Highlights

  • Open ear design for the earbuds
  • Cylindrical case with twist-to-open mechanism
  • No wireless charging or ANC

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Nothing Ear (stick) review: Made for the style-conscious

The new Nothing Ear (stick) earbuds grab eyeballs thanks to their stylish case with a twist-to-open mechanism. But, do they justify a higher price than the Ear (1)? Find out in our review!

Key Specifications
Price : ₹8,499
12.6mm drivers Open ear design Twist-to-open case
Bluetooth v5.2 IP54 rating Google Fast Pair & Microsoft Swift Pair
Our Review
8 / 10
Design9/10
Call Quality7/10
Connectivity8/10
Audio Quality8/10
Controls9/10
Battery Life8/10
Pros
  • Offbeat design
  • Good audio quality
  • Intuitive squeeze controls
Cons
  • Price
  • No wireless charging

From exposed internals to embedded light shows, Nothing surely knows a thing or two about standout designs.

Take their latest earbuds, for instance. They are called the Nothing Ear (stick), and they too are designed to grab eyeballs.

However, these new earbuds coexist with the Nothing Ear 1s, which offer active noise cancellation (ANC) and wireless charging, that these do not have.

Design

Carrying forward Nothing’s design theme, the Ear (stick)’s cylindrical case is also transparent. What makes it cool, however, is its twist to open mechanism. The case also has an exposed soft touch plastic area, which feels nice but can be stained quite easily.

There’s a single LED on the case that indicates the battery levels of both the case and the earbuds. The overall weight of the device is quite light. But, since the case is cylindrical, it always sticks out of your jeans pocket.

At first glance, the buds themselves look exactly like the Ear 1s—well, until you turn them around. The Ear Sticks do not have silicon ear tips, but instead, have the open ear design that you’d find on the AirPods.

This means that the fit is non-customisable. I found the fit to be average at best, but one of my colleagues was really happy with it. So, it will depend greatly on the size and shape of your ears.

The buds also come with an IP54 rating for added durability, which means that they should be protected against some moisture and the odd splashes of water.

Connectivity

The earbuds have Bluetooth 5.2 and they connect with both Android and iOS via the Nothing X companion app. If you have the Nothing Phone (1), the support for these earbuds is baked into the software.

The buds also support Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair for quick connectivity with Android and Windows devices.

The Nothing X app is really well laid out. It is quite minimalist, with everything presented clearly.

You get two tabs on the homepage which give you access to most of the features you’d want. Then, you can head over to settings to see if there’s a software update for the buds.

These buds only support two codecs, SBC and AAC. The absence of higher-res LDHC and aptX codecs is quite surprising on a pair of earbuds that are priced at a premium.

Controls

The simple controls are one of the best things about the Ear (stick). Nothing has provided pressure sensitive controls on each stem, and they work like a charm.

A thoughtful touch is that the pressure sensor area is slightly recessed on each stem. So, it can be easily located when worn.

I also like the fact that everything is controlled through squeeze gestures, and you don't have to awkwardly swipe on the stem to control the volume like on some other earbuds. Gesture control customization is also available through the companion app.

The Nothing Ear Sticks also feature ear detection, which pauses or plays media quite seamlessly.

Audio & Call Quality

So, these earbuds are pretty good at a lot of things, but audio quality is what makes or breaks an audio device. Let's talk about it, then.

The Ear Sticks have 12.6mm drivers in earbuds which have been developed by Nothing, unlike the over the shelf drivers of the Ear 1s.

However, the sound output of the Ear Sticks is quite closely matched to that of the Ear 1s. The ear sticks definitely have a slightly boosted bass, but the difference is quite subtle.

Overall, I quite liked the audio output of these earbuds, especially in the balanced and more bass EQ settings. The mids and the highs never sounded muffled, despite there being a slight emphasis on bass. The instrument separation over a wide variety of genres was also quite impressive.

If you don't love your ears and like to listen to music at full blast, these buds would still keep you happy thanks to their high peak volume.

But, do keep in mind that these have an open ear design, which means that the overall audio experience will be less immersive compared to standard earbuds with silicon tips. It’s basically the experience you get with transparency mode enabled all the time.

The call quality through the in-built mic was pretty decent. While the caller could hear my voice clearly, the traffic and wind noise did seep in. So I do believe that environmental noise cancellation could have been better in calls.

Battery Life

The Ear Sticks are claimed to offer up to 7 hours of battery life per earbuds, while the charging case adds another 22 hours of playback time. This claim was about right in my experience.

These buds charge via USB-C and just 10 minutes of charging provides up to 2 hours of listening time, which is quite handy.

Wireless charging is absent here, which does make sense keeping the shape of the case in mind. However, the Ear 1s do have it, so that’s that.

Verdict

The Nothing Ear (stick) are pretty solid earbuds in isolation. They are very stylish and sound pretty great as well.

But the fact that Nothing Ear 1s exist makes things awkward. You see, the Ear 1s get active noise cancellation and wireless charging, while costing less than Nothing Ear (stick) at the time of writing this review.

At the end of the day, the Nothing Ear Sticks are made for a niche audience that values style and prefers an open ear design. If you are one of those people, then this device should keep you quite happy.

Also watch: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review

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