Beat's $200 headphones are better than the Sony WH-1000XM5 in these 3 ways

 Beats Solo4.
Beats Solo4.

I won't argue that the Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best headphones money can buy. But what if I told you you can get a brand-name listening experience for half the price — and one that's actually better than the XM5 in certain ways?

Although I'm a big fan of the Sony WH-1000XM5, I recently swapped them for the Beats Solo 4, the latest installment of the product that basically put the Apple-owned brand on the map. I knew the trade meant sacrificing active noise cancellation and some aspects of sound performance, but I also expected some positives to come with making the change.

I'll say straight up that the Beats Solo 4 aren't going to impress all ears, especially not those coming from the Sony WH-1000XM5 or another pair of premium headphones; however, for those who don't want to (or can't) shell out $399, I discovered a few key ways the $199 Beats Solo 4 beat the XM5.

Portability

The Beats Solo 4 weigh a mere 7.65 ounces and they fold in, meaning they're easy to tote around and even toss in a pocket. The XM5 are slightly heavier, weighing 8.8 ounces, but when you're wearing something on your head, even one ounce can make a difference.

Though the Solo 4 and XM5 both come with a case, the Sony pair requires you to lay them flat, ultimately taking up more room in a bag. And considering how much the XM5 cost, I usually opt to bring the rigid case with me on trips to keep the cans safe. Not only Is the Beats case smaller, but when they're in use, the soft pouch can be scrunched up into the tiniest corner of my backpack. As someone who travels a lot, I can appreciate any little bit of storage space saved.

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Battery life

Though it's true that the Sony WH-1000XM5 are some of the best noise cancelling headphones in terms of battery life, they don't last as long as the Beats Solo 4. The Solo 4 get up to 50 hours of battery life, which is a 10-hour improvement over the previous Beats Solo 3. On my recent trip, I didn't have to worry at all about charging the headphones until I got back home.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 last up to 40 hours if you don't use the ANC feature, but I personally almost always use them with ANC, dropping the battery estimate to 30 hours. That's less playback time between charges, giving the Solo 4 another win.

The Apple ecosystem

One of my favorite things about the Sony WH-1000XM5 is that they switch very easily between my different playback sources, such as my iPhone and iPad. But if you're an Apple user, you can't match the convenience of the Beats Solo 4. Not only do they have quick setup when you turn them on, but you also get features like Find My at the ready. You can adjust the Solo 4 controls directly in the settings app, too.

Another feature you can only get with Beats and AirPods devices is Share Audio. When I travel with friends or family, we can watch the same movies together on my iPad if we both use Apple headphones. I use Share Audio rather regularly and consider it one of the bigger perks of the Apple ecosystem.

If you want noise-cancellation and want to stay in the Apple ecosystem, I might opt for the AirPods Pro 2 instead of the Beats Solo 4. You can often find the AirPods Pro 2 on sale for $199, and they have ANC as well as one of the best wireless earbuds sound performance. But if you're looking for some over-ear cans, then the Beats are worth a look.

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