It hasn’t said anything about its second-generation wireless Ear buds. The eye-catching design is still there, and the company has tried to fix some of the problems that plagued the first model by making much-needed changes to how it connects and is set up. The price of the Nothing Ear 2 is $149, which is the same as the price of the Ear 1. This is less than many of the established true wireless competitors.
Nothing hasn’t changed the way its buds and case look; they look the same when put next to each other. However, it has made a few small changes. Most of them talk about how small and thin the case is. The outside of the case is still clear, but now you can see some of the white structure.
There are no bumps on the surface; it’s just a smooth panel. There is no evidence that the clear plastic is harder to scratch and damage than the first Ear. The case has already been scratched by keys and other things that have moved around in my pockets and bag. I’m also worried that this open panel could get dirty more quickly, which is a problem with all white gadgets.
To fix one of the biggest problems I had with the Ear 1, Nothing moved the microphones and antenna inside the earbuds to improve connectivity and stability. It did the same thing with the cheaper Ear Stick. When it came to pairing, the company’s first wireless earbuds were not always easy to use.
The company has also changed the structure of the antenna to make it more reliable, and the initial pairing process seems less complicated and more straightforward than it was before. It also has dual connectivity, which makes switching between your phone and laptop easier.
The microphones have also been moved to cut down on wind noise during calls, but I didn’t notice any big changes from Ear 1. There was nothing that said its Clear Voice technology was tuned to just shy of 2 million sounds on the Ear 1 to filter them out. On its newest headphones, this number is closer to 20 million. But I tried to call a few times and it was still hard to hear me when it was windy.
Nothing says that it improved sound detail with polyurethane parts for clearer low frequencies and graphene for brighter highs. It’s been a while since a company sold polyurethane as a feature. There are also two chambers that make the soundstage bigger.
The Ear 2 will also be compatible with Hi-res audio when it comes out, though it wasn’t at the time of writing. It’s also compatible with the LHDC 5.0 codec, which means it should work with premium audio standards wherever you can find them.
But does it really sound any different? When you switch between Ear 1 and the Ear 2, the sound in the trebles is clearer and the bass has more power than before. But when compared to wireless buds that are often a hundred dollars more expensive, like the AirPods Pro or Sony’s latest flagship buds, they don’t quite stand out and look a little flat.
Nothing’s newest headphones have low, mid, and high levels of active noise cancellation (ANC). The Ear 2 also has a custom ANC profile that is tuned to your own hearing. The test takes about five minutes, and there is a test for each bud. Your experience and ears will be different, but after calibration, I didn’t notice any big changes.
The ANC has some flaws: Even when I tried to fix it by recalibrating the buds several times, the active noise cancellation didn’t seem to be able to handle the echoes on trains and the subway at the highest levels. This caused a jarring noise echo in my left earbud while using ANC. After a firmware update over the weekend, it’s happening much less often now. There is also an adaptive ANC mode that will switch between levels based on how loud it is around you, which should be easier on the battery.
Nothing says that the battery life has improved on either the buds (about an hour more, to over six hours) or the case, which can charge the buds for up to 36 hours of listening (with ANC turned off), two hours longer than the Ear 1. You should also be able to listen to music for 8 hours on a 10-minute charge. You can still charge wirelessly if you want to.
The updated Nothing X app is used to set up and switch between ANC modes. However, the Ear 2 works best with the Nothing Phone 1, which has drop-down shortcuts and makes it easier to access the fine-grained controls.
There is also a custom sound profile calibration that lets you focus on frequencies you might not be able to hear anymore, thanks to getting older. Again, the equalizer is part of the companion app and gives you more options. You can switch between modes that focus on the treble or the bass, a balanced mode, and a voice mode.
With my custom sound profile, I could also boost my weaker audio frequencies. I had trouble hearing with both the recommended mode and a richer profile. You can also use a slider to change how strong the sound is.
Even though Nothing has added a lot of small features and improvements, the Ear 2 doesn’t change things as much as its predecessor did. Given the Ear 1’s eye-catching design, I didn’t expect a major redesign.
They don’t need one, and the company has already fixed the problems I had with the first pair. There have been a lot of improvements, like making the buds and charging case more resistant to water and sweat. The buds are rated IP54 and the charging case is rated IP55.
The Ear 2 will come out on March 28 in white on Nothing’s website, Amazon, and Kith. There are no plans for a black option, so you won’t be able to match your black Phone 1.