The LinkBuds S are pretty traditional. The stem-free buds are simple and extremely light. They sound terrific — good bass and clear mids and highs — especially with ANC on and call quality is clear (no muffled or robot-sounding voices as far as I’m told.) Transparency mode is also quite good. Sony took the best from the WF-1000XM4 and dropped them into the LinkBuds S — a good thing! Sony also says the LinkBuds S are the “smallest and lightest” wireless earbuds to support LDAC and High-Res Audio.
The recycled plastic is also really nice. They’re matte and just a little bit grippy so that they’re easy to grab when inserting and removing them. Compare that to the glossy Galaxy Buds 2 which can be super slippery.
Sony’s got a new “Auto Play” app that is supposed to let you continue playing music from Spotify or Endel after, say, you finish a call. But the app wasn’t available for me to try yet. I’m told it’ll launch on Android first and then iOS later. This is part of the “always-on” or “Never Off” selling point, which I think is gimmicky.
With the pitch being “Never Off” I had hoped battery life would completely blow past the competition. Alas, it’s a few hours longer, but not dramatically so: up to 6 hours with ANC, up to 9 hours with ANC off, and up to 20 hours total with the charging case.
The LinkBuds S are not Sony’s best ANC wireless earbuds. Those are still the WF-1000XM4 ($280), which are not going anywhere. However, the LinkBuds S are lighter and cheaper. For $80 less, you’re not getting the stronger ANC, longer battery life, and wireless charging. Not at all the worst things to cut, TBH. Overall, these are hits and cheaper than AirPods Pro, too.