Nothing launched its first pair of truly wireless earbuds – the Nothing Ear (1) – in India last year at a price of Rs 6,999. At the time, it was praised for its refreshing design, balanced sound and noise cancellation modes. At the same time, it also received some critique over offering limited codec support and an average battery life. Almost a year later, Nothing is back with another pair of TWS earbuds dubbed as the Nothing Ear 2. Also Read - Nothing Phone 2 to get Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, confirms Carl Pei
These earbuds not only come with a bigger price tag, Rs 9,999 to be specific, but they also come with significant improvements over the Nothing Ear 1 and some more. This means that while you do get the same transparent design that we saw last year, everything inside has changed. Also Read - Want to try out Android 14? Here’s what you need to do
This year, Nothing has added support for more codecs, improved the water and dust-resistant capabilities and battery life, further improved the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) feature, and added new features such as Personalised Sound Profiles and Dual Connections to name a few. Also Read - From Nothing Phone 1 to Oppo Find N2 Flip: All the phones getting Android 14 beta update
Are these features enough to make the Nothing Ear 2 a winner? We will find that out and more in the detailed review below. So, keep reading.
Nothing Ear 2 review: Specifications
Sound: 11.6mm dynamic drivers with Graphene and Polyurethane diaphragm
Codec: AAC, SBC, LHDC 5.0
Active Noise Cancellation: ANC up to 40dB, Personalised ANC, Environment Adaptive ANC, Transparency Mode
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3, BLE support
Battery: 33mAh buds, 485mAh case
Smart features: Google Fast Pair, Microsoft Swift Pair, Dual Connection, Clear Voice Technology with three mics per buds, In-ear detection
Water resistance: IP45 buds, IP55 case
Nothing Ear 2 review: Design
First let’s talk about the design.
Nothing hasn’t made any monumental changes to the design of its earbuds. The Nothing Ear 2 looks exactly like the Nothing Ear 1, which means you get the same square shaped transparent case along with transparent buds this year as well. The company hasn’t changed the overall design of the earbuds as well. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Their refreshingly different design in a sea of AirPods clones is what helped the Nothing Ear 1 stand apart last year. And it is helping the Nothing Ear 2 stand apart in a blooming TWS earbuds market this year as well.
Nothing Ear 2’s simplistic yet different design is its key USP. Nothing knows this well and so it hasn’t made any noticeable changes to it. Instead, it has opted to refine one of its best features a bit more. Nothing has made the Nothing Ear 2’s case slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor. The case of the Nothing Ear 2 is 5.5 grams lighter than its predecessor, which makes it a breeze to hold. It also places it somewhere in between the Apple AirPods third-gen and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2 in terms of the overall weight.
In usage, the Nothing Ear 2 earbuds are comfortable to wear even when using for long durations. You can barely feel them in your ears. Yet, they provide a firm grip and they don’t slip out when you sweat or go for a run, which is a constant issue with a lot of TWS earbuds in the market these days.
Nothing Ear 2 review: Performance
Now, let’s talk about the performance.
One of the features that the Nothing Ear 1 was praised for last year was its balanced sound. Nothing has brought over the same sound quality from its year-old device and made it a tad bit better. The Nothing Ear 2 features a distinctly balanced sound that is hard to get and even harder to maintain. The result of this balanced sound is that you can distinguish between every guitar strum, every keystroke on a piano and every note on the drums in songs like Kings and Queens and Vagabonds by Ellem, Lost in the Wild by Walk The Moon and Come Back Home by Sofia Carson. The sound quality is exceptional and it is one of my favourite things about it.
Another feature that works in its favour is the Active Noise Cancellation feature that can be tailored to a person’s individual needs. This experience is powered by another feature called Personal Sound Profiles wherein a small hearing test helps the earbuds to calibrate the overall audio experience as per the needs of your ears. So, if you hear a little less from one ear, the test will determine that, following which it will customise the sound and the ANC experience based on the results. Coming back to ANC, the feature works fine and it does its job well in filtering out most of the sound. I said, most not all. This means that while you can’t understand what is being said, you can still make out that something is being said. Simply said, it doesn’t create a complete vacuum of sound. The Noise Controls also include a Transparency Mode, which is where you can hear a lot of what is being said and a Personalised ANC wherein the feature is tailored as per your hearing experience.
These features can be controlled via touch-based commands on the earbuds or using the Nothing X app, which comes with an easy-to-use and fuss-free interface. Once connected, the app shows you the battery percentage of each earbud and the case with Equiliser, Control and Noise Control Settings right under it. The Nothing Ear 2 comes with pressure-sensitive stems wherein you pinch to give commands. A single pinch means play/pause audio or answer or hang-up calls, double pinch means skip forward or decline an incoming call, triple pinch means skip back, while pinch and hold means enabling or disabling ANC. However, if you don’t like the way these controls work, you can customise triple pinch, pinch and hold and double pinch and hold, as per your likings. These controls work with variable accuracy and a lot of times I find myself giving the wrong command primarily because of the placement of the pressure-sensitive area.
In addition to ANC and Personal Sound Profiles, you also get a feature called In-Ear Detection that automatically pauses the audio when the device detects that the earbuds are out of your ears, Dual Connection, and a Low Lag mode for a better gaming experience. All of these features can be controlled from the Settings cog-wheel in the Nothing app.
Lastly, the battery.
Each earbud comes with a 33mAh battery while the case comes with a 485mAh battery. Nothing says that the earbuds offer up to 6.3 hours of playback time and 36 hours with the case when the ANC is turned off. On the other hand, when the ANC is turned on, the buds offer up to four hours of playback time with the case stretching it out to 22.5 hours. This is mostly true. During our test, the battery lasted for around four hours with ANC turned to the maximum settings while the case provided around 35 hours of battery backup. Nothing ships a USB Type-C cable in the box. However, if you don’t like it, you can place it on a wireless charging mat to get the juice up.
Should you buy Nothing Ear 2 or not?
In one word: Yes. The Nothing Ear 2 is a beautiful piece of gadgetry that sounds even better. Its perfectly balanced sound coupled with the ability to customise audio based on individual’s needs, Personalised ANC and ability to connect to two sources at a time provide a nice touch to the overall package. Sure the battery could be a tad bit better but the fast charging support along with wireless charging support more than make up for it. Overall, the Nothing Ear 2 in its current form is a clear winner.