A lot was riding on the ear (1) wireless earbuds, which are the first product to come from Nothing — a new company created by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, is the product worth the hype? Let's find out...
Words by: Harshit Srinivas
India is a country where hype about anything sells, and in case of Nothing, it did and helped the brand to create enough buzz prior to the launch of ear (1). But, we cannot only say the hype game was enough for the brand to gain more attention, instead, but it was also a name-game and a successful marketing strategy by Carl Pie and his team. And, to see if this strategic game turned out to be fruitful or not, we got our hands on the Nothing ear (1) for a detailed review, and here’s what we found out.
In March 2021, the official concept renders of the Nothing ear (1) were bombarded on social media, and surprisingly in reality also the brand stayed true to its concept with the actual product. On unboxing, you find a striking square transparent case that snaps open and houses the two buds perfectly. Don’t even dare to carry this transparent box without a cover, you might end up having scratches and sticky dust around it. I already did, actually even before I started penning down my review and now I have to live with it. Next up are the lightweight buds, each weighing 4.7 gm, are impressively good looking and the fit is snug and comfortable to wear for long, even during those long and hectic office hours or while hitting the gym. Even though looks are subjective, in my opinion, the ear (1) has one of the most refreshing and distinctive design. With clean lines of finish on the stem, you get a perfect grip, and even after being encapsulated inside a transparent casing, you won't find any traces of glue or anything that will hamper the aesthetic appeal of the ear (1).
The big thing about Nothing: Sound quality, features, and battery life
The sound is as impressive as the design. There is plenty of punch through those 11.6mm drivers, and are well balanced. Needless to say, that they suit all genres, but do have limited options such as more treble, bass, and a switchable mode to enhance the voice quality. Surprisingly, all of these seem to work well, apart from the in-built microphone, which is not so impressive. Well, in case of phone calls inside enclosed spaces like rooms or offices, it works perfectly well but on busy streets or crowded places you might have to try a little harder (read: scream) to make your voice reach the other end. Which, in my opinion, may not be a reason to worry, as you could get used to it with time. Progressing to the features, the Nothing ear (1) boasts of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), transparency mode, and Find my earbud. The ANC might be as advanced but is sufficient enough to filter out the low hum noise around you. Also, a feature like this is competitive enough at this price point, and according to me, a middling ANC should be preferred over nothing at all. The next big thing with the ear (1) is the transparency mode, which works effectively and increases your situational awareness while listening to your favorite music. The battery life as per claims by Nothing of these is said to last for 34 hours straight with the ANC feature switched off while it goes down to 24 hours with it switched on. Not a major reason to worry as the batteries can be juiced up via USB-C type cable.
So? Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Should you go for this product? Absolutely Yes! Because this is a promising new brand. While there is always room for improvement, the Nothing ear (1) comes at an affordable price and will definitely not make a hole in your pocket. Not just that, it also allows you to like what you see and hear without you thinking of it as another pair of wireless earbud clones or ugly lump of plastics.