We review the new Sony WF-SP900 Sports Wireless Headphones, an alternative to the popular Apple AirPods and an update to the Sony WF-SP700 Headphones, which we reviewed earlier this year.
These wire-free earbud headphones are aimed at active people who want to answer the phone while on the run or listen to music while swimming. But is it really possible to keep said headphones attached to your head? We tried them on for size.
The WF-SP900 headphones are easy to use and reasonably comfortable to wear once you lose the anxiety of the earbuds falling out while cycling/running/swimming. It's just a shame that the Bluetooth connection to your phone is a little sporadic, even when your phone is in your pocket.
The headphones' reliance on a charging pod creates two points of failure for the lithium ion batteries (in the charging pod and in the earbuds) rather than just one, which is a poignant reminder that they're not designed to last for a long time. This is an expensive buy for a few years' use only.
The headphones come with three different sizes of earbuds and out-ear attachments so it took us a little while to find the right combination of sizes. After this fiddly task, the headphones don't feel as precariously balanced as the default earbuds they come with, and they deliver a fairly sure fit when running and riding.
A second set of waterproof earbuds is also supplied in each of the three sizes.
Tap features: Tapping the left or right earbud once, twice or using the button located on each can activate a variety of features such as volume, turning Bluetooth on/off and answering phone calls.
Ambient sound: Sony claims to have an ambient noise feature, also activated through the headset, which allows you to hear ambient noise or filter it out.
Voice assistant: You can activate the voice assist (Google or Siri) with a tap and ask questions via the headset.
Proximity sensors: The earbuds turn off when you aren't wearing them – which means better battery life.
Battery life: It's great. Six hours from internal member and around three when connected to Bluetooth. For the size of the buds, that's pretty good. Then you've got a potential nine hours from the charging case.
Poor ambient filtering: It's difficult to fit certain technology into such a small space, and we found the ambient feature lacking. We were unable to detect much difference between having it on and off.
Physical controls: The tap controls are prolific, which in one way is good but it also means plenty of things to forget – is it a two-second press for this, or a seven-second press for that?
Audio quality: For earbuds, the headset does a good job, but of course it's lacking when it comes to bass, and you're more likely to notice the higher range.
Sporadic connection: Using the on board memory was a better overall experience than using the Bluetooth connection, which often resulted in losing connection to the phone and jumping sections in songs even when the phone was within reach.
Battery: You're reliant on the lithium-ion batteries in each bud, and the battery in the charging case. While this initially means a good battery life, the downside in the long run means an irreplaceable battery.