Nothing Ear (stick) review: at the cusp of fashion and tech | 91mobiles.com
No newbie brand is just a couple of products old, but seems to have already carved an identity for itself thanks to its radical gadget designs. Its first offering ear (1) (Review), a pair of TWS earbuds that come in a transparent case. The brand followed it up with a lot of hype Nothing Phone (1), A unique smartphone An interesting glyph light on its back panel is for ThingMagig. The Carl Pee-led company is now back with its third offering, another pair of TWS Comes in the form of an ear (stick)..
Again, the main element of the ear (stick) is its approach to design, with the buds housed in a transparent cylindrical case. The plastic tube has two cavities for two buds with a transparent cover to prevent them from popping out. A twist-and-turn mechanism, however, brings up an appropriately-sized window in the transparent cover to the front, allowing you to access the buds and remove them from their resting places. On the cylinder side, you’ll see a red module that houses the Type-C port and a metallic pairing button. The latter forms the end of a small metal tube.
Overall, the aesthetic isn’t just interesting, it’s also very comfortable. However, I can’t say I haven’t seen something like this before — the Nokia BH-705 wireless earbuds come to mind. These also come in a cylindrical case, utilizing a spring-loaded base that pops out from the inside when the cover is pressed from the side. There are other, similarly designed offerings in the TWS world, though with its transparent body and lipstick-like twist mechanism, Running Nothing definitely feels new and fun. One thing to note here is that the transparent case can get scratched if not handled carefully.
The buds have short stalks and are oval in shape with a small mesh at the end leading into the ears. There’s no ANC, which is a bummer as it’s an expected feature at the price of ear (stick) land. The half in-ear design uses a one-size-fits-all approach, so the fit isn’t truly customized. Nothing says it tested the fit on 100 people, so make of it what you will. As for me, I find that I have a fit and cannot dislodge the buds from my ears by shaking my head vigorously. Also, because of the oval shape of the buds, I found that it was possible to adjust the buds to fit into the ear canal by twisting them around a bit. However your mileage may vary. I will say this – 4.4 grams per bud is light and the ear (stick) buds are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The buds are IP54-rated and impervious to dust, water splashes and sweat. In terms of features, you get support for Google Fast Pair, a low lag mode for gaming and Bass Lock, a feature that uses software to tune the equalizer by detecting how much bass leaks when you wear them. Although the Nothing Phone (1) already has the necessary software, you’ll need the new Nothing X app on other phones to control the ear (stick) settings. The app is available for both Android and iOS and not only gives you the remaining battery levels in each earbud and case, but also lets you update the firmware, it also gives you access to the equalizer and other settings. You can toggle in-ear detection and low-latency mode, and access the Find My Earbuds feature. You can also customize gesture controls for each earbud. By default, these are set to skip tracks forward on a double press, back on a triple press and adjust the volume on a long press. The single press action is not customizable and is set to play/pause and answer/reject calls.
When it comes down to it, the audio quality. The ear (stick) features a custom 12.6mm driver and comes with support for SBC and AAC codecs. Due to the semi-in-ear fit, the earbuds lose effective low-end. Don’t get me wrong, the earbuds’ bass output offers minimal decay and beats sound solid too. You have to cuff your palms against the earbuds to feel the impact of said beats. This is evident on Limit To Your Love by James Blake, where the beat drops sound tonally accurate, but lacks a satisfying slam and lacks any texture. In a similar vein, you’ll find Leonard Cohen’s voice lacking his signature deep, rumbly gravitas on First We Take Manhattan.
The earstick’s semi-in-ear open design has some advantages. In fact, unlike traditional TWS buds, the Nothing Ear (Stick) provide an excellent soundstage and you can detect the direction of the melody in the soundtrack. Furthermore, the earbuds offer excellent imaging and you’ll be able to tell one device from the other on chaotic tracks like Frontier Psychiatrist by Avalanches or Fatty Boom Boom by Die Antwoord. Vocals don’t sound dull either, and like Nothing Ears (1), the earstick’s treble output is in a league of its own. So, if your playlist consists of songs in the rock/metal genre, you will enjoy the bright and energetic highs of the ear stick. I’d also like to add that while the treble has a distinctive bite, the output doesn’t sound shrill or thin. On the contrary, the songs are very pleasant to listen to and you can jam with your favorite artists for a long time.
Battery life is also pretty decent – the ear (stick) gives up to 7 hours of listening time, adding another 22 hours worth in this case. And in my experience, Buds lives up to most of that promise. Popping the buds inside the case for 10 minutes should yield two hours of listening time.
Rs. 8,499. This is all you need to shell out to stick your own ear (stick) buds in your ear. That’s not a small amount to pay, especially for a TWS pair that doesn’t offer wireless charging or ANC. No high response support either. I think the seemingly high price can be blamed on a rising dollar… and going forward, you can expect other electronics prices to rise because of this as well. At a slightly higher cost, the OPPO Enco X (Review) offer the complete package, but the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro (review) still aren’t all-rounders, despite being more than a year old. All said and done, the Noting Ear (Stick) has a lot going for it, including an interesting design, good audio quality, and long battery life. The lipstick-inspired twist-and-turn design is sure to turn heads and even start some conversations. I can’t really say that the formula for the ultimate fashion tech accessory with an ear (stick) has been nailed down, but it’s pretty darn close.
Editor’s Rating: 3.5 / 5
- Interesting design
- Good, balanced sound
- A wide soundstage
- Good battery life
- The fit is not customizable
- No high-res support, no ANC
- The case is prone to scratches