Great Looking Budget Earbuds Hit the Spot

Nothing’s Ear Stick are the company’s second set of earbuds. The battery life and overall quality are good, but the earbud design won’t suit everyone. However, if they fit your ears, they could be a great option.


  • Brand: Nothing
  • Battery Life: 7 hours on earbuds, up to 29 with charging case
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Additional Tips: No
  • Noise Cancellation: No
  • Charging Case: Yes
  • Codecs: SBC, AAC
  • Drivers: 12.6mm dynamic
  • Mono Listening: Yes
  • IP rating: IP54
  • Wireless charging: No
  • Microphones: 3 per earbud
  • Multipoint support: No
  • Weight: 4.4g per earbud

  • Good price to performance
  • Good battery life
  • Carry case design unique
  • Companion app useful
  • Great microphone quality

  • Bass can lack due to design
  • No ANC
  • Earbud design won’t fit everyone, and there’s nothing that can be done

Buy This Product

Nothing’s Ear Stick are an interesting set of earbuds. They don’t quite fit the same bill as the company’s first effort, the Nothing Ear 1 (our review), but they’ve absolutely taken onboard most of the conversation surrounding the launch and subsequent issues users faced.

The now familiar transparent design is still present, but the Nothing Ear Stick are functionally different, delivered with more polish but fewer features, a tidy case cylindrical case, and better integration with the Nothing Phone 1.

Nothing Ear Stick Style and Comfort

Nothing’s cylindrical case is a nice change of pace. Instead of the traditional box or cube (or oval, in some cases), the transparent cylinder charging case immediately sets the Nothing Ear Stick aside.

nothing ear stick case buds side top down

Standing 8.5cm high and with a diameter of just under 3cm, the Ear Stick bares more than a passing resemblance to a lipstick case. In that, it’ll easily fit in your bag, pocket, or otherwise.

One side of the case features a cutout, which, when the Ear Stick buds are secure in place, has a nice texture, featuring the dot matrix Nothing logo. You spin this to reveal the earbuds, a process easily done with one hand, left or right. You can also rotate the earbud housing using the top of the case, which also houses the USB-C charging port and Bluetooth connection button.

nothing ear stick case logo side

If you’ve read an earbud review of mine before, you’ll know the hand-feel of the case is important—and the Nothing Ear Stick nails it. It has a slight weight, which is nice, and fits perfectly into your hand. The swivel mechanism of the case also doubles up as a fidget toy of sorts, but it doesn’t come undone without you specifically moving it. It passes the “shake really hard until the earbuds fall out” test with flying colors, that’s for sure.

Transparency has become Nothing’s trademark, and the Ear Stick earbuds come with the same see-through design as the Ear (1). However, they’re not one and the same, as Nothing has opted for a different in-ear design for the Ear Stick. Instead of going for a full in-ear silicone plug, the Ear Stick has an open-ear design more akin to AirPods.

nothing ear stick buds

Switching the design changes the Ear Stick listening and comfort of buds, no doubt. They no longer secure in place, instead resting in the concha.

Here’s the rub: if they don’t fit your ear shape, you’re plum out of luck. Eartip earbuds come with different silicone tips to help you find the best, most secure fit, but such an option doesn’t exist with the Ear Stick. I find the Ear Stick buds comfortable, but after a lifetime of using earbuds with a secure fit, the change isn’t one that I’ll switch to long term.

Furthermore, while the Ear Stick remain secure when sitting and typing or walking around, they didn’t feel secure when I took them out for a run. It comes down to your ear shape, of course, but the Ear Stick aren’t about to become my exercising go-to.

Nothing Ear Stick Touch Controls

One thing I really like about the Ear Stick is the pressure-sensitive click-controls. Touch controls are so often hit-and-miss, and moving to controls that deliver audible and physical feedback lets you know which inputs were registered. Moreover, it’s clear where the controls are.

No more faffing about, trying to figure out where the touch controls are, accounting for their sensitivity, and registering multiple presses when all you want to do is pause the track.

nothing ear stick buds side close

You can customize the Ear Stick touch controls using the Nothing X app, which you can read more about in a moment.

Nothing Ear Stick Battery Life and Bluetooth

Nothing Ear Stick battery life is good. You’ll get up to seven hours of playback on a full charge (more than the Ear 1), while the charging carry case pushes the total up to 29 hours.

nothing ear stick buds side by side

While that overall figure is less than Ear 1 (down from around 34 hours), Nothing has significantly improved the fast charging function, which now delivers around two hours of playback on a ten-minute charge. So, yes, a slight drop in overall battery hours, but the improvement to fast charging is very much welcome.

Charging is via USB-C, and there is no wireless charging option.

Bluetooth connectivity comes from AAC and SBC, which work fine but are nothing to write home about. Unfortunately, Nothing is yet to ship earbuds using a higher-spec Bluetooth audio codec, like one of Qualcomm’s aptX variants or Sony’s LDAC, so that’s something we’d like to see in the future. Given this is only Nothing’s second set of buds, we’ll let it pass.

Nothing Ear Stick Sound Quality

As you might expect, Nothing’s shift in earbud design comes with a significant difference in audio quality.

Though Nothing modeled the Ear Stick on over 100 pairs of ears in an attempt to find the perfect balance of size, depth, and curvature of the ear, the new design doesn’t sit snug and secure in the ear. Consequently, there is some audio leakage. It’s not a huge issue, but as I found the Ear Stick buds to never quite feel as secure, there is some compromise.

nothing ear stick holding case

Nothing has attempted to address this issue with something called “Bass Lock.” The buds attempt to measure your ear canal and compensate for the bass lost to the ether. It works to a degree. Replicating the seal and depth of quality delivered with an in-ear silicone-tipped earbud is always going to be a challenge. Still, at least Nothing thought of the issue and attempted to deliver a solution.

Furthermore, the Ear Stick doesn’t have active noise cancellation, as it wouldn’t work with the more open design. Noise-cancellation is passive, which you’ll definitely note when you’re in a busy place.

nothing ear stick buds close black surface

Notably, when you listen to the Ear Stick and Ear 1 alongside each other, the new design is revealed to lack the quality of Nothing’s first set of buds. Simply put, nothing can compete with audio delivered directly to the eardrum, and you can muck around with the EQ all you want, but you won’t ever deliver the same quality.

I’m not disappointed with the Ear Stick, though. The actual sound quality is fine. Of course, we’re talking about a $99 pair of earbuds here; they’re highly unlikely to win awards for audio quality, regardless. What is important is that they sound good with a wide range of music, perhaps a little sharp in the mids at times, and at times, bass is lacking.

Nothing Ear Stick Microphone Quality

While the Ear Stick may not have ANC, it does possess excellent microphones that come with Clear Voice Technology. The Ear Stick’s microphones continuously analyze the sound around you as you make a call and filter out anything that shouldn’t be there.

nothing ear stick buds one forward

We’ve seen this tech on numerous earbuds, but the Ear Stick implementation works really, really well. I typically phone my mother when I’m trying out earbuds—she’s heard so many earbuds now that her opinion is vital to the process! On this occasion, all noises while talking were eliminated. In this case, I was talking using the Ear Stick while driving, which meant car sounds, parking sensors, horns, and much more.

An impressive showing, for sure.

Nothing X App and Ear Stick Integration

Nothing X is the companion app you’ll use alongside the Ear Stick. It’s a handy app that you can use to customize the Ear Stick EQ, touch controls, and more.

However, Nothing Phone 1 users get a little bonus, in that the app and its features integrate into the Device Settings menu, which you can access directly from the Android pull-down menu. From here, you can quickly make changes to the EQ and adjust your touch controls.

The Nothing X app includes all the same settings; it’s just slightly more convenient.

Should You Buy the Nothing Ear Stick?

Retailing at launch for $99, the Nothing Ear Stick offers good value for the overall quality of the earbuds.

As most people will see these as the successor to Ear 1, it’s important to stress that they simply are not. The Ear Stick is a different proposition, and will appeal to a different audience.

The lack of ANC will be a deal breaker for some. It’s understandable, as for many, ANC helps make the morning commute on public transport bearable, and allowing the numerous external distractions into the bubble just won’t do.

But if you need a set of earbuds for a day out, walking around town, doing the shopping, and so on, the Nothing Ear Stick is a great shout.

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