In this article I will provide my brief review of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones.
I bought these Bluetooth Headphones back in may 2020, because I want5ed to have headphones that helped me to focus and concentrate. When the price-point dropped significantly and some online research, I wanted to give these a try.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Unboxing and design
On the box of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones you can see the key features of the headphones. Hi resolution audio, 30 hours of battery life, Google Assistant and Alexa built-in and finally the noise canceling capabilities. You can see a side view of the headphones on the box, with all design details included.
Furthermore you can see the 5 star rating of the What Hi-Fi? review published back in August 2018. What does the box include ?
- Carrying hard-case;
- USB-C charging cable;
- Headphone cable;
- Plug adapter for in-flight use;
- User manual, product description and warranty paperwork;
- Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones;
Basically everything, except the manuals, fits into the well designed hard-case. The hard-case fits my Piquardo business laptop bag and protects the headphones really well.
Design details Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones
In my view Sony has always been great at designing high quality products. For example the Sony Bravia Master series are always amongst the best TV’s as of their introduction in 2005. I see this same design eagerness in the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones.
The most eye-catching part is the folding mechanism for both ear-pieces of the headphones. You can see in the folding description of the hard-case that the ear-pieces can rotate or fold around two axis.
It feels very flexible and natural to “operate” but it also feels robust. When you fold the headphone ear-pieces inwards you see the parts and bolts from the hinge/joint. It feels solid and has proven itself over the timeframe of almost a year. The mechanical engineer in me simply loves this.
On the right headphone there are the touch controls. The touch controls give you the option to:
- Control the audio while listening to music;
- Control functions during a phone call;
While the picture above gives you a solid overview of the swiping options/gestures (comparable to a laptop touchpad or smartphone), there are articles available in the online Sony help guide: Controlling the audio device (Bluetooth connection) and Functions for a phone call.
Other design details
Copper accents on the ear-piece, and also the Sony logo in copper. On the upper part where you can adjust the width of the headphones you see a silver/grey WH-1000XM3 engraving.
On the right headphone you can see the USB-C charging port. There is also a very small LED on the charging port.
On the left headphone you can see the NFC logo. You could wake-up the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones with your Android smartphone through a one touch NFC connection and pair the headphones over Bluetooth with your phone: One-touch connection (NFC) with an Android smartphone.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones Alternatives
If you say noise cancelling you probably say Bose, because they invented the first noise cancelling headphones. Please read the article “How a “Genius” Engineer Designed the First Noise Cancelling Headsets” with some interesting facts and history about the first Bose headphones.
- Sony WH-1000XM4 Bluetooth Headphones
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II
- Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
- Bowers & Wilkins PX5
- Beats Studio3 Wireless
I just wanted to provide you with an overview of competitive noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones. By no means I have done a head-to-head comparison myself, simply because I really really like the Sony WH-1000XM3.
You can see that the competition is strong and for some people it will come with the same brand-preferences or emotions like purchasing a car. Perhaps the strongest competitor is the Sony WH-1000XM4, simply based upon my own experience with the older Sony WH-1000XM3.
Sony Headphones Connect App
The main screen of the Sony Headphones Connect App is clean and provides you with advanced information. The connection status and battery life and the headphones model the app is connected with.
In the bottom of the app you have the typical music player control buttons, while in the middle part of the screen you will see three tabs that give you access to more detailed features and settings.
In the upper right corner you see the 3 dots icon. This opens a pop-up menu shown in the right screenshot above. It give you access to the Sony Headphones Connect App version, as well as the firmware version on the Sony WH-1000XM3 Headphones.
The status tab is aimed at providing the end-user with a status overview of adaptive sound control settings of the headphones. As you can see in the screenshot above you can see the automatic switch trigger (staying) and the ability to set location triggers for switching as well.
So depending on your geekness level you will add locations, map coordinates and other switching triggers. 😉
The sound tab of the Sony Headphones Connect App is impressive to me. The features and settings here are more for the advanced audio-enthusiasts:
- Ambient Sound Control;
- Noise Cancelling Optimizer;
- Sound Position Control;
- Surround (VPT);
- 360 Reality Audio Setup;
- Sound Quality Mode;
I’ve played around with these features, but once set to your personal preferences, I hardly go in these settings. In other words I’m not adjusting these advanced settings every day. The most used is the Noise Cancelling Optimizer.
The system tab of the Sony Headphones Connect app allows you to change settings for the ambient sound control, the automatic power off period and the language for notifications and voice guide.
The automatic power off setting is personally the most important one, simply because it saves battery and thus listening time. Despite having my Anker PowerCore+ Powerbank with me all the time.
If I missed a feature please check out the Sony Online Help Guide: What you can do with “Sony | Headphones Connect” app.
Concluding thoughts and wrap-up
I use the Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones during:
- Focus time when the active noise cancelling is super helpful. I use it for Headspace meditation sessions and for work blocks where I need my best focus and concentration;
- Relax time when you need good sound quality to listen music;
For meetings via Microsoft Teams or Zoom Meetings I prefer to use the Plantronics Voyager Legend UC B235-M. Perhaps I need to give the hands-free calling also a try. 🙂
Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones offer excellent sound quality and noise cancelling capabilities. When it comes to comfort of the over ear design and the amount of cushioning make it really comfortable headphones that you can wear for longer periods.
The level of details in design also reflect the engineering focus that has gone into these headphones. It is really really well-build.
Also the Sony Headphones Connect app works really well. You can fine tune some settings of the Sony WH-1000XM3 but it is also used for firmware updates. I’ve updated the firmware just a couple of times, but the process was rock solid after a simple notification in the Headphones Connect app.
Only point for improvement (for my personal use) is the fact that the Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones can only connect to one device. So if I want to swiftly switch from my Google Android powered smartphone that I use to Headspace to my Lenovo ThinkPad T490 and listen Spotify I manually need to disconnect the smartphone and connect to the laptop. This has been improved with the new Sony WH-1000XM4 Bluetooth Headphones as you can read below:
“One criticism of the WH-1000XM3s was the inability to connect to more than one device simultaneously. This has been rectified for the WH-1000XM4s thanks to their new ‘Multipoint’ feature which was enabled in a firmware update released shortly after their launch. You’re now able to switch between two Bluetooth-connected devices.”
So long term I’m very happy with the Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones, I purchased them when the price dropped to € 240,–. The current price-point is around € 205,– if you do some online research, while the new model Sony WH-1000XM4 is available for about € 310,–. It is up to you if you would like to pay the 100,– difference.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Headphones are 3 years after launch still well designed high quality headphones that you can go wrong with.
Which Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones are you using ?