Nothing Ear (2) Headphones Review: Unveiling the Allure of Petite Power

Avatar publsher | May 16, 2023

Nothing Ear (2) Headphones: Do the petite yet powerful earbuds live up to the anticipation?

Recall the era when our Facebook feeds were inundated with classic memes and ‘tag-all’ compilations. One of the most popular jests, guaranteed to elicit a chuckle, revolved around the mischievous and elusive headphone sprites, renowned for their uncanny ability to ensnare your tangled earbuds.

Fortunately, while Facebook chain mail and post-ironic memes have not entirely departed, wired headphones, for the most part, have. We were on the cusp of freedom until supermodel Bella Hadid was spotted sporting those inconvenient, archaic earbuds.

Nonetheless, we have indeed come a considerable way since the inception of the first modern pair of earbuds in 1891, crafted by the French engineer Ernest Mercadier. Originally devised as telephone receivers, his patented design featured miniature in-ear receivers that weighed less than 1.75 ounces—a remarkable feat for the 19th century.

The late 1950s witnessed the advent of stereo headphones, courtesy of musician and entrepreneur John Koss. These marked the first truly recognizable and high-fidelity headphones, enabling private enjoyment of stereophonic recordings. Astonishingly, the first wireless headphone set emerged in the early 1960s. Termed radio headphones, they connected to AM/FM waves via built-in antennas, accompanied by plush, oversized ear cups.

In 1989, Dr. Amar Bose pioneered the development of functional noise-canceling headphones, and in 2001, Apple revolutionized the audio landscape with their iconic and perpetually tangled EarPods. Then came Bluetooth in 2004, propelling audio technology into the realm of the future.

While wireless headphones often conjure images of AirPods or in-ear Beats by Dre, a new contender has emerged: Nothing. Bursting onto the scene, this lifestyle and technology brand was established by Carl Pei in 2020 and has since garnered attention in the tech world. Their entire 2023 product line recently secured three Red Dot Design Awards.

The Ear (2) represents Nothing’s second iteration of in-ear, noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones, offering up to six hours of listening time on a single charge—outperforming the previous five-hour model. Notable improvements include press control instead of touch control, enhanced clear voice technology, and numerous other enhancements.

Purchase now: Ear (2) – £129, Nothing


  • Earbud dimensions: H29.4 x W21.5 x D23.5 mm
  • Case dimensions: H55.5 x W55.5 x D22 mm
  • Earbud weight: 4.5g
  • Case weight: 51.9g


The Ear (2) exudes a striking elegance. Meticulously packaged akin to a pristine pair of luxury shoes, the earbuds rest magnetically in an alluring transparent case. I particularly appreciate Nothing’s message conveyed through this transparent technology—clearly, the brand takes immense pride in their products, and rightfully so. Why not celebrate the purity of technology and expert craftsmanship?

The earbuds themselves feel remarkably diminutive and delicate, likely due to their lightweight construction, yet they fit snugly within the ear.

Functionality, noise cancellation, and sound quality:

First and foremost, the Ear (2) offers comfort and security when nestled within the ear. The anxiety of an earbud dislodging and teetering on the edge between train and tracks, forever beyond reach, seemed improbable. While I find AirPods to possess excellent sound quality, I consistently find myself readjusting them in my ear canal, not only due to their looseness but also due to the fear of losing my substantial investment of nearly £300.

If you are a regular reader of ES Best, you may recall my aversion to companion apps. Why can’t all necessary functions be integrated into the product itself? However, the Nothing X app pleasantly surprised me with its simplicity and user-friendly interface. It provides all the controls required for adjusting noise cancellation levels and initiating a personalized noise cancellation experience.

The technology claims to adapt to the shape of your ears through Personalized ANC, although I didn’t discern any significant difference from the standard noise cancellation setting. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed utilizing the Adaptive Mode for noise cancellation, which adjusts levels based on your surroundings. It may not entirely block out the thunderous clamor of the Northern Line scraping against the tracks, but that is a lofty expectation. If the objective is to muffle the chatter of passers-by, the Ear (2) headphones adequately fulfill their duty.

Now, onto my primary concern—and I remain uncertain whether this stems from years of listening to music at high volumes—namely, the relatively tinny sound quality. Even on full noise cancellation mode, I found my music sounding oddly metallic and lightweight at times. Perhaps this discrepancy arises from my extensive familiarity with the sizable over-ear headphones from Bose.

Nevertheless, the Nothing Ear (2) headphones excel in battery life, surpassing the capabilities of AirPods. A fully charged case offers up to 36 hours of usage, and a mere 10-minute charge provides an impressive eight hours of playback. Additionally, the case can be charged in reverse using the Nothing Phone (1).


The Nothing Ear (2) headphones are remarkable earbuds that comfortably inhabit the mid-range price category, positioning Nothing as a formidable contender within the earbud market. While they may not yet rival the industry’s leading brands, they are undoubtedly well on their way.

Purchase now: Ear (2) – £129, Nothing

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