Sony products definitely don’t have the best naming schemes, but the XB line of products is about as straightforward as you can get. Whether you’re talking about headphones, Bluetooth speakers, or in this case true wireless earbuds—the “XB” always stands for one thing: extra bass. The Sony WF-XB700 true wireless earbuds may not have as much appeal as a more affordable pair of true wireless buds from Sony probably should have, but now that I’ve spent some time with them: I think more people should know about these. It’s not because it’s a perfect product, but because they’re about as straightforward as it can get.
What’s it like to use the Sony WF-XB700 earbuds?
Like any other pair of true wireless earbuds, it’s important to start with the charging case because this is going to be your first experience every time you use them. I have to say: I’m not a fan of this case. After having spent time with the Pixel Buds, the AirPods Pro, and even the Sony WF-1000XM3, the case with the WF-XB700 earbuds just feels cheap. You won’t find the same glossy plastic that you’ll find on the more expensive options here which, to be fair, is understandable given the price. Instead, you’ll get a cheap feeling plastic similar to the scratchy build of the Sony WH-CH710N headphones.
While other cases use things like magnets to snap shut and keep the earbuds in place, the Sony WF-XB700 instead just use tension and resistance to keep the lid shut. This is good because it keeps the case from opening up when you don’t want it to, but bad because it’s a hassle to use, and most of the time requires two hands to pry open. What makes the cases of products like the AirPods and Pixel Buds so easy to use is that you can flip open the lid with one hand to get to the earbuds which is super useful when you’re on the go. These go in the opposite direction and were a constant annoyance to me even when I wasn’t doing anything and just hanging around my apartment.
It’s not all bad though, and there are some cool things about the case that I liked. For example, the lid is slightly translucent so when you plug in the case to charge or put the earbuds back in, you can actually see the small LED lights letting you know that they’re successfully charging or not. The earbuds snap nicely into place when you put them in the case, thanks to magnets strong enough to keep them from falling out accidentally (unless they suffer from a particularly tough drop).
The earbuds themselves are just as clunky and drab as the case, but man do they work well. Their utilitarian design with an IPX4 sweatproof build with an emphasis on bass notes, screams: “fitness buds.” Aside from those all-important features that I already mentioned, these also have what Sony calls a “Tri-hold” design, which is a fancy way of saying that you have to put them in your ear and then do a weird twist in order to get them to stay put not unlike that of other true wireless earbuds. The difference is that it’s been done really well here.
Besides the Powerbeats Pro, I haven’t used a pair of true wireless earbuds that stayed put as well as the Sony WF-XB700.
I’m not going to say that these are the most comfortable earbuds you’ll ever use—they’re not—but if you want a pair of earbuds that won’t fall out, then look no further. Besides maybe the Powerbeats Pro (which use an earhook design to secure themselves to your ears), I haven’t used a pair of true wireless earbuds that stayed put as well as the Sony WF-XB700 earbuds. Whether I was going for a run, doing burpees, or even inverted push-ups, I never felt like these were in danger of falling out.
As I said before, these aren’t pretty. In fact, the Sony WF-XB700 earbuds go against every aesthetic and design choice I personally find attractive. They’re bulky, made of cheap plastic, and stick out comically from your ears in the same way that something like the older Bose SoundSport Free earbuds do. But who cares about any of that if you’re after a pair of affordable workout earbuds? If you’re a commuter and just want an easy to use pair of buds that won’t break the bank while looking nice, I’d recommend going with something else like the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 true wireless earbuds.
If you don’t care about how you look, then these are a functionally great pair of true wireless earbuds. Each earbud has a single button and they’re super clicky. While they’re not the nicest feeling buttons at least they work perfectly. The right earbud controls playback while the left adjusts volume.
How do you pair to the Sony WF-XB700 true wireless earbuds?
Unfortunately there isn’t any fancy way to connect to these in the same way that there is for other popular models. You won’t even find NFC here which I find to be a bit of a bummer as I still think it’s a seriously underrated way to pair two devices together (if you’re on Android at least). To initially pair, all you have to do is take the earbuds out of the case for the first time and they will automatically enter pairing mode. From there, just look into the Bluetooth settings of your source device for “WF-XB700” and tap it to connect. If you’re already connected to a device and want to pair a second device, then there’s a bit more of a process that you’ll need to go through.
- Go to Bluetooth settings and disconnect from the earbuds on your primary device.
- Next, hold down both buttons on the earbuds for approximately seven seconds.
- Once you hear the “Bluetooth pairing” notification go to the Bluetooth settings son your secondary device.
- Tap on “WF-XB700” in the Bluetooth settings in order to pair your second device.
It’s worth mentioning that just because you can pair to more than one device doesn’t mean you’ll be able to switch between the two simultaneously. Unfortunately, these earbuds aren’t that smart. If you’re listening to your music on your phone and want to switch to your computer you’ll need to enter Bluetooth settings on both devices and manually disconnect from one and then reconnect on the other. This process might sound easy but it’s super annoying. Multiple times I found myself going through Bluetooth settings and turning the earbuds on and off with no luck and then they would randomly decide to connect to the source I wanted them to all on their own accord. If you only have one device in mind that you want to use these with then this won’t be an issue, but if you plan to switch between devices often it’s an annoyance that I wish I didn’t have to deal with.
How’s the connection strength?
When it comes to the actual Bluetooth connection, I also had a really good experience. I rarely had any skips or stutters regardless of whether I was connected to my iPhone 11 Pro or my Huawei Matebook X Pro. These handled both iOS and Windows without a problem, but those results didn’t carry over to my Pixel 3 for some reason. It could be that my Pixel 3 is just getting old now, or maybe the AAC codec was having its usual hiccups with Android, but I had multiple issues with my music stuttering uncontrollably—forcing me back to my computer or iPhone. It could be an isolated incident with my own Pixel 3 which is always possible, but I felt it was an issue still worth mentioning.
While we’re on the subject of Bluetooth codecs, I was disappointed to see that these only support AAC and SBC. Considering Sony is the maker of the LDAC codec it’s always a letdown when it isn’t on a set of their wireless audio products, but LDAC and true wireless earphones really don’t play nicely together. Of course, it doesn’t really matter all that much, considering the use case and size of true wireless earbuds usually isn’t critical listening. On the bright side, I never had any audio sync issues while watching YouTube videos, so if you’re big on binging your favorite headphone reviews then you have nothing to worry about here.
How long does the battery of the Sony WF-XB700 last?
Battery life is something that most true wireless earbuds tend to struggle with, but they have been getting better as a whole. Sony claims that you’ll get nine hours of constant playback here, but at a constant output of 75dB as per our objective testing guidelines I only managed to squeeze out 6 hours and 22 minutes before these tapped out. That should cover your listening for a long commute each way plus a workout, so you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of charge, especially if you store them in the charging case when you’re not using them. If you’re prone to wear wireless earbuds for more than 6 hours at a time, you might want to look at something like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus or the Powerbeats Pro.
While 6.5 hours isn’t bad at all, the one thing that does get me when it comes to battery life is that the charging case only provides you with one extra charge. While that isn’t a dealbreaker by any means—and I don’t think too many people will have any issues with that—I do think that providing a charging case that only gives you one extra charge is a pretty annoying weakness. Thankfully these do have a USB-C input for charging, but a case that needs a top-up every night is a bit of a drag.
How’s the microphone of the Sony WF-XB700 true wireless earbuds?
While the microphone isn’t the best I’ve used on a pair of true wireless earbuds, these actually weren’t bad. People on the other end were able to tell that I wasn’t using a phone to speak to them but they never had any issues understanding what I was saying. If you look at the frequency response graph of the buds you can see that while they don’t perfectly pickup all notes in the vocal range, they do a decent job at picking up what counts. Of course, anyone with a deep voice will notice that the deeper tones in your voice won’t sound as loud thanks to a slight de-emphasis in the sub-100Hz region of the graph.
Sony WF-XB700 microphone demo:
How do the Sony WF-XB700 true wireless earbuds sound?
The Sony WF-XB700 really impressed me when it came to sound quality. Not because they make me notice new and interesting parts of my most listened to songs (they don’t). Instead, these have a serious emphasis in the low end which made some of my more upbeat songs really enjoyable to listen to while running. The big bass that starts off the song Gosh by Jamie xx is one of my all-time favorite running songs and even at about 50% volume the WH-XB700 true wireless earbuds had my eyes rattling.
Again, not great when you’re just sitting at your desk, but key when you’re in the middle of a run. Of course, that low end push is also important because these are terrible at isolating you from low rumbles in the outside world. The extra emphasis helped really keep the bass at the forefront of the listening experience. Surprisingly, notes in the mids actually had a surprisingly flat-ish response save for a small bump to frequencies around 1kHz.
Again, this is great if I want to listen to podcasts (most human vocal fundamentals lie in this range) so when I wasn’t running, this is usually what I was using these headphones for. If you look at the frequency response graph you’ll see that things get bumpy in the highs but I found that the big bump in loudness at around 13kHz did a good enough job at feigning a sense of space when it came to cymbals and hi-hats in the song Personal by Emotional Oranges. I was never impressed with the clarity in the highs of any song, but again, for a pair of true wireless earbuds that I mostly used while running I really liked how these handled the higher notes.
Should you buy the Sony WF-XB700 true wireless earbuds?
Athletes and bargain-hunters should get the Sony WF-XB700, but mainly if you’re looking for a pair of spartan workout earbuds. These aren’t the best true wireless earbuds by any means, and they’re lacking any special features like active noise cancelling or transparency mode. They’re relatively affordable—if not a fashion statement—and perfectly fit the niche of what I’d expect from a pair of sweatproof, bassy earbuds. If you’re looking for a pair of true wireless earbuds for your workouts then the WF-XB700 should be on your shortlist.