The Nothing Ear 1 are fully transparent earbuds that let form follow function

The Nothing Ear 1 true wireless stemmed earphone.

Credit: Nothing
  • The Nothing Ear 1 are noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds with Bluetooth 5.2.
  • The USB-C case supports wireless charging and efficiently fast charges the stemmed earphones.
  • The Ear 1 are available today for $99 in the US, EU, and India.

After plenty of hype and anticipation, the Nothing Ear 1 noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds are available today. Nothing, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s new company, stresses the importance of transparency and respects that form follows function with the Ear 1 design.

The company keeps things simple with its debut product. Listeners get active noise-cancelling (ANC), a case with USB-C and wireless charging compatibility, and automatic ear detection. The earbuds also feature an IPX4 water-resistant rating, which means they can be used for exercise too.

Some might say the Ear 1 resemble a pair of transparent Apple AirPods Pro earphones, but there’s one marked difference: price. The Nothing Ear 1 cost just $99, less than half of Apple’s flagship earbuds.

How good is the noise-cancelling on the Nothing Ear 1?

A person wears the Nothing Ear 1 true wireless earphones in profile.

Credit: Nothing

While we don’t yet know how effective the noise-cancelling is, the inclusion of ANC on this budget is rather impressive. You can toggle between two ANC modes (light and maximum) to fit the loudness of your environment.

Read on: The best noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds

The earbuds use a three-microphone array to measure noise both inside the ear canal and externally (i.e., hybrid ANC). Nothing posits -40dB of attenuation, but temper your expectations. Those results are likely under ideal conditions with a perfect fit. For reference, other ANC true wireless earbuds that cost less than $100 do very little to combat environmental noise.

Aside from active noise-cancelling, the Ear 1 also support transparency mode — appropriate given the look of the earbuds and case. With transparency enabled, you can hear your surroundings. This is an important safety feature for outdoor athletes or anyone who walks around busy streets. The earphones also support full mono listening, which is important for the hearing impaired or if you simply don’t like how transparency mode sounds.

Do they sound good?

Each Ear 1 earphone houses an 11.6mm dynamic driver, which is quite large for a set of true wireless earphones. Remember, though, larger doesn’t inherently mean better. Teenage Engineering, an electronics company that prioritizes design, both designed the look of the Ear 1 and tuned its drivers. If the Ear 1 are to follow a standard consumer-friendly frequency response, expect amplified bass and treble notes to be the default.

Will there be a mobile app?

A hand holds the Nothing Ear 1 open charging case to reveal the true wireless earphones.

Credit: Nothing

Nothing is launching a free mobile app with its earbuds that works uniformly on iOS and Android. With the Ear (1) app, you can customize the earbud touch controls, use a “find my earbuds” feature, cycle through three listening modes (ANC on, ANC off, transparency), receive firmware updates, and more. Nothing also provides four equalization (EQ) presets to choose from. It purposefully omits a custom EQ module for the sake of simplicity; the Ear 1 are meant to be approachable earphones for listeners with varying degrees of technical know-how.

How long is the Nothing Ear 1 battery life?

With noise-cancelling enabled, you get four hours of playtime on a single charge, totaling 24 hours with the case’s reserve battery. If you opt to disable ANC, you get nearly six hours of playback on a single charge, totaling 34 hours of listening with the case’s battery included.

The case quickly charges the earbuds: 10 minutes in the case yields 50 minutes of playtime with noise cancellation (72 minutes with ANC off). When you charge the case for 10 minutes, you get six hours of battery life with ANC (eight hours with ANC off).

What Bluetooth codecs are available?

A close-up of the Nothing Ear 1 true wireless earbuds with one earbud on top of the case next to a pair of ladybugs.

Credit: Nothing

Listeners get the latest Bluetooth 5.2 firmware, which opens the door for LE Audio support and the LC3 codec. Immediately, listeners can stream over the SBC or AAC Bluetooth codecs. This is perfect for iPhone owners, but AAC’s performance on Android is highly variable depending on the hardware.

Are the Ear 1 earbuds good for phone calls?

Like the noise cancellation, we can’t yet speak to the real-world performance of the microphones but based on the location of one of the microphones, it would be reasonable to expect fine microphone quality. Like other stemmed earphones, the Ear 1 places a microphone at the bottom of each earbud stem for clear voice transmission.

Where can you buy the Nothing Ear 1?

The Nothing Ear 1 earphones are available today from the Nothing website and retail for $99. The global launch includes the US, EU, and India, and Nothing plans to expand availability to other retail outlets later on.

Nothing Ear 1
Transparent noise-cancelling earbuds that promise
The Nothing Ear 1 feature Bluetooth 5.2, support for the high-quality AAC Bluetooth codec, and a mobile app. If you don’t want to spend more than $100 on earbuds, the Ear 1 are a well-designed option.

What’s Nothing’s next plan?

When asked, Nothing didn’t disclose specific products coming down the pike. However, a Nothing representative was able to share that the company intends to expand beyond audio with the hopes of building its own ecosystem of Nothing products (watch out, Apple). We’ll be sure to keep you posted about Nothing as the company matures.

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