Sony INZONE Buds reviewed

    TechnologyAudio DevicesSony INZONE Buds reviewed

    Try as I might, I can’t put gaming behind me. My gaming backlog ebbs and flows as reliably as the tides, and as such, I’m always on the lookout for peripherals that can enrich that experience. When Sony announced the INZONE Buds, I knew I had to give them a try. They ticked all the right boxes, but as with any new tech, there was room for error. I got my hands on a pair a few days after the launch, and have been using them extensively. Here’s what I found.

    Design: 3.5/5

    This is something of a mixed bag. The buds themselves are amazing. Small, light, and comfortable, you can pop them in and almost forget they’re there. I’ve had several pairs of TWS earphones before, including other offerings from Sony, and these beat all the others out handily.

    The case, though, is quite large from top to bottom, so keeping them in a pocket really isn’t going to be the most comfortable affair. The case, of course, needs to make a little extra room for the dongle, so that’s understandable, but it is nonetheless a pain.

    Hardware: 4/5

    The spec sheet of the INZONE Buds is impressive. Sporting the same drivers as the class-leading WF1000-XM5 true wireless buds and the Bluetooth LE standard for greatly improved battery life, these buds have all the makings of greatness. A claimed 12 hours of use on the buds alone over BT, with another full charge thanks to the case, is the cherry on top.

    USB C charging is acceptably fast, and despite the plastic build, the hinge design is more robust than most other TWS buds. There’s even a little spot in the case for the 2.4 GHz USB C dongle, so you won’t lose it five minutes after tearing the device out of the packaging. As expected from the brand, it also comes with silicone ear tips of different sizes so you can get the best fit for your ears.

    User Experience: 3.5/5

    Before I get to the meat of the review, I have to preface it by saying I really really wanted these buds to be the one solution for my gaming and music needs. AS it stands though, there are a few problems that put it just shy of an amazing true wireless experience.

    As I mentioned earlier, these might just be the most comfortable TWS buds I’ve ever used. The combination of a small size, light weight, and great ANC make for a very pleasant fatigue-free listening experience. Sound quality is also above average, and while it’s just a hint bassier than I’d like, it’s not as offensive as other buds out there, particularly among those geared towards gaming.

    Transparency mode is also impressively good. It lets outside sounds in amazingly well, with such little distortion it’s startling. Switching ANC modes can be set to different tap combinations on touch pads on either earbud.

    Bluetooth works as expected, with a decent amount of latency. Sound is full, on the bassy side, but with acceptably clear mids. The noise floor is noticeably high, but nothing that is overly distracting, and more than OK for listening to music while out and about.

    Should you want practically zero latency, and the ability to listen to stereo audio while talking through the microphone as you would when gaming and using comms, you’ll have to plug in the included dongle and switch the buds over to USB Transceiver mode by pressing and holding the pads on both earbuds. This mode works well, and I’ve attended entire meetings on both my phone and PC this way, with no complaints from anyone on the other end. Mic quality isn’t amazing though, as is the case with most wireless audio solutions, but it’s more than clear enough to be understood.

    While the ability to switch between Bluetooth mode and 2.4 wireless is great, I found the execution of the dual functionality to be lacking.

    I frequently had problems getting the music touch controls to respond as intended, and those same music controls only really work with BT anyway. There also appeared to be no way to consistently get the device to work with BT and phone calls, so I’d have to pull an earplug out and hold the phone to my ear. This wasn’t a problem with the dongle, though, which always worked seamlessly.

    A friend with a Samsung S22 also couldn’t get the buds to connect to his phone. This is apparently a known problem that many S22 (and S21) owners are facing. You’ve been warned. It should be noted that this device will only work on Bluetooth LE, so whatever your device is, if it doesn’t have BT LE, you’ll need to use the USB dongle. This is also the way you’d connect it to a PS5, in case you want to go that route.

    Hopefully, all these concerns can be addressed with a firmware update, but it might be prudent to just wait for those updates to roll out first.

    Value: 4/5

    Perhaps once the problems are fixed, there will be reason to change this score, but at a local price of about PHP14,000 for a device that’s hamstrung by a multitude of issues, you’re going to have to really want the two-in-one functionality to make the purchase worth it.


    • Drivers: 8.4mm
    • Noise canceling: Active
    • Connectivity: 2.4 GHz via USB-C dongle, BT LE
    • Microphones: Yes
    • PS5-compatible

    What’s Hot:

    • Great extended-wear comfort
    • Above-average ANC
    • BT and 2.4 GHz connectivity

    What’s Not:

    • Price
    • Plagued by firmware issues
    • A number of compatibility issues


    It falls short of being the device it promised to be.

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