In an audio market that is growing a little more each year, the newcomer to tech is trying a second foray with the Ear (stick). Determined to distinguish itself in terms of design, Nothing offers a format never seen before: the Ear (stick) are housed in a case in the shape of a lipstick stick that can be opened with one finger.
But beyond appearances, is the manufacturer convincing? On paper, the promises are beautiful. Especially since the Ear (stick) are offered at an attractive price of 119 euros. So, good deal or wet firecracker? Answer in our comprehensive test.
Yes, for the style (obviously)
If we had to name just one reason to buy the Ear (stick) it would definitely be their design. Nothing has made this criterion a central element of all its products. Once again it is a success.
The case, certified IP54, takes on the appearance of a lipstick stick (hence the name). Cylindrical, it can easily be opened with one hand (even with one finger) thanks to a “grip” type coating positioned in the centre. This possibility was also among the brand’s priorities.
This case uses the color codes to which Nothing has accustomed us: transparent (to always honor the product) with touches of white and red. A small chrome button allows you to pair the headphones with a smartphone, tablet or computer. A USB-C port allows you to recharge the set.
The same care has been taken with the earphones that Nothing initially wanted to be very light. Despite the integration of a large driver (we will come back to this) they weigh only 4.4g each.
Also transparent, they are divided into two parts: the stem, transparent and black, and the shells, cylindrical and white with chrome speaker grilles. Nothing has thought of all the details and also added a color code to distinguish the right earbud from the left. The first is decked out with a small red dot, the second with a white one.
What about comfort? In all transparency (ah ah), it all depends on the shape of your ears. The Ear (stick) not being in-ear headphones, we just put them at the entrance of the conduit without any possibility of adjusting the size of the tip.
As for your humble tester, the shape of the shells and their size did not allow him to have an optimal experience. Like the AirPods, the Ear (stick) held badly and fell off at the slightest jolt. Impossible for example to run with it.
This does not mean that the pebble format is inadequate. Most of our colleagues have not encountered this problem and even find that the Ear (stick) fit very well in the ear. Some even explain that they managed to shake their heads without the headphones falling out.
The only catch is that the Ear (stick) are only available online. Also it is impossible to try them before buying. So consider that if AirPods (or even old iPhone hands-free kits or iPod earphones) didn’t fit on your ears, there’s a good chance that the Ear (stick) will also get lost at the slightest jerk. You have been warned.
Yes, for autonomy
The advantage of not integrating active noise reduction is that the battery is less stressed. Therefore, the autonomy of the Nothing Ear (stick) is among the best on the market. Finally in this category. According to the results of our lab 01Lab, the new headphones from Nothing last 6h52 in continuous listening.
They are therefore positioned just behind the AirPods 3 and their 7h09 of autonomy. A great performance for headphones sold almost half the price. Behind the OnePlus Buds display an autonomy of 6:30, the Galaxy Buds Live of 6:09 and the Sony Linkbuds of 5:55.
Obviously, these results always depend on the use of each one. If you are one of those who listen to music at a very high volume, you may end up charging the headphones more often.
To avoid getting stranded, the Ear (stick) headphones can recover 2 hours of listening time in just 10 minutes of charging, ensures the brand. A figure that we confirm after a few days of testing. A full charge takes less than an hour, which brings these results even closer to those of the AirPods 3.
The only downside is the lack of wireless charging made impossible by the format of the case explains Nothing. We must therefore “be satisfied” with a wired charge in USB-C.
Yes, for the price
The Ear (stick) are offered at a price of 119 euros. A very attractive price compared to that of competitors. The AirPods 3 for example cost 100 euros more. The AirPods 2, which are starting to date, still cost 159 euros.
With its aggressive pricing strategy, Nothing puts all the chances on its side to achieve a good performance. With the ear(1), launched in our opinion at a price a little too high in view of their performance, Nothing did not really manage to convince. Did she learn from her mistakes? Not really.
Because at the time of writing these lines, ear(1) have undergone a price increase of 50 euros! According to the brand, this increase is the result of the current economic context (shortages, cost of components, etc.).
The good news for Nothing is that the positioning of Ear(stick) looks even more interesting compared to that of ear(1). A voluntary process? Regardless, the main thing for the consumer is to have access to products at the right price-quality ratio. And in this little game, the Ear (stick) are not bad at all.
No, for sound quality
On paper, the promise is beautiful. To compensate for the lack of passive isolation, Nothing claims to have worked on two axes. First of all, headphones carry a 12.6 mm driver larger than that of ear(1) as well as most open wireless headphones. This theoretically increases the power without making the sounds sizzle.
Ensuite, engineers have developed Bass Lockan algorithm to automatically compensate for the loss of bass, the main problem of open headphones.
Thanks to these adjustments, Nothing ensures that the Ear (stick) deliver better quality sound than the ear (1), which in itself is not very difficult (oh the naughty ones!).
More seriously, despite these technical choices, the Ear (stick) are not really there in terms of sound quality. Since the headphones are open, you have to systematically turn up the volume to hear the music.
But under these conditions, the sound reproduction is unbalanced. First, the technology Bass Lock does not work or very badly. The bass is still too discreet, not to say almost absent when listening to music in a noisy environment.
The highs are too soft. So we tend to increase the volume even more. But in this case, the mediums, too present, take over the whole spectrum.
Have our ears got used to in-ear formats with noise cancellation? Maybe. But that does not detract from our impressions. Even in a calm environment, with a more reasonable volume, the account is not there.
Fortunately, Nothing accompanies its headphones with the Nothing X application. It allows, among other things, to adjust the sound thanks to an equalizer. Unfortunately, it contains only 3 bands, which makes it possible to make insufficiently fine adjustments to correct the imbalance of the spectrum.
So yes, the Ear (stick) cost less than 150 euros. But even at this price, we expect a little more in terms of sound quality. Nothing could have at least attempted to build a signature of its own. That would have saved the furniture a bit.
No, for the quality of the conversations
In 2022, headphones are also a great tool for holding telephone conversations. Finally “great”, it is quickly said. Because until now, no model of wireless headphones has really managed to convince us.
And it’s not the Ear (stick) that will change the game. Despite the integration of three microphones associated with noise reduction algorithms, conversations turn out to be complicated.
Firstly because the open format of the headphones prevents us from hearing our interlocutor well. In addition, the algorithms seem to have difficulty isolating parasitic noise and tend to blur high frequencies as well. As a result, our interlocutor also hears us very badly.
Again, unless you use the Ear (stick) in a quiet environment (ie alone at home isolated in a room), holding a telephone conversation seems difficult to us.
Our opinion on the Nothing Ear (stick)
After ear(1) which left us unsatisfied, Nothing still has trouble convincing with its Ear (stick). By choosing an open format, the manufacturer did not make the task easier. And despite a lot of good will, the result in terms of sound is not up to par.
The audio quality delivered by the Ear (stick) is just mediocre, that of conversations frankly bad. Therefore, one could imagine putting them away and saying that the manufacturer has made a mistake.
That would condemn the Ear (stick) too quickly. If they struggle to deliver quality sound, they are distinguished by their design as original as it is elegant and their very good autonomy. Above all, they are offered at a price much lower than that of competitors.
At 119 euros, the Ear (stick) display good value for money, provided you are not too demanding in terms of sound quality.
Nothing Ear (stick)
Design and ergonomics
Autonomy and charging
Value for money
- really stylish
- Good autonomy
- Quick charge
- Affordable price
We love less
- Average audio quality
- Poor conversation quality
- No wireless charging