The tech company aptly-named Nothing has been making a bit of a stir in the gadget world as it introduced a line of minimalist devices that hearken back to the early-2000s transparent era of Macs and GameBoys. Their new earphones, the Nothing Ear (stick), has the same sleek see-through design. The question, however, is whether it’s just eye candy or if it actually delivers.
Review: We got our hands on the Nothing Ear (stick), the brand’s second truly wireless earbuds. With a cool charging case, similar design, and crisper sound, here’s what we think.
I’ve always been particularly curious and excited about Nothing launching new products. So far, each of them offered a burst of refreshment in cookie-cutter markets, and while Nothing doesn’t necessarily aim to be better or outdo their competitors, they simply want to be different. The Phone (1) was pure testament to that. It was designed to stand out, raise eyebrows, and deliver a different type of smartphone experience. Today, the new Nothing Ear (stick) carries the same emotion. It’s their second pair of truly wireless earbuds and strives to better what’s already brilliant about the Ear (1). In some facets, the compromises are prominent but they’ve compensated for that with a few nifty feats and tricks. And oh, a funky charging case, unlike anything you’ve seen before. Here’s all about our experience.
The Nothing Ear (stick)’s ‘unique experience’ begins right from its packaging and unboxing. Packed in a dual-end opening case, tearing open the lid almost like unwrapping a birthday gift, and it holds the same anticipation and excitement. It’s a simple trick but again, it’s all about curating the product experience.
Undeniably, the charging case is its best-selling point. Nothing stated, it’s designed after a lipstick case, hence the name (stick). Unlike conventional cases that flip open, you need to twist this one. This slides the cover open, exposing the earbuds. Quite frankly, this is new, I quite like it and the red-black-white colorway looks neat too.
With this form, comes functionality too. In order to pair the Nothing Ear (stick) to your device, the case needs to be twisted open. The new Nothing X application is absolutely essential in its experience. It allows you to equalize the sound according to mids, treble, and bass settings. You can also create touch commands and prompts here – Single pinch for pause/play/answer/disconnect call or double pinch for Siri/Google. You get the drill.
The (stick) evidently takes after the (1)‘s design. It’s skeletal, and raw and puts its mechanical elegance on display. Signature Nothing. While the Ear (1) offered a rubber tip for extra bass and grip, the (stick) doesn’t. This also means, no noise canceling, weaker bass, and well, a sloppier grip. I’m not particularly disappointed with the (stick)’s grip but while it’s aiming to be too comfy a fit, it’s oddly loose. But hey, no need to boo yet, this comes with pros too – It’s considerably lighter, which is great, and works for longer usage periods too. I think most earbuds get a bit icky after being worn for more than half an hour, but the Nothing Ear (sticks) stayed in comfortably through a two-hour flight from Mumbai to Delhi. No fusses, no irritation.
The sound is particularly interesting and I’m quite impressed with how Nothing has equalized its audio for every day/causal use. It’s ear-gasmically crisp. The mids and treble are right where they should be to enjoy Rock and Pop music.
However, there are a few reasons why audiophiles and purists may frown a little here. The bass does feel a bit flat sometimes, so if you’re into genres that embrace strong kicks and basses, this may not be for you. At full volume, you’ll hear prominent jarring. I think this is definitely an area of improvement for Nothing.
All in all, I’d give the Nothing Ear (sticks) a solid 7.5/10 and they undeniably stand out in an over-cluttered TWE market. Nothing’s experience aesthetic is definitely prominent here, especially with the charging case. Also, just know that it’s different from the Ear (1), it isn’t meant to be a successor or an improvement in any way. I see tons of pros and cons but for what Nothing is aiming for in terms of a product experience, they’re hitting the mark.
All images: Courtesy Nothing