There’s been a lot of hype around the Nothing Phone and the clear case that exposes its internals and sci-fi inspired LEDs. So much so that when Nothing’s Ear Sticks ($149 USD at launch) were announced there was a mad scramble and the company quickly ran out of stock. That’s why we’re just getting around to telling you about these attractive earbuds.
Nothing, the company (this is going to get confusing) took the minimalist design aesthetic and ran with it along with some design help from Teenage . Nothing’s Earsticks come in a cardboard box with pull tabs that you peel open to expose the cardboard cylinder containing the cable and tiny instruction manual. On the opposite end, you’ll find the tubular case with Ear Sticks inside. A turn of the on the end of the tube opens a window which allows you access to the Ear Sticks like some kind of capsule from another dimension.
Nothing prides itself on getting out of the way of technology. But don’t fret, Ear Sticks pack a lot of invisible smart technology inside their tiny package.
For example, Nothing’s Ear Sticks continually monitor bass leakage from your ears and tune and balance sound from its 12.6mm custom drivers on the fly to provide you with the perfect bass all the time. Voice algorithms are also continuously analyzing your voice and over 1 million sounds to eliminate crowds and distracting background noise during calls.
Nothing’s Ear Sticks fit much like Apple’s original Airpods. There’s no silicone tip, just a well designed earpiece that has been road tested on over 100 ear shapes. The Ear Sticks fit just fine in my ears and throughout a few weeks of testing and some all day wear, the Earsticks did not fall out. I also noticed no ear fatigue throughout the testing phase and with IP54 dust and moisture rating, you’ll be fine to run, sweat and exercise with the Nothing Ear Sticks.
The Nothing X app (iOS/Android) provides a customizable EQ along with a few presets for enhanced bass, voice, more treble or a balanced sound. There’s also a variety of customizable touch controls that can all be set within the app.
At default settings I found The Nothing Earsticks to be slightly treble forward, almost harsh sounding. Sound quality was fine and the bass was ample. Compared to my Apple Airpod Pro 2’s the bass was slightly understated. But dipping into the customizable EQ I was able to roll off the higher treble frequencies and dial in a sound I was more comfortable with.
I was surprised to discover that the Nothing Earsticks do not support the aptX bluetooth codec. Only AAC and SBC. This means that the Ear Sticks will not be able to process high resolution 24/48khz audio from capable sources. This may be a dealbreaker for some, but in my opinion an analog full-sized headphone experience still trumps bluetooth earbuds and audio codecs.
It’s also worth noting that the Nothing Ear Sticks lack any kind of active noise canceling and without a silicone ear tip to seal, no passive noise canceling either. There is also a surprising lack of voice assistance support. It’s possible Nothing could add this in the future with firmware updates but there has been nothing to date.
With the absence of active noise canceling comes a healthy battery life. Nothing claims that the Ear Sticks provide 7 hours of active use and 3 hours of talktime on a single charge. The case battery will provide you with a grand total of 29 hours of active use and 12 hours of talk time. A quick 10 minute quick charge back in the case will give you an additional 2 hours.
I found real world usage to reflect pretty close to Nothing’s claims with about 6 hours of mixed usage between the odd call and listening to music or watching movies throughout the day.
With the release of Ear 2, Nothing has lowered the price of Ear Sticks to $64 USD which I think is a great price point for this product providing a great experience with a few extra app features that make these an attractive product for the price.
Note: Our reviews are always 100% independent but Gearadical receives a small affiliate amount if you purchase the product on Amazon.