It's quite impressive to see how much Sony has packed into the tiny form factor of the Sony LinkBuds S. You get active noise cancellation (ANC), ambient mode, speak-to-chat, and spatial audio with supported apps. Sound is good, but not the best, while the ANC is good enough to cancel out most background sounds.
- 5mm drivers, IPX4 waterproof
- Bluetooth 5.2, Android Fast Pair
- Battery life of 20 hours (6 hours earbuds, 14 hours case)
- USB-C charging for case, no wireless
Like the LinkBuds, the LinkBuds S have a twist-to-fit design that lets them sit comfortably in your ear. Because they are so light, you'll hardly feel them resting on your ears. The twist design also keeps them securely in the ear. I could run, jump and even change T-shirts without dislodging the LinkBuds S. However, because they are in-ears, you will still feel them poking in. My ears got itchy after about four hours. Sony does supply four different sizes of earbuds for you to get the right fit, though.
Audio-wise, the Sony earbuds offer very balanced sound. There's definitely a clear distinction between the vocals and instruments, with each coming across clearly. Highs and mids are clear, but bass could use a bit more power. The noise cancellation works well, easily handling traffic noise, fan wind, and aircon. While outdoors, it felt blissfully quiet. There is a slight but bearable pressure though, but that goes away once you start playing music. Tapping the left earbud switches between ANC and ambient mode, while a long press mutes your music to let you hear your surroundings. The right earbud controls playback — tap to start or stop.
Ambient mode lets you listen around you, and can also be automatically activated when you speak. I like it very much. One thing I didn't quite like though, is the optional Adaptive Sound Control feature. It switches the noise cancelling on and off based on what you're doing. But I found it quite annoying as it toggles noise cancelling on and off every time you stop and walk again. I turned it off after 10 minutes. Battery life is rated at 6 hours, and lasted 4hr 14min in our full volume test. The case adds another 14 hours. Call quality is pretty good, too.
Honestly, the Sony LinkBuds S is pretty great. But at its SRP of S$299, it makes more sense to get the superior Sony WF-1000XM4, which I've seen go as low as S$309 on Shopee. If you dislike in-ears, then the open-ear design of the original LinkBuds is better. Get the LinkBuds S from Shopee or Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Sony.
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