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Nothing Ear 2 vs 1 (2023): Is It Better Than Nothing?

For a tech startup, Nothing’s decision to have the Nothing Ear 1 wireless earbuds as their first product was a bold yet unusual decision. After all, the market is saturated with them β€” from flagship models to budget options. But the Ear 1 β€” stylized as Ear (1) β€” generated a lot of buzz, not least because of its design. They also came at an attractive price point β€” just below $100 β€” only weighed down by the average performance.

Two years later, the Nothing Ear 2 picks up where its predecessor left. Design-wise, the earbuds retain the distinct aesthetic of the London-based company’s initial offering. But with the Ear 2, Nothing breaks the $100 mark for its earbuds. It’s a price increase Nothing claims is justified by improvements in audio and ANC performance. But are these refinements, though seemingly incremental, better than nothing?

Nothing Ear 2 vs 1 Wireless Earbuds Comparison Chart

ModelNothing Ear (2)Nothing Ear (1)
TypeIn-ear wireless earbudsIn-ear wireless earbuds
Dimensions (Earbuds)29.4 x 21.5 x 23.5 mm28.9 x 21.5 x 23.5 mm
Dimensions (Case)55.5 x 55.5 x 22 mm58.6 x 58.6 x 23.7 mm
DurabilityIP54 for buds, IP55 for the caseIPX4
Driver11.6 mm driver11.6 mm driver
Microphones3 on each bud3 on each bud
InterfaceTouch controlPress control
Ear Tip Fit TestYesNo
EQ SettingsYes, fully customizableYes, preset settings
Active Noise CancellationYes, up to 40 dBYes, up to 40 dB
Clear Voice TechnologyYes, improvedYes
Wireless ChargingYes, QI-certified up to 2.5WYes
Fast ChargingYesYes
Battery Life6 hours buds, up to 36 hours with charging case5 hours buds, up to 34 hours with charging case


Nothing’s latest generation of Nothing Earbuds offers a familiar design β€” transparent, eye-catching, and futuristic.

Nothing Ear 2 vs 1 Design
The Nothing Ear 2 (left) follows the design of the Ear 1 (right), both in earbud design and charging case.

Next to each other, the Nothing Ear 2 is fundamentally the same as the Ear 1. Both products feature a transparent design β€” from the earbud stems to the charging cases β€” that has somewhat become a trademark for the company’s products.

The see-through aesthetic stands out next to the muted, even safe designs of other earbuds. If anything, the approach lends these audio devices a futuristic look.

Most companies label their earbuds with an R or L β€” letting you know which bud goes to which ear. But Nothing isn’t like any other tech company, instead opting for red and white dots to denote the ears. You also get dotted branding on the clear plastic that covers their stems.

If there are differences, they’re minor. Nothing’s Ear 2 buds are slightly longer than the Ear 1. They’re also housed in a slimmer case. Both components cut down on the weight, but the overall result is negligible.

Like any earbud, Nothing tries to make the earbuds as durable as possible. On the Nothing Ear 2, the buds and case use a more durable plastic. In theory, this should minimize scratches, an issue the Nothing Ear 1 had.

Lastly, the Nothing Ear 2 is IP54 rated, which means it’s finally dustproof. But since you’re still getting that 4 rating like the Ear 1, the earbuds are only safe against splashes.

Audio Quality

Nothing’s Ear 2 earbuds offer several personalization features which promise improved sound quality over the Nothing Ear 1.

Nothing Ear 2 vs 1 Audio Quality
Nothing is particular about fit and includes three sizes of ear tips with these earbuds.

Looking at the specs, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Nothing Ear 2 is no different from the Ear 1. But as we know, specs don’t tell the full story. Although the Ear 2 has the same 11.6mm dynamic driver as its predecessor, there are functional differences.

Nothing shares its second-generation Ear now supports 24-bit Hi-Res audio with LHDC 5.0. Of course, the caveat is that you benefit from this upgrade if your phone supports the codec, too. But it’s a move that tells us more about Nothing’s intentions for the Ear 2 β€” better audio.

The Nothing Ear 1 was promising, but it was plagued by bugs and issues at launch. Nothing hopes the Ear 2 does better, and a host of personalization features aim to achieve this goal. The Ear 2 boasts fully customizable EQ settings, accessible via the Nothing X app. Its predecessor, on the other hand, was limited to presets. Nothing’s second-gen earbuds allow users to create personal sound profiles, too. 

Lastly, fit plays a huge role in ensuring quality sound performance from wireless earbuds. Knowing this, Nothing’s Ear 2 now supports ear tip fit tests, a feature again accessible via the Nothing X app. It helps that, like its predecessor, the Ear 2 earbuds are a comfortably snug pair.

Noise Cancellation

Nothing’s Ear 2 earbuds offer improved noise cancellation features and performance over the Nothing Ear 1.

Nothing Ear 2 vs 1 ANC performance
Nothing’s wireless earbuds combine active noise cancellation features with a passive seal.

The Nothing Ear 1 is one of the more reliable midrange earbuds with active noise cancellation. It’s equipped with a hybrid system that uses the earbuds’ filter and passive seal to block out ambient noise up to 40 dB. Like other flagship earbuds, there’s a transparency mode, too.

On the Nothing Ear 2, however, the system is even more capable. The second-gen model can calibrate ANC to your hearing. It also has a new Adaptive Mode, which adjusts the levels of noise cancellation based on the noise in your environment. On paper, Adaptive Mode should minimize battery drain, too.

As far as calls are concerned, the Nothing Ear 2 should deliver clearer conversations. Like its predecessor, the latest earbuds boast Clear Voice Technology but improved to eliminate an additional 3 dB of noise.

Battery and Controls

The Nothing Ear 1 offers longer overall battery life than the Ear 2. It also adopts less accident-prone press controls, ditching the touch gestures used by its predecessor.

Nothing Ear 2 vs 1 Battery
Pairing the Ear 2 with the Nothing X app (left); a closer look at the Nothing Ear 1 earbud (right).

Compared with other flagship wireless earbuds, the Nothing Ear 2’s battery life is slightly behind. You get up to four hours of use with ANC turned on and six hours with noise cancellation off. In contrast, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds2 Pro and Apple’s AirPods Pro 3 offer five and six hours of ANC listening time, respectively.

Even the Nothing Ear 1 delivers 4.5 hours of ANC playtime, although standard non-ANC listening time is lower at 5 hours. Fortunately, the Ear 2’s charging case packs an additional two hours of battery life, rising from the Ear 1’s overall capacity of 34 hours to 36 hours. You also get longer listening times with and without ANC on ten minutes of fast charging.

Nothing’s Ear 2 also adopts press controls on the stem like Apple while ditching the Samsung-like touch gestures offered by the Ear 1. The controls remain customizable via the Nothing X app, too. As for which approach is better, it boils down to preference. Nonetheless, squeezing the stem is less prone to accidental activation than touching the buds.


While it offers incremental upgrades, the Nothing Ear 2 polishes the rough edges of the Nothing Ear 1, making it a compelling midrange option.

If the Nothing Ear 1 was a promising step for Nothing, then the Nothing Ear 2 is the fulfillment of potential. With the second-generation wireless earbuds, we’re getting more product than prototype. Design-wise, the Ear 2 sports the same style as its predecessor. But tweaks here and there, along with a host of personalization features make the device more capable. And with improvements in ANC, the Ear 2 is a compelling alternative over its premium rivals.


πŸ“Œ How much battery life do you get when you fast charge the Nothing Ear 2?

A 10-minute fast charge of the Nothing Ear 2 provides 1.25 hours of ANC playtime and 1.8 hours of non-ANC listening time.

πŸ“Œ What are the ear tip sizes included with the Nothing Ear 2?

The Nothing Ear 2 comes with three ear tip zies: S, M, and L.

πŸ“Œ What is the Nothing company all about?

Nothing is a tech startup founded by Carl Pei in 2021, with a focus on creating innovative technology products that simplify people’s lives. The company aims to become a leading player in the consumer electronics industry, starting with wireless earbuds and expanding to other product categories. The company has gained attention for its unique design language and high-quality products.

πŸ“Œ Does Nothing offer other products?

Yes. Nothing also offers the Nothing Phone and the Nothing Ear (Stick) wireless earbuds.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.