Featuring an eye-catching transparent design, the Nothing ear 1 earphones pack decent sound. However, the buggy nature of its features makes it frustrating to use. While it retails at the same price as the second-generation Apple AirPods at S$179, it does offer active noise cancellation. That gives it a slight edge, of course.
- 4.7g per earbud
- Up to 34 hours of battery life with case (playback without ANC)
- ANC, in-ear detection, IPX4 splash proof
When it works, the ear 1 features are pretty cool. Tap and hold to switch between noise cancelling, transparency, or just passive noise isolation. You can also take out one earbud and the other earbud will switch to transparency mode until you put the earbud back in. Other touch features include double tapping the earbud to play or stop music. You can double tap the right earbud to answer or hang up a call, or long press to reject. The audio is decent, with a nice touch of bass that's not too overpowering, and clear highs and mids. You can also change the EQ with some presets via the app to emphasise the bass, for example. I do suggest just sticking with the balanced profile, as that sounds the best. Soundstage is a bit closed, but that's expected for in-ears.
Despite the amazing features, my main gripe is how buggy they were. I've also tried resetting the earbuds to see if it fixes the problem — it did not. What happens is that the ear 1 will occasionally refuse to recognise a touch and hold gesture. Or if it does, it will only play the connected sound instead of switching. While you can touch and hold to switch on either the left or right earbuds, sometimes, one side will refuse to acknowledge the gesture. Transparency mode will sometimes randomly kick in. In addition, it may not kick in on the right earbud when you take out the left earbud. But it does kick in when you take out the right side, with the left automatically turning on transparency. I did find that putting the earbuds back in the case and taking them out again may fix it.
That said, if you're just listening to music and leaving ANC permanently on, you'll have no issues. ANC performance is mid-range. It's not as good as the Jabra Elite 7 Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM4. It will cut off most noises, such as the hum of the fan or air-conditioning in the background. Battery life is also pretty good, with about 4hr 6min runtime on maximum volume and ANC turned on. The charging case adds another 24 hours of battery life with ANC turned on and supports Qi wireless charging. The earbuds are also comfortable and you'll hardly feel them on the ear.
While it retails at US$99 online, there's quite a bit of premium attached if you buy it locally at S$179. If you can ignore the bugs (or if you get a bug-free) version, then I do think this is worth it for its sound and cool design. Get the Nothing ear 1 from Lazada, Shopee or the Nothing online store.
Note: Review unit provided by Nothing.
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Get it from Lazada
Buy it from Shopee
Nothing online store