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Sony LinkBuds vs AirPods Pro (2022): Which Pair of True Wireless Earbuds Better Suits You?

The Sony LinkBuds and the AirPods Pro are fundamentally the same in that they’re both true wireless earbuds. However, the former is an outlier in the category, sporting an open-ring design that leaves your ears open to let external sound in at all times. Meanwhile, the AirPods Pro are noise canceling with an in-ear fit.

The question is, which one is better? In some ways, the LinkBuds have the edge, but in other ways, the AirPods Pro come out on top. Put simply, there’s no clear-cut answer, but that said, we compare the two on a couple of fronts to hopefully help you decide on which pair is for you.

Sony LinkBuds vs AirPods Pro Comparison Chart

NameSony LinkBudsAirPods Pro
 Sony LinkBuds vs AirPods ProSony LinkBuds vs AirPods Pro
PriceCheck Price at Sony.comCheck Price at Apple.com
Active Noise CancellationNoYes
Ear FitOpenIn-ear
Bluetooth VersionBluetooth 5.2Bluetooth 5.0
Ear DetectionYesYes
Supported CodecsSBC, AACAAC
Battery LifeUp to 5.5 hours or 17.5 hours with charge caseANC on: Up to 4.5 hours or 24 hours with charging case
ANC off: Up to 6 hours or 30 hours with charging case
Fast Charging10 minutes for up to 90 minutes of playback5 minutes for up to 1 hour of playback
Wireless ChargingNoYes
Water ResistanceIPX4IPX4
WeightEarbuds: 4.1g
Case: 34g
Earbuds: 5.4g
Case: 45.6g
ColorsWhite, GrayWhite

Design and Build

When it comes to design, the Sony LinkBuds are in a league of their own, while the AirPods Pro boast Apple’s iconic look.

Sony LinkBuds vs AirPods Pro Design and Build
A closer look at the open-ring design of the Sony LinkBuds (in photo).

As mentioned earlier, the Sony LinkBuds have a distinct open-ring design, and within this ring is where their driver is located to send sound into your ears. This might take some getting used to since most people have likely been using the more “traditional” form factor. Notably, this design ensures you’re never cut off from the outside world, not to mention that you won’t have to jam anything into your ear canals.

Like the other models before it, the AirPods Pro have Apple’s easily recognizable design, but unlike other earlier variants, they have shorter stems, giving them a sleeker and more minimalistic look. They have silicone ear tips too, and their in-ear fit provides a degree of passive noise isolation. To make them comfortable to wear for long periods, they have air vents to prevent pressure from building up.

Both have an IPX4 water resistance rating, meaning you can wear them outside in light rain or during workouts. The two don’t offer much of a choice in terms of color options, though. The LinkBuds come in either White or Gray, whereas the AirPods Pro is available only in White, which comes as a surprise to no one.

Now the LinkBuds are lighter at 4.1g, and that falls in line with its main selling point of being comfortable to wear all day. That doesn’t mean you won’t notice they’re there, however. The AirPods Pro are only a bit heavier at 5.4g.

Audio and Features

Sound-wise, the AirPods Pro are better because of their in-ear fit, but that doesn’t automatically mean the Sony LinkBuds are bad in this regard.

Sony LinkBuds vs AirPods Pro Audio and Features
Here’s what the Sony LinkBuds (in photo) look like when worn.

Despite their open-ear design, the LinkBuds have decent sound. Even though they’re lacking in the bass department, they do have clear highs that don’t become tinny or distorted. But since they don’t form a seal in your ear canal, some details tend to be lost. In comparison, the AirPods Pro do a better job here. Sure, they probably won’t cut it for audiophiles, but they do have a consumer-friendly sound, delivering clear highs and a punchy bass.

Unlike the Sony WF-1000XM4s, the LinkBuds don’t have active noise cancellation (ANC) or an ambient sound mode, the latter of which they don’t need anyway. But the AirPods Pro do, and they have adjustable ANC levels for various situations and a Transparency Mode that’ll let you hear external sounds clearly without taking them off. 

Speaking of, both have ear detection, so they’ll pause playback when you remove them and resume audio when you put them back on. They also have surround sound, which comes in the form of 360 Reality Audio for the LinkBud and Spatial Audio for the AirPods Pro. In other words, neither is lagging behind in audio features.

Click here for our Sony LinkBuds vs WF-1000XM4 comparison.

Battery Life and Controls

With the Sony LinkBuds, playback can be controlled by tapping on your face, and with the AirPods Pro, you’ll have to squeeze their stems.

Sony LinkBuds vs AirPods Pro Battery Life and Controls
The AirPods Pro (in photo) use force sensors under their stems for controls.

On a single charge, the Sony LinkBuds can last up to 5.5 hours or 17.5 hours with their charging case. With ANC on, the AirPods Pro can go up to 4.5 hours or 24 hours with their case, and with the feature off, they can keep going for up to 6 hours or 30 hours with their case.

Both have fast charging too. The LinkBuds can provide up to 90 minutes of playback in 10 minutes, while the AirPods Pro can provide an hour of playback in 5 minutes. However, only the AirPods Pro have wireless charging.

Considering their small size, the LinkBuds are pretty hard to tap, but Sony took that into account, implementing what it calls Wide Area Tap. This essentially lets you control playback by tapping on your face near the area in front of your ears. As expected, controls continue to be more or less the same on the AirPods Pro as their predecessors. For the uninitiated, you squeeze on their stems, which have force sensors under the hood, to pause and play tracks, turn on ANC and things like that.

Verdict

The Sony LinkBuds and the AirPods Pro each have their own audiences.

Again, there’s no clear winner here since each one is suited for different kinds of users and purposes. The Sony LinkBuds are designed to be worn all day for music or calls without having to remove them to talk to other people or listen to your surroundings for safety reasons when you’re outside. On the other hand, the AirPods Pro sound more immersive because passive noise isolation is inherent to their in-ear design, and they’re flexible in the sense that they can block outside noise or let it pass through as needed.

But if budget is a huge concern, then the LinkBuds definitely come out on top. In fact, it’s more in direct competition with the AirPods 3 in their price range. However, if noise canceling is a must or if you’re heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, then the AirPods Pro are your best bet.

FAQs

📌 Are the AirPods Pro noise canceling?

Yes, the AirPods Pro have active noise cancellation and Transparency Mode.

📌 Are the Sony LinkBuds noise canceling?

No, the Sony LinkBuds don’t have active noise cancellation, and owing to their open-ear design, they don’t have nor need an ambient mode either.

📌 Are the AirPods Pro waterproof?

The AirPods Pro have an IPX4 water resistance rating, which means they can be worn while working out and survive light splashes and rain.

📌 Are the Sony LinkBuds waterproof?

The Sony LinkBuds have IPX4 water resistance, so they’re safe to wear outside in light rain or during exercise.

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.