Sony LinkBuds S review: These ANC earbuds are incredible

At $199, Sony’s ANC LinkBuds S kinda dunk on AirPods Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro.

Sony LinkBuds S review: These ANC wireless earbuds are incredible

First, let me thank Sony for being sensible with the LinkBuds S name. Unlike the WF-1000XM4, you can actually say the name without fumbling it. LinkBuds S — simple, just like AirPods or Galaxy Buds. Good job.

The LinkBuds S are $20 more than the donut-shaped and open-design LinkBuds, but have active noise cancellation (ANC).


Price of the LinkBuds S.

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.

Super comfy

Lightness doesn’t always mean comfort, but in this case, it definitely does. The LinkBuds S are one of the comfiest pairs of wireless earbuds that I’ve ever tested. They never felt hot in my ears; I wore them for over six hours every day for a few weeks and forgot they were in at times.

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.

Touchpad controls are responsive. I had no issues.

Hi Androids!

There is no wireless charging, but you do get Google Fast Pair for pain-free connections to Android devices.

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.

6 Hrs

Battery life with ANC.

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.

For comparison, with ANC on, AirPods Pro ($250) last up to 4.5 hours. Sony’s WF-1000XM4 ($280) last up to 8 hours. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro ($200) last up to 5 hours.

3 colors

The LinkBuds S come in three colors: white, black, or ecru (Best Buy exclusive). These buds are also IPX4 water-resistant so they’re good for workouts.


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.