- othing’s ear (1) retail for $99.
- The ear (1) earbuds offer many of the same features that more expensive brands offer, like Active Noise Canceling, water resistance, and more.
- Despite being budget-friendly, the Nothing ear (1) delivers excellent sound and build quality, making them a premium option without costing a small fortune.
Nothing wants to challenge the current landscape of the tech world and how people think about new technology, and its first piece of new hardware, the Nothing ear (1) earbuds, are a perfect beginning.
True wireless earbuds are plentiful now, and the budget range continues to grow as more brands get on the bandwagon. With its first pair of earbuds, though, Nothing has decided to approach things a bit differently. Offering a product for under $100, Nothing had every right to skimp a little on the quality of both the build and sound that the ear (1) delivers. Fortunately for us, that isn’t the case.
Instead, the company has delivered different, but still reliably familiar, earbuds that include a nice mix of mids and earthy bass. The highs are a little underwhelming here, but overall, listening to music and other content on the ear (1) feels a lot like listening to it through a high-quality speaker.
While there’s a lot to like about the ear (1), they aren’t perfect. Because of their budget-friendly price tag, there are some limitations to what they can offer.
The visual design is easily one of the most notable things that you’ll see when you look at Nothing’s first batch of hardware. The company’s entire mission statement is to take tech back to its roots. To focus more on delivering great hardware and tech than on how pretty it looks, and that shows.
A transparent design gives you a good glimpse at the inner workings of the ear (1), and while it has a somewhat appealing charm to it, these are by far not the prettiest earbuds you’ll find on the market.
However, they do work well. The controls are simple, much like you’d find on any other pair of true wireless earbuds, though like most earbud-mounted controls, they can be a bit annoying to deal with.
Swiping up and down will adjust the volume, and double-tapping will pause and play the music or other content you’re listening to. You can also turn noise canceling off and on, as well as skip to another track, but that’s about it.
If you really want to customize the sound of your earbuds, you have to use a standalone app. This isn’t uncommon in today’s earbud landscape, so it’s not really a deal-breaker. However, it would have been nice to have a bit more customization control on the earbuds themselves.
Not Quite an Encore
While there’s a lot to like about the ear (1), they aren’t perfect. Because of their budget-friendly price tag, there are some limitations to what they can offer. One of the biggest features of the earbuds is active noise canceling (ANC).
This is something that has helped more expensive earbud options like Apple’s AirPods Pro stand out, and while ANC is on display in Nothing’s earbuds, you start to feel the budget constraints when using them.
Quelling noise is usually an important part of using ANC, a lot of people rely on it to block outside noise while working, or even while traveling. ANC on the ear (1) works, but it doesn’t completely block everything, which means you’re going to get some bleed through for really loud noises.
Again, for a budget pair of earbuds, this isn’t an uncommon issue, and it is nice to have the option to cancel out at least some of the noise when you’re using these.
Despite the issues with the ANC, though, Nothing still delivers a high-quality sound design thanks to its work with Teenage Engineering—an audio company that specializes in musical hardware. It was a great choice to team up with Teenage Engineering, and the company’s understanding of music and what is needed to enjoy it are on clear display.
The result of all this hard work is a pair of affordable earbuds that deliver warm sound and perfectly adequate noise canceling. For the price, you just can’t beat it.
Throw in the up to 34 hours of battery life (without noise canceling on) and it almost feels like a steal. Don’t let the name confuse you. Nothing might be pulling back the curtain on how annoyingly complex tech has become, but that doesn’t mean it’s delivering an experience you should ignore.