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Nothing Ear vs Nothing Ear (2)

Nothing ventured, something gained? We pit the new Ear against the Ear (2) to see what's changed.
By

Published onJune 5, 2024

Nothing Ear
MSRP: $149.99
8.1
Check price
Positives
Comfortable
Great sound
Awesome companion app
LDAC and LHDC support
Negatives
Mediocre noise canceling
ANC changes sound quality
The Bottom Line.
Anyone looking for wireless earbuds should consider the Nothing Ear. These earbuds are packed full of features that will please casual listeners and audiophiles alike. Read full review...
Nothing Ear 2
MSRP: $149.00
7.9
Check price
Positives
Lightweight
Wireless charging
Robust app
Comfortable fit
IP54 (buds) and IP55 (case)
LHDC, AAC, and SBC Bluetooth codecs
Works with any operating system
Negatives
ANC can cause in-ear pressure
Frequency response is too trebly
Commands don't always trigger on stems
Mediocre battery life with ANC on
The Bottom Line.
The Nothing Ear (2) takes an unconventional approach to true wireless earbuds with its Android and iOS friendly design. It features the LHDC and AAC codecs, alongside some luxuries like ANC and a comprehensive app. Despite having some considerate features like IP54 and IP55 ratings for the buds and case respectively, the app's generated personalized sound and ANC don't feel custom. Put in the leg work and the lightweight earbuds might just outdo the price tag.Read full review...

After releasing the Nothing Ear (1) and Nothing Ear (2), one would expect the third generation earbuds to be aptly named “(3),” but instead, Nothing has taken the unconventional naming approach of simply calling their latest earbuds the “Nothing Ear.” One wonders what the fourth iteration will be called. Odd naming aside, how do these new buds compare to the previous generation Nothing Ear (2), and are they worth the upgrade? Let’s take a look.

Editor’s note: this article was published on June 5, 2024, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

What’s it like to use the Nothing Ear compared to the Nothing Ear (2)?

The Nothing Ear retains the same lightweight, comfortable, and eye-catching transparent design as the Nothing Ear (2). At just 4.6g per bud with a stem design, the Ear is extremely comfortable to wear for long periods, while the Ear (2) is nearly as light at 4.5g.

With an IP54 rating for the buds and IP55 for the case, both the Ear and Ear (2) are well-equipped to handle daily use, including workouts. The cases are compact enough to slip into a pocket, making them easy to take on the go.

While the stems on the Ear (2) could sometimes get in the way of glasses or ear lobes, the Ear’s stem design seems slightly more ergonomic and out of the way. Overall, both provide a great day-to-day usage experience, with the new Ear eking out a small lead.

How do you control the Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear (2)?

Both the Nothing Ear and Ear (2) use pressure-sensitive stems for pinch controls rather than touch panels. The control schemes are customizable but very similar by default, with options like play/pause, skip tracks, and cycle noise canceling modes. The Ear (2) controls were sometimes unresponsive, but thankfully, the new Ear model has improved responsiveness.

Nothing Ear controls

Left earbudRight earbud
Single pinch
Left earbud
Play/pause, answer/end call
Right earbud
Play/pause, answer/end call
Double pinch
Left earbud
Skip forward, decline call
Right earbud
Skip forward, decline call
Triple pinch
Left earbud
Skip back
Right earbud
Skip back
Pinch and hold
Left earbud
Noise control
Right earbud
Noise control

Nothing Ear (2) controls

ACTIONLeft earbudRight earbud
ACTION
One pinch
Left earbud
Play / pause
Answer phone call / end call
Right earbud
Play / pause
Answer phone call / end call
ACTION
Two pinches
Left earbud
Next track
Decline incoming call
Right earbud
Next track
Decline incoming call
ACTION
Three pinches
Left earbud
Skip to previous track
Right earbud
Skip to previous track
ACTION
One pinch and hold
Left earbud
ANC on / transparency mode
Right earbud
ANC on / transparency mode
ACTION
Two pinches and hold
Left earbud
Unassigned
Right earbud
Unassigned

Should you use the apps of either Nothing Ear or Nothing Ear (2)?

Yes, the Nothing X app works with both models and provides useful features. The Ear (2) app has an equalizer, personalized sound profiles, and ANC customization. The new Ear’s app adds an advanced parametric EQ for audiophiles and a partnership with Mimi Hearing for its sound personalization. Both are feature-rich companion apps worth using.

How do the Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear (2) connect?

The Nothing Ear uses Bluetooth 5.3 compared to 5.2 on the Ear (2). This future-proofs it for upcoming tech like Auracast. More notably, the Ear supports both LDAC and LHDC high-quality codecs, while the Ear (2) only has LHDC. However, iPhone users are still limited to AAC and SBC on both. The new Ear adds useful features like Bluetooth multipoint and a low-latency gaming mode to boot.

Is battery life better on the Nothing Ear or Nothing Ear (2)?

In our testing, the new Nothing Ear lasted over 8 hours compared to around 6 hours on the Ear (2). Both cases hold a few additional charges for a total of around 30-40 hours. They support both USB-C and wireless charging, with fast charging providing multiple hours of playtime from a short charge.

Do the Nothing Ear or Nothing Ear (2) block noise better?

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Neither model has class-leading ANC, but the new Ear appears to be an improvement. It provides up to 30 dB of total noise attenuation, while the Ear (2) struggled to hit its advertised 40 dB. Both have transparency modes that sound quite natural. The Ear’s ANC adjusts for fit and environment more so than the Ear (2) as well.

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Do the Nothing Ear sound better than the Nothing Ear (2)?

The Nothing Ear delivers a significant upgrade in sound quality over the Nothing Ear (2). The new 11mm drivers with ceramic diaphragms provide improved clarity, separation, and soundstage that surpass the Ear (2)’s capabilities. The Ear also avoids the overly trebly default tuning of the Ear (2) in favor of a slightly elevated but more balanced bass response.

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Looking at the frequency response charts, the Nothing Ear has a more neutral sound signature compared to the Ear (2). The Ear (2) has a significant drop in the mids around 470Hz and a sharp peak in the treble at 5.5kHz, leading to a somewhat thin and harsh sound. The Ear, on the other hand, maintains better balance across the frequency spectrum, with a gentler bass boost and smoother treble.

In practice, this means the Nothing Ear delivers a more detailed and immersive listening experience. Instruments and vocals sound distinct and well-placed in the mix, whereas the Ear (2) can struggle with congestion and sibilance. The Ear’s bass is present but not overpowering, adding weight to the sound without muddying the mids.

Do the Nothing Ear or Nothing Ear (2) have a better microphone?

While neither will provide studio-quality voice capture, the Nothing Ear’s upgraded 3-mic array and AI noise suppression algorithm seem to provide clearer calls with less background noise than the Ear (2) based on our demos. Callers should be able to hear you clearly in most environments with the Ear.

Nothing Ear microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Nothing Ear (2) microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Nothing Ear microphone demo (Street conditions):

Nothing Ear (2) microphone demo (Street conditions):

 

Nothing Ear vs Nothing Ear (2): Price and availability

Both the Nothing Ear and Ear (2) retail for $149. The Ear (2) may see discounts as the new model hits shelves, but the Ear provides meaningfully better performance for the same MSRP.

Should you get the Nothing Ear or Nothing Ear (2)?

For most people, the new Nothing Ear is the better buy. It improves on the Ear (2) in key areas like sound quality, ANC performance, battery life, Bluetooth codec support, and app customization. The comfort and durability are similar, but the Ear feels slightly more ergonomic. Audiophiles, in particular, will appreciate the advanced EQ and wider soundstage of the Ear.

Budget-conscious buyers who spot the Ear (2) on sale may be tempted, as it’s still a very capable set of buds. But at the same $149 price, the Ear’s overall upgrades make it worth the investment.

The new Nothing Ear takes the crown.

iPhone users miss out on the Ear’s new Hi-Res Bluetooth codecs, so they have less reason to upgrade if the Ear (2) already serves them well. And if you’re especially sensitive to in-ear pressure from ANC modes, neither the Ear nor Ear (2) are ideal choices.

But for Android users looking for premium features and sound without a premium price tag, the Nothing Ear is one of the most compelling options on the market. It outperforms the Ear (2) to earn its place as Nothing’s new flagship earbud.

See price at Amazon
Nothing Ear
Nothing Ear
LDAC and LHDC
Comfortable
Advanced equalizer
See price at Amazon
Nothing Ear 2
Nothing Ear 2
Very comfortable earbuds
Squeeze controls
Bluetooth Multipoint

How do they compare to the Nothing Ear (a)?

A hand holds the Nothing Ear (a) over a table.
Beyond its eye-catching design, the Nothing Ear (a) has solid performance.

If you’re looking to save some cash and are willing to sacrifice a few features, the Nothing Ear (a) is also worth considering. At $99, it’s $50 cheaper than the Ear and Ear (2). You still get the eye-catching transparent design (plus new color options), comfortable fit, ANC, and decent sound quality. However, the ANC performance isn’t quite as strong as the pricier models. You also miss out on wireless charging and some of the app features, like the advanced EQ. The Ear (a)’s charging case durability is slightly downgraded as well. But for more casual listeners who prioritize style, comfort, and affordability over premium features and sound, the Ear (a) remains a compelling budget option in Nothing’s lineup.

Nothing Ear (a)Nothing Ear (a)
Nothing Ear (a)
Stylish design • ANC • LDAC
MSRP: $99.99
Nothing delivers feature-packed earbuds that don't break the bank.
The Nothing Ear (a) delivers most of the features you expect from Nothing earbuds but at a more affordable price. Plus, they come in yellow!

Frequently asked questions

Neither the Nothing Ear nor the Ear (2) currently support spatial audio or virtual surround sound technologies. They focus on delivering high-quality stereo sound with their respective driver setups.

While neither earbud is specifically designed for gaming, the Nothing Ear does offer a low latency mode that can help reduce audio lag when gaming on mobile devices. The Ear (2) doesn’t have a dedicated low latency mode.

The Nothing Ear supports Bluetooth multipoint, allowing you to connect to two devices at the same time. The Ear (2) lacks this feature, so you’ll need to manually switch between paired devices.

Yes, both models support Google Fast Pair, which enables quick and easy pairing with Android devices. Simply open the case near your Android device, and a pop-up will appear to guide you through the pairing process.

Both earbuds allow you to customize the touch controls via the Nothing X app. You can choose from a variety of actions for different tap sequences on each earbud.

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