Sony's New LinkBuds vs. Apple's AirPods 3

Sony in February introduced the LinkBuds, a curious set of earphones that have an open design that's not quite like any other in-ear headphone product on the market. We picked up a set of Sony's strange LinkBuds to see how they measure up to Apple's third-generation AirPods.


Priced at $178, the LinkBuds have a naked donut-shaped earpiece that goes in the ear. Much like the AirPods 3, there are no form or silicone tips included with the LinkBuds.

linkbuds 1
The hole in the LinkBuds is an open ring driver that's designed to let users listen to music while also keeping an ear open to their ambient surroundings, similar to headphone products like audio-equipped sunglasses and bone conduction headphones. Sound quality is not at the AirPods level, but it's above average.

linkbuds 2
An Adaptive Volume Control feature optimizes music to the sound in the ambient environment, and playback is controlled by double tapping right on your ear. The double tap gesture can be used to play/pause music, adjust volume, or skip tracks, with settings available in the Sony app. There's also an option in the app for EQ adjustments.

linkbuds 3
A secondary bulb with a small fin holds the LinkBuds in place, and Sony has described them as ultra small and lightweight. In our testing, comfort is not too far off from the AirPods. They can be worn for a decent length of time before they irritate the ears, and are light enough not to be uncomfortable over a couple hours of use.

linkbuds 4
The battery in the LinkBuds lasts for 5.5 hours, and they come with a charging case that provides a total of 23 hours of listening time. The charging case is tiny and pocketable.

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For those in the Apple device ecosystem, LinkBuds can't really measure up to the AirPods because they lack features like automatic device switching and quick pairing. People who don't care about those features and who are looking for earbuds that are ideal for biking, running, and other similar purposes might want to check out the LinkBuds, though.

What do you think of the LinkBuds? Let us know in the comments.

Tag: Sony

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Top Rated Comments

skous Avatar
29 months ago

Air pod pros are the way. I have no idea why anyone would buy plain AirPods when the pros exist. Seems like a stupid buy. Just save the $250 and get something good. All these other buds are just wasting your money on trash. And Samsung?!?! Ick. They could charge 5K for a phone or buds and it would still look cheap…..
Cause the pros are more expensive?
Cause the pros have this horrible silicon tip? Which gives you a headache when you have them on for hours.
Cause the pros isolate sound BUT you can feel your footsteps when there is no music?
Cause the pros are so hard to place on ears quickly for fastly reponsing to calls?
Cause the mic of the pros is just awful, and amplifies to the other caller the ambient sound rather your voice?

I don't know...
Maybe cause the pros just suck :)

Btw I do have Airpods 2 (for my laptop), Airpods 3 (for calls and walking around), and Pros ONLY when taking a flight due to the ANC (but for no other use anymore).
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gaximus Avatar
29 months ago
All those little little holes to fill up with ear wax.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lusty Avatar
29 months ago

Otherwise, I would say these are a great competitor to the AirPods
They aren't a competitor to the Airpods, they're in a completely different (and unique) market. I have them and they are excellent as an open back ear bud which keeps you in the room. Airpods are just a cheap pair of wireless headphones. I also have the WF1000xm4 which offer the best isolation I've experienced, again a completely different market segment which shouldn't be compared. Understand the requirements and pick accordingly, there is no silver bullet for every occasion.

Unfortunately lazy journos looking for clicks ignore these things and compare them as if they are similar purely based on price. They are nothing alike.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
romaguyntx Avatar
29 months ago
Air pod pros are the way. I have no idea why anyone would buy plain AirPods when the pros exist. Seems like a stupid buy. Just save the $250 and get something good. All these other buds are just wasting your money on trash. And Samsung?!?! Ick. They could charge 5K for a phone or buds and it would still look cheap…..
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tridley68 Avatar
29 months ago
Sony looks like they have another winner
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CausticSoda Avatar
29 months ago

Cause the pros are more expensive?
Cause the pros have this horrible silicon tip? Which gives you a headache when you have them on for hours.
Cause the pros isolate sound BUT you can feel your footsteps when there is no music?
Cause the pros are so hard to place on ears quickly for fastly reponsing to calls?
Cause the mic of the pros is just awful, and amplifies to the other caller the ambient sound rather your voice?

I don't know...
Maybe cause the pros just suck :)

Btw I do have Airpods 2 (for my laptop), Airpods 3 (for calls and walking around), and Pros ONLY when taking a flight due to the ANC (but for no other use anymore).
Also add because they might not stay in your ears...
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)