Nothing Ear 1 evaluate: funky, semi-transparent earbuds value a hear | Headphones

Nothing is the most recent London-based tech startup to attempt to break the stranglehold that AirPods have on Bluetooth earbuds, and is providing good sound and attention-grabbing design at a funds worth.

The Ear 1 price £99 ($99) and are the primary product of Carl Pei’s new firm after he left the favored smartphone model OnePlus, which he co-founded, to strike out on his personal.

The oblong stalks have varied seen sensors, magnets and circuits, and hook up with an opaque white earbud piece and conventional silicone earbud tip. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The brand new earbuds don’t break the mould on type, being AirPods Professional-like, with stalks and silicone suggestions. However they stand out from the group by being partly clear, permitting you to see a few of the inside workings.

They’re a few of the most comfy stalk-based earbuds I’ve worn. The case appears to be like fancy however is somewhat bigger than one of the best within the enterprise – it is extremely pocketable however it wouldn’t match within the cash pocket of a pair of denims. The earbuds last as long as 4 hours of playback with noise cancelling, whereas the case can cost them as much as six occasions. It fees through USB-C or Qi wi-fi charging.

Nothing Ear 1 review
The contact factors, magnets and hinge are all seen within the case, whereas a textured white centrepiece incorporates the battery and circuitry. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


  • Water resistance: IPX4 (splash resistant)

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC

  • Battery life: 4 hours with noise cancelling (24 hours with case)

  • Earbud dimensions: 28.9 x 21.5 x 23.5mm

  • Earbud weight: 4.7g every

  • Driver dimension: 11.6mm

  • Charging case dimensions: 58.66 x 58.6 x 23.7mm

  • Charging case weight: 57.4g

  • Case charging: USB-C, Qi wi-fi charging

Faucet and swipe controls

Nothing Ear 1 review
You possibly can see the touch-sensing chips within the stalks. The white dot marks this earbud because the left one. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Ear 1 are customary Bluetooth 5.2 earbuds supporting the common SBC and AAC audio requirements utilized by most units. They solely join to at least one machine at a time, however seamlessly swap between them, whereas every earbud can be utilized by itself.

They help Google’s Quick Pair with Android for one-tap pairing and battery ranges show. The connection to a Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely and iPhone 12 Professional was rock stable, though they may not be examined in congested areas due to the Covid-19 state of affairs within the UK.

A very good set of gesture controls embody double faucet for pause/play and triple faucet for observe skip. Press and maintain to modify noise cancelling modes, and slide your finger up and down the stalk to regulate quantity. The music may also pause/play once you take away and reinsert an earbud.

Sound and noise cancelling

Nothing Ear 1 review
The Nothing app for Android and iOS reveals battery ranges, adjusts the faucet controls, noise cancelling and the restricted equaliser. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The earbuds have a satisfying, on a regular basis listening sound that’s filled with power. It’s pretty rounded with good highs and treble, whereas the bass is deep and properly managed. Most music genres sound good, however they’ll wrestle somewhat bit with separation in actually advanced tracks and might sometimes be somewhat shrill with some overly emphasised treble. They gained’t hassle the greatest within the enterprise, however the Ear 1s are an pleasant hear and sound good for the cash.

In addition they have energetic noise cancelling, which was able to decreasing rumble and low notes when set to most, however struggled to suppress greater tones and voices. They may take the sting off highway noise, however are usually not as efficient as barely dearer rivals. In addition they have a reasonably natural-sounding ambient consciousness mode, which was adequate for holding conversations or listening for site visitors.


Nothing Ear 1 review
The earbuds magnetically clip into the case to maintain them protected and charged, held in place by a number of seen deformations within the lid. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Nothing estimates that the batteries within the earbuds and case final for at the least 500 cycles whereas sustaining at the least 80% of their unique capability, however they don’t seem to be replaceable, finally making the earbuds disposable.

The earbuds are replaceable by means of service however not repairable. Nothing doesn’t supply trade-in or recycling schemes within the UK, nor does it use recycled materials within the product or publish environmental impression assessments.


Nothing Ear 1 review
The clear plastic case is pretty simply scratched. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
  • The earbuds sounded higher with improved bass response with noise cancelling energetic, which isn’t what you’d usually count on.

  • Name high quality was very clear, if somewhat quiet indoors, and was even higher exterior, successfully isolating my voice from the noise of metropolis streets and coming by means of loud and clear.

  • I discovered a number of points with the match of the earbuds within the case and the Bluetooth reference to a pair of early pre-release models, which have been all fastened within the retail variations as examined.


The Nothing Ear 1 price £99 ($99).

For comparability, Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Professional have an RRP of £129.99, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Professional price £189, the Jabra Elite 85t price £219.99, the Bose QC Earbuds price £249.95, the Sony WF-1000XM4 price £250 and the Apple AirPods Professional price £249.


There aren’t any finish of true wi-fi earbuds accessible, however Nothing’s clear design helps the Ear 1 stand out.

They’re super-comfortable, sound good for normal listening and have wonderful controls and nice name high quality. The noise cancelling works for decreasing rumbles however is pretty restricted in any other case, and battery lifetime of about 4 hours is wanting one of the best. However these niggles are pretty straightforward to miss given there are few actually good earbuds costing lower than £100 that aren’t discounted.

The battery within the earbuds or case can’t be changed, nonetheless, finally making them disposable and dropping a star.

Execs: look nice, good sound, good worth, comfy match, nice name high quality, good controls, Bluetooth 5.2, Quick Pair and help seamless switching, wi-fi charging.

Cons: case somewhat greater than ideally suited, can’t join to 2 units without delay, no greater high quality audio requirements, solely splash resistant, disposable.

Nothing Ear 1 review
Open the case and press the button to pair the earbuds with new units. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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