After teasing its Xperia Ear Open Style Concept earlier this year at MWC 2017, Sony is now sharing more details about the wireless audio set. For starters, as we found out in Barcelona, the Xperia Ear has traditionally consisted of a single device, but now it's a pair built for both of your ears. Another big change is that they're now meant to be clipped around the bottom of your earlobes rather than sit without any support near your ear canal. That also means the earbuds are designed to let noise from the outside world in as you're wearing them, a feature that may be both good and bad.
If you're a runner, for instance, the Open Style Xperia Ears probably make sense, since you should be aware of all of your surroundings during your workout. That said, when people put on earbuds or headphones, it's likely because they want to focus and block out, well, the outside world. Sony's betting that its new concept can be a solid compromise, though, since the buds can deliver solid sound and be inconspicuous at the same time. During our demo, in which we listened to an '80s track at near-full volume, we noticed that while the sound did bleed a little, the person wearing the Xperia Ears said the music quality was quite clear. It does get a little trickier when, for better or worse, you can hear someone else having a conversation next to you.
As was the case with the previous Xperia Ear model, the new version supports Sony's underwhelming Agent virtual assistant and others like Google's own and Apple's Siri. The company doesn't seem to have a clear strategy here, but it's worth noting it just announced a smart speaker with Google Assistant. Naturally, the Open Style earbuds come with a stylish, compact charging case. Sony says that companion device can give you about a 12-hour charge, compared to the up to four expected out of the box. Additionally, the new earbuds' support for quick-charge tech means you can get two hours of listening out of a 12-minute charge.
Since this is a concept, there's no info on whether the Open Style Xperia Ear will ever make it to market or how much it could cost. But we hope to spend more time with it, because it's definitely a lot more promising than the many Ear concepts that came before it.
Cherlynn Low contributed to this report.
Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!