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The Xperia Ear Duo at an event earlier this year.

César Salza/CNET

Sony's Xperia Ear Duo is a little bit of an unusual product. It's a set of totally wireless in-ear headphones that have an open design that allows you to hear the outside world as you're listening to music or making calls. That doesn't make them so different from Apple's AirPods, which also allow sound to leak in, but the Xperia Ear Duo is even more open.

Last year Sony showed them as a concept product, but they've officially become real and will ship at the end of May for $280 in two color options. There's no word yet on international pricing, but we'll add it as soon as we get it.

Unlike the AfterShokz Trekz Air headphones, the Ear Duo doesn't use bone-conduction technology, so their sound quality should be better. But I suspect they'll be a little lacking in the bass department.

Touch the surface to access your voice assistant.

César Salza/CNET

These are Bluetooth headphones -- there's a companion iOS and Android app -- but the two ear pieces are linked wirelessly via NFMI (near-field magnetic induction) technology, which helps minimize dropouts. Higher-end true wireless earphones tend to use this technology.

The earphones have touch controls and you can also use head gestures to answer calls and skip tracks forward (you access those settings in the app). While Sony is positioning these guys as more of a wear-all-day headphone than a sports headphone (see video below), the open design is appealing to bikers and runners who want to hear the outside world for safety reasons.

I'll let you know how comfortable they are and how they sound as soon as I get my hands on a pair.

The Ear Duo in black.


Xperia Ear Duo key specs: 

  • True wireless design
  • Open design allows you to listen to your music and calls while staying in touch with your surroundings
  • Touch controls
  • Smart assistance with contextual alerts -- personalized information is delivered based on your whereabouts or your current activity
  • Smart head gesture control for hands free interaction
  • 4 hours battery life for active use
  • Quick charge case offers three additional full charges
  • Quick charge feature that gives you an hour of battery life from a 7-minute charge
  • Up to 22 hours of battery life in standby mode
  • Price: $280