The obvious choice
If you like what Nothing is doing with earbuds and want to get started, the default choice for most users will be the ear (1). The earbuds have a clear design that lets you view the innards, and they sound incredible. The silicone ear tips ensure the earbuds provide a tight seal, and ANC does a brilliant job tuning out noise in your vicinity. They also come with an IPX4 rating that's great for workouts, and the case charges wirelessly. They are heavier and nuzzle into your ear, but if you don't mind the design, the ear (1) is my recommendation.
- Good design that offers a snug fit
- Standout sound quality
- ANC works really well in daily use
- IPX4 rating
- Case has wireless charging
- Doesn't last as long as Ear (stick)
- No AptX
- Case is prone to scratching
A good alternative
The Ear (stick) follows an interesting half in-ear design that sits on the outer ear, and because there's no angled sound nozzle, you get a more relaxed fit. The cylindrical case is also unique, and it adds a lot of flair to the design. That said, there are a few issues: you miss out on ANC, there's no wireless charging, and the earbuds aren't as good a value. But if you don't like the fit of the ear (1) and want something that's lighter, the Ear (stick) is a good alternative.
- Lightweight design is great for daily use
- Delivers over six hours of music playback
- Phenomenal sound quality
- IP54 rating
- Misses out on ANC
- No wireless charging
- Not as good a value
Nothing ear (1) vs Ear (stick): What's the same
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There are a lot of similarities between the ear (1) and Ear (stick), and inconsistent naming convention aside, Nothing nailed the design brief with both earbuds. They share a similar design for the stalk that sees a clear housing showcasing the insides. It is an interesting design, and while I would have liked to see a clear coat for the shell as well, that isn't the case.
That said, the plastic chassis feels good, and it is durable — I've used both 'buds for several months now, and they're going strong. The case also deserves a mention here as that adds a lot of character to each earbud. The ear (1) has a square case with an indentation on one side, and it does a good job holding the earbuds. I like the design of the case and the fact that it is easily pocketable, but one issue is that it tends to scratch easily.
The Ear (stick) has a cylindrical case that looks more elegant, but it isn't as good for pocketability. While I like the smooth twist action and the attention to detail here, I'm partial to the more muted design of the ear (1) case.
Both earbuds have ingress protection of some kind, with the ear (1) offering an IPX4 rating while the Ear (stick) has IP54. So while both earbuds have the same level of water ingress protection, the Ear (stick) has dust protection as well.
Now, as for the sound quality itself, there is a lot to like with both earbuds. The ear (1) has a dynamic sound that lends itself well to a lot of genres, and it is among the best wireless earbuds at least when it comes to the soundstage. The Ear (stick) builds on that by delivering a rich and full sound with a thoroughly engaging bass, good timbre, and an airiness that's missing on the ear (1).
Both earbuds sound great, but it's clear that Nothing took the time to tune the Ear (stick), and that is noticeable when using both earbuds next to each other. You don't get the AptX codec, but I found both earbuds to be just fine for streaming Spotify or YouTube over SBC.
Nothing ear (1) vs Ear (stick): What's different?
The ear (1) follows a similar design aesthetic to most earbuds in this segment, offering silicone ear tips that nuzzle into your ear cavity. I like this design as I get a tight seal that doesn't budge even during workouts, and they're light enough that I don't feel fatigued even after extended use.
The Ear (stick) come with a bulbous shell that doesn't have an angled sound nozzle, so it doesn't quite nuzzle into your ear. Nothing says that this half in-ear design is aimed at those that don't like the fit of the ear (1), and while I'm not a huge fan of the design, I have to admit that the earbuds don't cause as much fatigue as the ear (1).
As for the shell design, the ear (1) has a glossy coat for the shell while the Ear (stick) is decked out in matte, and the Ear (stick) has a stalk that's slightly elongated, so controlling volume and music playback is a little more easy. That said, one of the downsides of the design is that they don't create a tight seal, and that means you miss out in a few areas.
The key omission is ANC; the Ear (stick) has passive noise isolation, and it works well in most use cases, but the lack of ANC means they are not well-suited if you work in a noisy environment. The ear (1) doesn't have any such drawbacks, and the earbuds do a great job tuning out the noise in your vicinity.
But because of the lack of noise isolation, the Ear (stick) lasts over six hours with a single charge, easily an hour more than the ear (1). The case has enough charge for 22 hours of playback, so you'll only need to charge these earbuds once a week. On that note, there's no wireless charging here — the cylindrical case doesn't allow for it.
Nothing ear (1) vs Ear (stick): Which should you buy?
For my money, I'd get the ear (1). You get more value for your money, and the earbuds do a fabulous job in all areas. The design is intriguing, you get excellent noise isolation and good sound quality, and you don't miss out on any of the extras.
The Ear (stick) is a good alternative if you don't like the way the ear (1) fit, but know that they aren't as good a value. Nothing did a great job with the overall design and tuning of these earbuds, but they miss out in a few areas as well. If you want the best sound quality and don't mind the omissions, the Ear (stick) is what you should get. If you want an all-rounder, get the ear (1).
Only one issue: the ear (1) isn't actually on sale in all markets, with Nothing nudging users to get the Ear (stick) instead. India is a key region for the brand, and the ear (1) has been unavailable after November 2022. It's unlikely that it will be restocked, so if you're looking to buy Nothing's earbuds in India in 2023, you will need to get the Ear (stick).
The obvious choice
The ear (1) has a good design, delivers a tight seal that's great for workouts, sounds great, and does an excellent job tuning out ambient noise. Overall, it is a fantastic value.
A good alternative
The Ear (stick) gets a lot right, and it is tuned incredibly well. You miss out in a few areas, but if you want a relaxed fit and the best sound quality that Nothing has to offer, get these earbuds.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.