Nothing has gone from strength to strength since first launching the Ear (1) last year, a pair of in-ear headphones with a cool transparent design.
Since then we’ve seen a matching smartphone hit the market, the Nothing Phone (1) and more recently the Nothing Ear (stick) a pair of half-in-ear true wireless earbuds that come in a tube-shaped transparent charging case.
I’ve been trying out the latter and came to the conclusion that they’re actually some of the best cheap headphones you can buy right now. There are a few reasons for that, but not everyone will get on so well with them - here’s what I really liked about them, as well as what I wasn’t as keen on.
They’re made for all-day comfort
Perhaps the most defining thing about these earbuds is the shape, they're made to rest in the outer part of your ear, instead of inside your ear canal with a silicone tip. What's more is that at 4.4g each, they're seriously lightweight.
Combined these two factors mean that they're really comfortable to wear for hours and hours on end. Not everyone will go for this style but personally, I really liked how easy it was to keep them in throughout the day.
You get great sound
Despite the fact that they aren't sealed in, you still get a really good sound from the Nothing Ear (stick) with warm bass, a crisp treble and handy customisable EQ settings. You might be wondering how they managed to achieve that, and there are two parts to that answer.
Firstly, the 12.6mm driver helps to give the sound all that punchy energy you wouldn't expect from a pair of half-in-ear headphones. Secondly, the Bass Lock technology means that every time you put these in they detect the amount of sound leakage and will adjust the audio accordingly.
The battery life is solid
Strong battery life is something that I look for in a pair of headphones simply because I'm always forgetting to plug in the charging case at the end of the day.
With these, I won't need to all that often because they deliver up to 29 hours of listening time before you need to dig through the drawer for a cable. From each charge, the earbuds themselves have about 7 hours of use which is great for a day at the office or a long train journey.
But there's no noise cancelling
Not having ANC is quite a significant downside because it's quite easy for the music to be disrupted by annoying sounds happening around you, especially if you're in a busy place like out a shopping centre or on a crowded commuter train. For some that will absolutely be a dealbreaker.
The fit isn't great for workouts
While I was really pleased with how comfortable the Nothing Ear (stick) buds were, I was less impressed by how secure they felt in my ears, particularly during high-energy workouts.
Without the grip of in-ear tips, they felt like they could easily slip out with one wrong move which would then interrupt what I was doing, or worse, could mean I lost one along the way.
You can buy the Nothing Ear (stick) right now direct from their website (opens in new tab) for $99 in the US or £99 in the UK.