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.

Thanks for reading,
head home for more!