Nothing Ear Review: Supercharged with AI, is it the new AirPods Pro killer? | Wearables Reviews

Nothing Ear Review: Supercharged with AI, is it the new AirPods Pro killer?

The Nothing Ear promises the company’s best-ever audio performance, ANC and over 40 hours of battery life. But is it worth the purchase, especially now the company has hiked the price? Find out in our Nothing Ear review.

| Updated on: May 05 2024, 12:00 IST
Nothing Ear Review
The Nothing Ear is priced at Rs. 11999 in India. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

Carl Pei's Nothing has taken the world of technology by storm, establishing its foothold in a market that is usually dominated by heavyweights such as Samsung, Apple and others. One of the ways the tech startup has done that is by adopting a quirky, transparent design strategy that has stood out in a world of mundane and honestly repeated offerings which all look the same, with a few differences here and there. But it isn't the first company attempting to do so. HTC gave it a try with its quirky Android smartphones, and so did Nokia with its Windows-powered Lumia series. There were even attempts by Blackberry too to break this smartphone duopoly, but none of them managed to do it quite as well as Nothing. Thus, Nothing's products, such as the Phone 2a and the Ear 2 have stood out and have been highly appreciated by the tech community, even though they might not be the best in the business. This has been the company's strategy, with no intention of taking on the tech giants…until now.

The company launched its latest audio products, the Nothing Ear and Ear (a) a few days ago. Now, we get it. We were all expecting the successor to the Ear (2) to be the Nothing Ear (3), but the naming strategy has been reworked it seems. While the Ear (a) caters to the budget user, it is the Nothing Ear that is being called the company's best-sounding earbuds to date. While this may seem a bit far-reaching, is it the case in reality, considering the price has also been bumped to Rs. 11999?

I have been using the Nothing Ear for almost two weeks now and they have surprisingly replaced the AirPods Pro 1st Gen as my daily driver, and it could stay the same for the near future too. Here's why.

Nothing Ear Design

Nothing Ear
The Nothing Ear is identical to the Ear (2) except for the small print in the case (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
image caption
The Nothing Ear is identical to the Ear (2) except for the small print in the case (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

The Nothing Ear carries over the same design strategy that has become synonymous with the company. In fact, it is identical to the Ear (2) except for the small print in the case. Over the years, I have come to like this unique design approach and it is the same with the Ear. The earbuds are available in two colours - black and white, both of which look appealing although I suspect the darker shade might attract more fingerprints and scratches. So, perhaps use a case?

For nitpickers, there are plenty of see-through elements, especially in the earbuds. The earbuds itself are identical but with one big difference - controls. With the Ear, Nothing has brought pinch controls to its earbuds and for the better. For starters, it is simply a better way to control them. Moreover, if you're someone who wears them while lying down, it drastically reduces the accidental presses that happen. The controls work as intended.

The company deserves special mention for making the earbuds super comfortable. Being someone who has used AirPods Pro, Oppo Enco Air 3 and countless other options, I found myself picking the Ear as the first choice due to their lightweight design and snug fit. In fact, I wore the earbuds for hours without my ears tiring. So, they're almost perfect for binge-watching content for long durations.

Nothing Ear Performance

Nothing Ear
You can tweak the earbuds' settings within the Nothing X app. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
image caption
You can tweak the earbuds' settings within the Nothing X app. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

This is where the Nothing Ear shines and the upgrade is felt the biggest. Having used the Nothing Ear (1), the Ear is nothing short of a monumental jump in audio quality. It gets 11 mm dynamic drivers with a ceramic diaphragm. While those over at the Sound Guys will be able to tell you how exactly this impacts, the stark difference in audio quality is a welcome move, for bass lovers as well as those who listen to classical music regularly. The earbuds have punchy bass, strong mids and a wide soundstage. Listening to tracks such as Sam Smith's Unholy (Orchestral version) and World's Smallest Violin by AJR is a pleasurable experience where you can make out all the instruments being played on a wide soundstage.

But if the performance is not up to par, you can tweak it with the Nothing X app. While it offers basic EQ options for adjusting the bass, treble or mids for non-audiophiles, those who want to take it a step further can do so with an advanced equalizer where frequencies can be adjusted. There's also a personalized sound profile that adapts to your hearing after a 5-minute setup. Even though it costs less than half the price, the Nothing Ear sounds better than the AirPods Pro 1st Gen.

Now what does not compare to the AiPods is the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Although not bad, it is quite average to be fair. It manages to drown out noise in environments like offices but is not able to provide isolation during commutes in the metro.

In terms of numbers, the earbuds support all the latest codecs such as LHDC 5.0 and LDAC, along with Bluetooth 5.3 support.

Oh, and there's also ChatGPT now. Nothing claims that the new Ear is the world's first TWS to support ChatGPT, OpenAI's popular AI chatbot. Simply pinch and hold and ask ChatGPT whatever you want - be it a recipe for your next lunch or directions to your work, it manages to spell out everything for you. This comes in handy when you want to know the closest gas station or the nearest bar near your home. Bear in mind that using this feature requires access to your location, and the ChatGPT feature itself requires a connection to the internet, both of which you'll need to provide for a seamless experience. But it works great!

Nothing Ear Battery life

Battery life on the Nothing Ear is outstanding. While the company has promised a battery life of 42.5 hours, the earbuds easily last up to 40 hours, meaning you won't have to worry about plugging them in again and again. Unlike the Ear (a), the Ear also has wireless charging which is a bonus.

Nothing Ear Verdict

Nothing Ear
Nothing Ear: Should you buy them? (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
image caption
Nothing Ear: Should you buy them? (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

The Nothing Ear is an outstanding option for those looking to buy premium earbuds which cross the Rs. 15000 mark. Even though it costs less than half compared to AirPods Pro, it manages to hold out its own in various segments, the most important of which is the sound. While the ANC isn't quite up to the mark, its performance in other areas more than makes up for it.

So, if you're looking to purchase the Nothing Ear for what it offers in terms of audio quality, go for it without a second thought.

4 out of 5
INR 11,990/-
Product Name
Nothing Ear
Brand Name
  • Great, well balanced sound
  • Long battery life
  • AI integration
  • Extremely lightweight and comfortable
  • Average ANC
  • ANC
  • Drivers
  • Bluetooth
  • LDAC support

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First Published Date: 05 May, 12:00 IST