Nothing was recently launched in India, the Ear (stick) wireless headphones at Rs 8,499. is essentially the half-in-ear version of the Nothing by ear (1) (critical). However, there’s more to these wireless headphones than meets the eye.
Most important is the unique charging and storage case, which is unlike anything available in the wireless earphone space. The case is a modestly sized cylindrical unit with a roll-up mechanism similar to conventional lipsticks. It is a transparent plastic case with the main cavity colored white. The design is accentuated by the red accent on the side, surrounding the USB-C charging port.
The case looks compelling, but there are caveats from a usability perspective. Its plastic body is prone to fingerprints and smudges. Also, any lack of protection on the hard plastic makes it susceptible to scratches. It is lightweight, but its cylindrical design makes it unsuitable to be carried in pockets. Finally, the case rolls on flat surfaces if placed in a horizontal orientation.
As for the headphones, these look like Nothing ear (1) without the in-ear design. The headphones offer a perfect fit, complemented by a lightweight construction for comfortable use. These are good for regular daily use, but look elsewhere if you need wireless headphones that you can use during outdoor health activities such as running and jogging. Indeed, these headphones do not offer a secure fit. Additionally, the half-in-ear design doesn’t perform well in terms of passive noise cancellation. And, there’s no active noise cancellation here. As a result, outside noise seeps inside.
Nothing presents its wireless headphones as design-centric alternatives to the Apple AirPods. The ear (stick) is no exception, and these fare better in terms of design than their Apple counterparts.
Also, there are press controls like the AirPods. However, the distinct ear (stick) design language could have done better with the touch controls. These have rectangular stems, unlike the cylindrical stems of the AirPods. As a result, press controls don’t feel as natural as they do on AirPods. Plus, the press controls ruin the in-ear fit. This is true even for AirPods. On the other hand, the press controls prevent accidental triggering and operate with precision.
Details aside, the ear (stick) is great for listening to music and answering calls in quiet environments. Starting with the audio performance, the headphones sound richer with fine midrange and treble detail. The bass could have been better, but sounds great for half-in-ear headphones. As for the call experience, the built-in mics work well in environments with limited ambient noise. However, they struggle in noisy environments.
To round off the package, it takes a modest autonomy of about five hours on a single charge and up to 25 hours with the case. A fully charged case and earbuds easily last about ten days, if used for two to three hours a day for listening to music and answering calls. There’s no wireless charging here, and charging with USB-C takes around an hour.
Despite the recent price hike, the white Nothing Ear (1) variant at Rs 7,299 is cheaper than the Nothing Ear (stick). The former offers an in-ear design, ANC and wireless charging. In direct comparison, therefore, the Nothing Ear (1) seems to be a better choice. Outside of the Nothing ecosystem, the two Nothing wireless earbuds pale in comparison to peers such as Samsung Galaxy Buds2 (Rs 6,999). That said, the unconventional but striking design of the Nothing Ear (stick) is the only factor for these headphones.