The Nothing Ear (Stick) truly wireless earbuds is the perfect (or to say the latest) example of how to look cool in a similar-looking crowd, and now we know that Nothing can keep doing it indefinitely. Especially after pulling off Nothing Ear 1 (Review) and Phone 1 (Review).
Carl Pei’s Nothing is here to prove how design is the most important factor for any product and why all brands should focus more on that department. But, the way the London-based company designs its products, chances are if Boeing requests Nothing to design an aeroplane, we might want to pay for seeing that one on the runaway if not fly on it.
Coming back to the ground and realities, the Nothing Ear (Stick) follows the company’s core design elements and offers a somewhat extraordinary product in terms of looks. But when it comes to TWS, it’s not just the design that can compel someone to buy a product, so how good (or bad) is the Nothing Ear (Stick)? We will answer that in our review.
Nothing Ear (Stick) Review: Rollable and beautiful
By now, you shouldn’t be surprised by hearing the term different linked to a Nothing product. And the Ear (Stick) follows that comfortably. It’s a design we can vouch for you may not have seen until now on a TWS.
Carl Pei’s Nothing is bringing back the focus to design, and we must give them the due credit. The Ear (Stick) is the company’s third product and is designed uniquely. The cylindrical case is impressive and stands out. But, the good thing is that the Ear (Stick) does bring its share of familiarity with other Nothing products – transparency. It’s a clear case which shows the housing, and the red housing on the top of the cylindrical case is a mark that it’s the top side which also houses the charging slot.
Rolling the cylindrical case while holding the top (red) area will reveal the half-in-ear buds and no surprises for guessing that the design is inspired by lipstick. The transparent design gives the Ear (Stick) a more versatile feel, and the twist to reveal buds just adds to the overall experience. No silicone tips on the buds mean that Ear (Stick) becomes relevant for customers who hate silicone tips, but those who still prefer can always go for the Nothing Ear (1) TWS. The buds also look different but not as surprising as the case, probably because we have seen the Ear (1). The buds come with the same transparent design, which is a highlight.
As expected, the Ear (Stick) comes with IP54 dust and water-resistant rating, which means less stress while using the TWS all around the year in different weather. Talking purely in terms of fit, the Ear (Stick) is comfortable, and we could wear them almost for a whole day without any issues thanks to the ergonomic design.
The all-new half-in-ear designed buds are feather-light at just 4.4 grams. It’s worth mentioning that these are lighter than the Ear (1). The Ear (Stick) packs custom 12.6mm dynamic drivers, which is a good enough addition on a sub-Rs 10,000 TWS, but we will talk about the output in a bit.
The only big concern we have with the design of the TWS is it could pick up scratches, stains or dust because of the transparent glass use. For comparison, Ear (1) had a more closed case, which could help us maintain it for over a year. However, even Ear (1) couldn’t avoid scratches on the transparent case, which shines when kept in the light.
Overall, the Nothing Ear (Stick) look beautiful and has a twisty nature that makes it look different. The fit is perfect for all-day use, and the Ear (Stick) should be amazing for users who hate silicone tips.
Nothing Ear (Stick) Review: Amazing app support
If there’s one thing that Nothing Ear (Stick) improves massively, then it has to be app support. The all-new Nothing X app is an enhanced version of the Ear (1) app and brings a more unified experience.
Talking about the app, the home screen of the app shows the battery percentage of buds and the case alongside equaliser and controls settings. The left hamburger option shows devices from the Nothing ecosystem alongside options for a colour theme, about the app, notifications, and rate us. There’s also an option to sign in for users. We can expect this app to improve further as the company enhances its product portfolio.
The overall app is now more refined and feels cleaner with a simple UI. The Nothing Ear (Stick) gets an Equaliser setting, a much-demanded feature from users of Ear (1). The Equaliser option offers four options – Balanced, More Bass, More Treble, and Voice. Finally, there’s a custom option for audiophiles who prefer their music settings.
There are additional settings like the option to enable or disable in-ear detection, low lag mode, and find my earbuds.
As expected, there are tons of gestures that the Ear (Stick) supports, like a single press for play or pause, answer or hang up calls, double press for Skip forward or reject calls, triple press for Skip back, press and hold the left earbud for volume down, and press and hold right earbud for volume up.
Of course, if you have the Nothing Phone (1), then the integration is tighter, and you will enjoy the Nothing Ear (Stick) even more without the need to download the app. For other Android users, there’s fast pair which means once paired with the device, the Ear (Stick) can automatically connect once the buds are taken out of the case.
Nothing Ear (Stick) Review: Balanced audio performance
Coming to the real-world experience, we loved the Nothing Ear (Stick) as it offers vivid sound and attention to detail makes it worthy. During our tests, we got rich depths with clear highs and lows. In soundtracks, we could identify instruments and vocals. Long story short, if you love balanced music output, then the Nothing Ear (Stick) is for you.
The 12.6mm driver is good enough to handle music of different genres and somewhat offer an authentic music experience. It supports AAC and SBC codecs and comes with Bluetooth 5.2. In addition, the Nothing Ear (Stick) gets the company’s all-new Bass Lock tech that detects bass loss as the user wears the buds and tunes the equaliser to an optimum level. It works up to a point but not beyond it, and we felt like we were missing bass punch. From music to calls to podcasts, the Nothing Ear (Stick) is an all-rounder that can handle plenty but has its limitations.
The absence of ANC (active noise cancellation) at this price feels disappointing. This means there’s no way you can cut down ambient noise. But that’s also the beauty of the half-in-ear-designed TWS. These buds are meant not to make you feel the vacuum that is caused while using an in-ear bud for extended hours. On the feature front, there’s also missing wireless charging support.
The Nothing Ear (Stick) isn’t the perfect option for bass lovers because of the half-in-ear design; they miss out on the thump that other buds (mostly in-ear ones) offer.
We played songs like The Bohemian Rhapsody Remastered, which sounded lovely, while Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes shows a missing bass punch on the Ear (Stick). But, then, Interstellar’s No Time for Caution by Hans Zimmer shows how well Ear (Stick) can handle different instruments. So we have to admit it fared well.
The good thing is that Nothing now offers better software integration for Ear (Stick) users with a dedicated equaliser setting, allowing the listener to adjust music settings.
From music to calls, the Nothing Ear (Stick) is no doubt among the best for calling. The microphone quality is fantastic, and the person on the other side barely complained about audio issues during the call. However, in noisy environments like travelling via the metro, the buds struggled, a place where the Nothing Ear (1) did a better job.
During our tests, we didn’t notice any latency issues while watching videos or streaming shows on our phone.
Nothing Ear (Stick) Review: Battery impresses
The Nothing Ear (Stick) is claimed to offer up to 7 hours of listening time with just buds. However, with this case, the buds can extend that period up to 29 hours of listening time. While we couldn’t test the Ear (Stick) for over a day but during a couple of days of usage, we found the buds to deliver up to 5 hours of continuous usage and with the case, almost 15-16 hours of usage with 40% battery still left on the case. In our testing, the Nothing Ear (Stick) did impress us with its battery performance. The best thing is it supports fast charging, which means 10 minutes of charge can help it deliver up to 2 hours of usage.
Nothing Ear (Stick) Review: Verdict
At Rs 8,499, the Nothing Ear (Stick) appeals to all consumers who hate in-ear design and absolutely love half-in-ear design. During the review, the Ear (Stick) came out as a strong contender in the sub-Rs 10,000 category. Though, Nothing Ear (1) seemed a more valuable proposition at launch.
Nonetheless, the Ear (Stick) is a more balanced package that should attract users who would love to use a uniquely designed TWS. The Ear (Stick) can fit into the smallest carry bags thanks to its shape and size. The transparent buds design is again a nice touch, but it missed out on the surprise factor that the Ear (1) could pull off.
If you’re in the market looking for a half-in-ear design TWS, then the Nothing Ear (Stick) is a near-perfect package though slightly priced on the higher side. It gets excellent software support with the Nothing X app, along with an equaliser option and more.
Nothing Ear (Stick)8,499
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