Headphones with style and substance: Nothing ear (1) earbuds review

We've tested the brand new Nothing ear (1) earbuds - here's what we found.

from Nothing ear (1)
RRP  £113.29
Nothing ear (1) review

by Eleanor Weaver |
Updated on

Nothing, a London-based tech firm co-founded by Carl Pei, formerly of OnePlus fame and fortune, announced the release of its brand new Nothing ear (1) earbuds, the brand's first-ever release since its founding only last year. With a unique, minimalist design and impressive spec sheet, we were keen to put these to the test to see if they delivered on both style and substance, especially considering the competitive price tag. Are they going to be considered among the best headphones available today?

What's The Best's Eleanor Weaver put these new earbuds to the test over the course of a month to find out.

Connection Bluetooth 5.2
Battery life 5.7 hours listening time, 34 hours with case
Weight 4.7g
Modes Noise cancelation (light or maximum), transparency, and off. Equalizer modes: balanced, more treble, more bass, and voice.
Waterproof resistance IPX4

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Trying these earbuds, it was clear how Nothing's mission, to pair iconic form and refined functionality came to fruition in this one pair of earbuds.

First off, the design. Whilst it's always best to never judge something by its appearance, there's no doubt that these earbuds look seriously cool and hi-tech with the minimalist transparent case and clear plastic skin, letting you take a peek at the tech inside.

Sure, this futuristic, stripped-back aesthetic might not be to everybody's taste, but it perfectly captures the brand's vision to "remove barriers between people and technology to create a seamless digital future that looks, lives, and feels like nothing."

Plus, even with the unique, bold aesthetic choice, there's a familiarity to the design that'll be comforting to most users, as the head of the earbuds is very similar to the much-loved shape found on Apple AirPods Pro.

Nothing ear (1) earbud
Nothing ear (1) earbud ©Nothing

The ear (1) comes with three sizes of tips so you can choose the most comfortable fit for your ear - the small sizing was best for my partner, but I found the medium sizing that came pre-fitted was perfectly formed for my ear.

Despite being completely wireless, you won't need to worry about these budging. I used these earbuds while working out, shopping, and even commuting with a face mask, something which I've found has always nudged wireless earphones out my ear. But not with the ear (1). These sat snuggly in my ear and resisted the urge to slip out.

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Alongside the compelling look of the earbuds, Nothing has delivered an Apple-beating spec sheet that makes it a great pick for listening to music, podcasts, and more on the go or in the comfort of your own home.

The ear (1) boasts adjustable active noise-cancellation, touch control, and a personalised listening experience through the accompanying app with connectivity covered off by Bluetooth 5.2.

The sound provided by the 11.6mm drivers provided a really enjoyable listen with energetic music playback across genres and clear call quality, and with the improved bass, the music sounded even better. However, this needs to be altered in the app of your own accord.

The performance of the noise cancellation was pretty good, effectively blocking out all noise around me, but I was able to turn this off when needed with just a tap on one of the earbuds. It might not be as noise-cancelling as more expensive rivals, but for the price the ear (1) provides impressive ANC that's more accessible to everyday shoppers.

Nothing ear (1)
©What's The Best/ Eleanor Weaver

The earbuds are IPX4 splashproof and the battery life can run for a supposed six hours with ANC, five hours without. Combined with the case, which also supports Qi wireless charging, Nothing states that the ear (1) has up to 34-hours of listening time, comfortably beating the AirPod Pros, which offer only four and a half hours with ANC and 24-hours of playback with the charging case.

I kept my earbuds in the case when not in use, and found the battery life never let me down - having owned these for a month, I didn't need to charge the case once and the app clearly displayed how much battery I had left in each earbud and the case. I really appreciated this - there's nothing worse than being caught at the gym or on the train without working earphones!


I had a fantastic user experience with the ear (1) where connectivity was seamless and the app self-explanatory and simple to use for tech-pros and newbies alike.

Through the accompanying app, I could easily customise the earphones to suit my preferences, from the touch functionality on the buds to the complete sound experience, making it completely personal to me and how I would use them, whether commuting, in the comfort of my home, or out on a run.

The ease of usage was something I found refreshing compared to other earphones I've tried, from connecting the ear (1) to my phone and the app, with any changes I made to my listening experience in the app, whether that be adjusting the noise cancellation or bass, working instantly in my ear. The controls on the earbuds themselves worked without fail and, if you're not comfortable with the default controls, these can be adjusted in the app too. All in all, these make for a great choice of earphones if you're looking for a truly wireless, hands-free experience that is designed to meet your needs.


Unlike Apple’s premium product, which currently lists on Amazon at £199.99, Nothing is bringing its earbuds in for under £100 and at half the price. At £99, the Nothing ear (1) offers a real challenge to Apple, which considering the price, is amazing.

Nothing ear (1) charging case
Nothing ear (1) charging case ©Nothing


I have never been a fan of in-ear earbuds, but that finally changed with the Nothing ear (1) earbuds that were extremely comfortable and form-fitting to the ear, and have completely upgraded my listening experience. The fact they do their best to rival Apple's premium earbuds makes them even more impressive with stellar battery life, unique design, and uncompromised quality of sound for a much more amiable price.

The customisable listening experience makes them a versatile all-rounder and there's very little they're not suited to, whether you're looking to drown out noise at the gym with the ANC or listen to an audiobook with enhanced voice sound.

Overall, the ear (1) is a solid piece of kit and a great introductory product from Nothing - if this is their starting point, we can't wait to see what comes next.

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How we tested it:

I tested these earbuds over the course of a month, taking them with me for commuting, running errands, and going for runs in my local park. These were also tried and tested by my partner who wore them for commuting and at the gym for HIIT and weight training workouts, too. I listened to podcasts, watched video playback, took calls, and listened to a range of different music genres.

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Eleanor Weaver is a Commercial Content Writer for titles such as Yours, What’s The Best, and Mother&Baby.

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