Sony’s newest true wireless earbuds are undoubtedly its quirkiest yet

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Sony's newest true wireless earbuds are undoubtedly its quirkiest yet

Sony is definitely no stranger to experimental products, unconventional designs, and large-scale gambles on newfangled or simply bizarre technologies, trying for several years now to make neckband speakers a thing, keeping Walkmans alive with a modern Android twist, and selling one of the priciest smartphones in the US with a micro-HDMI port in tow.

Given all that (and the many other eccentric devices of the last few years that are best left forgotten), it’s genuinely surprising that the company’s line of true wireless earbuds looked so… serious. Until yesterday, that is, when the recently leaked LinkBuds were officially unveiled, bringing a “unique open ring” design to a gunfight against the popular AirPods 3 and Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.

Why mess with perfection?

By “perfection”, we mean Sony’s own WF-1000XM4, mind you, rather than the AirPods Pro or Galaxy Buds Pro. Granted, those are technically not perfect either, earning a rating of 9 in our in-depth review last year, but they’re definitely at the top of our list of the best true wireless earbuds money can buy in 2022.
The WF-1000XM4 are obviously unlikely to be eclipsed by a “unique” (read quirky) new pair of buds with pretty large holes drilled in their middle, which means the best answer to the above question is probably “why not?”. As in, why wouldn’t Sony try new ideas and concepts when it already has arguably the best product of the category and a very solid low-cost alternative in the $99.99 WF-C500?

At $179.99, the LinkBuds are naturally positioned below the $279.99 WF-1000XM4 on the true wireless earbuds food chain, with pre-orders underway already for white and gray color options at major US retailers like Amazon and Best Buy and an actual release set for tomorrow, February 17.

That’s an impressively quick turnaround for what certainly looks like a tricky design to execute right, with the idea behind the “open-air” LinkBuds being to keep “all your worlds always connected.” Otherwise put, users should be able to remain aware of their surroundings while listening to their favorite tunes in “crystal clear” quality, which sounds great in theory but may not work quite so smoothly in practice.

Specs, features, and competition

For fairly obvious reasons, the true wireless Sony LinkBuds do not offer state-of-the-art active noise cancellation technology, as the first rumors suggested, settling for noise reduction and thus competing against the likes of the AirPods 3 rather than the AirPods Pro.
Just like a large chunk of the competition, the LinkBuds are splash and sweat-proof with IPX4 water resistance, and despite their very small size guaranteeing a perfect fit and all-day comfort, the 5.5 hours of standalone battery life is pretty close to what the AirPods 3 are capable of.

The combined endurance rating of “up to” 17.5 hours when also taking the bundled charging case into consideration is however not impressive, and it remains to be seen (or heard) what the 12mm “ring” driver can do in the real world to provide “rich, well-balanced sound.”

Clearly, the LinkBuds only have themselves to beat to convince adventurous users bored by the conventional designs of the AirPods 3, Galaxy Buds 2, or WF-1000XM4 to try them out. 

If you do decide to go for these bad boys, you might also be interested to know they have all kinds of advanced features and technologies integrated, from Adaptive Volume Control to Wide Area Tap and Speak-to-Chat, for an extra touch of convenience and functionality. Oh, and they’re also made from recycled plastic materials, which is naturally great for the environment.

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