Nothing Ear (stick) review: Something's amiss

The Nothing Ear (stick) is a set of fashion-forward true wireless Bluetooth earphones with a funky case.

The company’s first audio gear – and, in fact, its debut product launched in 2021 – was a well appreciated and widely popular Nothing Ear (1) that packed in a slick transparent chassis and offered a solid sound signature.

The Ear (stick) is not its follow up, mind you – the upcoming Ear (2) will likely fill that role. The Ear (stick) misses out on a few features of the Nothing’s first pair and is a product of the company’s ambition to innovate around and disrupt the mainstream with a slew of eclectic products and check what works.

Like the Ear (1), the Ear (stick) also offers a semi-transparent styling but in an open-fit design without silicone tips since the speaker grilles are built directly into the large part of the earpieces. There’s also the trademark color-coding to identify the left and right earpieces, along with the product name etched on the inside.

The earphones look rad actually and are fairly comfortable. At 4.4 grams each, they’re quite light as well, and I could barely feel the earpieces in my ears. But like with most open-fit earbuds, if they don’t fit you and don’t stay put in your ears, there’s little you can do. Also, even the slightest repositioning of the earpieces would change the way the earphones sound.

The open design doesn’t block your ear canal and you can hear all the noise of the world outside – it’s good for situational awareness – like when you are taking a walk in your hood – but useless for a distraction-free experience at the busy WeWork I work out of. There’s no noise cancellation on the Ear (Stick) so no working out of coffeehouses.

The highlight, and also the bane, of the Ear (stick) is its innovatively designed cylindrical charging case. You can see through it, and roll the bottom to open the lid, like lipstick. While the design is attractive and definitely a conversation starter, I observed that dust, and often hair, would get trapped inside the rolling lid. And, of course, there is no wireless charging.

But while the Nothing (stick) impresses in form, it slightly disappoints in function. Apart from the absence of ANC, the audio quality also won’t win any awards. That said, they are a good, everyday pair with well-rounded sound signature if you are not very picky about those things. For what it’s worth, the vocals are pretty good which is great for someone like me who listens to more podcasts than music and watches a lot of videos.

Like all open-ear buds, they do leak sound at higher volumes… pretty much why I’ve always preferred those that fit snug in the ears. Again, it’s a personal preference. Apple Airpods, the most widely sold TWS earphones sport a similar design, and are clearly very popular.

The battery life on the Nothing Ear (stick) is pretty good (ummm… thanks to the absence of ANC). The earbuds last a good seven hours of music playback, and the charging case offers enough juice to add three additional charge cycles for a total run time of about 28 hours.

The companion app, previously called ‘Nothing Ear 1', has now been renamed to ‘Nothing X’ to support a wider portfolio in future. Available for both iOS and Android, it sports a slick design and an intuitive user experience and offers enough controls to adjust the equalizer settings and customize certain controls on the earpieces.

Nothing Ear (stick) Specifications

- Driver size: 12.6mm
- Water resistance: IP54 (dust and sweat resistant)
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC
- Dimensions: 29.8 x 18.8 x 18.4mm (earbuds) | 87.1 x 29.8mm (charging case)
- Weight: 4.4g each (earbuds) | 46.3g (charging case)

The Last Word

The Nothing Ear (stick) are a great-looking pair of TWS earphones. However, at the price of ₹8,499, they were a tad underwhelming despite all the hype. More so, since the company’s maiden earphones, the Ear (1), were launched much cheaper in India and packed in more features.

However, the Ear (stick) is now available for a revised price of ₹6,999, which makes it a much better proposition. At the older price, one would’ve rather picked up an older Nothing Ear (1) or spend a little extra to go for the fantastic OPPO Enco X2. However, the price revision changes that.

Once you tweak the equalizer, you can get over the dullness of sound and extract a good enough audio experience. But the lack of active noise cancellation and passive noise isolation means that they aren’t great for those who regularly commute via public transport or use one to concentrate at their workplace.

The Ear (1) heralded the new ambitious brand towards the road less travelled, but the Ear (stick) is a rough bent along the way to probably a better milestone with the Ear (2).


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