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Sony WF-XB700 Review

For their price, you can do a lot worse than the Sony WF-XB700 True Wireless Headphones. They are a definite improvement over the original WF-1000X and WF-SP700N and, without a doubt, our second favorite Sony True Wireless earbuds. They are the result of years of hard work by Sony’s audio design team that started its efforts with the splitting Sony WF-1000X and sports-oriented Sony WF-SP700N before making the almost perfect Sony WF-1000XM3 with active noise cancellation. This is our Sony WF-XB700 Review.

Last updated on December 2, 2020 4:12 am
Last updated on December 2, 2020 4:12 am

The latter is still the best true wireless earbuds Sony has yet to make. But the WF-XB700 (discussed here) is the more affordable, more accessible, and potentially more extensive appealing earbuds that can compete with the Apple AirPods in many ways. Not sure if the earbuds with a comfortable fit, crisp, bass-heavy sound, and an IPX4 rating with a combined 18-hour battery life between the earbuds and case are right for you? Here’s what it’s like to wear them for a week.

Sony WF-XB700 Review: Design

The way Sony has made these earbuds makes them feel a little more space-age than other true wireless earbuds it has produced in the past, which instead have tried to be slim and sporty. That’s because Sony has mostly chosen round, elongated earbuds that look like small beans. The Sony WF-XB700 certainly shares some of its design language with its predecessors, but the exterior almost looks like a satellite-like circular disc.

Sony WF-XB700 Review

On the outside of each disc is a button: on the left earpiece, you have volume up/down, and on the right, you have play/pause and skip. You can also use them to activate your voice wizard and take calls, but it’s not quite clear how to do all that.

If you let them boil down to their nuts and bolts, there are three crucial parts to these earbuds: the end that fits in the ear canal, the middle section where the drivers are located, and that is in the ear and the outer part where the battery is located. This three-level design isn’t precisely space-saving – and is probably incredibly polarising for people who just want sleek streamlined earbuds – but it does have several advantages.

Because of their size, they need to fill both the ear canal and the outer ear where they rest. That secure feeling plus their low weight makes them surprisingly comfortable and easy to wear for long periods, and the tight seal helps them sound great. Sony also has several earbuds in the box if the standard earbuds don’t fit properly, which is a nice bonus.

The other advantage of their design is that they can fit a slightly larger than average battery in the earbuds themselves. According to Sony, the battery life is about nine hours on a single charge, plus another nine hours with the charging case, which brings the total to 18 hours. That’s almost the best on the market. By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus offers 11 hours of playback outside their case, while the comparably priced Apple AirPods only play about five hours of music before they have to go back in their case.

Speaking of cases, the plastic case that comes with the Sony WF-XB700 is quite slim and uses a translucent case that allows you to see the charging status of the earbuds inside the case. Starting the charging process is just as easy as packing the earbuds into their mini-pin docks and waiting for the red LED light to come on. To charge both the case and the earbuds, simply plug them into an open USB port on your computer using the included USB to USB C cable.

Sony WF-XB700 Review: Performance

So how do they sound? Well, being part of the Extra Bass series, we were afraid they’d sound bloated, muddy, and trapped. Luckily, they’re anything but. The first thing you’ll notice when listening to them is the bass – it’s there – but it’s done in a way that feels tight and punchy instead of muddy and bloated. The result is music that is quite fun to listen to, even if it’s not exactly the sound the artist meant.

The downside is that the midrange does take a beating here: Listening to YouTube videos is noticeably quieter across the board than listening to music, and the less powerful midrange is undoubtedly to blame. That doesn’t mean that YouTube or Netflix is impossible to listen to, nor are they, but it would be nice if there were a way to change the EQ based on the type of content being played at that moment – for example, via Sony’s Headphones app.

Of course, Sony seems to want them to focus on music, which is why they are IPX4 sweat and water-resistant. They also seem to have a relatively stable connection – if we walk around our house with our phone in one room, we haven’t experienced any hint of failure – but they’re not sound-absorbing, so be prepared to hear most of the calls in the neighborhood.

Admittedly, Sony can still improve the sound level of these earbuds (they sound a bit limited) and add support for aptX. This higher resolution audio codec can transmit HD audio. These factors, along with some other audio pickups, prevent them from reaching the absolute peak of sound quality, but we think most people will enjoy the sound they produce.

The good news is that they have an incredible battery life: After listening to them for eight hours a day for three days in a row, we still got a ‘battery 100% full’ message every time we put on the earbuds. (However, that number drops in 30% increments, so you have to be careful). Sony reports that the battery life is about 18 hours between the earbuds and their charging case, and we found that number quite spotless, and maybe even a little too conservative.

Price and Release Date

The Sony WF-XB700 is the latest addition to Sony’s Extra Bass series of headphones and earbuds and was released in April 2020. The earbuds were announced next to the Sony WH-CH710N Noise-Canceling Headphones and hit the shelves around the same time. In terms of prices, the Sony WF-XB700 is one of Sony’s cheaper true wireless earbuds and comes in at $129 (£130, about AU$200). That is a significant saving compared to the $199 (£169, AU$319) Sony WF-1000XM3, but do not forget that the latter has active noise cancellation, while the former does not.

Sony WF-XB700 Review

Compared to other true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-XB700 is in the middle of the package and is a bit cheaper than the $139 (£159, AU$239) Apple AirPods that dominates the form factor in terms of sales. Which of these earbuds to go for probably comes down to which mobile operating system you’re using – the AirPods have some neat tricks for iOS users – and which of the two styles you prefer.

Sony WF-XB700 Review: Conclusion

While it is easy to concentrate on some of the negatives such as the polarizing design, the lack of gloss in the middle area, and the lack of noise cancellation, these earbuds have a lot to offer. Frankly, these are decent Apple AirPods competitors: they’re the right price, have the right sound, and even have better battery life. They’re not perfect and could also improve with a few simple adjustments like adding aptX support and adding an auto-pause feature to save battery life. However, even without these features, these are still our second favorite Sony true wireless earbuds, and the ones that are worth buying if you want solid sound and long battery life.

8 Total Score
Our Verdict

The Sony WF-XB700 has a lot to offer. They have a fun, energetic sound quality, feel comfortable during long listening sessions, and have a combined battery life of 18 hours. We don't like their radar disc shape and their lack of noise-cancellation, but these are undoubtedly Sony's second-best true wireless earbuds.

PROS
  • Comfortable fit
  • Punchy bass
  • IPX4 rating
CONS
  • Strange design
  • No aptX support
  • No noise cancellation
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