Nothing has just launched the Nothing Ear 2 earbuds, packed with upgrades and fresh new features. These earbuds cost 129 quid direct from Nothing, which is roughly the same as the original Nothing Earbuds and a wee bit more than the recently released Air Stick. Although the launch is still a few weeks away, let’s unbox them and spend a fortnight testing them. I’ll give you my full review and run you through all the new features.
Inside The Box
Inside the box we’ve got the Nothing Ear 2 wireless earbuds in a snazzy little transparent case. And a very short one, Type-C to Type-C Charging Cable. However, it does look like it has a thick protective coating, so it shouldn’t wear out anytime soon. Additionally, while the Ear 2 buds come with the medium silicon tips already fitted, you also get some spares in the box – small and large. There’s a nifty credit card-sized user guide with a QR code for quickly downloading the Nothing app for iOS or Android. The user guide itself is very much in the usual Nothing style.
Nothing Ear 2 Wireless Earbuds Active Noise Cancellation
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Let’s begin with the case, which once again delightfully doubles up as a fidget spinner, perfect for those of you with hands that need to keep busy. It’s quite an attractive weed box with a distinctive design, as you would expect from Nothing’s minimal branding. It literally just says “Earcase” in tiny little dot matrix text around the front, and around the back is the only place where you’ll actually see the Nothing brand listed, and even then, it’s so weenie that you’ll need good eyesight to see it. While it’s not absolutely massive, it is a bit bigger than most true wireless earbud cases, and I do prefer a more rounded finish that you get with a lot of buds these days, as it’s a bit more comfortable when you slip it into your jeans. And the case has already started to scratch up a wee bit as well, so it might not be looking quite so fresh after a few more months.
However, I’m certainly happy with the magnet situation on the Nothing Ear 2 case. You’ve got a reasonably strong magnet holding the lid closed, and then more strong magnets holding those buds in place and size. So, if you do drop the case on a hard floor or something like that, chances are it won’t just pop open and scatter your buds into the nearest drain. Of course, there is certainly an element of luck involved in this one. The case itself is IP55 rated, so it can handle moisture, and there won’t be any issues with the battery getting damaged or anything like that.
Nothing Ear 2 Design
As for the Nothing Ear 2 buds themselves, there are no real surprises there. They are pretty comfortable to wear, even for hours at a time. They are nice and light, nice and dinky as well, and have a pretty distinctive design. They look very slick with a transparent finish and certainly stand out from your AirPods and all the rest of it. The fit is nice and secure, and I was never troubled by the fact that they might come flying out of my head, even if I was, for some reason, moving at a fast pace. That does occasionally happen, and just to prove it, I gave them a mosh test. They’re even color-coded as well, so the left bud is white, and the right bud is red. So basically, you’d have to be paying bugger all attention to mix them up.
Setup & connection
Now, the Nothing Ear 2 wireless earbuds pair up with your smartphone using Bluetooth 5.3, which is nice and fresh. I’ve had them paired up with my Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and, of course, my Nothing phone. Apparently, for the Nothing Ear 2 has upgraded the antenna to help boost the signal a bit. I certainly had no issues whatsoever when I was connecting or when I was paired up with my smartphone. I didn’t experience any jutters, crackling, or other audio tomfoolery, even when I was crammed ballsack in Charing Cross during one of our traditional London rush hours. However, they do make an absolutely hideous noise when you first shove them into your ear holes, which I could just do without. That frankly sounds like a robot spaffing his load right in your ear.
Nothing X app
Now, to have full control of your Nothing A2 wireless earbuds, you will want to download the Nothing app from the likes of the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Again, you’ve got that consistent Nothing design with the dot matrix text, nice and minimalist. You can see exactly how much battery life is remaining in each of your buds. You’ve got full access to a whole bunch of features such as the equalizer. More on all of this in a bit when we touch on the actual audio. You can also customize the controls.
As you can see, it has a pinch control feature rather than poking or swiping, and I really like the pinch controls as I find them much better than the poking and swiping options. This is because I have accidentally paused my track or skipped to the next track just by scratching my cheek or thoughtfully tugging on my earlobe. The touch controls on the Nothing Here Two buds are perfectly implemented, and they are just the right level of responsiveness. Additionally, you get a bit of audio feedback when you pinch, and it registers perfectly.
You can fully customize the touch controls on both the left and right buds, apart from the single pinch, which is always play/pause or answer/hang up calls. For example, I have set a double pinch on the right bud to skip forward and a double pinch on the left bud to skip back, while a triple pinch on either bud activates the voice assistant. Moreover, you can pinch and hold for noise control and double pinch and hold to change the volume. It’s great to see that the volume controls are optional. I also love the distinctive sounds that play when you pinch and hold the buds to swap between noise canceling and transparency mode. My favorite is the sound played when swapping to transparency mode, which seems to me like barely restrained anger, and I can relate to it because I usually have transparency mode on. The Nothing Ear 2 earbuds have ear detection, which means that they will automatically pause your music or podcast when you take them out and restart playing once you put them back in. It’s generally dependable, but it doesn’t always work. Occasionally, a young character bird and my music will just keep on playing. It’s particularly annoying if one of your podcasts continues to play for a good five or ten minutes while the buds are outside of your ears, and you pull them back in. It’s frustrating.
Also, in the Nothing X app, there is a hearing test. You can find it by going into the Equalizer settings and tapping on this “Wii” icon here. The hearing test is powered by Mimi, and although that doesn’t mean anything to me, it seems to work really well. This test clears a lot of background noise, like insects chirping in a forest at night, and over the top of that, you’ll gradually hear a beeping sound getting louder and louder. When you hear it, you push down this little button here, and then it will fade away. Once you can no longer hear it, you release the button, and you just keep doing that over and over for about four or five minutes. That completes the hearing test, and of course, all the beeping comes at different pitches. Then it can detect exactly what pitches you can hear well and which ones are a bit weak. There were no real surprises with mine, or those stupid raves I used to go to in the 90s. I am completely deaf to higher pitches, so I can’t hear anything.
When it comes to outputting audio, the Nothing Ear 2 buds are definitely well-equipped. You have a dual-chamber design with custom 11.6mm drivers, and LHDC 5.0 support. The Nothing Earbuds 2 are capable of 24-bit, 192-kilohertz streaming, which is great for music services like Deezer or Tidal, but not for Spotify. Of course, you’ll also need a smartphone that is LHDC 5.0 compatible; otherwise, you’ll get your bog-standard SBC codec. However, I certainly enjoyed the audio experience with the Nothing ear 2. They’re just as good as many earbuds that cost 40, 50, or even 60 quid more. You get a nice, well-rounded, and balanced experience, especially when you turn on your personal tuning. In fact, I would highly recommend doing that straight away as soon as you get these things in your ears, because I noticed a significant sound improvement with them with that personalized tuning. I just kept it on the balanced mode and found that was perfectly good. You can boost the bass or the treble if you want and completely customize it yourself. It’s a fairly basic equalizer compared to what you’ll get from a lot of earbuds, but honestly, I didn’t even bother touching this; I found the presets were more than good enough.
And also, from within the Nothing X app, you have full control over the ANC. Nice and simple, it just allows you to swap between noise-canceling mode, transparency, and just knocking the whole thing off. And as you can see, when ANC is active, you can either have it on adaptive, in which case it scales up and down depending on how noisy your environment is, or you can simply manually set it. I mostly just had it set to high full time. You’ll notice that there’s also a personalized ANC option as well, which apparently calibrates it to your unique hearing sensitivity. I have to say, personally, unlike the audio children, I found this made bollocks all difference, but others may have more success. What I found was that the noise cancellation worked perfectly well here on the Nothing Ear 2 buds, certainly comparable to similarly priced earbuds from the likes of Huawei, OnePlus, and Xiaomi. They did a particularly good job of muffling the sounds of traffic and trains, but were eventually done in by the screechiest sections of the Northern Line. I did find I got a bit of wind feedback when I was outdoors.
If you tap on the small cog icon up here, it takes you to the earbud settings where you have quite a lot to play with. There’s the likes of the low latency mode, but I never actually turned that on because I found that the audio and the visuals were perfectly synced up in games like Genshin Impact. Make sure you turn on that high-quality audio setting as well if you’ve got the LHDC on the go. There are all kinds of other shenanigans, including an ear-tip fit test.
The nothing ear 2 buds come with a dual connection feature through Bluetooth 5.3, and they also have a triple mic setup which is helpful. However, if you plan to make an actual phone call or record audio, you should test it in a noisy environment to check the noise cancellation. I am near a speaker that is blaring out all kinds of nasty and noisy Thai street sounds, including cars, phones, people shouting, and drills. As you can hear, the noise cancellation on the ear two is doing a pretty decent job, but it’s still picking up on my voice.
Nothing Ear 2 Battery life
Unfortunately, while I really like the Nothing Ear 2, it does kind of feel like these earbuds fall at the final hurdle because I’m not particularly impressed by the battery life. You get around six hours of playback with the ANC turned off, but if you turn it on, that absolutely plummets to around four hours. And compared with a lot of modern true wireless earbuds, that’s just not good enough; it’s definitely below average. And slightly better news, you do at least get around four or five full recharges from the case before the case itself will need to be boosted as well. But if you are going on long journeys and things like that and you want to keep your earbuds in and keep entertained all the while, just be aware that you might be better off with something else. The case itself can be powered up again via Type-C USB; otherwise, it also supports wireless charging, which is nice. It’s kind of what you expect these days at this sort of price point.
So anyway, That is my full review of the Nothing Ear 2 true wireless earbuds. They are very distinctive, very cool earbuds. I really like the personalized sound that they delivered to my ears, the noise cancellation that works really well, and the app support, which is fantastic too. It’s just a shame that the battery life could be better, but to be fair, if you just want some earbuds for the commute or whatever, then the job is done.