The AirPods' Rival, Nothing's Ear (stick), Wireless Earbuds

Nothing's debut item was a set of wireless earphones dubbed the Ear (1), which for $99 managed to live up to an impossibly high degree of anticipation. Nothing is returning to earbuds with a follow-up dubbed the Ear (stick), which, like Apple's AirPods, is made for people who favor comfort above canceling out ambient noise. The company's similarly touted smartphone is now available to the public.

The original Ear (1) earphones used swappable silicone tips that were designed to fit securely in the ear canal to provide a tight and soundproof seal, just like any wireless earbud that has active noise cancellation. It's a good strategy for those who wish to remain silent, but it's frequently unpleasant, especially if the earbuds are used for a long period. As a result, the new Ear (stick) uses an AirPod-like half-in-ear design that sits in the ear folds while channeling sound toward the ear canal. The new earphones don't feature active noise canceling as a result.

The new Ear (stick) will simply try to drown out unpleasant sounds with whatever you're listening to, thanks to a new 12.6-millimeter bespoke driver that is bigger than the 11-millimeter drivers in the Ear (1). The half-in-ear design does mean that some sounds will unavoidably leak out, but Nothing claims to get around that restriction with a feature called Bass Lock Technology that uses the three mics on each earbud to measure the bass frequencies that leak out and then makes adjustments to the equalizer to make up for the loss.

The majority of wireless earbud manufacturers compete with ever-smaller charging cases that fit in pockets, but Nothing hasn't done that up to this point. The charging case for the Ear (stick) resembles a cylindrical stick of lipstick, and it must be turned at the bottom to access the buds within, unlike the charging case for the original Ear (1), which featured a dimple in the lid and could be used as a makeshift fidget spinner.

Twisting the Ear (stick case )'s can be another pastime to aid those who find themselves compulsively opening and closing charging case lids. However, the case also has practical advantages, especially for people who frequently lose their gadgets. The Ear (stick) case keeps the earbuds firmly protected at all times, unlike earbuds in a charging case with a hinged cover that can spring open on its own when dropped, sending the buds flying.

The Ear (stick), which has a new antenna in the stems that rests away from the user's face to assist decrease obstructed signals, offers enhanced wireless connectivity. The touch sensitive strip that allowed for swiping motions on the Ear (1) is likewise replaced with push or squeeze controls on the stems of the Ear (stick), which are intended to be more dependable ways to control music, answer calls, or alter the volume.

According to the manufacturer, the earbuds' battery life may last up to seven hours on their own, and the charging case can extend that time to 22 hours when you're not near a power source. Additionally, fast charging is offered, guaranteeing an additional two hours of listening time with a 10-minute dock in the case. Even with the additional battery drain by ANC, that is a little less than the battery life of the Ear (1).

It probably comes as no surprise that using the Ear (stick) is most frictionless when wireless earphones are associated with a phone (1). Once paired, frequently used controls are made readily available in the phone's Quick Settings. But the new Nothing X app, which will be readily available for iOS and Android smartphones, will offer all the same capabilities.

The price of Nothing's Ear (1) wireless earbuds will increase to $149 this week, Carl Pei revealed on Twitter last week, citing "an increase in prices" as the primary factor. The fact that the new Ear (stick), which replaces the $99 Earbuds, will now be Nothing's entry-level wireless earbuds presumably had more of an impact on the price increase, which took effect today. The version with ANC would be the obvious pick if the prices of the two alternatives were equal.

The new Nothing Ear (stick), which goes on sale starting at 5:30am EST in 40 different countries, won't be available for purchase until November 4.

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