There might be greater curiosity about its smartphone, but TWS have a special place in the story of Nothing, the new initiative Carl Pei settled for after never settling at OnePlus. After all, the first product of Nothing was a pair of total wireless earbuds, the Nothing Ear (1). With their innovative design and very competitive price, they certainly grabbed as many eyeballs as ears.

nothing ear (2) review

So when Nothing announced the Ear (2), the successors of the Ear (1), curiosity was obviously high. What spin would the brand put on the TWS market after the very innovative Ear (1) and the Ear (Stick)? Well, it seems as if the brand has chosen to play a little safe for the first time in its rather brief history so far.

Nothing Ears (2) design: Transparent looks are still cool, but we expected something more!

We are going to be upfront about it – we expected a bit more in terms of design from the Nothing Ear (2). This is the first product from the Nothing portfolio that has nothing really fresh in it in terms of design – the original Ear (1) had that transparent case and the semi-transparent buds, the Phone (1) came with Glyph UI, and the Ear (Stick) had a very innovative case that opened like a lipstick. The Nothing Ear (2), on the other hand, are basically the Nothing Ear (1) in terms of appearance. The two are so similar that you would be hard-pressed to tell them apart.

Like the Ear (1), the Ear (2) also come in a square-ish box with a totally transparent lid. The lid snaps shut magnetically and also has a slight depression that lets you put a finger in it and whirr it around like a fidget spinner if such is your fancy. The buds lie on their sides with their stems connected to magnets in the case. The buds themselves are very similar to those on the Ear (1), with semi-transparent stems and white buds with white ear tips (at the time of writing, only a white variant was available). They are in-ear buds and are designed to lodge inside your ear rather than just hanging from the lobe as the Ear (Stick) were. One of the sides of the box has a USB Type C port with a small, round, multi-function button next to it. One of the buds has a red dot on it to indicate it is for the right ear, and the other has a white one. Again, just like the Ear (1).

The differences in the design of Ear (2) and Ear (1) exist, but they are really subtle. The branding on the stems says Nothing Ear (2) instead of (1), and a close look at the two sets of TWS will reveal that the Ear (2)’s case and buds are both slightly smaller and lighter than their predecessors. The difference is marginal, though – the case of the Ear (2) is 55.5 mm in length and width and is 23.5 mm deep, as compared to the Ear (1), which was 58.6 mm in length and width and 23.7 mm in depth. The Ear (2) case is also slightly lighter at 51.9 grams as against 57.4 grams of the Ear (1). This minor shrinkage is visible on the buds too. The Ear (2) buds are 29.4 mm tall, 21.5 mm wide, and 23.5 mm deep and are 4.5 grams each in weight.

nothing ear 2 review

The Ear (1) had the same width and depth but were a trifle taller at 28.9 mm and just a feather-fluff lighter at 4.7 grams each. The material used is plastic, although this time, Nothing claims to have used material that is more resistant to scratches, which was an issue with the Ear (1). Both the buds and their case come with dust and water resistance – IP54 for the buds and IP55 for the case, which means that they can survive splashes of water and are good enough to be gym partners but will not survive a dunking in the water!

All said and done, the Nothing Ear (2) are pretty much like a slightly shrunk version of the Nothing Ear (1). They are light enough to wear and comfortable to wear and carry. Yes, they look different from the routine TWS out there, but in exactly the same way that their predecessors did. Given how innovative the brand has been in terms of design, we expected more.

Nothing Ear (2) UI: Moving from slide and tap to press on the buds and more tests on the app

Connecting the Ear (2) is as simple as hitting the multi-function button next to the USB Type C port and then choosing the buds from the Bluetooth devices list on your phone or notebook. On iOS and Android, we would recommend using the Nothing X app to connect the buds. And it is while you are setting up the buds that the changes in the Ear (2) become evident.

nothing ear 2 sound

There is an eartip fit test that actually works, and there is also a hearing test (powered by Mimi) that is designed to create a unique hearing profile for each user. The test basically involves hearing a series of sounds at different frequencies and different volume levels. Based on your responses, the buds set up a hearing profile for you. It seems an interesting process, but truth be told, we found ourselves going and tweaking settings ourselves in the equalizer, which comes with four presets (balanced, more bass, more treble, and voice) as well as a custom setting that you can tweak as per your preference. There is also an option to have ANC on the buds personalized as per your surroundings, or else choose from high, mid, low, and adaptive (we just had low and maximum in the Ear (1)).

There is a change in how you control the buds too. The option to slide your finger on the stem to increase or decrease volume has gone altogether, and taps have been replaced by presses. A single press to play/ pause content or to take or hang up a call is simple enough, but it gets a trifle complicated beyond that as you have to make sure each press has actually been registered – the triple press to go back a track did not quite work for us. Pressing and holding to switch between transparency and ANC also was a little erratic, with the buds sometimes interpreting it as play or pause, and we ended up using the app for ANC purposes. We really missed the option of being able to change the volume from the buds themselves, a rarity these days.

Nothing Ear (2) performance: More bass on the sound, better calls but iffy ANC

nothing ear 2 price

The Nothing Ear (2) have 11.6 mm drivers, just like the Ear (1) did, but are said to come with a new dual chamber design for better handling of higher frequencies. The buds come with support for LHDC and are Hi-Res certified as well, although there is no support for aptX. Nothing claims they deliver studio-quality sound, and their sound quality is certainly very good. We found it to be a bit heavier in the bass department than the Ear (1), and while treble was present, it was not quite as clear as on the Ear (1). In fact, we would say the buds had a slightly V-shaped sound signature, with bass being a little stressed and treble being present and audible. The mids, generally the vocals, did take a hit from time to time, especially in tracks that had a very high level of instrumentation. Still, by and large, the audio quality was very good across genres.

We think those who love classical, opera, and jazz music might find the bass too heavy here, but those into action films and games will love the boom and rumble, and classic rock fans will also appreciate the way in which strings come to the fore. We would say that in terms of clarity, the Ear (2) are a step ahead of the Ear (1), but the problem is that they are not quite in the same zone as the competition at their price. There is also no spatial audio or head tracking. Again, these would not have mattered at a lower price point, but in the new zone in which the Ear(2) find themselves, their absence is a trifle jarring.

nothing ear 2 specs

The “better than before, but not as good as the new competition” phenomenon extends to the ANC performance of the Nothing Ear (2). It is definitely better than the Ear (1) and is able to drown out a fair deal of external noise. Still, it does not really kill the noise in a super busy cafeteria or traffic like some of its competitors, such as the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 and the Oppo Enco X2 do. The personalized ANC setting is a nice touch, but too much depends on where you set it up, and the adaptive mode, which is supposed to change ANC levels as per your surroundings, did not seem to make a discernible difference. We would recommend keeping ANC high by default.

Transparency mode, however, works very well and is terrific for letting ambient sounds in. We like the option to switch both ANC and transparency mode off instead of being stuck between just the two, as in some TWS. The Nothing Ear 2 also score well on handling phone calls, delivering call quality that is better than much more expensive TWS. Everyone we spoke to using them did not realize that we were using TWS for calls, something that generally only happens when we are using the likes of the Jabra Elite 5, the Pixel Buds Pro, or the AirPods Pro. And you can switch between two devices seamlessly using the Dual Connection feature.

Battery life on the buds is a bit of a downer, though. We got about four hours from the buds with ANC on, which is sub-par in its price segment. The case takes it to about 22 hours with ANC, which is decent enough but not really exceptional. Turning off ANC takes the buds battery life to about six hours and goes up to a very good 36 hours with the case. We just wish there was more battery life on the buds, as around 5-6 hours with ANC is expected in this segment. There is support for wired fast charging, using which you can get up to 8 hours (without ANC) with 10 minutes of charging, provided you listen at moderate volumes. 2.5W wireless charging is also supported – not speedy, but handy.

Nothing Ear (2) Review Verdict: With a higher price comes tougher competition

nothing ear 2 review verdict

Their price tag of Rs 9,999 puts the Nothing Ear (2) in a very different price zone from their predecessors, which had been launched at Rs 6,999 and had even been available at Rs 5,999 for a while. Thanks to this price bump up, the Ear (2) have to deal with a fair bit of high-quality competition, including the likes of the Sennheiser CX Plus, the OnePlus Buds Pro / 2R, the Jabra Elite 5, and even the old-ish but still formidable Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, all of which offer comparable sound quality and ANC (some are even better in these departments). The Nothing Ear (1) was a shark in a sea of mediocrity. The Ear (2) has other fins to deal with. They remain the most different-looking TWS out there, and their sound and ANC have improved considerably, but they are not really the runaway bargain that the Ear (1) were.

Buy Nothing Ear (2)

  • A still unique design
  • Improved audio quality
  • Very good call quality
  • Dust and water-resistant buds and case
  • More expensive than the Ear (1)
  • Not the greatest ANC
  • No volume controls
  • Middling battery
Review Overview
Design and appearance
Audio quality and calling
Battery Life

Although they mirror the design of the Nothing Ear (1), the Ear (2) come with better audio and improved ANC, and a number of other improvements. Here's our review.

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