Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro: Which should you buy?

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro
Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Nothing ear (1)

Nothing ear (1)

If you're looking for $100 wireless earbuds, the Nothing ear (1) tick all the right boxes: they sound fantastic, have a great design that makes them stand out, and they have wireless charging. They're light enough for all-day use, and you even get decent noise isolation. They have average battery life and miss out on AptX, but if you care about sound quality, these are a great option.

Nothing ear (1)

A clear favorite

Unique design
Amazing sound
Lightweight design is great for all-day use
Two modes of ANC
Auto play/pause and Qi wireless charging
No Google Assistant or Alexa
ANC is unreliable at times
Availability issues
Case scratches easily
No AptX audio codecs

OnePlus Buds Pro

Oneplus Buds Pro Render

The Buds Pro have a bass-focused sound that makes them a stellar choice for listening to most modern music, and they have all the extras. The lightweight design is great for all-day use, the buds last seven hours on a full charge, have IP55 water resistance, and unique additions like Zen Mode Air give them a distinct edge.

OnePlus Buds Pro

The obvious upgrade

Standout sound quality with reliable ANC
Even lighter than the ear (1)
Qi wireless charging and fast charge
Lasts up to 7 hours on a charge
Buds and case are water resistant
Zen Mode Air is a great addition
No Google Assistant or Alexa
Sound signature is bass-focused
HeyMelody app for non-OnePlus phones
No customizable EQ

You don't have to pay over $100 to get great-sounding wireless earbuds with a lot of extras, and that fact is clearly illustrated with the Nothing ear (1). These are among the best wireless earbuds available for $100, delivering a great sound signature along with wireless charging and ANC. The OnePlus Buds Pro build on that formula with a few unique additions, so if you're in the market for new wireless earbuds and are unable to choose between the two, here's what you need to know.

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro: Design and features

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The biggest differentiator for the Nothing ear (1) is the design; these earbuds don't look like anything else in the market today. Nothing has collaborated with Swedish audio giant Teenage Engineering for the design and audio tuning of the ear (1), and that makes them stand out from the pack. The clear case lets you view the earbuds in all their glory, and the stalk of the buds has a clear design that shows off the battery and internals.

The ear (1) have a standout design, but the Buds Pro are built to last longer.

This design doesn't extend all the way to the driver, with the ear (1) featuring a more modest white plastic housing here instead. Even then, the earbuds have a distinctive look, and at 4.7g, they're extremely lightweight. They have a comfortable fit as well, and are great for all-day use.

As for the OnePlus Buds Pro, the earbuds emulate the AirPods Pro's design, so you find a short stalk with a bulbous housing for the driver that nestles into your ear canal. Coming in at 4.35g, the Buds Pro are marginally lighter than the ear (1), and of the two, I found the Buds Pro to be more comfortable for extended listening sessions.

The Buds Pro don't have much in the way of design flair, but the fit and finish here is excellent. The Matte Black variant in particular feels great, and thanks to IP55 water resistance, you can use these earbuds for workouts without any issues. The ear (1) have an IPX4 rating, and while that is decent enough in its own right, the water resistance doesn't extend to the case. With the Buds Pro, you get an IPX4 rating for the case, giving it the ability to withstand the elements.

Both earbuds have auto play/pause, and they do a good job automatically pausing music playback when you take a bud out of your ear. You'll find a large gesture control area on the stalk of the ear (1), and it is effortless to control music playback on the 'buds. The Buds Pro rely on a squeeze gesture on the stalk, and while it works admirably, it is not as easy to use as the ear (1).

The Buds Pro have a unique addition called Zen Mode Air, and like Zen Mode in OxygenOS, the feature is designed to promote mindfulness. The feature streams ambient sounds — forest sounds, ocean waves, piano notes, nighttime sounds — or white noise to the earbuds, and the best part is that it works even when the 'buds aren't connected to your phone. The sounds are sourced from OPPO's Relax feature, and if you're looking to unwind or need white noise in the background, the Buds Pro are a great option.

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Nothing ear (1)OnePlus Buds Pro
Speaker size11.6mm dynamic driver0.34cc bass chamber11mm dynamic driver
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.2Bluetooth 5.2
CompatibilityAndroid 5.1 and aboveiOS 11 and aboveAndroid 5.1 and aboveiOS 11 and above
DurabilityIPX4 splash proofIP55 (earbuds)IPX4 (case)
Bud battery life5.5 hours (without noise isolation)4 hours (with noise isolation)7 hours (without noise isolation)5 hours (with noise isolation)
Case battery lifeUp to 34 hours (without noise isolation)24 hours (with noise isolation)Up to 38 hours (without noise isolation)28 hours (with noise isolation)
CharingUSB-C, Qi wireless (5W)10-minute charge gives 50 minutes playbackUSB-C, Qi wireless (5W)10-minute charge gives two-hour playback
Digital assistants
Audio codecsSBC, AACSBC, AAC, LHDC
Active noise cancelationYesYes
MicrophonesThreeAI-based environmental noise isolationThreeCuts out wind noise
Dimensions (buds)28.9 x 21.5 x 23.5mm4.7g32 x 23.2mm4.35g
Dimensions (case)58 x 58 x 23.7mm57.4g60.1 x 49 x 24.9mm52g
ColorsWhiteMatte Black, Glossy White

Both earbuds also offer active noise cancelation, but the ear (1) isn't quite reliable. It does a decent enough job cutting out low-end frequencies, but if you're working in a café or a noisy environment, high-pitch sounds are audible. The Buds Pro are more refined, but they're not without their own shortcoming — they produce a static hiss that's faintly audible if you're in a quiet room.

You'll find three mics on both earbuds, and they hold up just fine for calls. They do a decent job eliminating wind noise and isolating your voice so the recipient is able to hear you clearly, and there's also a transparency mode on both earbuds that lets ambient sound in.

As for digital assistants, neither earbud has the ability to invoke Google Assistant or Alexa. The Buds Pro will get the option to do so via forthcoming software update, but Nothing has no plans to add the same down the line. So if you rely on Assistant a lot and are looking for earbuds that have the digital assistant built-in, you should look at the Pixel Buds A series.

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro: Sound quality

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The Nothing ear (1) sound incredible for $100 earbuds, offering a neutral soundstage that's well-suited to a wide variety of music. The earbuds do a great job handling low-end frequencies and mids, and there's a subtle emphasis on the treble notes that makes using the ear (1) that much more enjoyable.

If you listen to a lot of bass-focused music, the OnePlus Buds Pro are designed for you.

The Buds Pro do a good job with most genres — I listened to jazz and classic rock albums, and they held up just fine — but they come into their own when playing bass-heavy music. The bass is wonderfully detailed and powerful, and that gives the Buds Pro a clear edge in this area. If you want wireless earbuds with a bass-forward sound profile, look no further.

Both earbuds offer the standard SBC Bluetooth codec as well as AAC, and they miss out on AptX. The Buds Pro feature the LHDC codec that is able to stream high-fidelity audio at up to 900kbps, but you'll only be able to take advantage of the codec if you already have a recent OnePlus phone, like the OnePlus 9.

As for tweaking the sound profile, your options are limited with the Buds Pro. There's no customizable EQ or any way to adjust the sound on these earbuds, and that's a letdown when alternatives like the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro offer a highly customizable sound. As for the ear (1), you can enable a bass boost mode that gives low-end sounds a little more prominence, but it isn't very refined.

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro: Battery life and charging

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Battery life is a key point of consideration for wireless earbuds, and in this area, the Buds Pro have a distinct advantage. The earbuds last up to 7 hours on a full charge with the noise isolation disabled, and five hours with the mode activated.

The Buds Pro have a distinct lead when it comes to battery life — and there's fast charging.

The ear (1), on the other hand, have a 31mAh battery on each earbuds that only lasts up to four hours with active noise isolation, and 5.5 hours without. That's on the lower end of the scale in this category, so if you need lost-lasting earbuds, the Buds Pro are a better choice.

The case for the ear (1) is good for an additional 24 hours of music playback, with the 570mAh battery able to charge the buds six times over. The Buds Pro goes up to 28 hours with the case, so you will only need to charge the case once a week.

Both earbuds have fast charging, but again, the Buds Pro are on the front foot. A 10-minute charge on the Buds Pro gives you two hours' worth of music playback, and the same on the ear (1) gives you a 50-minute playback.

Finally, wireless charging is standard on both earbuds, so you can use any Qi wireless mat or charger without any issues. You can also use a phone like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and its reverse wireless charging feature to charge the earbuds.

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro: It's an easy choice

Nothing ear (1) vs. OnePlus Buds Pro

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

For $99, the ear (1) get a lot right: the sound quality is fantastic, with the earbuds offering a neutral signature with a tight bass. The noise isolation is decent enough at cutting out low-frequency sounds, you get wireless charging, and a design that stands out.

If you need full-featured earbuds, you should buy the OnePlus Buds Pro.

On the other hand, the OnePlus Buds Pro deliver a dynamic sound with a particular focus on the low-end. The earbuds are clearly oriented toward a bass-heavy sound, and if you listen to a lot of electronic music, you will love how well these hold up. But if you need neutral-sounding earbuds, you're better off with the ear (1).

The Buds Pro cost $50 more than the ear (1), and you get additional features to warrant the price hike. First up is the hearing ID test that tunes the sound based on your hearing range, boosting mids or low-end sounds accordingly. Then there's Zen Mode Air, and the feature does a great job if you need white noise or ambient sounds for when you're working or trying to fall asleep. The earbuds also have IP55 water resistance, and the case itself offers IPX4.

Right now, the biggest issue with the ear (1) is availability. The earbuds were officially unveiled back in July, with general availability set to kick off from August 31. But that isn't the case; they're already out of stock after two days of availability, with no mention of when they will be restocked. Nothing doesn't have the scale of established audio brands, and as a result you'll have to wait a while to get your hands on the ear (1).

Thankfully, the OnePlus Buds Pro don't have this issue. You can pick up the earbuds right now from OnePlus' official site or Amazon (in India), and OnePlus tells me that it has more than adequate stock to go around. So if you don't want to wait and need wireless earbuds with a great sound and plenty of useful features, you should get your hands on the OnePlus Buds Pro.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.