Delivering on its initial promise, smartphone company Nothing has officially unveiled its second audio product: the mid-range Ear (stick) headphones.
In preparation for the revelation, there were some leaks which showcased the cosmetic-inspired design of the Ear (stick), which admittedly looks pretty cool. Headphone charging cases often have a square design, but nothing has gone for a more cylindrical look with a splash of red. Aside from its design, not much was known about the device internally, other than the company’s claim that the Ear (stick) was its “most advanced audio product yet”. Nonetheless looking at the ad (opens in new tab)that really isn’t the case.
The $99 ear (stick) might not be a bad product. But it’s certainly not Nothing’s most advanced audio product, as it lacks active noise cancellation, an on-demand feature present in Ear device (1) from last year. The headphones also lack the older model’s silicone tips to seal in sound. Instead, it opts for a more AirPod-like design: a rigid plastic that sends sound directly into the ear canal. As a result, more background noise is likely to leak out.
So, what does the Ear (rod) have that sets it apart?
For starters, the Ear (stick) has a new feature called Bass Lock, software that detects if any bass has been lost in the audio and adjusts the internal equalizer to compensate. That way, the audio sounds as it should.
Three microphones are present in each headset, each with its own role to play, According to The Verge (opens in new tab). You have one that simply hears your voice, the other filters out background noise from calls via “smart algorithms” and the last one apparently listens to audio feedback and adapts the device’s sound to your ear canal.
Audio output is handled by a pair of custom-made 12.6mm speakers, in contrast to the “shelf drivers” found in the ear (1). CEO Carl Pei told TheVerge that nothing went with custom speakers because the company wanted a good balance of size and acoustic design, rather than just putting a big driver inside the headphones.
You can pair the Ear (stick) with Phone of Nothing (1) to unlock additional features. The device’s equalizer can be adjusted via the Quick Settings menu directly on the smartphone. On Android and iOS, you need to download the Nothing X app first. And if you experience any lag while playing games on your phone (1), the headphones will automatically go into a low lag mode to match the gameplay.
Battery life on the Ear (stick) has been slightly improved: up to seven hours on one charge versus four on the Ear (1). With the charging case, this time is increased to a maximum of 29 hours. Other notable features include an IP54 resistance rating for dust and water protection, as well as Google Fast Pair support for fast Bluetooth pairing.
We reached out to Nothing for clarification on some of their features. The ad mentioned something about “press controls” but doesn’t detail what they are or how they work. We also asked for more details on how the microphones work. This story will be updated if we receive a response.
You can pre-order the Ear (stick) for $99 (we’ll update this when we have international pricing) on Nothing’s website with a release date set for November 4th. The high-end headphones are the same price as the flagship model. It seems, CEO Carl Pei recently took to Twitter to announce that the Ear (1) (opens in new tab) will have a price increase of up to $149 “due to an increase in costs”.
If you’re in the market for something cheaper, be sure to check it out. ‘s Best Budget Headphones for 2022.