Nothing recently launched in India the Ear (stick) wireless earbuds at Rs 8,499. Second product in the UK-based consumer technology start-up’s audio line, the Nothing Ear (stick) is essentially the half in-ear version of the Nothing ear (1) (review). There, however, is more about these wireless earbuds than meets the eye.
Foremost is the unique charging-cum-storage case, which is unlike anything available in the wireless earbuds space. The case is a modestly sized cylindrical unit with a rollable mechanism similar to conventional lipsticks. It is a transparent case made of plastic with the main cavity coloured in white. Accentuating the design is the red accent on the side-end, surrounding the USB-C charging port.
The case looks captivating, but there are caveats from usability perspective. Its plastic body is prone to fingerprints and smudges. Besides, any lack of protection on the hard plastic makes it susceptible to scratches. It is lightweight, but the cylindrical design makes it unfit to carry in pockets. Lastly, the case rolls on flat surfaces if placed in horizontal orientation.
Coming to earbuds, these look similar to Nothing ear (1) sans the in-ear design. The earbuds offer snug fit, complemented by lightweight construction for comfortable use. These are good for regular everyday use, but look elsewhere if you need wireless earbuds that you can use during outdoor health activities such as running and jogging. This is because these earbuds do not offer secure fit. Moreover, the half in-ear design does not do well in terms of passive noise cancellations. And, there is no active noise cancellation here. Therefore, outdoor noise seeps inside.
Nothing pitches its wireless earbuds as design-centric alternatives to Apple AirPods. The Ear (stick) are no exception, and these do fare better in terms of design compared to counterparts from Apple.
Besides, there are press controls like AirPods. However, the distinct design language of the Ear (stick) could have done better with touch controls. These have rectangular stems, unlike cylindrical stems of the AirPods. Therefore, the press controls do not feel as natural as they do on the AirPods. Besides, the press controls ruin the in-ear fit. This is true even for AirPods. On a bright side, the press controls prevent accidental triggers and work precisely.
Details aside, the Ear (stick) is good for listening to music and attending calls in silent environments. Starting with audio performance, the earbuds’ sound fuller with fine mid-and-high details. The bass could have been better, but sounds fine for half in-ear earphones. As for the in-call experience, the in-built mics do well in environments with limited ambient noise. They, however, struggle in noisy environments.
Rounding up the package is a modest on-battery time of about five hours on a single charge and up to 25 hours with the case. A fully charged case and earbuds easily lasts about ten days, if used for two-three hours daily for listening to music and attending calls. There is no wireless charging here, and charging with USB-C takes about an hour.
Despite the recent price hike, the Nothing Ear (1) white variant at Rs 7,299 is cheaper than the Nothing Ear (stick). The former offers in-ear design, ANC, and wireless charging. In direct comparison, therefore, the Nothing Ear (1) seems to be a better pick. Outside the Nothing ecosystem, both Nothing wireless earbuds pale in comparison with peers such as Samsung Galaxy Buds2 (Rs 6,999). That said, the unconventional but striking design of the Nothing Ear (stick) is the only factor to consider these earbuds.