Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM3: 8 Key Differences and Full Comparison

grey Sony WH-1000XM4 on a dark background

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM3: 8 Key Differences and Full Comparison

Throughout the years, Sony has established itself as a leading manufacturer of cutting-edge audio technology. It further cemented its position by releasing the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. Since its release, the Sony WH-1000XM3 has remained one of the best noise-canceling headphones without competition. In fact, the success of the Sony WH-1000XM3 has relegated other headphones to second place. But, with the Sony WH-1000XM4’s release, it finally met its match. The Sony WH-1000XM4 is an upgraded version of the Sony WH-1000XM3 model. Therefore, they share various similarities, like their exceptional audio quality. However, they also have multiple differences that set them apart. In this article, we will look at the specs behind both the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Sony WH-1000XM3 to see which one is best for you.

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM3: Side-by-Side Comparison

infographic for Sony WH-1000XM4 vs Sony WH-1000XM3
Pricing$349$349 with the option to get a second hand at lower prices
ColorBlack, Silver, and whiteBlack or Silver
Size9.9 x 7.3 x 3 inches10.4 x 7.3 x 2.9 inches
Battery Life30 hrs (ANC), 38 hrs (no ANC)30 hrs (ANC), 38 hrs (no ANC)
Weight9 ounces9 ounces
Special FeaturesActive noise cancellation, Sony 360 Reality Audio, NFC, customizable EQ, multi-point technology, tri-digital assistant support, adjustable ambient, smart controls, and High-res Audio support.Active noise cancellation, Sony 360 Reality Audio, NFC, customizable EQ, High-res Audio support, adjustable ambient listening, tri-digital assistant support, and smart controls.
CompatibilityComes with multipoint technology.Only connects with one device at a time.
Best Performance for Price
Sony WH-1000XM4
  • Best in class Active Noise Cancelling
  • Features Sony's Edge-AI
  • Battery life upt 30 hours
  • Touch controls
  • Multi-device Bluetooth 5.0
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02/22/2024 11:08 am GMT

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM3: Overview

Music plays a crucial part in our lives by filling all the in-between moments with entertainment and joy. Therefore, having the ideal audio tools can significantly affect how we enjoy music. 

The Sonny WH-1000XM3 is one of the best noise-canceling headphones, first released in August 2020. Since its release, the headphones have dominated the market, and for a good reason. Compared to other brands, it is a complete package with noise cancellation and unparalleled audio quality. The Sonny WH-1000XM3 combines a comfortable design with high-quality audio and active noise cancellation. This combination makes it a far superior headphone that surpasses most other brands in the market. However, with the WH-1000XM4’s release, the WH-1000XM3’s dominance has come under challenge.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 comes with various upgraded features like Bluetooth multi-point technology and improved noise canceling that give it an edge over its counterpart in terms of performance. This gets you thinking, which of the two models is better and how do they compare?

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM3: What Are The Differences?

Both these high-end listening solutions are amazing for their price point. However, there are a multitude of slight differences that set them apart.

Pricing and Value

The Sonny WH-1000XM4 and Sonny WH-1000XM3 do not differ very much in pricing. Both headphones are priced at around $349. However, you could get different discounts depending on where you purchase your headphones. For example, you could get the Sonny WH-1000XM4 headphones at $284 or the Sonny WH-1000XM3 at $199 at Walmart. 

Although this is not a significant difference, it is essential as it decreases the value placed on each model. Therefore, if you have more to splurge on your headphones, the WH-1000XM4 is your best bet. However, the WH-1000XM3 offers more affordability, allowing you to save money. 


When you place the WH-1000XM4 and WH-1000XM3 side by side, you will probably mistake them for each other. However, you will feel the difference between the two when held in hand or worn. You can also tell them apart by looking at the Mark series design on the WH-1000XM4, which is slightly enhanced. The WH-1000XM3, in contrast, maintains the original silhouette. Further, the latest headphone version uses more solid materials. For example, it switches the aluminum extenders for refined leather earpads and headbands. 

The refined leather provides a more comfortable and cozy wearing experience. Moreover, Sony claims to have designed the WH-1000XM3 to have ear cups with 10% more surface area. This increased surface area provides more and better head contact. In addition, the extra room also provides comfort and better ventilation, which prevents moisture build-up. Another design difference between the two models is their ear cups’ texture. When you run your fingers on the WH-1000XM3 ear cups, you will notice they have a feel more like plastic.

In contrast, the WH-1000XM4 ear cups have a soft-to-the-touch rubber finish. The soft rubber texture is more resistant to scuffs and scratches than its counterpart. This aspect ensures that the WH-1000XM4 looks relatively newer for longer. Regarding its fit, the WH-1000XM4 is slightly better, which we can attribute to its slimmer headband. Although not a noticeable difference, this slimmer headband applies less pressure on the ears and skull.

Despite the various design differences, the two models also have various similarities. These include elegant copper accents, model numbers that have been laser-etched, and embossed Sony logos. Further, both models are slightly hefty, weighing about 9 ounces.

Smart Controls

One factor that made the WH-1000XM3 so dominant was its intelligent controls. The WH-1000XM4 capitalizes on this and even adds more of the same. However, it still retains its predecessor’s the smooth functionality. Each of the models has intuitive touch panels with slide, tap, and swipe for seamless call management and playback. However, the WH-1000XM4 has several unique advantages. One of these is on-ear detection. The WH-1000XM4 has internal motion sensors that allow users to perform various functions automatically. For Instance, you can automatically pause and resume by removing your headphones and putting them back on consecutively. 

The WH-1000XM4 headphone also comes with a Speak-to-Chat function. Like the on-ear-detection function, Speak-to-Chat allows you to pause music by simply speaking. The headphones use advanced signal processing and in-built mics for voice recognition. Once it recognizes your voice, the headphones stop playback immediately. The function is amazingly sophisticated and demonstrates impeccable speech recognition. Both models support Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. Because both headphones have mics that register voice commands quickly and support voice assistance, you can efficiently perform simple tasks like creating calendar invites, speech-to-text, and opening emails.

Active Noise Cancellation

The actual test of noise cancellation headphones is how well they can filter out low-end sound. Further, good headphones combine noise cancellation and a great seal to achieve effectiveness. While both of the headsets are effective as far as active noise cancellation goes, the WH-1000XM4 comes out slightly ahead of the WH-1000XM3. 

The reason for this is that Sony retooled their active noise cancellation algorithms. The new algorithm offers a new Bluetooth SoC, which blocks more noise in the higher and mid-range frequencies. Get the Sony WH-1000XM4 and forget about barking dogs, constantly ringing doorbells, and more. However, this does not mean that the WH-1000XM3 offers poor noise cancellation. Indeed, it is challenging to notice the difference between these two.

Audio Quality

Something we all expect from good headphones is impeccable audio quality. In this aspect, the Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sony WH-1000XM4 are head and shoulders above other brands. However, the two models differ in terms of audio quality despite having similar hardware that gives out dynamic and pulsating sonics.

Although the difference in audio quality may not be noticeable to an average person’s ear, an audiophile might notice it. The WH-1000XM4 has slight audio enhancements that make its audio quality much better than its counterpart. Sony has implemented the DSEE Extreme, an audio upscaling system that compresses audio formats and fills the gaps. 

This feature means that your library of MP4s can fit in much smaller storage space and still sound like lossless FLACs. Further, compressed songs played on YouTube will also sound much better. Indeed, Sony has spectacularly balanced the sound, providing enough boom while leaving room for subtle nuances. In addition, enabling the ANC mode does not affect performance. You will still be able to hear the mids and highs completely.

App and Special Features

Regarding special features, the WH-1000XM4 has retained many of the old features of the WH-1000XM3 and added some new ones. Some of the previous features include:

  • Active noise cancellation
  • Smart controls
  • Adjustable ambient listening
  • Tri-digital assistant support
  • High-res audio support
  • Customizable EQ
  • NFC
  • Sony 360 Reality Audio

Besides the features present in the earlier model, the WH-1000XM4 also has several newer features including, Speak-to-Chat functionality and Multi-point technology. These additional features put the WH-1000XM4 slightly ahead of its counterpart. Further, its mobile app retains its user-friendly interface but its updated version looks cleaner. It also allows for the possibility of add-on features via future firmware.

Battery Life and Charging

One of the most beautiful elements of Sony’s headphones is their battery life capacity. Both the Sony WH-1000XM3 and Sony WH-1000XM4 are exemplary in this aspect. Fully charged, both models offer a 30 hour battery life while using the ANC. However, this can often go down to around 28.5 hours when factoring in listening modes, loud volume, heavy streaming, and video calls. In contrast, you can get as much as 38 hours of battery life if you turn off the ANC. Therefore, neither one of the models has a longer battery life than the other.

Although battery life is similar, the WH-1000XM3 uses micro-USB charging, while the WH-1000XM4 uses Type-C charging. 


Sony headphones have an NFC chip, allowing for connectivity with smartphones by a simple process of touch and pairing. This process is instantaneous and even turns on Bluetooth. Although the WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 have superior connectivity to other brands, the WH-1000XM4 is slightly better.

Being a newer Sony model, the WH-1000XM4 includes Bluetooth 5.0, unlike the XM3, which uses Bluetooth 4.2. However, the difference in wireless performance between the two is negligible. Typically, each device assures you robust connectivity and a stable range of between 35 to 40 feet.

Although the wireless performance of the two headphone models is similar, the WH-1000XM4 is superior with its multi-point technology. This technology is exclusive to the WH-1000XM4 and allows you to connect various devices simultaneously.

Budget Pick
Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones (2018)
  • Uses Bluetooth 4.2
  • Best in class Active Noise Cancelling
  • Features touch controls
  • Voice assistant (Alexa) enabled
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02/21/2024 05:33 am GMT

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM3: 7 Must-Know Facts

  • The Sony XM4 has multi-point technology that allows you to connect multiple devices simultaneously.
  • Both the XM4 and XM3’s batteries last for about 30 hours.
  • The WH-1000XM4 offers far better sound quality due to the DSEE audio upscaling system.
  • The Sony XM4 uses Bluetooth 5.0 while the XM3 employs Bluetooth 4.2.
  • Both the XM4 and XM3 allow for a stable connection range of between 35 to 40 feet.
  • The WH-1000XM3 uses micro-USB charging, while the WH-1000XM4 uses Type-C charging.
  • The WH-1000XM4 is slightly more expensive compared to the WH-1000XM3.

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Sony WH-1000XM3: Which One Is Better?

For Affordability

As mentioned earlier, both the WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 have roughly similar prices. However, various stores offer discounts when it comes to the WH-1000XM3, which makes it much more affordable. Furthermore, you can also get second-hand WH-1000XM3 headphones, which are cheaper. Therefore, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is your best option if you are on a tight budget. Moreover, it will still offer you broadly similar features to its counterparts.

For Connectivity

If your main contention between the two models is predominantly on connectivity, then the WH-1000XM4 will serve you better. Despite having similar wireless performance, the WH-1000XM4 also offers multi-point connectivity. Thus, the WH-1000XM4 can connect to multiple devices at the same time. This feature is highly beneficial since it allows you to switch between devices smoothly.

For Audio Quality

The WH-1000XM4 is superior to its predecessor in audio quality. The principal reason for this is its DSEE audio upscaling technology, which drastically improves the streaming audio quality of services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Therefore, if you are an avid streamer of music and podcasts, the WH-1000XM4 might offer you better service than its counterpart.


The fundamental differences between the two models of headphones are audio quality, connectivity, and affordability. Looking at all these differences, the WH-1000XM4 is clearly the superior model. Being an upgraded model, this is not a surprise. Therefore, the WH-1000XM4 is your best bet if you can afford it.

  1. Sony WH-1000XM4
    • Best in class Active Noise Cancelling
    • Features Sony's Edge-AI
    • Battery life upt 30 hours
    • Touch controls
    • Multi-device Bluetooth 5.0
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/22/2024 11:08 am GMT
  2. Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones (2018)
    • Uses Bluetooth 4.2
    • Best in class Active Noise Cancelling
    • Features touch controls
    • Voice assistant (Alexa) enabled
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/21/2024 05:33 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth upgrading to WH-1000XM4?

The decision to upgrade to the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones depends on your specific needs and preferences. The WH-1000XM4 has advanced noise-canceling technology, Bluetooth multi-point pairing, improved sound quality with DSEE Extreme, and a more comfortable and lightweight design compared to its predecessor. If you value these features, then upgrading could be worthwhile. However, if you’re satisfied with your current headphones, upgrading may not be necessary.

Is the Sony WH-1000XM4 more comfortable?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are considered more comfortable than their predecessor, the WH-1000XM3. In fact, the WH-1000XM4 features a slightly updated design that offers a better fit and improved padding on the ear cups and headband. The ear cups are larger, providing more room for your ears to fit comfortably inside, and they have a more oval shape that conforms to the shape of your head. Additionally, the WH-1000XM4 is slightly lighter, which reduces the overall pressure on your head and makes them more comfortable to wear for extended periods. Overall, if comfort is a priority for you, the WH-1000XM4 could be a good option.

What is the difference between the WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4?

The fundamental difference between the WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 is their available features. In this aspect, the WH-1000XM4 has more features than its counterpart. It supports multi-device pairing and uses DSEE audio upscaling for better sound quality. It also comes with intelligent controllers like on-ear detection and in-built mics not available in the WH-1000XM3.

Is the Sony WH-1000XM4 good for gym?

Sony dis not specifically design the WH-1000XM4 headphones for use during physical exercise or workouts, and they may not be the best choice for use at the gym. While the headphones offer excellent noise cancellation and sound quality, they are not designed to be sweat or water-resistant, which means excessive moisture during a workout could damage them. Additionally, their over-ear design could make them uncomfortable or difficult to wear during intense physical activity.

Are the Sony WH-1000XM3 worth it?

Yes, the WH-1000XM3 is probably worth buying even with the release of the WH-1000XM4. Active noise cancellers are the rare headphones that work well in just about any situation, and that’s why they’re so valuable.

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