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Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: Epitome of Premium Sound with Compact, Lighter Design and Improved Battery Life

We saw a lot of changes in our daily lives in 2023, especially in terms of getting out of the house and traveling, which had been minimized after the COVID-19 pandemic. Offices recommenced to a fuller extent, with which came the return of the office commute. We resumed traveling for product launch events and trade shows. However, one thing remained pretty much unchanged since the COVID-19 lockdowns – online video calls with teams, clients and prospects. For these calls, headphones or TWS earbuds have become even more crucial to ensure better audio quality and these devices have seen some extensive advancements in specs over time.

Sony launched its WF-1000XM5 (XM5) TWS earbuds in H2 2023, and we have been using a pair extensively for more than four months now. These earbuds feature a more compact and lightweight design, improved ANC, and a better battery life than the previous iteration, the WF-1000XM4 (XM4). Incorporating these upgrades, the new Sony XM5 is priced at $299, a $20 increase compared to its predecessor.

Commenting on Sony’s TWS sales, Senior Analyst Minsoo Kang said, “Sony, especially in the >$150 segment, has shown steady growth, driven by robust ANC, impressive audio quality, and a loyal customer base. With a focus on products priced at $100 and above, Sony has consistently increased its sales in the premium segment. The XM5 does not feature a significant design change compared to the XM4, but Sony has made notable improvements to the Bluetooth version and weight.”

We have reviewed the predecessor XM4 in the past. How does the new XM5 fare in comparison? Read our usage experience and detailed analysis below.

More Compact Design, Better Comfort

Generation over generation, Sony has worked towards making its earbuds smaller, lighter, and more comfortable. The XM4 earbuds were 10% smaller and the case was 40% more compact than the XM3. The latest Sony XM5 is 25% smaller and about 20% lighter compared to the XM4. Each earbud now weighs 5.9g. In comparison, the XM4 earbud weighs 7.3g each.

counterpoint-sony-wf1000xm5-earbud-single

The reduced footprint offers a more comfortable fit without hitting the ear fold, thus ensuring less fatigue, unlike what we experienced in the XM3 and XM4 when wearing for long hours. Sony is bundling four ear tips this time – extra small, small, medium, and large – so you can choose the optimal size to fit your ears. These are foam ear tips and not silicone ones like what you typically see in other earbuds.

The Sony XM5 earbuds are less chunky compared to the XM4, thanks to the reduced footprint.

As most of us are not used to foam ear tips, wearing them may feel a little strange initially but with time they feel more comfortable and help greatly in improving wearability and reducing pressure on the ears.

counterpoint-sony-wf1000xm5-earbuds

In terms of design, Sony has retained the gold accent on the microphone mesh cover for each earbud, which gives it a distinct look. The case and the touch-sensitive outer edge of the earbuds have a matte finish. However, most of the exterior is made of glossy plastic, which makes the earbuds a bit slippery when removing from the case, especially if you have sweaty or oily fingers. Overall, the aesthetics of the XM5 look nice and premium.

New Head Tracking Gestures, More Stable Connection

The Sony XM5 is packed with a host of features; some new, some improved over the predecessor:

  • Adaptive Sound Control to automatically switch between ANC and ambient modes.
  • Automatic firmware updates, without needing any manual intervention.
  • Head gestures to accept and decline calls by simply nodding your head.
  • Multi-point control for simultaneous connections.
  • Wireless charging and quick charge (up to one hour of music payback in a three-minute charge).
  • LDAC with Hi-Res Wireless support.
  • Six mics and dual processors for better audio quality and noise cancellation.
  • Google Fast Pair for Android, and Swift Pair for Windows.
  • Find Your Equalizer feature lets you choose the sound settings that suit your music listening preferences.

Adaptive Sound Control is an interesting feature that allows you to customize the EQ and noise canceling level depending on your activity or location. For instance, in the office, you might want to keep ambient mode on so you can listen to your colleagues sitting next to you. In a gym, you may want to turn the ANC on, and the bass turned up to pump that extra adrenaline as you work out.

counterpoint-sony-wf-1000xm5-review-adaptive-sound-control

The activity-based adaptive mode can have ANC turned on when you are sitting in one place, allowing you to enjoy an immersive listening experience. Similarly, the moment you start walking or running, it can automatically turn on the ambient mode to ensure you can hear your surroundings more clearly. Though the mode switching is not instant, it takes about five to eight seconds to detect the activity and then switch.

Adaptive Sound Control works perfectly to switch through optimal EQ, ANC, and ambient modes depending on your location and activity.   

The head gesture feature to accept and decline calls is neat and works as expected. When you get an incoming call, simply nod your head up and down to accept the call. If you want to decline a call, you can move your head sideways.

The multi-point connection feature allows you to simultaneously connect the earbuds to two devices at the same time. It can intelligently switch between devices. For instance, if you are watching a video or listening to music on the laptop/tablet, and you get a call on the phone, the playback will stop, and after the call has ended, the playback on the laptop will resume. With a new chipset, Sony is also offering this feature in LE (Low Energy) mode, though it is in beta as of now.

Support for Google Fast Pair is a good addition. This makes it easier to pair by just opening the lid of the case and placing it closer to an Android smartphone. Bluetooth needs to be turned on though. It takes away the hassle of finding the device and manually pairing it. Similarly, Swift Pair for Windows 10/Windows 11 laptops makes it easier to pair with a laptop by putting the earbuds in pairing mode. The pairing button is present at the back of the case, just beside the USB-C port.

Automatic firmware update is another good addition. Once new firmware is available, it will be automatically downloaded and installed, so you need not manually check and install the updates.

Lastly, there is also a new Find My Equalizer feature that lets you find the right sound balance to suit your listening preferences. Simply play a song, and it will present some numbered bubbles, each having a different subtle effect. You need to tap on the numbers, hear the difference, and choose the optimal setting that sounds the best to you.

counterpoint-sony-wf-1000xm5-review-custom-eq

Based on those inputs, it will create a custom equalizer (EQ) for you, which will be saved in the earbud profile, and that EQ will be consistent across all devices, music, and movies that you watch. It worked well for me, adding slightly more bass while keeping the five-band EQ flat.

Find My Equalizer is a perfect tool for finding optimal sound tailored to your taste, without manually fiddling around with the EQ.

Performance: Stable Connectivity, Great Sound, Long Battery Life

The XM5 offers a more stable connection, thanks to the new Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity standard. We tested the earbuds across multiple devices – MacBook Pro 16 (M1 Pro), iPhone 15 (AAC codec), and Xiaomi 13 Pro (LDAC). However, most of the music listening was on the Xiaomi smartphone as it supports LDAC codec for high bit-rate audio.

Sound Quality:

Sony is known for offering excellent sound quality on its headphones and TWS earbuds, and it has done the same in the new XM5. These earbuds come with 8.4mm dynamic drivers, up from 6mm on the XM4. Sony is also using two materials – one for low and the other for high-frequency sounds.

While listening to music with the equalizer flat, you can immediately hear that the emphasis is still on the lower frequencies a bit. It is perfect for workouts where most of us lean on the hip-hop genre, but when sitting in a home or office, the sound may get a little bass heavy. For most of the listening, we reduced the bass by two levels, and then it sounded well and balanced. Soundstaging in the XM5 is a bit wider compared to the XM4, and detecting different instruments in a sound is much easier.

However, the audio on XM5 is not as rich and full as in the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro. Otherwise, these are an excellent pair of earbuds to enjoy immersive music and video-watching experience.

Noise Cancellation and Call Quality:

 Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Ambient features have always been one of the highlights of the 1000XM series, and Sony has improved this further with every new generation. The new XM5 earbuds come with a total of six mics (three on each earbud), that can catch more ambient noise to filter, thus offering a slightly noticeable difference in ANC. We found it most effective on airplanes, trains, and even places like malls and airports. It also reduces wind noise considerably.

Noise Cancellation and Ambient modes have been improved over the XM4, thanks to the six-mic system.

But it is not just the mics, this time Sony has used two chips – the Integrated Processor V2 for better noise canceling, improved sound quality, low power consumption, and also for better connectivity, and the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN2e, which is also used to further improve noise canceling and sound quality. Sony says the two processors work together in offering around 20% more noise cancellation compared to the XM4.

counterpoint-sony-wf1000xm5-tws-case-inside   

The mics also enable crisp and clear ambient mode, to let you hear things clearly when using the Speak-to-Chat feature, without having to remove the earbuds. On calls, it uses a bone conduction sensor to capture voice vibrations and AI-driven noise reduction algorithms to isolate your voice from ambient noise. We used the earbuds for phone calls, and also for Microsoft Teams calls, and the receiver was able to hear the voice clearly, whether we were in the office or commuting in a cab or metro.

The XM5 offers crisp and clear call quality in most of the ambient noise scenarios we tested.    

Battery Life:

In terms of battery life, Sony claims up to eight hours of continuous music playback on a single charge with ANC on, and up to 12 hours with ANC off. The case offers two additional charges, meaning you can get up to 36 hours of music playback. During our testing, we found the claims to be accurate, and in fact, surpassing even the said claims. On a long-haul 10 flight from London to Mumbai, we got around nine hours and 20 minutes of total playback time with ANC on, before the battery on the earbuds completely drained and needed charging again.

Better battery life and quick charging offer long listening time.

The quick charge feature is also faster now. A quick three-minute charge can offer up to one hour of battery life. In our test, a quick five-minute charge offered roughly an hour and 35 minutes of music playback, lasting and entire Mumbai-Delhi flight from take-off to landing.

counterpoint-sony-wf1000xm5-tws-case-back

Final Words

The Sony WF-1000XM5 is an excellent pair of TWS earbuds loaded with a lot of features not found in the competition. They sound great, offer crisp ambient noise that allow you to stay aware of your surroundings, and great noise cancellation when you want to cut off and be in your zone. Features like head tracking for accepting and declining calls, multi-point connection, and adaptive sound control set them apart.

However, there are some areas where Sony can make further improvements. These earbuds support head tracking and 360 reality audio, but unlike the Apple AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro, the compatibility is very limited. The ‘Speak-to-chat’ with bone conduction is a great feature, but similar to the previous generation, it is very sensitive and gets activated even when humming to music. Audio tuning can be slightly improved to enhance the richness and fullness of the audio.

Related Posts

Global TWS Market Dominated by Entry-level Segment in H1 2023, Premium Segment Cools

  • The entry-level (<$50) segment continued to grow as TWS adoption rose across emerging markets.
  • Premium brands such as Apple, Samsung and Sony marked a slowdown due to a lack of new models.
  • For full year 2023, we forecast TWS sales to grow 2% in volume but decline 3% in value due to a mix shift towards low-cost TWS sales across emerging markets.

The global TWS market’s unit sales slipped only 2% YoY in H1 2023, according to the latest data from Counterpoint’s TWS Hearables Market Tracker, despite low demand for IT devices amid macroeconomic headwinds and consumer weakness. Surprisingly, the TWS market seemed somewhat immune to inflationary headwinds, especially the <$50 entry-level segment where sales increased 15% YoY in H1 2023. This mitigated the sales decline in higher-tier price segments as TWS demand polarized towards the entry and premium categories.

Some of these ups and downs within the price segments were driven by regional demand dynamics. In H1 2023, demand contracted in mature markets like North America and Europe where the TWS penetration has reached a mature level. In contrast, underpenetrated emerging markets like India, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America registered robust growth during the period. China, one of the world’s largest TWS markets, showed signs of recovery as the COVID-19-related lockdowns eased in the latter half of 2022. The uptick in H1 2023 was also driven by the 618 e-commerce festival and promotions in China. The period also witnessed the rise of low-cost TWS brands. Chinese entry-level brand ZhengQibing saw sales unit growth of 141% YoY in H1 2023 as it focused on the sub-$20 models with attractive features and CMF designs.

Global TWS Market Share by Price Band, H1 2023 vs H1 2022 (Retail Price-based)

Source: Counterpoint’s TWS Hearables Market Tracker, Q2 2023

Additionally, the rising demand for TWS in big underpenetrated markets such as India, along with the Chinese market’s recovery helped the <$50 price category grow further. India’s Q2 2023 TWS shipments rose 34% YoY, capturing a 15% global share.

In India, local TWS brands such as boAt, Boult Audio and Noise reported strong double-digit YoY growth in Q2 2023driven by a broader portfolio of entry-level models. boAt successfully leveraged online shopping events like Amazon Prime Day, Flipkart Big Saving Days, and other online promotions to fulfill the demand for new affordable models. Boult Audio, with a keen focus on affordability, strategically launched a series of new models priced below $25, effectively drawing in customers. Noise‘s major model series, the Noise VS102 and VS404, were well received due to their affordable price, satisfactory sound quality, and long battery life. Additionally, they offered an up to 80% discount on their audio products during the Noise Anniversary Sales in 2023. The enhanced performance of models in the <$25 (retail price) segment also played a significant role in boosting sales.

Specifications of Major Entry-level TWS Models

Sources: Official Websites

Global TWS Market Growth by Price Band, H1 2023 vs H1 2022 (Retail Price-based)

Source: Counterpoint’s TWS Hearables Market Tracker, Q2.2023

Meanwhile, major global players such as Apple, Samsung and Sony saw market share declines and slower growth in the absence of new models. These premium-focused brands are bringing about incremental improvements in features compared to the low-cost models of challenger brands that are trying to innovate on design, audio features, latency, battery life, and more. Samsung also saw a noticeable decline in sales share on the high-tier price range with its aggressive pricing and promotions on the Galaxy Buds 2, due to a mix-shift in sales volumes centered around the $50-$100 price segment. Overall, the absence of new model releases and the lack of new features failed to drive replacement demand which resulted in a decrease in sales in the high- and premium-tier segments in H1 2023. The upcoming AirPods 2 with the new H2 chip and support for lossless audio, optimized for the upcoming Apple Vision Pro XR headset, could drive some uptick during the holiday season in Q4 2023.

Looking forward, the global TWS market’s sales volume is set to grow by 2% YoY in 2023, but revenue will decrease by 3% YoY. We expect the TWS market to keep growing till 2026 and the attach rate to new smartphone sales to reach 36% as the average lifespan of a TWS device before replacement reaches 1.5-1.8 years.

Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex Review: Unfolding Future of Hybrid Work with Personalized ANC, Comfort & Lightweight Foldable Design

COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to hybrid work models while transforming the technological needs of the new-age professional. For example, the need for good wireless headsets for working in home, office or cafe environments has become imperative. However, designing a versatile headset for these hybrid work scenarios becomes challenging if we add the growing business travel to the equation.

For the last over 10 years, I have been working in front of the PC either at home, office or while traveling, but my search for an optimum lightweight wireless headset with top-notch active noise cancellation (ANC) continues. I have used multiple wired ANC headsets from Plantronics to Sennheiser for my desktop PC or laptop at home for years. While they have performed well, most of them are USB-Type A and their wires often become entangled, besides limiting their movement and lifespan.

Since carrying these headsets during a business trip is not only impractical but now also leads to incompatibility issues with the new wave of USB Type-C-only laptops, I have been mostly relying on the TWS headsets from Apple, Samsung, Sony, OnePlus and Nothing. Though they do a decent job, most of them have average battery life and hit-or-miss ANC capabilities, and sometimes they pop out without permission.

However, a month ago, our test lab received the Evolve2 65 Flex, Jabra’s latest addition to its portfolio of professional wireless headsets, and it has left us thoroughly impressed! It addresses most of the needs of the hybrid workstyle.

Foldable, lightweight and comfortable design

The Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex sports a unique fold-and-go Danish design, which makes it very easy to carry the headset across multiple hybrid work modes. Further, to complement the foldable design, the headset weighs a mere 136 gm. It is made from high-quality PC/PC-ABS material, making it lighter, durable, flexible and rugged at the same time. As a result, the overall form factor is very compact.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex on the head right ear

The unique adjustable and collapsible headband design has layers of perforated foam, making it softer on the head. This along with rotating earcups with ultra-soft leatherette cushions helps the headset provide hours of comfortable usage. Jabra calls this new pattern, choice of materials and perforated design “Air Comfort” technology. The proof point for me was using it for 20 hours straight on a flight to the US, with ultimate comfort. There was no ear or head pain, or sweating, or the headset slipping off my head even when I briefly dozed off.

Another striking design element is that the external microphone stick folds back into the headset, transforming it into a cool personal headset for consuming music or entertainment on the go.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 mic in and out

The headset sports seven buttons on the earcups. Initially, I was confused about the alignment and functions of each button. However, after a week’s usage, these etched into my muscle memory and proved to be quite useful. The buttons cover functions including power on/off, Bluetooth pairing, switching between ANC and HearThrough, volume/pause/play, opening UC apps such as Microsoft Teams, call connect/disconnect, and mute/unmute/command voice assistant.

Premium audio, ANC and voice calls

The Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex sports two analog MEMS and four digital MEMS microphones. It also features unique algorithms to slice out the background noises with the help of an advanced chipset to deliver premium, stable and enterprise-grade voice calling with a hybrid ANC experience. The call quality is fantastic in any environment, whether a closed cabin, noisy subway or Uber taxi, and device type, whether a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex call settings

The different customizations and personalizations using Jabra’s Sound+ app make the sound and voice quality optimal for ANC, HearThrough, or ANC-off modes. The integrated 360° Busylight, which is visible from all angles, is a great feature to notify when one is on a call or busy working by acting as a “do-not-disturb” sign.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex app

The headset is certified for leading UC platforms from Microsoft Teams, CISCO Webex, Zoom, Google Meet, Amazon Chime, and others. The headset that I have been using is a Microsoft Teams variant with a dedicated button and the experience optimized for Teams calls.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex earcups front woith lights

The Sound+ app also helps set up the personal assistant on the device for enabling commands at the press of a button, and it works flawlessly on both iOS and Android. Also, it is recommended to set up your sound profile under “MySound” to optimize the headset to match your hearing profile.

The Sound+ app is also useful in optimizing the sound or audio depending on the type of content, like music or movies. The music presets are great along with the ability to save custom equalizer settings. The headset sports custom 28mm speakers with a full audio frequency range from 20Hz to 20KHz. After a week of “burn-in”, the headset is great for listening to music, especially classical, gothic rock, vocals and ballads, offering a much clearer and fuller sound, almost as good as a $200 in-ear headset.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 flex jabra direct

Longer battery life and stable connectivity

What stands out for me is that the Jabra Evovle2 65 Flex is a light, foldable and compact form factor, along with a tremendous battery life. I recently used the headset for 20 hours straight during a flight to the US, with a mix of movies and music. At the end of the flight, the battery dropped to only 63% despite a mix of ANC on/off modes. I charged the headset just once during my 10-day business trip and usage of close to 60 hours, which is about 30 hours of usage per charge, very close to Jabra’s claim of 32 hours per full charge. Further, the headset can be wirelessly charged with a beautiful bundled wireless charging dock stand. The overall charging time via USB Type-C is less than 90 minutes and slightly longer with the wireless charging dock.

counterpoint jabra evolve2 65 on charging pad zoomed

The headset can connect with two Bluetooth-enabled devices at the same time, like a laptop and primary phone, or primary and secondary phones. In terms of overall pairing, the headset can pair and remember up to eight devices. The headset also features Google Fast Pair for quick pairing with Android phones.

Wrapping up

The Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex ticks all the right boxes, from compact, collapsible and comfortable design to premium audio and voice call experience with unparalleled battery life, making it one of the best UC and on-ear headset in the market. It is great for someone who travels a lot or uses headsets for long calls and doesn’t want to worry about charging or comfort. The headset comes at a premium price point of $500 or ₹45,000. I would highly recommend the headset as it offers tremendous value for money and sets new standards in the premium professional wireless headset space.

India TWS Market Shipments up 85% YoY in 2022; Top 5 Spots Taken by Indian Players for First Time

  • Leading player boAt posted 89% YoY growth, contributing two-fifths of the total shipments.
  • For the first time, the top five spots in the India TWS market were captured by local brands.
  • Indian brands reached their highest ever share of 80%.
  • Domestic manufacturing captured a 30% shipment share in 2022, compared to just 2% in 2021.
  • The average selling price dropped by 20% YoY in 2022.

New Delhi, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, San Jose, Buenos Aires – February 21, 2023

India’s TWS market shipments registered 85% YoY growth in 2022, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s IoT service. Increasing local manufacturing helped drive the shipments, apart from timely sales events, frequent affordable offerings, and entry of new players.

Commenting on TWS brands’ performance in 2022, Senior Research Analyst Anshika Jain said, “Four-fifths of the total market was captured by Indian brands, their highest-ever share. For the first time, the top five spots were taken by local brands, which captured two-thirds of the total TWS shipments in India. Moreover, the majority of the new entrants this year were local brands. Further, Mivi, with its entirely locally produced TWS portfolio, grew 544% YoY and grabbed a position in the top five for the first time.

Evidently, Chinese and global brands lost some of their share to the Indian players this year. Chinese brands captured a 13% share in 2022 driven by the good performance of OnePlus’ feature-rich devices Nord Buds and Nord Buds CE. realme and OPPO also supported the growth of Chinese brands. Global brands took an 8% share led by Apple, Samsung and JBL.”

Talking about the local production scenario, Associate Director Liz Lee said, “Domestic manufacturing saw rapid growth, contributing 30% of the total shipments in 2022, compared to just 2% in 2021. Key homegrown brands boAt, Mivi and pTron ramped up their local manufacturing capabilities to account for 73% of the domestic shipment volume in 2022. Other key players like Noise, Truke, Boult Audio, Wings, Gizmore and Play also manufactured made-in-India devices for the first time this year. Moreover, this increase in the shipment share of local production largely led to a drop in the ASP (average selling price) by 20% in 2022. More new launches in the low-price band (INR 1,001-INR 2,000 or around $13-$25) also contributed to the drop.”

Market share of Top 5 TWS Brands, 2022

Source: India Hearables (TWS) Shipments, Model Tracker, 2021 vs 2022

Market Summary for 2022

  • boAt took the lead for the third year in a row with 89% YoY growth driven by increased penetration in domestic manufacturing, multiple affordable launches, and aggressive promotions. It captured seven spots in the rankings for top-10 best-selling models. The Airdopes 131 remained the top-selling model for the second consecutive year with a 10% share of the total TWS market shipments.
  • Noise rose to the second spot with 2x YoY The brand focused on its VS series which caters to the <INR 2,000 (or $25) price band. It added many new devices to the series in this period. Moreover, it opened the year 2022 with its expansion towards local production. As a result, it became the third-largest brand to offer made-in-India TWS devices.
  • Boult Audio grabbed the third spot with a 7% share and 167% YoY growth driven by aggressive marketing strategies and multiple new feature-rich offerings below INR 2,000 (<$25). It also entered the domestic manufacturing space for the first time in 2022. The majority of its volume was driven by the INR 1,001-INR 2,000 (or around $13-$25) retail price band. The Airbass XPods was the best-seller in its entire TWS portfolio.
  • Mivi grew 544% YoY this year and took the fourth position in the rankings for top-five brands for the first time, driven by its full-fledged made-in-India TWS portfolio, a good number of launches and huge presence in the entry-level price band (<INR 1,000 or around <$13) and low-price band (INR 1,001-INR 2,000 or around $13-$25).
  • PTron again took the fifth spot with a 5% share of the total TWS shipments. In addition, it was the largest brand in the entry-level price band (<INR 1,000 or around <$13).

Market Share of Top Five TWS brands, Q4 2022

Source: India Hearables (TWS) Shipments, Model Tracker, Q4 2022

Market Summary for Q4 2022

  • India’s TWS shipments saw 44% YoY growth in Q4 2022 driven by festive season sales and promotions and growing local production.
  • boAt grew 3% YoY to mark its tenth consecutive quarter of lead in Q4 2022, while Boult Audio stood second for the first time with an 11% share.
  • The top five TWS brands in India were all local brands – boAt, Boult Audio, Mivi, Ptron and Noise. They accounted for two-thirds of the total shipments.
  • In Q4 2022, Indian brands captured a record 84% share driven by boAt, Boult Audio, Mivi, Ptron and Noise.
  • With a 4% share, the boAt Airdopes 131 remained the top model for the seventh consecutive quarter in Q4 2022.
  • The INR 1,001-INR 2,000 retail price band (or around $13-$25) continued to fuel the TWS demand in India during Q4 2022 with an increased share of 75% in the overall shipments. boAt mainly drove the volume for this price band with a 45% share, followed by Boult Audio, Mivi, Noise and Wings.
  • The premium segment (>INR 5,000 or around >$60) captured a 4% share this quarter, driven by Samsung followed by Apple and JBL.

Background

Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts

Anshika Jain

Liz Lee

Anam Padha

Counterpoint Research
press(at)counterpointresearch.com

 

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‘Made in India’ TV Shipments Grow 33% QoQ in Q3 2022; TWS Leads Electronic Wearables Segment Local Manufacturing

  • Dixon led the Made in India TV shipments, followed by Radiant.
  • Bharat FIH led the Made in India TWS shipments, followed by Padget.
  • Optiemus led the Made in India smartwatch shipments.
  • Samsung, Dixon and Wingtech were the top three tablet manufacturers.

 New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires – January 10, 2023

‘Made in India’ TV shipments grew 33% QoQ in Q3 2022 (July-September) to reach over 5 million units, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Made in India service. In the electronic wearables category, the TWS segment led in terms of local manufacturing with almost 34% of its shipments being manufactured in India.

Commenting on the local manufacturing ecosystem, Senior Research Analyst Prachir Singh said, “The TV market showed high QoQ growth due to the festive season, which drove the consumer demand, increasing the local manufacturing shipments as well. The top five manufacturers contributed to more than 55% of the locally manufactured TV shipments in Q3 2022. Local manufacturing continues to stay robust for segments like smartwatches, TWS, tablets and neckbands also. The local manufacturing share in the TWS segment increased to 34% in Q3 2022 from 16% in the previous quarter. Bharat FIH, Padget, Avishkaran and Optiemus were the top four brands and cumulatively contributed to almost 90% of the locally manufactured TWS shipments. In the tablets category, Samsung, Dixon and Wingtech contributed to more than 90% of the locally manufactured shipments. However, in the smartwatch category, Optiemus dominated the local manufacturing and contributed to more than 90% of the shipments.”

Counterpoint - India Local Manufacturing Contribution by Product Segment Q3 2022
Source: Counterpoint Made in India Research, Q3 2022

On the Indian government’s focus, Senior Research Analyst Anshika Jain said, “Under the Made in India theme, local manufacturing aims to even go beyond smartphones to cover segments like audio products, wearables and EVs. More and more efforts are being made to make the country a significant player in the global value chain. These efforts now also include semiconductor manufacturing. Many states like Gujarat have even come out with their own semiconductor policies and are bringing about associated reforms and policy changes (like labour and land reforms in Karnataka) to harness India’s potential in this space.”

The government’s vision to increase local manufacturing as well as design capabilities in India will impact the local value addition in the wearables segment. We may see many companies increasing their capacities, with the new entrants also opting for local manufacturing.

Notes:

  • Dixon Technologies’ share does not include Padget Electronics.
  • Avishkaran Enterprises manufactures for Mivi.

Background

Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts

Prachir Singh

Priya Joseph

Tarun Pathak

Follow Counterpoint Research


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Outsourced TWS Production Shipments up 16% YoY in H1 2022; Account for 87% of Global TWS Shipments

  • Outsourced production accounted for 87% of global TWS shipments in H1 2022.
  • Luxshare and Goertek retained their first and second ranks, respectively, among TWS manufacturers. They jointly accounted global outsourced TWS production shipments in H1 2022.

Beijing, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, London, San Diego, Buenos Aires

TWS shipments from outsourced manufacturing companies increased 16% YoY in H1 2022, according to Counterpoint Research’s Global TWS Hearables Manufacturing Tracker and Report, H1 2022. Meanwhile, total global TWS shipments grew 9.4% YoY in H1 2022. The share of TWS shipments from outsourced production (ODM/EMS) increased to 87% of total global TWS shipments in H1 2022 from 83% in 2021.

H1 2022 and 2021 Global TWS Manufacturing Operations

Source: Counterpoint Research’s Global TWS Hearables Manufacturing Tracker, H1 2022

Commenting on the TWS market, Senior Research Analyst Shenghao Bai said, “Despite economic headwinds in H1 2022, the global TWS market continued to grow, especially in emerging markets. ODMs/EMSs stand to benefit from this growth trend because several key TWS brands rely on outsourced manufacturing.”

Senior Research Analyst Ivan Lam added, “Affordable TWS models were welcomed in H1 2022 as consumers tightened their purse strings in anticipation of a lurking recession. Brands such as boAt, Xiaomi and Skullcandy absorbed the demand for affordable TWS, mainly in Asia and Europe. The TWS production of these brands is completely outsourced. ODMs that mainly produce low-to-mid-end models registered more orders in H1 2022.”

Luxshare and Goertek remained the top-ranking ODMs/EMSs in the competitive global TWS landscape in H1 2022. The two companies jointly accounted for 33% of the global outsourced TWS manufacturing in H1 2022, down from 35% in H1 2021.

Ranking, Growth of Global TWS ODM/EMS Vendors 

Source: Counterpoint Research’s Global TWS Hearables Manufacturing Tracker, H1 2022

Commenting on the leading ODMs’ performances, Shenghao said, “Luxshare and Goertek both had higher shipments in H1 2022 due to the popularity of the Apple AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro. Luxshare will also benefit from Apple’s recently launched AirPods Pro 2. Among Tier-2 companies, Huaqin increased its cooperation with realme based on its partnership with Huawei, which boosted its TWS shipments in H1 2022. Huaqin will also continue to expand its cooperation with OPPO Group and HONOR to grow its TWS business. In H1 2022, Horn’s shipments increased due to strong orders from Skullcandy while Zhengrong’s growth was driven by Xiaomi’s new models.”

Diversification of manufacturing in the global electronics industry has continued. ODMs such as Cosonic, AAC and Zhengrong have been expanding their operations to Southeast Asia or India. These companies are also diversifiying their portfolios into other smart devices such as smartwatches, smart speakers and smart home devices.

Commenting on these trends, Ivan said, “To benefit from the growth of TWS in emerging markets, some Chinese ODMs are investing in more manufacturing sites overseas. Establishing local factories can help companies build connections with local clients more easily and capitalize on lower labor costs. Also, portfolio diversification can help ODMs stay ahead of competition and lower exposure to risks. We expect an acceleration in the expansion to regions outside China after COVID-19 restrictions are eased. However, one should be wary of limiting factors such as sub-optimal supply chain ecosystems and local policy risks.”

 

Counterpoint Research’s market-leading Global TWS Hearables Manufacturing Tracker and Report service is available for subscribing clients.

Feel free to contact us at press@counterpointresearch.com for questions regarding our in-depth research and insights.

You can also visit our Data Section (updated quarterly) to view the TWS market share for WorldUSAChina and India.

 

Analyst Contact 

Shenghao Bai
shenghao.bai@counterpointresearch.com

Ivan Lam
ivan.lam@counterpointresearch.com

Counterpoint Research
press@counterpointresearch.com

 

TWS Biggies Focus on Differentiation to Beat Competition

  • The global TWS market recorded shipments of about 300 million units in 2021. This figure is expected to continuously increase till 2025.
  • Sales in the <$100 segment have increased steadily with the firm growth of emerging local companies such as Skullcandy in the US and boAt in India.
  • On the other hand, sales in the >$150 segment, which can be described as premium product sales, have stagnated.
  • Leading TWS brands like Apple, Samsung, Sony, Sennheiser and B&O, which mainly focus on the >$150 segment, are trying to expand market share by differentiating their products.

Global TWS Market Shipments (Forecast)

Global TWS Market Shipment Forecast

Source: Counterpoint TWS Hearables Market Tracker

 

TWS Market Share by Price Band

TWS Market Share by Price Band

Source: Counterpoint TWS Hearables Market Tracker

 

Sales in the sub-$100 segment have increased steadily with the firm growth of emerging local companies such as Skullcandy in the US and boAt in India. On the other hand, sales in the >$150 segment, which can be described as premium product sales, have stagnated. Leading TWS brands like Apple, Samsung, Sony, Sennheiser and B&O, which mainly focus on the >$150 segment, are trying to expand their market share by differentiating products from the low-to-mid-priced ones. Currently, they are strengthening existing functions in such products or adopting new ones.

Samsung and Apple are differentiating their products with enhanced ANC, where users can enjoy the music with reduced fatigue and increased immersion. Samsung has showcased its new Intelligent ANC (IANC) with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. Unlike the existing ANC, it can effectively remove external noise by analyzing surrounding sound. Apple is equipped with “adaptive transparency” to minimize the intensity of loud noises with its computational algorithms. The two companies did not increase the size of the earbuds while increasing play time. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro reduced its weight, but it effectively removed external noise with the enhanced ANC function.

Sony introduced a new concept with its LinkBuds, which were released earlier this year. LinkBuds are ring-type driver units that reduce greatly the weight of the product and the fatigue associated with it, making them suitable for daily use. Moreover, users can talk to others without removing the earbuds by using “speak-to-chat”. As music play stops automatically when a conversation is detected, users do not need to press the stop button to talk to others, justifying LinkBuds’ catchphrase “Keep every world on”.

With the TWS market competition intensifying, leading companies are enhancing existing functions or introducing new functions to differentiate their products. In this trend, battery performance is also becoming more important. The battery size should be reduced to accommodate more sensors. At the same time, the battery power needs to be strengthened to implement various functions and maintain play time. It is this conflict that will make the energy density of a TWS more important. It will eventually lead to increased interest in small-size batteries in the TWS market.

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India TWS Shipments Double YoY in Q3 2022; Indian Brands Capture Record 79% Share

  • boAt grew 128% YoY to mark its nine successive quarters of lead, while Noise stood second for the fourth consecutive quarter.
  • OnePlus bounced back strongly in the top-five rankings with a 6% share in Q3 2022.
  • Almost four in five TWS shipped in India were from an Indian brand.
  • Domestic manufacturing saw a record 288% quarterly growth this year, contributing to 34% of the total shipments.
  • Online channel maintained 79% of the volume with Flipkart in the lead.

New Delhi, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, San Jose, Buenos Aires – November 17, 2022

India’s TWS (True Wireless Stereo earbuds) shipments doubled YoY in Q3 2022, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s IoT Service. The growth was primarily driven by festive season inventory to meet the strong pent-up demand, multiple new launches, discount events and promotions.

Commenting on brand performance, Senior Research Analyst Anshika Jain said, “The top five TWS brands in India – boAt, Noise, Mivi, OnePlus and Boult Audio – accounted for almost 70% of the total shipments. OnePlus made a comeback in the top five driven by two recent launches – Nord Buds and Nord Buds CE – at an affordable price point. Indian brands showed the fastest YoY growth of 143% to reach their highest shipments ever in Q3 2022. Launching multiple devices according to customer needs, effective marketing tactics and aggressive participation in sales events have been their major growth drivers. Moreover, strong growth was observed in Q3 due to festive season sales and a focus on local manufacturing. People also use these devices for gifting purposes during festivals like Raksha Bandhan and for corporate gifts.”

On best-selling models, Jain said, “The top 10 TWS models captured 41% of the total TWS shipments. These models mostly catered to the low-mid price segment (INR 1,000-INR 3,000). Top player boAt captured seven spots in the top-10 best-selling model rankings. With a 9% share, the Airdopes 131 remained the top model for the sixth successive quarter. OnePlus took two spots with its recently launched models Nord Buds and Nord Buds CE grabbing a 2% share each. Noise took one spot with its best-performing buds VS102 model, which had a 3% share in Q3 2022.”

On distribution channels, Associate Research Director Liz Lee said, “It is still challenging for brands to strengthen their presence in offline channels, as a huge share of 79% still comes from the online market. In addition, the TWS online segment has a strong footprint on Flipkart, which has more than half of the total online shipment share. Key players Mivi and Boult Audio have recently stepped into the offline space and plan to go aggressive on their expansion offline. Online-centric brand Truke has also aimed to enter the offline market in the immediate quarter. We may witness brands existing in both online and offline marketplaces exploring and partnering with big retail chain companies to increase their offline presence.”

Source: India Hearables (TWS) Shipments, Model Tracker, Q3 2022

Summary

Dominant Indian brands lost a small share to Chinese and global brands in Q3 2022.

  • Indian brands grew 143% YoY in Q3 2022 driven by boAt, Noise, Mivi, Boult Audio and Ptron. All the new entrants in Q3 2022 were local brands, namely Mobatree, 5 Elements, Duffer and Lyne (a U&I sub-brand). Besides, Indian brands had high penetration in the low-price segment (<INR 2,000 or <$50), with a cumulative share of 95%.
  • Chinese brands saw an increased share of 13% in Q3 2022. OnePlus drove this growth by offering a feature-rich device, the Nord Buds CE, at the lowest price point in its entire TWS portfolio. The good performance of the Nord Buds model also contributed to its growth. realme and OPPO also offered multiple new advanced TWS devices that further supported the growth of Chinese brands.
  • Global brands, which mostly cater to the premium segment (>INR 5,000), strengthened their growth with Apple launching its much-awaited new model, the Airpods Pro (2nd Gen). Global brands saw 91% QoQ and 9% YoY growth in Q3 2022, which was driven by Samsung, JBL and Apple.

Background

Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Anshika Jain

Counterpoint Research

 

 

Liz Lee

Counterpoint Research

 

 

Counterpoint Research
press(at)counterpointresearch.com

Counterpoint Research

 

 

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Low-end Models Drive Rebound of Global TWS Shipments in Q2 2022

  • Under $50 low-end models led market growth. Low-end models absorbed the replacement cycle with decent quality.
  • The $100 and above segment’s share decreased noticeably with the weakened buying power due to recession fears, especially in Europe.

Although inflation has reduced the overall demand for tech gadgets, global TWS hearables shipments managed to grow 13% QoQ and 15% YoY in Q2 2022 driven by low-end models in the under-$50 segment, according to the latest data from Counterpoint’s TWS Hearables Market Tracker. Thanks to their low price, entry-level models were not impacted by inflation fears. Emerging markets like India, MEA and Latin America grew QoQ driven by low-end models, while China continues to suffer from a weak economic climate and its Zero-Covid policy. The overall growth of the global TWS market in Q2 2022 was sluggish, especially in YoY terms, due to COVID-19 and weak macroeconomic indicators.

Global TWS Market Shipments, Q1 2020-Q2 2022

Global TWS Market 2022 Q2

 

Source: Counterpoint Research

With the fear of a lurking recession, affordable TWS models were welcomed by consumers. This meant a big opportunity for low-to-mid-priced brands like Xiaomi, QCY and Skullcandy. As demand for new TWS models still exists in emerging markets, led to growth for the sub-$100 segment in Q2 2022. Xiaomi, in particular, benefited greatly from its broad portfolio focused on entry-level and led the sub-$100 segment. The brand was also able to better absorb the device replacement cycle.

On the other hand, the $100 and above segment contracted noticeably with the decreased buying power due to recession fears, especially in Europe. As the Russia-Ukraine war prolonged, demand for new tech devices decreased. Unit sales of major brands, especially Apple and Samsung, decreased compared to the previous quarter due to a weak economic climate and demand for new Pro models, to be released in H2 2022.

 

Global TWS Market Share by Brand, Q2 2022

Global TWS Market Share by Brand, Q2 2022

 

Source: Counterpoint Research

Apple is expected to rebound in H2 2022. As the upcoming Airpods Pro 2 remain as the only alternative model for ANC-enabled Airpods, the former could absorb the demand of its past iteration which was released in 2019.

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro is also expected to receive favorable reviews with its high sound quality and outstanding ANC. Its increased price would pose a big hurdle for the new Galaxy Buds Pro model but is still about $20 cheaper than the AirPods Pro model. If Samsung succeeds in showing decent sales with the increased price, it could prove to be a milestone for its premium brand image in the TWS market.

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