We may earn commission from links on this page. Our editorial is always independent (learn more)

Nothing ear (1) review: these ANC wireless earbuds are bringing the fight to Apple’s AirPods

The Nothing ear (1) are the first true wireless earbuds from the brand and offer ANC in a sleek, ultra-modern design.

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
£99
Nothing ear (1) review

Our review

The Nothing ear (1) are design-focused wireless earbuds that offer decent sound quality and Active Noise Cancellation. Beyond that, there aren't too many features to rave about but if you're looking for affordable ANC earbuds, the Nothing ear (1) aren't a bad choice.
Pros: Comfortable fit 
Cool, transparent design
Active Noise Cancellation
Cons: White/transparent case may dirty easily
No voice control

Nothing is a London-based start-up created by OnePlus’ co-founder Carl Pei. The Nothing ear (1) buds are the first-ever product to come from the brand and are a true wireless earbud with ANC.

Advertisement

However, it’s their design that has caught the attention of most. With a transparent casing, the inner workings of the earbuds are on display. Giving the earbuds an almost futuristic feel, there is no doubt that the Nothing ear (1) looks great, but is it style over substance? We put the wireless earbuds to the test to find out.

Here is our Nothing ear (1) review as we rate the earbuds’ design, features, sound quality and value for money.

Looking for more earbud recommendations? Read our Powerbeats Pro review and Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ review. Or see how these earbuds compare in our best wireless earbuds guide.

Jump to:

Nothing ear (1) review: summary

Despite only being officially released this month, there is already a bit of a buzz around the Nothing ear (1). With a transparent casing that shows the internals of the earbuds, the Nothing ear (1) are some of the best-looking earbuds you can buy right now. The design is also extremely comfortable, and, most importantly, the earbuds do deliver good sound quality.

However, what holds the Nothing ear (1) back is their lack of features. While the earbuds do have some basic features such as in-ear detection and IPX4-rated water resistance, there are a number of functions, including voice control, that are lacking. Plus, there are some budget wireless earbuds that offer the same for less, even if they come in a slightly less stylised design.

That’s not to say the Nothing ear (1) earbuds are not a good option, but only if ANC and a sleek design are essentials for you.

Price: Nothing ear (1) earbuds are available for £99.

Key features:

  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Simple equaliser settings
  • Up to 34 hours of battery life (ANC off)
  • IPX4-rated water resistance
  • In-ear detection

Pros:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Cool, transparent design
  • Active Noise Cancellation

Cons:

  • White/transparent case may dirty easily
  • No voice control

What are Nothing ear (1)?

Nothing ear (1) review

Released in August, the Nothing ear (1) earbuds are the first device to be released by new-kid-on-the-block Nothing. The Nothing ear (1) buds are true wireless earbuds offering ANC, IPX4-rated water resistance and ultra-curated design.

What do Nothing ear (1) do?

You can’t quite say that the Nothing ear (1) are packed filled with features, but they have the basics covered, including decent battery life, in-ear detection to stop music leaking and splash-proof water resistance. The addition of ANC is a nice touch.

  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Simple equaliser settings
  • Up to 34 hours of battery life (ANC off)
  • In-ear detection
  • IPX4-rated water resistance

How much do Nothing ear (1) cost?

The Nothing ear (1) cost £99 and are available to buy now from retailers such as Amazon and on the brand’s own website. This is cheaper than the likes of the new Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Google Pixel Buds.

Are Nothing ear (1) good value for money? 

The Nothing ear (1) offer a cheaper and more stylised alternative to big brand offerings, including Apple AirPods Pro. The uniqueness of the transparent design goes some way to justify the price, with the other main feature being ANC. Although some of the best budget wireless earbuds will have Active Noise Cancellation, the function will typically tip the price over the £100 mark. Therefore, we would say that Nothing ear (1) do offer good value for money but only if ANC is essential for you.

Nothing ear (1) design

Nothing ear (1) review

The transparent design of the Nothing ear (1) is what drew attention ahead of the earbuds’ release. Being able to see the internals of the earbuds gives them a futuristic and ultra-modern feel. It makes a nice change to the basic white or black colourways of most wireless earbuds.

The earbuds are extremely comfortable, even with ANC on, and we found them easy enough to wear all day or until the battery life ran out (approx. nine hours). Touch controls on the stems allow you to pause, play and skip songs or switch the ANC mode between on, off and transparent.

  • Style: Available in this design only; there are no other colour options. The earbuds have a white bud and black stems with the occasional red accent on the earbuds and case.
  • Robustness: Despite the plastic casing, the earbuds do feel well made. The Nothing ear (1) are IPX4-rated water-resistant, so they will withstand a splash of water or light rain.
  • Size: Weighing 4.7g each, the earbuds have a similar design to that of AirPods Pro with a short stem. The charging case is square in shape with rounded edges and is 58.6mm wide.

Nothing ear (1) features

Nothing ear (1) review

Features of the Nothing ear (1) include in-ear detection that automatically pauses music when the earbuds are removed from your ears and Active Noise Cancellation. Beyond these, there aren’t too many other notable features.

With ANC off, we managed to stretch the battery life to nine hours on a single charge. With ANC on, you will lose a couple of hours of listening time, bringing it closer to 6.5 hours. However, this is still two more hours than what you get with Apple AirPods Pro (which last 4.5 hours on a single charge).

Nothing ear (1) sound quality 

Nothing ear (1) review

The sound quality of the Nothing ear (1) is good. We enjoyed listening to music with earbuds, both with ANC on and off. Speech sounds OK and is clear but doesn’t quite reach the quality of the Jabra Elite 85t. However, the Jabra earbuds are considerably more expensive.

The EQ settings are not really customisable; instead, you are given four modes. These are; balanced, more treble, more bass and voice. The ‘balanced’ mode makes a good default setting, and there’s a notable difference between the other three. Audiophiles may prefer a more personalised set-up, but it should be sufficient for most people just listening to music while they work or commute.

The earbuds do come with an accompanying app that shows the battery life of each earbud and explains the touch controls. From here, you can also control the Active Noise Cancellation. It can be switched between on, off, and a transparency mode that allows you to hear noises around you, such as traffic or conversations. When ANC is on, you have two options; light or maximum. We predominantly found ourselves using the maximum ANC, which did a good job at blocking out all background noise.

Nothing ear (1) set-up: how easy are they to use?

Nothing ear (1) review

Setting up the Nothing ear (1) is simple. If you have your Bluetooth on, removing the earbuds from their case will trigger a notification to pop up on your phone screen. We set up the earbuds with the Google Pixel 4a, and the process took seconds. During the pairing, you will also be prompted to install the ear (1) app. We had no problem connecting first time.

Inside the box, you will find the earbuds, charging case, a USB-C charging cable and three sizes of silicone tips. Choosing the right tip size should ensure that the earbuds are secure and comfortable. During our workouts (yoga and a 30-minute run), we did have to adjust the earbuds to prevent them from falling out. However, outside of this and during our workday, we didn’t have to adjust the earbuds once.

What is the difference between Nothing ear (1) and Apple AirPods?

The main difference between the Nothing ear (1) and Apple AirPods is Active Noise Cancellation. ANC is available with the Nothing ear (1), but you have to splash out for the premium AirPods Pro if you want ANC from Apple. Despite not having ANC, Apple AirPods are also already more expensive, typically found for £124.

Even with ANC, which tends to drain the battery, the Nothing ear (1) earbuds also have better battery life. The wireless earbuds can last up to nine hours on a single charge, while the Apple AirPods tend to only last five.

However, there are some benefits to buying the Apple AirPods. The most major is voice control via Siri. With AirPods, Siri is ‘always-on’, so the voice assistant can be activated by saying the wake words ‘Hey Siri’ followed by a question or demand. There’s no such voice control with the Nothing ear (1).

Our verdict: should you buy Nothing ear (1)?

There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Nothing ear (1), but they won’t be for everyone. If you want ANC wireless earbuds at a good price, the Nothing ear (1) are a solid option. The sound quality is good, and they offer a stylised design, going beyond the basic black and white colourways often available. They’re also extremely comfortable, which is always a plus and not necessarily a given when it comes to the pressure-feeling of most ANC earbuds.

However, at £99, you are largely paying for the unique design and ANC. Beyond these, the earbuds don’t offer anything special, although the basics such as in-ear detection and splash resistance are covered. If a sleek design or ANC aren’t essential for you when it comes to wireless earbuds, there are more affordable options that offer the same features for less. Otherwise, these are a good pair of ANC earbuds that deliver decent sound quality.

Rating:

Some categories (sound quality and features) are weighted more heavily.

  • Design: 4/5
  • Features: 3.5/5
  • Sound quality: 5/5
  • Set-up: 5/5
  • Good value for money: 4/5
  • Overall rating: 4/5

Where to buy Nothing ear (1)

Nothing ear (1) are available to buy now from retailers such as Amazon and on the brand’s own website.

Advertisement

For more reviews and product guides, head to the Technology section. Looking for a deal? Try our Black Friday 2021 and best earbud deals pages for the latest offers.