After the Ear (1) in 2021 and the Ear (2) last year, Nothing launched the Ear, the company launched its latest flagship TWS headphones last week. The Ear carries the attractive transparent design for the case and earpiece, maintains Bluetooth 5.3 and LHDC 5.0 audio codec, and also includes 45dB enhanced LDAC and ANC codec.

With all this, the price has also been increased. So, are these ANC headphones worth it? Let's dive into the review to find out.

Contents of the box

  • Swim ear in white color
  • Ear tips in small and large sizes (medium pre-installed)
  • Braided USB Type-C cable
  • User Guide
Design and build quality

Starting with the design, the headphones feature a transparent and attractive design, the same as the ear (1) and (2), developed by the Stockholm-based teenage engineering. The central part of the case has a white cover, while the other parts are transparent so you can see the headphones clearly. The case has magnets, so it locks securely. There's also a magnet that connects the two parts of the case, and the headphones also have a strong magnet that holds them in place.

The base of the case has some specifications for the case. The white plastic on top of the clear plastic on the bottom prevents it from scratching easily, but the top of the case still gets scratched if you carry it with other items. There is a function key and a USB Type-C port on the side of the case.

The charging case measures 55.5 × 55.5 × 22 mm and weighs 51.9 grams, exactly the same as the ear (2). There is a small LED light on the housing that glows in white, green and red colors. The case is also IP55 rated for dust and water resistance.

The in-ear headphones have a transparent stem design. The headset weighs around 4.62 grams, which is 0.12 heavier than the predecessor, and measures 29.4 x 21.7 x 24.1 mm, making it slightly larger than the predecessor.

There's an optical sensor for wear detection so it can automatically pause audio when you take it off your ears and play it when you put it back on.

You can also see the NADA earmark on the outside where the touch sensitive area that lets you control play/pause, ANC and volume is present. The headphones are IP54 rated for dust and water resistance. It can withstand splashes or light rain, but you can't use it when swimming.

The fit was perfect and it doesn't come off easily, even during strenuous activities like running or training. The headphone fit test option plays music to ensure that the ear tips make a good seal with the ear canal for better noise cancellation.

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Connectivity, pairing and controls

The Nothing Ear supports Bluetooth 5.3 with LHDC 5.0 and LDAC Hi-Res audio codecs for HD sound quality on compatible devices, it also supports AAC codecs that work on phones that have it. The LHDC 5.0 offers a transmission speed of up to 1 Mbps for 4 times better detail and transmission frequencies of up to 24 bit/192 kHz. The LDAC offers a transmission speed of up to 990 kbps at 32-bit/96 kHz.

The pairing process is very simple. Just turn on Bluetooth on your phone, open the button charging box, place the charging box near your phone and follow the prompts. To connect with other devices, place the Buds in the charging case with the lid open. Press and hold the settings button on the case for 2 seconds to access Bluetooth settings. Then select the Ear nothing.

There is a quick pairing option that works on the latest Android phones. We tested on Nothing Phone (2), OPPO Find X7 Ultra and more devices and never faced any pairing or disconnection issues. There is also Microsoft Swift Pair to connect it to Windows. Since the phone pairs with the case and not the headphones, you'll need the case if you want to reconnect it or even turn on the headphones if they're disconnected from the phone.

You can enable the dual connection option that allows you to connect to two devices at the same time and switch the audio playback between them. Since the phone pairs with the case and not the headphones, you'll need the case if you want to reconnect it or even turn on the headphones if they're disconnected from the phone.

These have press controls, like the ear (2), so you can avoid any accidental touch and discomfort when touching the ear canal. This allows you to skip tracks, switch between noise canceling modes and adjust the volume, all with the click of a button. Controls can be customized in the Nothing X app.

function Left earpiece (L) Right earpiece (R)
Play / pause or answer calls / hang up calls Single click
Skip forward/Reject incoming call Double pinch
jump back Triple Pinche
Switch between ANC mode and transparency mode Pinch and Hold
Volume control Customizable with Pinch and Hold / Double Pinch and Hold

You can customize them with the Nothing X app activated Android e iPhone. You can change the Triple Pinch, Pinch and Hold, and Pinch and Hold actions for each gem, but you can't customize a single or double pinch.

You can turn off in-ear detection from the settings. The company has also added ChatGPT integration when you use it with Nothing phones.

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Audio quality

The Nothing Ear has a new 11mm dynamic driver with an improved stack design, which improves the vibration amplitude of the Nothing Ear by 110% and promises better bass. It has two vents to improve airflow to reduce distortion and the ceramic diaphragm promises more clarity.

LHDC and LDAC worked with Nothing Phone (2), OPPO Find X7 Ultra and other devices, but some devices don't support it.

Sound quality is crisp with clear vocals, deeper lows and clear highs, thanks to the dual-chamber design and new ceramic diaphragm. The midrange and upper midrange are better than the Ear (2), there is room for improvement.

It has four equalizer presets: balanced (default), bassier, treble and voice, so that every song can be heard as it should be. There is a bass enhancement feature that allows you to set levels from 1 to 5.

You can also create a custom equalizer. There's a new 8-band equalizer that lets you customize the audio to your liking, which is handy. The Share Profile feature allows you to share your custom equalizer with other Nothing users.

Personal Sound Profile with Hearing ID lets you adjust equalizer settings in real-time to match the user's hearing for an optimal listening experience. Overall, the Nothing Ear offers an impressive audio experience with plenty of customization options.

Noise cancellation and call performance

As for noise cancellation, the active noise cancellation (ANC) blocks ambient sound up to 45 dB with a frequency range of 5000 Hz, compared to 40 db in the ear (1) and in the ear (2). The quality is good compared to older models. You can feel the difference when listening in doors and outdoors.

There are four modes, low, medium, high and adaptive mode which automatically adjusts the level of noise reduction based on your environment in real time. There is also a custom ANC option that calibrates ANC based on the exact shape of the user's ear canal based on 7 audio filters. You can switch between noise cancellation, transparency, and no noise cancellation with a pinch and hold on the headphones.

Transparency mode allows you to hear the surrounding sound so that you can recognize the surrounding situation and potential hazards. The low-latency game mode, which is called low-latency mode, works automatically with Nothing phones in game mode, but you need to enable it from the settings of other devices. Without low-latency mode, latency is too high, but it's decent with the mode enabled, which the company claims is 120ms.

Coming to call noise cancellation, it uses Clear Voice technology for calls that uses three high-definition microphones to cut out external noise. The company says it has a conversation microphone and an extra airway in the stem for wind to pass through, so interference is reduced by 60% compared to Ear (2).

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According to my use, the call quality improved a lot, the wind noise was completely eliminated for the receiver and the traffic noise was barely audible.

Battery life

The headphones pack a 46mAh battery that promises around 8.5 hours of battery life without ANC and 5.2 hours with ANC. During my use with the LHDC and noise cancellation on, I got just over 4 hours at about 60% volume, which is good. With AAC and noise cancellation fully off at 50% volume, it lasted about 7.5 hours, which is good. For calls, it lasts only 4 hours with ANC as it uses call noise cancellation technology.

With the 500mAh charging case, smaller than the 570mAh in-ear (1) and slightly larger than the in-ear (2), it promises up to 40.5 hours of total battery life without ANC and 24 hours of total battery life battery with noise cancellation enabled. . Overall, battery life is good.

Charging the case fully with the headphones takes about 1.5 hours. It also has fast charging, so you get 10 hours of playback (charging case + headphones combo) without ANC with 10 minutes of charging. The charging case also offers wireless charging, so you can simply place the headphones on a Qi wireless charging pad or on the back of a phone with reverse wireless charging.

Conclusion

Overall, the Nothing Ear is a good upgrade for the Ear (2). The headphones have a familiar design, offer better audio quality, many codecs, improved ANC and call noise cancellation. The price has also increased

Price in Rs. 11,999, which is Rs. 2000 more than the Ear (2), it will be available on Flipkart and select offline stores like Croma and Vijay starting April 29. There is a Rs. 1000 launch discount.

alternatives

The equally good OnePlus Buds Pro 2 now selling for a cheaper price is an alternative.

Pros

  • Good audio quality, LDAC and LHDC codecs
  • Custom 8-band equalizer with sharing
  • Brilliant call quality
  • Good ANC with customizable modes
  • IP54 for buds and IP55 for case

Cons

  • Priced slightly on the higher side


Author: Srivatsan Sridhar

Srivatsan Sridhar is a mobile technology enthusiast who is passionate about mobile phones and mobile applications. Use the phones you review as your primary phone. You can follow it Twitter e Instagram
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