Nothing Ear Stick full review
According to JBQ, Nothing Ear Stick is the third product of this brand that is released after Phone 1 and Ear 1. They’re instantly recognizable as a piece of Nothing technology with their liberal use of clear plastic and plenty of unconventional and eye-catching design choices.
Despite the Ear Stick’s radical appearance, they’re a pretty pedestrian pair of headphones for everyday use. At this point, Carl P’s post-OnePlus startup has established a pattern of releasing really good products that look more interesting than they really are. At $99, the Ear Sticks are a pair of good buds in a very flashy package, and there’s a lot going for them as long as they fit in your ears.
The Nothing Ear Stick is a pair of fashion-focused headphones from the maker of the Ear 1 and Nothing Phone 1. In addition to Nothing’s clear appearance and lipstick-inspired case, the Ear Stick offers good sound quality and decent battery life. . However, the Fit is not adjustable here and may not sit comfortably in your ears.
• Battery life: up to 7 hours (3 hours of talk time), up to 29 hours (12 hours of talk time) with case
• Noise cancellation: none
• Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.2, RFCOMM, SPP, HFP, A2DP, AVDTP, AVCTP, AVRCP, GAVDP
• IP rating: IP54
• Weight (phone): 4.4 grams each
• Dimensions (Airbud): 29.8 x 18.8 x 18.4 mm
• Charging: via USB Type C
• Dimensions: 87.1 x 29.8 x 29.8 mm
• Driver size: 12.6 mm dynamic
• Price (MSRP): $100
• Dimensions: 87.1 x 29.8 x 29.8 mm
• Weight: 46.3 grams
• Impressive look
• Reliable and satisfying
• Solid sound quality
• The fit will not be for everyone
• The case gets dirty and is not easy to clean
• No wireless charging
Like both previous Nothing products, the Nothing Ear Stick headphones have a delightfully unconventional design. The buds have the same clear white plastic look as the Ear 1, and nothing says that the Ear Stick’s tubular charging case was inspired by “classic cosmetic silhouettes”, and I can see that. The case opens with a twist (with a firm click when fully open or closed) and reminds me of a thick tube of lipstick. And while almost all good true wireless headphones come in small boxes, the Ear Stick is particularly thin and portable, which I appreciate. Overall, the case has a unique design that is a pleasure to interact with.
But as interesting as the case is, it’s not entirely practical. The inner piece that houses the buds is made of a fine hosey white plastic that gives it an interesting look and a satisfying texture. But after just a few weeks of careful use, my unit started collecting dirt around the opening where the buds go in and out, and dust and dog hair made their way between the white plastic interior and the clear outer shell. Also, since the case is not meant to be removed, it is not easy to clean. I shudder to think what these headphones will look like after a year or two of tossing around in bags and pockets.
It is not easy to keep the ear stick free from dust and debris.
JBQ says, At least the headphones are easy to keep clean. They have hard plastic tips with no silicone creases or other slots to collect dirt. Since they don’t come with multi-sized ear tips to customize your fit, the Nothing Ear Stick won’t work in everyone’s ears. They pretty much work for me. Buds are sitting where they are supposed to stay.
But any physical activity messes up the earbuds and I’m always afraid of losing one of them. When I leave the headphones on my desk for a few hours, they move around and I have to adjust them to get the driver back where they should be. The ear shape is different, but for me, that fit doesn’t cut it.
There’s not much that comes with the Nothing Ear Stick in their clever little rectangular box – just some literature and a matching USB Type C to USB Type C cable for charging.
Nothing Ear Stick: Sound and Features
The Ear Stick offers little sound insulation due to its hard plastic buds, so even moderate ambient noise can make it difficult to understand your media. Combine that with the fact that the earbuds don’t fit in my ears, and the listening experience isn’t ideal. That said, in quiet environments where the headphones are properly placed, they sound good for $99, and when the ambient noise isn’t too loud, maintaining awareness of your surroundings is excellent.
The sound here isn’t as clear or detailed as you’d get from headphones that cost twice or three times the price, but the Nothing Ear Stick doesn’t sound as compressed as some cheaper headphones. Disintegrating cymbals don’t waver, and individual instruments and voices are easy to discern, even on crowded tracks. There’s plenty of bass, too as long as the headphones don’t move around in my ears and their drivers aren’t facing the right way. The headphones only support SBC and AAC codecs (no aptX), but that’s not surprising at this price.
Ear Sticks are good for calls. I don’t generally like the fit or feel of hard plastic AirPods-style earbuds, and that’s true here as well but being able to hear myself clearly while talking makes conversations feel more natural. They also easily control background noise, and I’ve had no complaints about the clarity of my voice during phone calls or video meetings.
Unlike the Nothing Ear 1, which had touch controls, the Ear Stick is controlled by squeezing its stems. A single press on either bud is play/pause. Two presses will skip forward and three presses will move backward. Pressing and holding the left earbud lowers the media volume, while holding the right bud increases it. I really like this familiar setup because it’s more tactile than the touch controls, and it’s a relief not having to carefully place my fingers on a tiny touch surface to adjust the volume. Buds also make a really satisfying synthetic analog ticking sound when you press or release a stem.
You get quick-pairing support, which is always appreciated, but there’s no multi-point connection, and there’s no ANC although, as Galaxy Buds Live taught us, ANC doesn’t do much in open-style headphones like these.
The Nothing X app preinstalled on the Nothing Phone 1 and available in the Play Store elsewhere lets you tweak the Ear Stick’s sound profile using a three-way equalizer. There are a handful of presets and a custom setting that lets you manually adjust the treble, mids, and bass. I kept mine on the more bass preset, which produces a warmer sound that isn’t overly bassy.
You can also change the controls by choosing what each earbud does by double- and triple-pressing, press-and-hold, and double-press-and-hold. The double press and hold action isn’t used by default, so I set it to call the Google Assistant on my phone. Apart from this action, I think the control scheme is quite ideal, so I saw no reason to change anything.
Nothing Ear Stick: Battery life
Battery life on the Nothing Ear Stick is decidedly good, with around seven hours of playback per charge. That’s not terribly impressive given that there’s no noise cancellation at work here—sets like the $200 Pixel Buds Pro can go seven hours with ANC—but if you can find a few minutes to recharge, seven hours for It is enough to spend a full working day. The small, smooth housing of the buds can charge the Ear Stick three times before it needs to be recharged.
This case has USB Type C charging but does not support wireless charging. It’s a shame, but given the unique shape of the case, there probably isn’t room for a charging coil. Wireless charging is not guaranteed at this price. The A-series Pixel Buds also don’t have wireless charging.
Nothing Ear Stick: Contest
The Ear Stick costs $99, the same price as the Nothing Ear 1. Between the two, I’d totally go for the Ear 1. I prefer headphones with silicone tips, and the Ear 1’s decent ANC is a huge plus compared to the Ear Stick, which has no noise canceling at all. But the Ear 1 was recently $50, so the Ear Stick is retroactively a cheaper proposition. However, if you can stretch your headphone budget to $150, the Ear 1 offers most of the good features of the Ear Stick in a more rounded package with features like ANC and wireless charging.
Google’s A-series Pixel Buds are similar to Ear Sticks in many ways.
Both earbuds retail for $100 and have a design that reproduces ambient sound. The Ear Stick has better battery life seven hours compared to the Series A’s five but the Pixel Buds have different-sized silicone tips and hands-free access to the Google Assistant. The A-series Pixel Buds are a bit flaky with Bluetooth connectivity, but it does cause interference and occasional dropouts.
We’ve got a variety of recommendations for affordable headphones from other manufacturers as well. If you are not convinced by any of these options, check them out.
Nothing Ear Stick: Should You Buy Them?
I am totally torn on the Nothing Ear Stick. There are things about them that I like: they look great, their case is probably the coolest I’ve ever seen on wireless headphones, and they sound good enough for the price. . But that cool case gets dirty quickly and is hard to clean, and more importantly, things don’t fit easily in my ears.
Assuming they fit in your ears and you don’t need the noise isolation that comes with silicone eartips (or ANC), the Nothing Ear Stick is a good mid-range pair of headphones. Just be prepared to return them if, like me, you can’t get a comfortable fit.
Buy them if…
Your budget is $100 and you want a unique looking pair of buds
Usually you have no problem with hard plastic headphones
Don’t buy them if…
Sound isolation is important
You want an adjustable fit