What we want to see from the Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has already had its fair share of leaks, but what do we consumers actually want from Sony’s next-generation active noise-cancelling (ANC) headset? We know what to expect: longer battery life due to more efficient power consumption and more effective ANC, but let’s play around and decide what features will gas up excitement.

No more broken headbands

The Sony WH-1000X line has been plagued with durability issues from the start, and it’s surprising that the issue has persisted for so long. Just like other plastic headsets, Sony’s flagship tends to break under pressure: there are numerous user reports of the Sony WH-1000XM3 headband snapping along the plastic seams as depicted on Sony’s community thread.

Anyone paying $350 for a headset has every right to be upset by shoddy quality control.

Seeing how this is a top-tier line of noise-cancelling headphones with the price to show for it, the frustration is warranted. The third time around may not have been the charm for Sony, but perhaps the Sony WH-1000XM4 will prove different. I hope we see something along the lines of the Shure Aonic 50 headband design; this ANC headset uses metal in spots that are typical breakage points to prolong the headset’s lifetime.

Hands-free access to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa

A photo of a man wearing Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 lets users program the ANC button to access Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri but doesn’t support direct voice access.

The recent leak detailing some Sony WH-1000XM4 specifications made note of hands-free access to virtual assistants, which I hope comes to fruition. We’ve already seen Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration with the headset, so this seems like a reasonable next-step.

It took me a while to appreciate the hype surrounding virtual assistants in general, but I now view them as a wonderful accessibility tool. Direct voice access to assistants like Siri or Alexa makes it that much easier for visually impaired people to receive and respond to text-based information. It also benefits users with dyslexia as the ability to respond directly to incoming messages bypasses the reading process altogether.

If you’re thinking, “Well, I can already do that with the current model anyway,” you’re right, kind of. With the current noise-cancelling flagship, users have to designate the noise cancelling/ambient button for access to Alexa or Google; this means users have to download the Sony | Headphones app, dig through a few tabs, and remap the ANC button for virtual assistant access. It’s not a cumbersome process for a majority of users but is frustrating for some due to it requiring a bit of reading; hence why default hands-free assistant access would be great.

We hope the Sony WH-1000XM4 retains a headphone jack

A photo of the Sony WH-1000XM3 and its 3.5mm analog audio port.

The WH-1000XM3 has a 24-hour battery life, but users can always depend on analog listening via the headphone jack.

We’ve seen Apple subsidiary Beats drop the headphone jack from its noise-cancelling on-ear headset the Beats Solo Pro, and can expect more of the company’s audio products to follow suit. Hopefully, Sony avoids this, so you can still enjoy high-resolution audio from FLAC files and services like Amazon Music HD and Tidal HiFi. Seeing as Sony is still pumping out high-resolution Walkman players, the headphone jack seems all but guaranteed on the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Those are the top three features we at Android Authority want to see from the upcoming Sony WH-1000XM4. Be sure to let us know what you’re hoping for in the upcoming headset!

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