The Ear 1 wireless earbuds, the first product from a company called Nothing, sets out to offer a lot to customers with their fresh design philosophy. If you have heard nothing about Nothing, it is not surprising because it is a new company floated by Carl Pei, the co-founder of OnePlus. Nothing aims to create a family of products in the same transparent design philosophy that’s at the heart of Ear 1. The transparent stem lets you see the components inside, and even the charging case is transparent so that you can always look at it. Nothing is more of a design concept, and it does not see itself as an audio company. The wireless earbuds were just a good thing to enter the market with to demonstrate the same price-to-performance value seen in the initial stages of OnePlus.
A Pretty Package for Just $99
The Ear 1 earbuds incorporate a decent level of performance and include wireless charging, active noise cancellation, IPX4 water resistance as well smaller but convenient options like in-ear detection. Typically, you would have expected to pay $150-200 for such features for comparable products by the big brands but Nothing does it with élan at just $99. Teenage Engineering, a reasonably well-known audio electronics company has tuned the sound. The Ear 1 is good fun to examine closely due to the transparent technology. Through the part that faces outward, you can see the microphones, touch sensors, and a covered dot to indicate which ear it is for. The side that faces inward reveals magnets, connecting pins, and some electronic circuitry. To ensure that the transparent technology is attractive to customers, Nothing obsessed over the finishing of the components like magnets and finding fully transparent glue that would hold both the sides together without looking messy so much that several manufacturers refused them when the company first approached them.
More than Just Striking Looks
What will catch the attention of customers is unarguably its striking looks, however, even though the company did reveal unorthodox early concept images, it seems to have toned it down at the launch stage even though it does have a dash of style that’s pretty unique and good enough to appeal to a large number of customers. The Ear 1 feels light and airy, with each bud weighing in at 4.7 grams and fit snugly enough during eating or running, two typical situations when earbuds tend to work loose. Equipped with 11.6 mm drivers, the sound quality is reasonably decent and does not lose out against its more expensive competitors. However, some earbud enthusiasts may complain of excessive treble but in general, it has good bass and clarity. Even though you should compare them with earbuds twice or thrice their price, their detail and warmth still make listening enjoyable with its good stereo separation.
The charging case is where you see much of the design action with its flattened square shape with rounded corners. Along with Qi wireless charging, there is an option for USB-C wired charging. Despite its different looks; it could have been done with more compactness and clear demonstration of form over function with its transparent design.