Smartphone company Nothing has fulfilled its first promise and officially launched its second audio product: the mid-range Ear (Stick) earphones.
Ahead of the reveal there were some leaks that showed off the Ear (Stick)’s cosmetic-inspired design, which admittedly looks pretty cool. Earbud charging cases typically come in a boxy design, but Nothing opted for a more cylindrical look with a splash of red. Aside from its design, not much was known internally about the device aside from the company’s claim that the Ear (stick) was its ” most advanced audio product to date”. However Look at the announcement (opens in new tab)this is really not the case.
The $99 ear (stick) might not be a bad product. But it’s certainly not Nothing’s most advanced audio product, as there’s no active noise-cancelling, a requested feature that’s present in Ear (1) device of the last year. The ear tips also lack the older model’s silicone ear tips to lock in sound. Instead, it opts for a more AirPods-like design: a hard plastic that sends sound straight into your ear canal. As a result, more background noise will likely seep in.
So what does the ear (stick) have that sets it apart?
For starters, the Ear (Stick) has a new feature called Bass Lock, which is software that detects if there’s any bass lost in the audio and adjusts the internal equalizer to compensate. This way the audio will sound the way it should ideally be.
There are three microphones on each earbud, each with their own role to play. according to TheVerge (opens in new tab). You have one that simply hears your voice, the other filters out background noise for calls through “intelligent algorithms,” and the last apparently listens to audio feedback and adjusts the device’s sound to fit your ear canal.
Audio output is through a pair of custom-built 12.6mm speakers, which contrasts with the Ear(1)’s “standard” drivers. CEO Carl Pei told TheVerge that custom speakers weren’t an option because the company wanted a good balance between size and acoustic design, rather than just cramming a large driver into the earbuds.
You can pair the ear (stick) with Nothing is phone (1) to unlock additional features. The device’s equalizer can be adjusted directly on the smartphone via the quick settings menu. On Android and iOS, you must first download the Nothing X app. And if you ever experience lag while gaming on your phone(1), the earbuds will automatically switch to a low-lag mode to match gameplay.
Battery life on the ear (stick) has been slightly improved: up to seven hours on one charge versus four on the ear (1). With the charging case, this time increases to a maximum of 29 hours. Other notable features include an IP54 resistance rating for protection against dust and water, and Google Fast Pair support for fast Bluetooth pairing.
We turned to Nothing to clarify some of its features. The announcement mentioned something about “Press Controls” but didn’t really elaborate on what they are or how they work. We also asked for more details on how the microphones work. This story will be updated when we get feedback.
You can pre-order the Ear (Stick) for $99 (we’ll update this when we get international pricing) on Nothing’s website, with a launch date set for November 4th. When you see that price tag, you might think that the mid-range earbuds are oddly priced the same as the flagship model. As it turns out, CEO Carl Pei recently took to Twitter to announce that the ear (1) (opens in new tab) will receive a price increase of up to $149 “due to increased costs”.
If you’re looking for something cheaper in the market, be sure to check it out TechRadar’s best budget earbuds for 2022.
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