It's shaping up to be a big week for headphone and earbuds fans: hot on the heels of Sony's WH-1000XM5 being leaked, The Walkman Blog has details of what could turn out to be among the best true wireless earbuds in 2022. They're from Sony, they're probably going to be called the Sony Linkbuds S (model number WF-LSN900) and they appear to be positioned as a mid-range option competing directly with Apple's third-generation AirPods.
The design appears to be a cross between Sony's WF-1000XM4 and WF-C500s, with an engraved rather than printed logo that's going to end up filled with all kinds of lint and dust. And according to the Walkman Blog's analysis of the leaks, they appear to have some similarities to the WF-1000XM4: the charging pins, the proximity sensor and the charging case. There also appears to be a noise cancelling microphone and a hole to equalise the air pressure inside the earbuds. It's hard to tell the size from the images but the Linkbuds S appear to be in between the sizes of Sony's other earbuds: bigger than the WF-C500s but not as big as the WF-1000XM4s.
Sony Linkbuds S: what we don't know
There's only so much you can glean from photographs, so for the time being we don't have any details on the Sony Linkbuds S price, their release date, their IPX rating or what kind of noise cancelling they have. However, according to leaker Snoopytech (opens in new tab) the new earbuds have "advanced noise cancellation...[with] automatic playback that learns from your behaviour", which sounds interesting. If that's correct and the Linkbuds are priced keenly, that could give them an edge over Apple's AirPods: Apple currently keeps noise cancellation for its AirPods Pro, not its standard AirPods.
As with the over-ears we saw yesterday, it looks like the launch of these earbuds is fairly close: the photos are clearly promotional ones for use by retailers and press, not leaked prototypes. They say everything comes in threes, so if Sony is updating its Linkbuds and it's updating its WH-1000XM5 could that mean there's an update for Sony's WF-1000XM4 earbuds on the way too? That would be unusually quick for Sony – version 3 came out in 2019 and version 4 in summer 2021 – but while a 2023 release is more likely I wouldn't rule it out. Staying at the top of the best noise cancelling earbuds rankings isn't easy when competition in this sector is so fierce.