Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4: Which noise-cancelling earbuds are better?

The Google Pixel Buds Pro are the company’s first attempt at noise-cancelling earbuds. They deliver impressive active noise cancellation (ANC), along with dynamic sound and lengthy battery life. Most importantly, they offer deep Google Assistant integration that no rival can match.

Sony spared no expense when assembling their flagship wireless earbuds: the WF-1000XM4. Improvements were made to ANC, battery life, sound, and special features, making for one well-rounded package. The smaller and sexier redesign houses several Sony proprietary technologies, while also providing an ergonomic fit.

These are two of the best wireless earbuds and best noise-cancelling earbuds on the market with plenty of functionality, but only one is considered a five-star product. Which is it? Our in-depth comparison will answer that for you.

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 specs

Google Pixel Buds ProSony WF-1000XM4 Price$199 $279 Wireless chargingYesYesProcessorGoogle six-core processorSony V1Battery life (rated)7 hours (ANC on); 11 hours (ANC off); 20 hours (charging case with ANC on); 31 hours (charging case with ANC off)8 hours (ANC on); 12 hours (ANC off); 24 hours (with charging case); 36 hours (with charging case and ANC off)IPX ratingIPX4IPX4 Size and weight (buds)0.88 x 0.87 x 0.93 inches; 0.22 ounces1 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches; 0.2 ouncesSize and weight (charging case)0.98 x 1.97 x 2.49 inches; 2.2 ounces2.4 x 1.5 x 1.1 inches; 2.0 ounces Special features: Active noise cancellation, transparency mode, Volume EQ, spatial audio, audio switching, Google Assistant voice activation, Google Translate, Notifications, Eartip Seal, Check, Find My Device, Bluetooth multipointActive noise cancellation, transparency mode, Speak-to-Chat, customizable EQ, 360 Reality Audio, DSEE Extreme upscaling, LDAC, Bluetooth 5.2, tri-digital assistant support (Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri), quick charging

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000xM4 price

The Google Pixel Buds Pro are the highest-priced buds in the series at $199. They are also more affordable than the $279 Sony WF-1000XM4, granted we’ve seen the latter on sale for as low as $248 at major online retailers. 

When factoring in discounts and overall functionality, Sony manages to overcome Google’s price advantage and take it to a draw.

For all of the latest headphones deals, bookmark our best headphones deals page.

Winner: Draw

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 design

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The Pixel Buds Pro look identical to the Pixel Buds 2 and Pixel Buds A-Series. Google implemented wind-blocking mesh covers on the front and eliminated the attachable wing tips, which affects fit; these buds are a loose wear. If you can manage to keep them stabilized in your ears, they’ll provide nice comfort for long listening sessions. Google’s charging case still looks cool, but it is a scuff magnet.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Meanwhile, Sony revamped the Mark Series in-ear design by transforming it into an oval shape and adding nice touches like a protruding touch panel and gold ANC mic housing. The WF-1000XM4 has solid build quality and shares the same water/sweat resistance (IPX4) as its opponent. The charging case was even given a facelift, resembling the WF-SP800N charging case, but lighter and smaller. Comfort and fit are adequate, meaning you can wear the buds for up to two hours before fatigue sets in and not worry about them slipping out every so often. We also found Sony’s Optimal Earbud Tips test more accurate than Google’s version.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 controls

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Voice functionality is the Pixel Buds Pro’s greatest strength. Deep Google Assistant integration is available at the tip of your tongue. We’re talking “Hey Google” voice activation, which is impeccable, and other noteworthy services like Google Translate to translate over 40+ languages and Notifications to hear updates (e.g., calendar events, flight changes, messages) in real-time. The touch controls and auto-pause function are also highly responsive. Our only gripe is that Siri and Bixby are not compatible with these buds.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Speech recognition, touch controls, and wear detection are on point on the WF-1000XM4. We love that Sony added a few smart features to make operating playback a breeze. Quick Attention lowers the volume to 10% when you talk, while Speak-to-Chat uses mics and advanced signal processing to recognize your voice and automatically pause music. Google Assistant and Alexa integration come part of the deal, so you can perform many of the same Google commands as the Pixel Buds Pro. However, we found that Google Assistant performed better on the Pixel Buds. At least Sony gives you the opportunity to use Siri and Bixby on their buds.

Winner: Google Pixel Buds Pro

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 active noise cancellation

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Sony’s noise-cancelling technology ranks high in the true wireless category. Noises across the frequency spectrum are blocked out at the highest level. Every so often a high-frequency sound (e.g., siren, whistle) enters the soundscape, but ends up sounding like a background effect on songs. What differentiates Sony’s ANC mode from others is the 20-level Ambient Noise Control, which is ridiculously strong and picks up the slightest noises from several feet away. It’s a must for having clear and concise conversations with people when you don’t want to take off the buds.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Google stepped up to the challenge and created an effective noise-cancelling mode that blocks out most noises. It ranks higher than what you’ll find on several noise-cancelling earbuds, but doesn’t compare to the market’s best. The mesh covers are clutch for when listening to music in windy environments; whisking effects barely have any presence. Transparency Mode is also useful for increasing environmental awareness.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 audio

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

Many believe the WF-1000XM4 to be the best-sounding wireless earbuds out there. It’s debatable, but what isn’t is their excellent sound quality. Sony’s V1 chip combined with their powerful 6mm drivers and versatile EQ customization creates a wide and vibrant soundstage that complements all media formats (e.g., music, movies, podcasts, video games). Expect rich mids, compelling highs, and booming lows. Then comes high-end features like 360 Reality Audio for convincing 3D sound on select music tracks, Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) for upscaling lo-fi recordings, and LDAC to ensure high-quality streaming over Bluetooth.

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The Pixel Buds Pro rely on an 11mm speaker driver and custom six-core processor to produce well-balanced, dynamic sound. There’s some great frequency range to enjoy on orchestral tracks. Features like Volume EQ boost bass and treble frequencies when listening at lower volumes, but that’s all the audio personalization you’ll get until Google releases their five-band EQ and spatial audio this fall.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 special features and app

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

The WF-1000XM4 has nearly double the number of features as the Pixel Buds Pro. Let’s start with aforementioned ones like 360 Reality Audio, ANC, ambient listening adjustment, DSEE, Equalizer, LDAC, Optimal Earbuds Tips, Quick Attention, and Speak-to-Chat. There’s even a Bluetooth Connection Quality setting to prioritize sound quality or connectivity, along with a music player and several toggles to enable different features. Multipoint technology is missing (pair to two devices simultaneously), but Bluetooth 5.2 holds up well to maintain strong and steady connections with recognized devices on all platforms (e.g., iOS, Android, Windows).

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Since the Pixel Buds Pro is geared towards Pixel smartphone users, options are more limited, but still serviceable. We touched on several already, including ANC/Transparency Mode, audio switching, Eartip Seal Check, Google Assistant, Google Translate, Notifications, and Volume EQ. Besides those, you get Bluetooth multipoint and one-tap Google Fast Pair. As previously mentioned, the five-band EQ and spatial audio will be available in a future update.

The Pixel Buds Pro and WF-1000XM4 support Google’s Find My Device feature.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 battery life

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The WF-1000XM4 holds between 8 to 12 hours, though LDAC does drop these playtimes by about 2 hours. The Pixel Buds Pro isn’t too far behind with 7 to 11 hours. High volume and heavy Google Assistant use shaves off an hour, no matter if ANC is on or off.

Sony’s charging case comes with more portable power: 24 to 36 hours. You can get up to 31 hours from the Pixel Buds Pro’s case, but if you’re planning on using ANC all the time, that number drops to 20 hours, which is lower than the AirPods Pro case (24 hours).

Both charging cases support wireless charging and quick charging (5 minutes = 1 hour of listening time). Unfortunately, a USB-C cable does not come bundled with the Pixel Buds Pro.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 call quality

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Neither of these are considered top-tier calling headsets, but the Pixel Buds Pro demonstrates much better wind resistance than the WF-1000XM4. Most calls we made in gusty conditions came through clearly. Google could have done a better job with the volume. The WF-1000XM4 has some muffling issues, pulls in a lot of ambient noise, and struggles with wind.

Winner: Google Pixel Buds Pro

Overall winner: Sony WF-1000XM4

And the W goes to the Sony WF-1000XM4. Features are endless, noise cancellation is second to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and sound is first class. Then you have strong selling points like intuitive controls, longer battery life, and a beautiful design that offers the perfect mix of form, fashion, and function. It’s a pricey investment, but well worth it.

Google Pixel Buds ProSony WF-1000XM4 Value (5) 34Design (15)1213Controls (10)1010Active noise cancellation (20)1719Audio (15)1315 App and special features (15) 1113Battery life (10) 89Call quality (10)85Total score (100)8288

Google has something special with the Pixel Buds Pro. No other wireless earbuds can match the Google Assistant experience these buds deliver. The noise cancellation is better than we expected. Sound is satisfying, and the addition of features like Volume EQ present a more unique way of listening to music without harming your hearing. Had there been a better fit and more features to play with, these buds could have put up a better fight. Still, they remain a go-to for Pixel smartphone owners that want noise-cancellers to call their own.


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