Nothing Ear 1 Review

Nothing Ear 1 Review: Should You Buy This Product?

Bottom line

The Nothing Ear 1 earphones are some of the lightest and most comfortable on the market with a 4.7g weight. They offer an active noise cancellation and have a great microphone. If you don’t need some of the newest technological advances, then these are one of your top options for true wireless earbuds.

Pros
  • Multiple noise cancelling modes
  • Wireless charging
  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Automatic play/pause
  • IPX4 rating
Cons
  • No Bluetooth multipoint
  • No aptX/LDAC codec support
  • Limited EQ customization
  • Minimal active noise cancelling

Nothing earbud are one of the newest entrants into the market. These earphones are stripped down and only cost $99 and work well for their price. They are also lightweight, comfortable and have decent noise cancelation and mic quality.

Nothing has released a new product that promises to be the best on the market. They utilize affordable wireless earbud tech, promising a lot with their inaugural product. The company achieves active noise-cancellation (ANC), a water-resistant build and software support for under $100.

The Nothing Ear 1 are a new type of earphones. They were designed by Carl Pei from the company OnePlus and have backing from a number of big players in the tech space, like Google Ventures and Casey Neistat. We put the earbuds through their paces to see if they live up to their hype.

Fit and Feel: Surprisingly Comfortable

At first glance, it is clear that the Ear 1 stand out from the crowd of true wireless earbuds (TWEs) with its transparent design. Its silicone-tipped earbud and stem form factor are standard and can be found in all sorts of headphones at every price point after being popularized by Apple’s AirPods.

But take the earbuds out of their charging case and it won’t take you long to realize how lightweight they are. Forming less than one gram each, they weigh significantly less than the AirPods Pro (5.4g each). Although this doesn’t seem like a big advantage on paper, while wearing the Ear 1s, the comfort can’t be beat.

I have a problem with earbuds. My ears get sore after wearing them for more than two hours straight when I use the Google Pixel Buds A-Series, Sony WF-1000XM4 and almost everything from Samsung’s and Apple’s models. I never have this issue with the Nothing Ear 1.

They last for a long time which is good since batteries die. With the Ear 1, the battery should last you about 5 hours of listening time with a combined 34 hours using the case battery (with ANC turned off). The estimates are cut down to 4 hours of listening time and 24 hours with the charging case and ANC turned on.

From the testing I’ve done, it’s accurate. I only received the low battery notification once and that was on a day where I only got up from my desk a few times. ANC was enabled and music was playing for most of that time.

Sound Quality and Features

The sound quality on this pair of headphones is about the same as you would expect from a pair of $100 TWEs. Don’t expect miracles at this price, but the 11.6mm drivers offer clear audio, bass that isn’t overpowering, and solid mids and lows.

They sound as good as $200-$300 earbuds, but they’re cheaper.

Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the equalizer with the Nothing Ear 1. However, there are several presets to choose from, and they are pretty generic. These include Balanced, More Treble, More Bass, and Voice. I kept mine in Balanced mode for most of my testing.

The Ear 1 app, available for Android and iPhone, allows you to adjust the EQs on your headphone. You can also make other adjustments with it. You will probably only use it when you first pair your headphones and then never open it again except for checking for firmware updates.

As for touch controls, you won’t find any physical buttons on the earbuds. There are three different tap functionalities that you’ll have to remember: double-tapping plays and pauses audio, triple-tapping skips to the next song or can be configured to go back to a previous song, and tapping and holding shuffles through the noise cancellation modes (Noise Cancellation, Transparency and Off).

The earbuds also have an in-ear detection, which means that they will automatically play or pause your music when you put them in or take them out. You will hear a ding every time you put the earbuds in if you leave the feature enabled.

As someone who listens to their AirPods Pro every day, I’m disappointed with the transparency mode on the Ear 1s. Although the noise cancellation mode does a good job of blocking out background noise, transparency mode amplifies everything in an unnatural way. It almost sounds like someone took an audio clip and turned up the volume until it was too loud, then they equalized levels so that everything is at the same level volume.

Although I think Transparency mode can be improved via software updates, the three high-definition microphones built into the end of the Ear 1’s stems are excellent. Everyone I talked to said they had no problems with audio quality, and some said they were impressed by the voice isolation even when there was low to medium volume background noise such as running water.

There are some things that are missing from the Nothing Ear 1 though. For example, it doesn’t have any virtual assistant support on Android or iPhone. This means you won’t be able to call up Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri by tapping on either earbud.

The second downside is that they don’t support Bluetooth Multipoint despite having Bluetooth 5.2. This means you can pair the earbuds with more than one device, but you have to turn off the ones which are connected before they can connect and play audio from another device. It’s only a few seconds to switch devices, but there is no instant switching involved.

The Ear 1 supports AAC and SBC audio codecs. This means that it may provide a quality experience on Apple devices, but the quality on Android may differ depending on what type of media you are trying to stream.

The Charging Case That Could Be Better

My complaint with the Nothing Ear 1 is that the charging case is large. It is not as slim and flat-shaped as other TWE charging cases.

I hope for a smaller case if Nothing ship a second-generation pair of earbuds. The current design and size is great to show off the transparent Ear 1, but it doesn’t work when I want to put them in my pocket.

The Qi wireless charging is nice, but it takes awhile to charge this way. It only takes 52 minutes while plugged in with a USB-C cable and when using other wireless charging devices like MagSafe chargers, which can be used while one is sitting at a desk in the office.

Who should buy Nothing Ear 1?

If you can’t afford the AirPods Pro, you should get the Nothing Ear 1 earbuds instead. The earbuds feature an active noise-cancellation system and a strong AAC connection to Apple devices for less than half the price.

The consistent minimal design and the uncomplicated features make these earbuds perfect for people who appreciate simplicity.

The Nothing Ear 1 is the perfect earbud for fitness enthusiasts. They are sweat resistant and durable.

What is it like to use Nothing Ear 1?

Let’s talk about how we created a transparent design. We wrapped the earbuds and charging case in clear plastic, so that the customer can see all of the technology. We don’t usually use transparent plastic because it makes it harder to work with. However, we still had some parts left over in December of 2021 so we added an alternate option as well.

These headphones have a magnetic clasp that holds the earbuds securely in the case. A small divot in the case holds them in place, so you don’t have to worry about them falling out.

The Nothing Ear 1 may bring back some memories for you. The first thing that will catch your eye is their short, flat stem and the weight of 4.7g – just as light as AirPods Pro. Nothing also has three different sizes of ear tips, just like AirPods Pro and is also IPX4 water-resistant.

Learn more: What makes a good set of in-ears?

Depending on which phone you have, pairing with the Nothing Ear 1 is very different. If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll have to press the button to pair and manually connect to the earbuds within Bluetooth. Android users will be able to quickly and easily connect by opening the charging case near their device.

The touch controls on the earbuds allow users to play, pause, and skip tracks, as well as activating ANC or transparency mode. In-ear detection makes it so that when the earbuds are removed from your ears the music will automatically pause, but once they have been put in again the track will resume playing.