I’m carrying both with me everywhere I go. Which is better?

So I knew the question was going to come up. And I wasn’t wrong. Just three days after owning the new Apple AirPods Pro headphones, the question was asked. “Which is better - the new AirPod Pros or the new Sony WF1000XM3s?”

In many ways, they’re very similar.

  • They both work with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) on or off.
  • They both work without any cables at all. Nothing running behind my neck.
  • They both have microphones and you can take calls with each.
  • No one complains when I use either of them on a phone call.
  • Neither comes with a control on the device to adjust volume.
  • Both fit very comfortably in my ears for long (4 hour) flights.
  • Neither can connect to more than one device (laptop & phone).
  • Both last about 5 hours with ANC on, while watching movies on my phone.
  • Neither is especially easy to get out of the case, and both cases are big.
  • Both cost more than $200 - in other words, not cheap.

But they are different in some ways.

Let’s dig into the ways they’re different to help you decide which are better.

Noise Cancellation

I think the actual noise cancellation technology is better by the Sonys. They bring everything that they developed for the larger, over-the-ear headphones. So when I wear both of them around the house, I find that at the same volume of music on my iPhone, the Sony headphones work better than the Apple AirPods Pro.

But wait!

When it comes to the plane, after a few more trips, I have found that the AirPod Pros do better than my Sonys. How is this possible? Here is my hypothesis.

I think the Sony headphones have better ANC technology, but the Apple AirPods have better fits and seals in my ears. This may be specific to my ears. But the result is that I had more sound blocks with Apple than with Sony. Strange, I know.


I don’t wear them to work out….but if I did….

There is another difference between these two devices that you should know about. The Sony headphones are not designed to be work when sweating. You know, like when you work out. Apple tells you that you shouldn’t get them wet, but that they can handle sweat.

That said, if you’re serious into working out, may I suggest you look at the Powerbeats Pro too.


We haven’t talked about charging the headphones

When it comes to charging, there’s no question that I appreciate wireless charging. Today that’s available for the Apple AirPods Pro. Not yet something you get from Sony. And while I have never had an issue with charging via a cable, now that I have a few powerbanks that have the Qi spot to just lay my phone or headphone case on it (without a cable), I’ve gotten pretty spoiled.


What about sound quality?

I know that quality is subjective based on your own ears and the music you’re playing. I know it. But that said, I listen to a pretty diverse collection of music. One of my playlists for plane travel includes Wynton Marsalis, The Police and Eminem.

So which one wins?

Well, the AirPods feel like they do better on the high notes. And, of course, the Sony pair do better at lower registers.

All that said, I think in a pure shoot-out, I’d have to pick the Sony pair as the one with better sound.



Like I said at the start, they’re both very similar. But if I had to pick a pair, I would pick the Apple AirPods Pro, and here’s why. My phone is an iPhone. My TV technology in the house are Apple TVs. I’m an Apple guy.

And that means that I will benefit from every advance they make, across their ecosystem. That said, for the over-the-ear headphones, I carry my Sonys everywhere I go.