the Sony WF-1000XM5.
These earbuds are well matched when it comes to active noise canceling, but the Sony WF-1000XM5 has the advantage in both the low and high end.

Both of these pairs of earbuds have active noise canceling, which can be enabled or disabled at your pleasure. They’re pretty closely matched — they trade blows as you move across the frequency spectrum — but the Sony WF-1000XM5 pulls ahead in the low and high end. The Sony WF-1000XM5 deliver good performance even in windy environments, which some noise canceling devices struggle with. It also has an advantage due to the good fit and multiple memory foam ear tip sizes, improving noise isolation. Both pairs of earbuds have a transparency mode that amplifies the sounds around you instead of canceling them out, allowing you to hear better what’s going on without having to remove your earbuds.

Do the Sony WF-1000XM5 sound better than the Google Pixel Buds Pro?

The Sony WF-1000XM5 and the Google Pixel Buds frequency response chart, showing both of them following our ideal consumer curve pretty closely.
While both of these pairs of earbuds follow the general shape of our headphone preference curve, the Google Pixel Buds have some peaks in the low and high end.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro exaggerate both the low and high ends of the frequency spectrum — causing some harsh sibilants. While Google’s frequency response follows the general outline of our headphone preference curve, it deviates in some areas. The Sony WF-1000XM5 frequency response follows our curve much closer, with deviations of a few decibels. Of course, both of these pairs of earbuds come with EQ options that allow you to change the sound to be more to your taste, but overall we consider the Sony WF-1000XM5 superior.

Do the Sony WF-1000XM5 or Google Pixel Buds Pro have a better microphone?

The Google Pixel Buds Pro have a slight advantage when it comes to microphone quality. While both of these pairs of earbuds are perfectly fine when handling calls, the Sony WF-1000XM5 have a higher sensitivity, leading to some distortion in the voice. Both use arrays of microphones and software processing to get the best results. You can listen below to our standardized recordings of both of these microphones and judge for yourself, and vote in our poll.

Sony WF-1000XM5 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Google Pixel Buds Pro microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sony WF-1000XM5 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Google Pixel Buds Pro microphone demo (Office conditions):

Which microphone sounds better?

1261 votes

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Google Pixel Buds Pro: Price and availability

The Google Pixel Buds Pro and Sony WF-1000XM5 right next to each other.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Pixel Buds Pro are much more affordable than the WF-1000XM5.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro have a notable advantage when it comes to price, as they currently retail for $199, whereas the newer Sony WF-1000XM5 come in at $299. Both of these products should be fairly easy to find on store shelves, although the Sony WF-1000XM5 are newer and may be in hotter demand.

Should you get the Sony WF-1000XM5 or Google Pixel Buds Pro?

The Pixel Buds Pro and WF-1000XM5 with one earbud out of each case.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Pixel Buds Pro are optimized for Google Pixel devices, while the WF-1000XM5 work on any OS.

Overall the Sony WF-1000XM5 pull ahead when it comes to comfort, build quality, and sound quality. The quality of the active noise canceling on Sony’s earbuds is also quite impressive. However, considering their higher price tag, they’re not a clear victor here. The Google Pixel Buds Pro are still a great product that retail for $100 less than Sony’s offering. If you’re budget conscious, then the Google Pixel Buds Pro are still a fantastic choice. On the other hand, if you have an iOS device, your decision is somewhat made for you, as the Google Pixel Buds Pro are a little lacking when it comes to platforms other than Android; they work best with the Google Pixel line of phones especially.

See price at Amazon
Sony WF-1000XM5
1%off
Sony WF-1000XM5
Great ANC
Improved sound quality
Comfortable fit with four ear tip options
See price at Amazon
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Active noise-cancelling
Android integration
Google Assistant features

Frequently asked questions

Yes, both of these devices support wireless charging.