Great looks delivered with impressive sound
In July of last year, Nothing announced its entry into the consumer technology market with the launch of the Nothing ear (1) TWS. We reviewed the Ear (1) as soon as it came out and were quite impressed with its unique design and the audio performance it delivered. This year, Nothing came out with its debut smartphone (reviewed here) and another pair of TWS, the Ear (stick). The ear (stick) is priced at Rs 8,499 and is currently being sold along with the ear (1) priced modestly at Rs 7,299. While both TWS adhere to Nothing’s “transparent” design philosophy, there are some significant differences between the two products. We’ve been using the Nic Ear (stick) for almost two weeks, here’s our in-depth review.
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Nothing Ear (stick) review: Design
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The Nic Ear (stick) comes inside a rectangular box with a charging case and earphones at one end and a Type-C cable, safety information, warranty card and user manual at the other end. The box requires removing the strips under the lids to access its contents. The lids cannot be pressed after opening.
The charging case is unlike anything we’ve seen from a TWS product before. The long, cylindrical design resembles a lipstick case, and the rotating head further enhances this aesthetic. The clear glass allows you to see the earphones resting in their cases, otherwise it would be a Nothing product! The inner plastic tube is a bit of a dirt magnet and cleaning the case can be quite a challenge if dirt manages to slip between the clear glass panel and the inner tube.
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The case is opened by quickly turning the swivel head in either direction. If you find yourself struggling with your lids too often, you’ll love this charging case. The rotating head also includes a Bluetooth pairing button and a USB charging slot. The glass cover has an oval cut-out that allows you to access the headphones after turning the head of the case. We were quite worried that the headphones would fall out right after opening the case, but the magnetic slots held up quite well. The headphones stay in place facing the ground and won’t fall out even after a few strong jerks.
If you pull the headphones out of the pads, you’ll notice that Nothing has opted for an open-ear design on the Ear (stick). This means you don’t get any silicone tips and the sound isn’t transmitted directly into your ear canal. But the most glaring issue for some users may be the fit (or lack thereof). Unlike the ear (1), you can’t simply fit the ear tips to the appropriate size for a better fit.
However, if the headphones fit in your ear, they are very comfortable to wear. Weighing just 4.4g, the buds don’t strain your ears even after being in there for several hours. The transparent stem is pressure sensitive and allows you to control basic functions with a pinching motion, completely eliminating those annoying accidental touches. Thanks to IP54 protection, you can wear these headphones while exercising without worrying about sweat damage.
Nothing Ear (stick) review: Performance
What the Ear lacks in fit, it more than makes up for in performance. The headphones are equipped with 12.6mm dynamic drivers that deliver powerful sound that can rival the best in this category. The headphones only offer SBC and AAC codec support, which is almost the norm in this price category.
Connecting the ear (stick) to your smartphone is a smooth process. There is a dedicated pairing button on the case that you need to press the first time you connect the headphones to your phone. Once paired, you can adjust the controls and equalizer using the Nothing X app.
When it comes to the sound profile, the Ear (stick) does not disappoint at all. With the open-ear design, we had our doubts about the audio performance, but were soon put to rest by the sheer quality of the dynamic drivers housed in the headphones. The sound profile is very bass-driven, but not at the expense of enveloping other frequencies. The overall output is a pleasant mix of highs, mids and bass. You don’t have to turn up the volume all the way to enjoy the perfect mix. If you are not satisfied with the sound profile, the custom equalizer in Nothing X will be of incredible help.
The ear (stick) significantly improves microphone quality over the ear (1). TWS does a good job of isolating the voice from any ambient noise and transmitting it to the receiver without a significant drop in quality. If you’re on the phone in a quieter indoor environment, these headphones will work just as well as any wired headphones. The touch control on the stem is activated by pinching. These controls can also be customized using the Nothing X app. The biggest flaw on the Nothing Ear (stick) is the lack of ANC. Although priced in the same bracket as the ear (1), the open-ear design prevents it from actively canceling noise.
Nic Ear (stick) offers up to 29 hours of listening time, with 7 hours of charging in the headphones and another 22 hours in the case. Unlike the ear (1), the Ear (stick) does not come with wireless charging. However, you can quickly charge the ear (stick) and provide up to 9 hours of audio playback in just 10 minutes of charging.
Read also: Sony SRS-XV900 Bluetooth Party Speaker Debuts in India
The Nic Ear (stick) is undoubtedly one of the best looking TWS on the market right now. TWS makes no compromises in performance as the Ear (stick) delivers rock-solid sound output that punches above its weight in the midrange category. However, it lacks wireless charging and ANC, which may leave some enthusiasts with some complaints. At Rs 8,499 overall, the Nothing Ear (stick) is certainly a strong contender in its category.
Great sound output
Pressure sensitive touch controls
No wireless charging
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