Nothing Ear (stick) vs Nothing Ear (1): What is the difference?
(Pocket-lint) – Nothing, the company founded by former OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, has launched its second pair of true wireless earbuds. And this pair is a bit different from the first one, although it may look very similar.
Nothing’s latest Ear (stick) combines a familiar design approach with an affordable price, but how is it different from the Nothing Ear (1)? We’ll explain the differences and similarities in this guide.
- Ear (stick): 29.8 x 28.8 x 18.4 mm – 4.4 g per ear
- Ear (1): 28.9 x 21.5 x 23.5 mm – 4.7 g per ear
- Ear (stick): Cylindrical housing – IP54 protection index – White
- Ear (1): Square housing – White and Black models
If you just looked at the headphones themselves side by side, you wouldn’t see a huge difference in style between the Nothing Ear (1) and the Nothing Ear (stick).
Both products have that distinctive see-through look that was introduced on the Nothing Ear (1). The bud stem is covered with a completely transparent plastic with the dotted mark on it, and black inner parts with a red or white dot on each bud to indicate which ear is which.
Like the first model, the rounded part that fits into the ear is made of white plastic, although the Ear (1) is also available in black. It’s the earmold, or the part that transmits sound to your ear, that’s different.
The ear (1) features a silicone tip that seals the entrance to the ear canal and aids in noise cancellation. The ear (stick) is designed to rest in the ear, without creating this seal. It’s similar to entry-level AirPods in that it’s quite loose and just directs sound into the channel, without being invasive. It is designed this way to be more comfortable.
The charging case is another story. The first Nothing buds come with a square case with a transparent lid that opens as you would expect. It is also equipped with wireless charging.
The ear (stick) has a cylindrical casing that rotates to open and – unlike the ear (1) – it can’t just pop open if you drop it. It must be a deliberate action. So you can rest assured that it won’t pop open and throw your headphones off if you drop it or hit the ground. There is no wireless charging on this one.
Both cases, again, feature that transparent look with the white interiors and red accents. It became a sort of trademark of Nothing.
Audio and noise cancellation
- Ear (stick): 12.6mm dynamic driver – no ANC
- Ear (1): 11.6mm dynamic driver – hybrid ANC
Both pairs of earbuds feature a large dynamic driver to deliver loud, bass sound: Ear (1) has an 11.6mm driver, Ear (stick) has a 12.6mm driver . The first pair was tuned by iconic audio/design company, Teenage Engineering. The ear (stick) was set by Nothing internally. Whether that makes a difference in sound quality remains to be seen.
What makes the difference is the noise cancellation. The ear (1) is equipped with a hybrid ANC system that uses a filter to block out ambient noise, which combines with the passive sealing offered by the silicone tip that fits into the ear.
The ear (stick) doesn’t have ANC at all, but it does have an algorithm that analyzes noise using external mics and then adjusts bass levels to compensate, so you should get consistent sound and complete in most environments. Each uses a similar microphone system to ensure your voice comes through clearly during calls.
Hardware, features and battery life
- Ear (stick): 7 hours of music playback – 29 hours total inc. Case
- Ear (1): 5.7 hours of music playback – 34 hours total inc. case (ANC disabled)
- Ear (1): 4 hours of music playback – 23 hours total, case inc. (ANC on)
- Ear (stick): Google Fast Pair support – wired USB-C charging
- Ear (1): Google Fast Pair support – wired and wireless charging
The difference in battery performance only really comes into play when using active noise cancellation on the ear (1). Otherwise, both pairs offer very similar performance in this regard.
The ear (1) can play music for nearly six hours outside the case on a full charge with ANC off. The ear (stick) can do seven hours, which means it has a bit more longevity out of the case. However, if you want noise cancellation, the ear (1) can only work for about four hours before it needs to be placed back in the charging case.
As for total battery life, the Nothing Ear (1) can – with ANC off – go up to 34 hours in total, including the battery in the case. That drops to around 11 p.m. with ANC on. Nothing Ear (stick) is 29 hours in total.
When it comes to charging, the Ear (1) offers the flexibility of having wireless charging stand built into its case, as well as the USB-C port. The ear (stick) – due to this narrow cylindrical design – is wired only via USB-C.
Otherwise, both share similar functionality. Both pairs offer Google Fast Pair support, so you can quickly and easily pair them with an Android phone and see individual battery levels for each bud in the Bluetooth settings. If you have a Nothing Phone (1), this integration is highlighted more clearly in the quick settings tint.
- Ear (stick): £99 / €119
- Ear (1): £149 (available £99 / $99 / €99.99)
With the launch of the Ear (stick), Nothing made the decision to put the price of its Ear (1) on the rise. Like the Ear (Stick), the Ear (1) launched at a price of £99, and can still be found at that price if you buy from Amazon (at the time of writing).
Realistically, although the official retail price is now £149, you don’t have to choose between them based on price if you decide not to buy directly through the Nothing store.
We think the decision between these two pairs of headphones will likely be easy for most buyers. If you want noise cancellation and a seal that blocks out some ambient noise during a busy commute or when traveling, the Ear (1) is the one for you.
If you don’t want that and want a lightweight, non-invasive pair of headphones to use at home or in quieter environments, the (stick) ear will be the best pair for you.
Written by Cam Bunton. Editing by Britta O’Boyle.