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Nothing Ear (1) review: Is it worth the hype?

Nothing ear (1) review summary:

Editor’s rating: 3.8/5

Looks & fit

Connectivity, App & controls

Noise-canceling

Audio performance

Calling

Battery life


























Rating: 4 out of 5.


























Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


























Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


























Rating: 4 out of 5.


























Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


























Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Pros

  • Excellent design and comfortable fit
  • Balanced, detailed sound  
  • Reliable for calling  
  • Wireless and fast charging

Cons

  • Lacks support for Voice assistant
  • Case scratches easily

Ever since its chief and ex-OnePlus co-founder, Carl Pei of OnePlus fame announced Nothing – the name of his new venture, tech enthusiasts have been keenly observing every move his company made.

From the announcement of the company name to the first concept design reveal every move was well orchestrated. Piece-by-piece unveiling of semi-transparent design, active noise cancellation feature, and its price (in the typical OnePlus fashion) allowed Nothing to further created a positive hype for the young brand. 

The emerging brand has managed to make a strong opening statement as it dared to start its journey when the world was still recouping from the COVID19 jolt.

Now that dust has settled, is Nothing Ear (1) TWS a worthy buy for Rs 5,999? Let’s find that out in our full review!


Navigate this review:

Unboxing | Specs | Looks & Fit | Connectivity | Noise Cancellation | Sound | Calling | Battery | Verdict | Pros – Cons


There’s literally nothing flashy in Ear (1) box. We received them in a simple package with a black color outer cover and a silver color box inside. It had a marker to tear open the box. Here’s everything you get inside:

  • Charging case
  • TWS
  • USB Type C cable
  • Additional Earplugs
  • Quickstart booklet

ALSO READ:

  • Bluetooth: 5.2
  • Codex supported: SBC, AAC
  • Microphone: Yes
  • Driver: 11.6mm
  • Bluetooth Range: Up to 10m
  • Frequency: 20Hz to 20KHz
  • Battery Capacity: 570mAh
  • Charging Interface: USB Type-C, Qi wireless charging
  • Waterproof: IPX4
  • Weight: 4.7g (earbud); 57.4g (case)
  • Dimensions: 28.9 x 21.5 x 23.5 mm (earbud)
    58.6 x 58.6 x 23.7 mm (case)
  • Price in India: ₹5,999

Nothing Ear (1) review: Looks and fit

The Nothing Ear (1) scores well in my books for its looks and fit. They are not entirely a unique proposition, but their semi-transparent design does make them stand apart from the crowd – and that matters. 

Let’s start with the case first. The charging case has a squarish shape with rounded corners and a metal hinge that gives you a satisfying feel while opening or closing the lid. There’s a USB-C port for charging and an action button given on the case.

For me, the most interesting thing in the case’s design is that dimple upfront. It allows me to whirl the case just like a fidget spinner. Nothing has mainly used plastic but its opaque aesthetics gives you an impression of a premium glass build. One of the concerns usually associated with transparent design is the plastics usually turn yellow after a while. Well, the company claims they have given a special treatment to ensure the Ear (1) doesn’t turn yellow. 

It’s been almost a month since I have been using these as my daily driver and they remain clean. Having said that, the case isn’t as scratch-resistant as claimed. Within days, I saw some scuff marks prop up on the case. Open up the case lid and you will see them resting flat in their bays. Resting earbuds are automatically drawing juice from the case battery via pogo connector pins. 

I liked that they have used magnets to keep things in place. The lid has a small magnet that ensures it shuts firmly. Similarly, small magnet chips are placed next to pogo connectors, buds stem, and at bottom of the earbud cups in case. This ensures buds remain in place while traveling and do not get detached from pogo connectors when not in use.

Inside the case, there is small led light that glows to indicate charging mode and pairing mode.

The dimple on the lid which I mentioned above is there for a reason. It not just adds to aesthetics but also ensures earbuds don’t get space to dislodge from their place when the lid is closed.

Let’s now come to earbuds. They are designed in a combination of white & black plugs and brandish a see-through stem. If you look closely you will notice several components including the tiny logic board, microphones, and battery. In one of my conversations with the Nothing team, they shared how their engineering team has to walk the extra mile to ensure everything is stacked neat and clean inside to ensure a tidy look.

Instead of following normal markings of ‘L’ and ‘R’ on buds, the Nothing Ear (1) uses color-coding instead, which is a lot easier to discern. The right earpiece has a red marking while the left one has a white dot. 

Coming to fit and comfort, the Nothing Ear (1) has a comfortable snug fit and the buds don’t pop out of our ears even when we move our head ferociously. We tried them during an intensive workout session and they stayed well in place. We also tried them for hours at a stretch but never felt fatigued. The buds are extremely lightweight (4.7g each) and soft tips further help keep discomfort at bay. Unless and until you have small ears you have Nothing to worry about the Ear (1)’s fit and comfort.

Nothing Ear (1) review: Connectivity, App and controls

With stem design, Nothing gets slightly more real estate to play and implement gesture controls. They have done exactly that here. It has several tapping or swiping for gestures including:

  • Double-tap to play/pause the music.
  • Triple Tap the left earbud for the next song and the Right one for the previous last song.
  • Tap and Hold to switch between Transparency, Normal, and Noise Cancelling modes.
  • Swipe up and down to increase/reduce the volume. 

The Nothing Ear (1) has a companion app called ear (1) available for both iOS and Android platforms. The app itself has a simplistic UI offering both light and dark theme options.

With the companion app, one can check battery percentage, customize touch controls from given options, adjust noise cancellation, and adjust the equalizer. The equalizer setting has four presets “more treble,” “balanced,” “more bass,” and “voice,” I wish there was an option for custom EQ that gave users complete control to adjust the sound.

There are two presets for ANC as well – Partial ANC and Complete ANC. You can also disable ANC by switching to transparency mode from the app.

For connectivity, it has Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC and ACC codec support. Pairing it to an Android phone is easy all you have to do is open up the flap and most modern-day Android phones will show a Google Fast pair pop-up on your phone.

As for iPhone users, one has to follow the manual connection process by pressing and holding the pairing button for a couple of seconds and then select Nothing Ear (1) from within their Bluetooth settings.

In our testing, we faced no connection drops. Our experience with regard to connectivity has been more or less positive.

Nothing Ear (1) review: How effective is noise canceling on Nothing Ear (1) TWS?

The noise-canceling on these affordable TWS is similar to any other TWS  option priced under Rs 6,000. Passive noise cancellation depends on how well the buds fit your ears. Therefore, we advise you to use the right tips to ensure a snug fit. For us, default tips worked well. They manage to block some amount of ambient noise. As far as active noise cancellation is concerned, it manages to trim some of the low notes such as the hum of the air conditioner, laptop or computer fans, etc.

Where it really struggles in canceling out more prominent noise. It can not cancel out chatter inside your office. How’s the Nothing Ear (1) noise cancellation in comparison to OPPO Enco W51 and Realme Buds Air 2? Well, the other two also deliver noise cancellation similar to Nothing Ear (1). It’s just that they are more consistent with their performance. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ which is a touch costly offers better noise-canceling in the under Rs 7,000 segment. 

Nothing Ear (1) performance review:  How well does the Nothing Ear sound?

Each earbud of the Nothing Ear (1) packs an 11.6mm dynamic graphene driver inside which is tuned by Swedish firm Teenage Engineering. Right out of the box it supports SBC and AAC codecs. While we missed support for LDAC and AptX HD we understand the affordability rationale behind this decision.

As for sound quality, the ear (1) has a balanced tuning with a decent amount of depth on both axes. It is one of the best in its class in terms of sound imaging. We feel the Ear (1) has a V-shaped sound signature offering tight bass, cheerful mids, and crisp highs.

Having said that, both lows and the highs are a bit more pronounced as compared to the mids.

It has good sub-bass rumble but if you are looking for an aggressive bass attack you won’t find it here. Coming to mids, you will find mid-tones more or less spot on, only second to the Samsung Galaxy buds+.

While listening to the song “Feel Good” by Maribou State, I managed to identify most of the instruments. I like the subtle sound of bells in the background which doesn’t get lost in a sea of sounds.

Similarly, At 1:19 of “Shivers” by Ed Sheeran, the vocal, guitar, and other instruments came through loud and clear. In fact, vocals were never suppressed by any instrumental din throughout the whole track I played music from different genres to test the ear (1) limits. It is my understanding, they manage to play most genres well including in terms of texture and tonality.

All in all, if a very clean sound matter to you Ear (1) makes a lot of sense for people looking for a pair of better-sounding TWS under Rs 7,000.

Nothing Ear (1) review: How’s the calling experience them?

Call and connection quality on the Nothing Ear (1) was top-notch. In fact, it is best in the segment. I have used Nothing Ear (1) for taking calls in both indoor and outdoor scenarios. So far, not once I was forced to switch to the phone’s mic due to trouble with TWS mics.

Out of the three mics, Nothing has placed one at the bottom of the stem to push it closer to the mouth. It manages to capture my voice clearly.

Nothing Ear (1) review: How is the battery life?

In my day-to-day usage, the Nothing ear (1) TWS managed to last a little over 4 hours and with ANC turned on, and 5.4 hours with ANC off. With only a 31mAh battery on each bud, that’s not bad in my experience. The charging case has a 570 mAh battery which should be able to recharge the ear (1) buds six times on a single charge.

With the charging case, ear (1) can last for up to 34 hours. The good thing about these buds is the support for fast charging and Qi wireless charging. 10 mins of charging allow the buds to last for 60 minutes where if you plug in a fast charger to the case it will refill the tank for 8hours in just 10 minutes.

Review verdict: Should you buy Nothing ear (1)?

The Nothing’s new Ear (1) buds offer excellent value and a decent sound experience for less than Rs 6000. Despite being the first product by the ‘Nothing’ company, these TWS manage to punch above their price tag by offering attractive design and balanced sound.

If noise cancellation is your priority, in that case, these are not the best in class. Save for that, these are easy recommendations for me. Having said that, Samsung Galaxy Buds+ after a recent price cut and better sound and noise cancellation and can make life difficult for these TWS buds.

Expert rating: 3.8/5

Reasons to buy

  • Excellent design and comfortable fit
  • Balanced, detailed sound  
  • Reliable for calling  
  • Wireless and fast charging

Reasons not to buy

  • Lacks support for Voice assistant
  • Case scratches easily

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