Nothing Ear Sticks

Nothing Ear Sticks Are Stylish And Comfortable, But I Miss The Noise Cancellation

Nothing has had a busy year. Last year, it released its first wireless headphones, the Ear 1. This year, it released its first smartphone, the Phone 1, daring to compete in a market where some more established companies have left. Now, with the $99 Ear Stick, it’s taking on wireless headphones again.

It’s not a very good name, but at least it says what it is. Instead of the Ear 1’s thin, square case, Nothing took ideas from the design of beauty products and made a charging case for the buds that looks like a tube of lipstick. It’s not the first set of wireless headphones to have a twisting cylinder, but it makes sure that the Ear Stick won’t be confused with other earbuds.

The Ear Stick is a good deal at $99, but it doesn’t have some of the important features of Nothing’s first wireless buds. Most importantly, it doesn’t have active noise cancellation (ANC). There are, however, many things that could be done better here, especially in terms of connectivity.

The Hardware

It’s difficult to refrain from turning and fidgeting with the eye-catching casing of the Ear Stick. When the earbuds are secured in place and charging, the micro-dotted surface of the charger is exposed, and it has a pleasant texture. There is a charging connector that uses USB-C at the very top of the charger, as well as a button made of chrome that is used to pair the headphones with other electronic devices.

This iteration does not have wireless charging because the form factor does not allow for it; however, this does ensure that the Ear Stick is manufactured at a lower cost. (Given the current circumstances, Nothing has just lately increased the price of its Ear One buds.)

However, there is a very small amount of space on the case, and because of this, bothersome things like pocket lint can easily become lodged and rolled into the crack. It appears that this problem will only get worse when more of my transparent devices are used.

The design language of Nothing is carried over into the Ear Stick buds themselves, which have a transparent casing surrounding the tips and a dot-matrix text used to label each stem. A crimson dot is located on the right earbud to assist users in correctly inserting it into their ears.

On the other hand, in contrast to the Ear 1, they do not have silicone tips, which means that they sit more freely within the ear canal. This indicates that even with the most advanced noise cancelling technology, a significant portion of ambient noise will still be present.

There is nothing to indicate that the buds went through more than 200 rounds of alteration; yet, I believe the time and effort were well spent because they are comfy. They are also less cumbersome than the Ear 1 buds because each one weighs only 4.4 grammes, which is equivalent to 0.15 ounces.

I am aware that a lot of individuals, including a few editors here at Engadget, prefer a fit that is a little bit more relaxed, as they feel that headphones like the AirPods Pro, Galaxy Buds, and many others put a little bit too much pressure on their ear canals. These are the individuals that the Ear Stick is designed for, but are there enough of them?

Gallery: Nothing Ear Stick hands-on

When I’m in a noisy place, like on public transportation or at the gym, I have to turn the volume all the way up to compete with all the other noise. Still, they are comfortable and, despite not having tips that can be taken off, fit well enough that you won’t lose them when you’re on the go. I still didn’t feel totally comfortable running or jumping in them, but they didn’t fall out when I used them normally.

Nothing Ear Sticks

I haven’t tested the battery life very much yet, but Nothing’s rating of seven hours seems about right. You can listen to music for a total of 29 hours with the case. For me, that’s almost a week of listening here and there. There is a fast-charge feature that lets the buds play music for two hours after only ten minutes of charging. This has already come in handy on long trips around London, where I live.

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Nothing else in this generation of buds made a new custom-made dynamic driver. The company says it’s the most sensitive one on wireless buds on the market. I can’t confirm that, but I can say that the Ear Stick works best when I’m listening to spoken word or on phone calls. They sound much clearer and crisper than the Ear 1. Nothing says it has a Bass Lock feature that tries to figure out how much sound is leaking out of the half-open design, but I have a hard time hearing it make enough to make up for all the sound loss.

But there isn’t much With a half-ear design like this, there’s nothing you can do to keep the bass levels at the same level as the competition. The half-open bud design makes music and sounds sound tinny, and I don’t think any algorithm can fix that.

The Software

Customizable equalisers in the companion app and Android drop-down menu shortcuts for Nothing Phone 1 users can help. It’s smooth, like using Samsung headphones with a Galaxy phone, etc.

Nothing has fixed the Ear 1’s connectivity problems. Moving the antenna down the buds reduces signal obstruction, it says. Nothing’s Ear Stick headphones connect and pair more reliably. They’re less prone to drop connection when I wander around my residence. The Stick is easier to pair with phones, laptops, etc. The Ear 1’s inability to pair with iPhones, PCs, and Android phones led me to switch to AirPods Pro. Nothing learnt its lesson with its second wireless headphones.

I’d take the Stick’s audio and signal improvements, but I’m not as fond of it as the Ear 1. I need soundproofing and silicone tips. I hope Nothing’s third album, Ear 2, blends the best of both buds.

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