In this article, We have the Nothing Ear Stick, Nothing’s latest pair of true wireless earbuds. So, at just under $90, the Ear Stick is a full $50 cheaper than the original A1 buds, which launched last year. The most obvious question is, “Is the Ear Stick designed as a replacement for the A1?” And the straight-up answer is no. It is a different enough product with its very own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.
Related: Nothing Ear 2 Earbuds Review
Nothing Ear Stick Unboxing
Inside the box, we have the actual ear stick. And you’ve also got additional wee tube, which basically just contains the quick start guide and the Type-C USB charging cable. Mind you, this is a very dinky cable.
The case looks does resemble a giant lipstick. It’s rather unique, very much unlike any other pair of jewelers’ earbuds I’ve checked out. with those iconic red and white Nothing colors, which I very much approve of as a fan of Sunderland FC. In that case, it certainly isn’t as compact as many that I’ve tested and not quite as comfortable to slip into a trouser pocket either. Black grumble aside, I do really, like the nothing ear sticks case design. It just looks very funky.
You’ve got your USB-C port up top, right next to the pairing button, and a teeny V Nothing logo slapped around back. One of the things I really like about ear stick carry case is that if you do happen to drop, it doesn’t immediately explode open and hurl your earbuds right across the pavement, straight into incoming traffic, just like every other wireless earbuds case. To open it up, all you need to do is twist the lid, and this will expose the Ear Stick earbuds. You’ve got a single LED indicator there, which lights up when the buds are pairing and then goes off once they’re connected. If the buds are in pairing mode, the LED will flash continuously just to let you know.
Nothing Ear Stick Design
We’ve got to see a very unique aesthetic for the Nothing Ear Stick. They’ve done a great job. The semi-transparent design so you can see the innards. There’s a teeny-tiny bit of Ear Stick logo branding action as well, which hopefully the camera is picking up. So it’s good to see that Nothing is remaining consistent with its brand across all of its products.
The ear tips are constructed from solid plastic. You don’t get a rubbery silicone design like most true wireless earbuds. That’s because Nothing has designed them to not be fully wedged inside of your ear canals, just the tip, so to speak. So, if you’re not a fan of that claustrophobic feeling you might get when you stuff things inside your ear, well, the Ear Stick offers a more comfortable and less intrusive listening experience.
On top of that, each of ear stick buds weighs just 4.4 grams. They’re super light, which adds to the comfort levels. Now, I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical about that hard shell design when I first started testing the Nothing Ear Stick. I thought that even though they’re not lodged properly in your ear, having that hard surface would probably chafe the outer bits of your ears if you’ve been wearing them for an hour or two hours, however long. I’ve literally worn these things for hours at a time and suffered no discomfort whatsoever.
The fact that you’ve got that open-air design means you can just stick them in your ears and leave them in there all afternoon long. if you want to because you’re still fully aware of everything that’s going on around you. I was also a bit worried that, again, because they’re not lodged firmly into your ear, these things would come flying out as soon as your head so much as twitches. But again, thankfully, not a problem. I can stick them in, and then I can mosh as merrily as I like. And just to prove it, watch test.
I would say, if you’re looking for a pair of true wireless earbuds to regularly rock down the gym or when you’re pounding the pavement or something like that, maybe look for something with a dedicated wingtip. But these things are also IP54 rated, so no worries if you do get a bit sweaty or anything. They’re not gonna bulk up.
App and Features
If you’re rocking yourself a Nothing phone, you won’t need a separate app to customize and configure the Ear Stick. It’s all right in the Bluetooth settings. But if you have another smartphone, well, no worries. All you need is to download the Nothing X app, and this serves up the exact same functionality.
For instance, you can get a quick readout on the remaining battery of both of your buds. If you dive into the settings, you find a different options, including firmware updates. There’s also a Find My Earbuds function, which is just about loud enough to do the job.
Inside the settings, you can activate or deactivate the in-ear detection and the low-latency mode. Ensuring there’s no delay between what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing on your smartphone screen. I found no issues with that whatsoever, whether I’m kicking back with some Netflix or doing some gaming.
Back in the main screen of the app, you can also fully customize the Ear Stick’s touch controls. To use these touch controls, you have to pinch the stems on the Nothing Stick buds. And when I say pinch, I do mean pinch—a gentle little squeeze or just gripping them to take them in or out of your ear does absolutely nothing, which is great because it means you don’t accidentally activate the controls when you don’t mean to. When you do successfully pinch those stems, you’ll get a bit of clicking noise feedback as well.
I really enjoyed using the ear stick touch controls. They worked really well. Here’s a full list what they do. A single pinch will play or pause your music. Otherwise, you can also simply remove a bud if you have the auto-pause feature enabled, and that will stop your podcast, audiobook, or whatever you’re listening to. When you pop the bud back in, the music, podcast, etc., will resume. A double pinch will skip forward a track, a triple pinch will skip back, and you can also pinch and hold the left bud to decrease the volume. The same goes for the right bud—you can pinch and hold it to increase the volume back up.
You can change up those touch controls to a small degree if you want to, for instance, bringing in the likes of the voice assistant if you like. if I had to grumble about the touch controls, is that there is a slight delay between actually pinching the stems and anything happening.
Active Noise Canceling
Now, one of the main differences between the Ear Stick Buds and the original A1 buds from last year is the fact that they don’t have active noise cancellation. This is partly due to the Open Air Design. Getting ANC to work with this kind of setup would be pretty tricky. It’s also probably due to the pricing as well. They wanted to keep it under $100. You can find noise-canceling buds for well under $100 if you shop around a bit.
Unsurprisingly, I have found that the lack of ANC can be a problem in noisy environments. It’s fine usually if you’re leastining a bit of metal music or something like that. But if you’re trying to listen to an audiobook or a podcast and ear stick competing against lots of noise like high street traffic or a small child’s over-enthusiastic rendition of a new Little Mix song when they’re off their heads on Haribo, well, you have no chance whatsoever. You have to boost the volume the way up to hear what is going on. And even then, I struggled. Of course, in more ambient environments, there are no troubles whatsoever.
The flip side to design is fact that you are aware of everything that’s going on, which makes them ideal. if you’re in an office environment and don’t want to be closed off. You perfectly heard every word they said. You can have entire conversations with Nothing ear Stick buds in your ears, even when music is playing.
if you’re crossing roads and need to be generally aware of what is going on, then nothing ear stick buds good from a safety standpoint.
Nothing Ear Stick Audio Quality
As for the sound quality, well, Nothing has somehow managed to pack 12.6mm drivers into ear stick small buds. It’s very impressive considering their size. In fact, they are even bigger than the drivers found in the original Ear One Buds. While personally, I do prefer having sound pumped directly into my ears with a proper ear fit, I found the sound quality to be really good on the Nothing Ear Stick. The bass is actually pretty impressive for a pair of true wireless earbuds. It’s dynamically adjusted to keep it thick and rich, and there’s a good balance between the lows and highs.
If you jump back into the Nothing X app, you’ll find an equalizer feature. The equalizer feature is easy to use, with a couple of presets you can swap between. Alternatively, you can fully customize it by dragging three little sliders. Personally, I really liked the balanced mode. I thought it worked the best.
Now, with the Nothing Ear Stick, you have three high-definition microphones that allow you to engage in voice assistant or have a phone call while wearing ear stick buds. They tend to pick up my voice clearly, although they do make me sound a little bit robotic. They can also boost your voice to help keep you nice and loud and clear when there’s lots of background noise happening. So, that’s definitely a good feature to have too.
Nothing Ear Stick Battery life
When Comes to the battery life of the Nothing Ear Stick. Nothing predicts around seven hours of playback on a single charge, and I found that to be pretty accurate. I typically got between six to seven hours of use. So, you can enjoy them in your ears all afternoon long if you want to. The battery life is definitely average compared to many other true wireless earbuds I’ve tested. Which tend to offer around five or six hours of use. The lack of ANC also helps to boost the battery life a bit.
When the earbuds are fully drained or you simply want to store them back in the compact and stylish lipstick case, just give it a little twist and they’ll start charging. The case itself can recharge the buds from zero percent to 100 percent for about three full times before needing to be recharged itself. This is quite impressive, considering the size of the case. Additionally, the earbuds support Quick Charge, so even if you only have about 10 minutes to spare, you can get approximately an hour of use out of them, which is handy for a quick commute.
Unfortunately, one difference between the Nothing Ear Stick and the Nothing Ear (1) buds is that the Ear Stick doesn’t support wireless charging. This is to be expected, as it would be quite tricky to place this uniquely shaped case on a wireless charging pad. It’s likely that the case would just roll right off. So, for charging, you’ll need to use the provided Type-C USB cable, which is included in the box.
That’s my full review of the Nothing Ear Stick. I have to say, they are a great choice if you want a pair of true wireless earbuds that you can simply stick in your ears without experiencing that claustrophobic feeling. Nothing Ear Stick earbuds allow you to remain fully aware of your surroundings. However, if you’re someone who frequently needs noise cancellation because you’re always on the go, whether on a train or a plane, and you prefer being in your own peaceful bubble, then nothing ear sticks earbuds may not meet your needs.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Nothing Ear Stick, so please share your opinions in the comments.