Paying 5999 for a smartphone might not be an issue for many folks, but shelling out it for a TWS from an unknown brand might be a strict no for many.
Nothing, a new brand in the market and brainchild of OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, would have known this. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have created so much sustained hype in the last few months around the launch of the Ear 1 – truly wireless earbuds. Has the hype paid off? Will it translate into consumer acquisition?
I don’t know, but I have reviewed the product, which might help the potential customers of Ear 1 to make up their minds about the quality and performance of the product before they hit the buy button or settle for some other TWS. So let’s start the review of Nothing Ear 1.
Has transparency paid off?
In the world of TWS, most of the earbuds look similar in the design language they follow. Nothing wanted to do something different to stand out in the crowd. So they made Ear 1 and its case transparent to some extent. Did it help? Yes, at least for me in terms of grabbing my attention. But I am sure many of our readers would be curious to check the design of the case and earbuds.
So, when a new product is launched, the first frontier is to grab attention and Nothing has done it well. People will either love it or hate it.
The case and earbuds are transparent to some extent but not 100 percent. The stem of Earbuds is transparent on one side, and on other side, though transparent, appears black. On the other hand, earbuds are made of hard white plastic. The placement of mics, internals, and magnets on the stem used for charging is neatly done and will grab attention.
The stem also has red and white dots on them to make it easy for the users to know which one is from the right ear and left one, and similar colour coding is in the slots that hold earbuds in the case.
Now let’s talk about the casing. It is square-shaped. Though it is not the first time someone has used this shape for TWs, the 100 percent transparent lid and two metal hinges add a dash of uniqueness.
The lid also has a groove, not to make the case function like a fidget spinner but rather to hold the earbuds when they are resting in the case. Finally, the slots for holding the earbud have magnets at the bottom to secure the buds.
The battery unit is covered with white plastic, and the case supports fast charging. There is only one physical button in the case as well, which helps in pairing.
Looks-wise, the case is attractive, but I am not sure about its longevity as, after one week of usage during the Nothing Ear 1 Review, minor scratches started appearing.
I must warn the readers that it is tough to open the case with one hand – unlike any other popular TWs available in the market. Not a big deal, but one has to get adjusted to it.
In the packaging, you will also get three liquid silicone tips – large, medium and small. They are soft and comfortable. As far as fitting of the Ear 1 is concerned, buds fit nicely in my ears and felt snug. Even when I used them for long hours, they felt comfortable.
How to control Ear 1?
A tap here and slide there is all you need to do to control you Nothing ear 1. Also, to manage, a couple of gestures and the sound signature App will go-to destination.
To manage volume, you will have your slide finger up and down on the stem to increases or decreases it.
- Three taps take you to the next track.
- Double taps pause/ play audio or connects / disconnects a call.
- Triple Tap the left earbud for the next song and the Right one for the previous one.
- A long-press activates/ deactivates active noise cancellation or transparency mode.
Now let talk about the app. If you want to receive the firmware update and control the sound signature, pair the buds using the app. You can also select one of the two levels of active noise cancellation (ANC) – light and maximum. You can personalize the sound as well using the app. The preset options include Balanced, More Treble, More Bass and voice.
The app is quite neat and clean, but an equalizer would have been handy instead of the preset option. There were two firmware updates during my usage, and they did address some issues like gestures not eliciting a response, ANC on activating when long pressed, and a couple of minor bugs.
Overall, Nothing Ear 1’s app looks good, and it has tremendous potential to evolve further. On the other hand, Gestures can be better, and one will have to use them to get comfortable.
Experiments with ANC
Nothing Ear 1 comes with two levels of active noise cancellation (ANC) – light and maximum. One can select it via the app.
It is a welcome addition, but the output is a mixed bag. If you use it in general, it will do its job as expected, but if you are sitting near AC or your ceiling fan is running on full speed, you may not get a smooth experience. Also, in outdoor conditions, the experience will vary depending on traffic or surrounding noise.
So in ANC on Ear 1, just a spec on paper? No, it is not! It does its job though it is not the best. But compared to the other product in the Rs 6,000 range, Ear 1 does a better job.
How is the Performance?
I was impressed with the sound quality of Ear 1 during the call. Even the three mics were top notch. During the Nothing Ear 1 Review, not even once did anyone I talked to said, “Why do you sound like a Robot?”
I can safely say Ear 1 is the best in its price category for call quality. However, with music, I had a different opinion.
Unlike the competition, Nothing has gone with a balanced sound signature rather than bass-heavy. As a result, the focus is on clarity rather than heavy-duty bass. Someone like me who loves listening to light music will enjoy the audio quality. Even watching movies is going to be an enjoyable task. Those who love heavy bass and sharp trebles, like Bollywood item numbers, maybe saddened, and even app settings can’t do much about it. If you are a gamer, you feel latency cropping in.
Ear 1 is meant for those who want to purchase TWS for sound clarity. However, the 11.6 mm drivers on it part-deliver an impressive performance even on high volumes.
During Nothing Ear 1 review, I got around 3.5 hours of hearing when I kept the ANC on and around 5.5 when kept off. Additionally, Nothing claims 34 hours of battery life on the case with ANC off and 24 hours with ANC on, Which I haven’t tested so far. You also get wireless charging support on the case. The battery backup is decent. Unfortunately, it is not the best.