It’s quite impressive that the Nothing Ear Stick is only the brand’s third product after the Nothing Phone 1 and Nothing Ear 1. Particularly because it’s a surprisingly good pair of wireless earbuds despite its pared-down features, and the unique transparent design is quite eye-catching too.
Of course, the Ear Stick isn’t without fault. Compared to other wireless earbuds at this price point, it is not quite as feature-rich; the absence of active noise cancellation (ANC) being one of its main shortcomings. That being said, the Ear Stick also has other winning qualities that may matter more to you, depending on your preferences.
What It Is
The Nothing Ear Stick, while not as feature-packed as the Nothing Ear 1, is a more affordable pair of wireless earbuds; it’s priced at RM469 here in Malaysia. It even features better battery life – up to seven hours on a single charge – and a unique cylindrical charging case that can further extend the battery life by up to 29 hours.
Naturally, Nothing’s signature transparent design is featured prominently with the Ear Stick as well. It even comes with a custom 12.6mm dynamic driver that offers “rich depths, clear highs, and bold details,” as the company puts it. While it doesn’t feature ANC or silicone tips, the Ear Stick actually delivers reasonably good audio quality.
The Good Stuff
I have to be honest: I wasn’t expecting much out of the Nothing Ear Stick when it comes to audio fidelity. After all, it doesn’t feature silicone tips for better seal and passive noise isolation, which would improve audio quality. On top of that, it doesn’t have ANC either, but much to my surprise, the Ear Stick actually sounds…good.
Well, as good as an earbud without silicone tips can be. The Ear Stick offers a good amount of bass – even if it’s not particularly textured – details are reproduced quite well, and overall, I do enjoy listening to my favourite tunes with it. But this is only the case when I can actually get a good fit – I’ll get back to this later.
Personally, I find the transparent design of the Ear Stick to be its best selling point. No other mainstream wireless earbuds look quite like it (with the exception of the Ear 1), and I love the details of its internals. Even the cylindrical charging case is quite eye-catching with an interesting design.
Unlike conventional earbuds cases that flip open, the Ear Stick’s case spins open. I can twist the right side of the case to reveal the earbuds, and this unique mechanism – even if it’s nothing groundbreaking, excuse the pun – does make for a “fun” charging case.
Next, we have the touch controls of the Ear Stick, which are quite intuitive and seamless to use. Much like the Apple AirPods Pro, I can pinch the stem to pause playback (one pinch), skip track (double pinch), or pinch and hold to control the volume (left side to decrease, right side to increase).
To be honest, I prefer the volume controls of the AirPods Pro, which involves swiping up or down on the stem to increase and lower the volume respectively. This gesture works with both earbuds, while the Ear Stick’s implementation requires me to pinch and hold a specific side.
Of course, this isn’t exactly a big issue, and the Ear Stick’s touch controls work just fine throughout the review period.
Battery life of the Ear Stick is reasonably good as well. Nothing quotes up to seven hours of use on a single charge, and I got close to this estimate. While this level of battery life isn’t amazing, it’s largely similar to other wireless earbuds at this price point.
The Bad Stuff
The biggest shortcoming of the Nothing Ear Stick, in my opinion, has to be the fact that it doesn’t have silicone ear tips. Not only does this make it tough to get a good, secure fit – it even feels loose at times – the sound quality of the wireless earbuds also suffers.
It’s a shame, as the Ear Stick’s driver does seem quite competent. If the earbuds offered better fit, I’m confident they would offer one of the best audio qualities at this price point.
Aside from that, the omission of ANC on the Ear Stick makes it tough to recommend to folks who do a lot of commuting in noisy environments. Basically, you’ll hear quite a bit of ambient noise with these earbuds due to the lack of noise cancellation, whether it’s active or passive.
Is It Worth It?
But the absence of ANC – not necessarily the lack of silicone ear tips – is somewhat justified by the lower price tag of the Nothing Ear Stick. Retailing at RM469, it’s a relatively affordable pair of wireless earbuds with a sleek, transparent design, a unique charging case design, and good audio quality.
But if you’re in noisy environments often, then the Ear Stick may not be the best option; a wireless earbuds with ANC – such as the RM499 Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 – would be better in this regard. Unless, of course, you actually want to be aware of your surroundings for safety reasons, such as when you’re out for a jog.
In that case, yes, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Ear Stick, provided you don’t mind its lack of noise isolation. It’s really an eye-catching pair of wireless earbuds, and I’m looking forward to future products from Nothing.
Perhaps a Nothing Ear 2 that incorporates the best features of the Ear 1 and Ear Stick is just beyond the horizon.