AirPods Pro vs Sony LinkBuds: Which true wireless earbuds are better?

the Apple AirPods Pro are a great pair of true wireless earbuds, with good sound quality, a comfortable design, and (unlike the original AirPods) they’re noise canceling, giving you an immersive listening experience.

However, at $249 / £249 / AU$399 they are expensive, and in our testing we found them to be best suited to iPhone users. So what alternatives are available?

There is a lot of true wireless headphones to choose. If you don’t need Apple Buds, try them. Sony WF-1000XM4 – these are our pick of the top wireless headphones at present. Alternatively, if you are looking for a cheaper option, we recommend the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0which offer excellent value for money at $99 / £99 (around AU$185).

A new pair of buds that we think could shake up the true wireless market significantly are the Sony LinkBuds.

In appearance, Sony’s latest true wireless buds are very, very different from the AirPods Pro. The LinkBuds also have smart controls – you can press your face to skip a track – and a unique open-ring design that not only looks unusual but also gives you great sound and also lets you hear ambient noise.

So which is better, Apple Airpods Pro or Sony LinkBuds? There is no easy answer. These two models offer slightly different features and excel in different ways.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand the key similarities and differences so you can decide which pair of true wireless earbuds are right for you.

AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro. (Image credit: future)

AirPods Pro vs. Sony LinkBuds: price and availability

The Apple AirPods Pro were released globally on October 30, 2019. They cost $249 / £249 / AU$399 at the time of release, and that price has remained constant ever since.

The Sony LinkBuds were released on February 15, 2022 and are available for $179 / £149 / AU$299.

This makes the Sony LinkBuds considerably cheaper than the AirPods Pro, as well as Sony’s flagship true wireless headphones, the Sony WF-1000XM4, which cost $279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95. The most significant difference here is that the AirPods Pro and XM4 offer noise cancellation while the Sony LinkBuds don’t, which could explain the lower price.

In terms of cost, they are more on par with the price of Apple AirPods 3. They cost $179 / £169 / AU$279 and also lack noise cancellation.

a close up of the sony linkbuds

Sony’s LinkBuds. (Image credit: TechRadar)

AirPods Pro vs. Sony LinkBuds: Design

One of the biggest problems for true wireless earbud makers is packing a lot of smart technology into a compact build. Apple’s AirPods Pro and Sony’s LinkBuds both excel in this regard, with sleek, sleek and lightweight designs.

Apple buds have the distinctive look of AirPods, but with shorter stems than regular non-pro models. They have silicone tips in a range of sizes, so you should be able to get the perfect fit. To make sure they’re comfortable, they also have air vents, preventing that weird feeling of suction that’s common in headphones. They generally fit securely – even during a workout – and each bud weighs just 5.4g.

The Sony LinkBuds are unusual because they have a fully open ear design. Most of the earphone housing sits in the concha of your ear – held in place by a rubber fin – and a ring-shaped driver surrounds your ear canal.

While there are several rubber fins to choose from to anchor them in place, this design felt a bit uncomfortable to us in our testing. This was probably because the buds were in a different place than the post-style designs, but that could be down to personal anatomy – they might not be well suited for smaller ears.

The LinkBuds are Sony’s smallest true wireless buds – 51% smaller in volume than the Sony WF-1000XM4 – and they weigh a bit lighter than the AirPods Pro at just 4.1g each.

Both pairs of true wireless headphones have an IPX4 water resistance rating, meaning they can be worn outside in the rain and handle a sweaty workout at the gym.

AirPods Pro

(Image credit: future)

AirPods Pro vs Sony LinkBuds: controls and setup

AirPods Pro have a small ridge on their stems, which is how you control them. You can enable noise canceling/transparency mode or skip and pause tracks. We thought it seemed difficult to use at first during our testing, but it became second nature pretty quickly.

Because the LinkBuds are so small, tapping on the buds themselves can be tricky. That’s why Sony has implemented a new feature called Wide Area Tap. This means you can press the area in front of your ears to control the pimples. Cool, right? Just tap your face to play or pause your music.

AirPods Pro and LinkBuds allow you to customize these control settings and also make other changes in their apps. For example, with the Sony Headphones Connect app, you can also enable Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology, which requires you to take a quick shot of each ear. These are then analyzed to deliver personalized immersive sound performances.

As you’d expect from an Apple product, the AirPods Pro are also incredibly simple to set up and adjust to your preferences. You can take a quick audio test to check you’ve got the right fit and, like Sony’s app, you can tailor the sound to your ear structure.

the Sony Linkbuds held in someone's palm

(Image credit: TechRadar)

AirPods Pro vs Sony LinkBuds: audio performance

The biggest difference between these headphones is noise cancellation – the AirPods Pro have it, and the Sony LinkBuds don’t.

With the Apple AirPods Pro you can customize the level of ANC, and there’s also a Transparency mode, which lets you hear what’s going on around you and have a conversation if you need to without taking them off. of your ears.

In contrast, Sony designed the LinkBuds to let you hear what’s going on in your surroundings all the time, rather than blocking it out.

As for general audio performance, the Sony LinkBuds’ open design means they deliver a spacious, wide soundstage – you don’t usually get this from a pair of in-ear headphones. The 12mm drivers are pretty powerful too, while Sony’s integrated V1 processor inside means your music sounds authentic with minimal distortion.

You’ll also find support for Sony’s DSEE upscaling technology, auto-pausing when you remove your headphones, and 360 Reality Audio, which enables virtual surround sound.

However, because these buds are open and don’t create a seal in your ear canals, you risk losing detail to background noise, and you won’t get that pulsating bass experience either. It’s a trade-off you have to make for a pair of headphones like these, which are meant for all-day use in a variety of situations.

By comparison, the Apple AirPods Pro have a well-balanced soundstage, smooth mids, and richer bass sound. We found that they tend to do their best with pop, rock, and RnB, but we thought they were a little lacking in detail when it came to classical music.

In general, audio is likely to sound more immersive with AirPods Pro than with LinkBuds. This is due to several factors, including noise cancellation, the physical seal they create in your ear canal, and Spatial Audio, which operates in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos, positioning sound all around you in a “virtual sphere.” “.

AirPods Pro

(Image credit: future)

AirPods Pro vs Sony LinkBuds: Battery life

After a full charge, AirPods Pro will give you 4.5 hours of listening time and an additional 24 hours with the charging case. This will depend on usage – if you make a lot of calls, expect that number to be closer to 3.5 hours.

The charging case supports wireless charging and has a handy quick-charge feature, which promises an hour of listening time from just five minutes of charging time – although we thought that was a little optimistic when we looked at them.

With the Sony LinkBuds, you get 17.5 hours of battery life. That breaks down to 5.5 hours from the headphones and another 12 from the charging case. You’ll also get fast charging with the LinkBuds, meaning you can top them up quickly, but there’s no wireless charging.

a close up of a sony linkbud earphone

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Carry

If you can’t decide between the AirPods Pro and the Sony LinkBuds, the deciding factor could be the price. The Sony LinkBuds are $100/£100 cheaper than the AirPods Pro.

Let’s also not forget the markings behind the buds. The Apple AirPods Pro have a distinctive AirPods look, and if you fancy that, the LinkBuds won’t cut it. Plus, AirPods Pro work great with other Apple products, so if you’re already bought into that ecosystem, AirPods are a solid choice.

However, we think the most important thing to consider between these two rival buds is how you’re going to use them. You can wear the LinkBuds all day. You can take calls, listen to music and hear the world around you as you do. For some people this will be appealing, especially if you like to use headphones at work when you need to be aware of the people around you.

But suppose that’s not a priority for you and instead you want fully immersive sound that can block out the world with noise canceling technology? In that case, you’re better suited for AirPods Pro, especially if you tend to only reach for your headphones in specific scenarios, like when you’re working or heading to the gym.

That said, if noise cancellation is your top priority, we recommend looking elsewhere. You will find better noise cancellation from other true wireless headphones, like the Bose QuietComfort Headphones.

The AirPods Pro and Sony LinkBuds are two great pairs of true wireless earbuds, and you can’t go wrong either. But it’s worth thinking about your listening habits and whether you’d benefit from hearing the world around you easily or prefer to wrap yourself in a cocoon of sound whenever you want.

About Franklin Cheatham

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