Hands-On With the $99 Nothing Ear Stick
Nothing, known for a range of Android-based lower-cost devices, recently came out with a new set of $99 "Ear Stick" earbuds. We picked up some of the new earbuds and thought we'd check them out to see how they measure up to Apple's AirPods.
Stylized as the Nothing Ear (stick), the earbuds from Nothing have a rather unique design. You can see the hardware inside the stem thanks to the clear housing, something that Nothing also did with the matching Nothing Phone.
The Nothing Ear Stick earbuds are more similar in design to the third-generation AirPods than AirPods Pro, and there is no silicone tip. Instead, it features what Nothing says is an ergonomic design, with an earbud that sits in the outer part of the ear like the AirPods. Size wise, the Nothing Ear Stick earbuds are almost the size of the AirPods 3.
Unsurprisingly, the fit of the Ear Stick is similar to the AirPods, and we found them to be comfortable to wear. There are squeeze-based gestures for pausing/playing, swapping tracks, and changing volume, with customization options available in the accompanying app.
The sound is decent, and with EQ adjustments, the Ear Stick earbuds offer a similar sound profile to the third-generation AirPods. There is a 12.6mm driver inside the earbuds, and with some tweaking, the bass is more noticeable than on the AirPods.
There are some Apple-like features available, such as ear detection for playing/pausing music and the option to locate a sound when the earbuds are misplaced, plus the app supports battery percentages, gesture customization, and sound adjustments.
While the Ear Stick earbuds themselves are similar in design to the AirPods, Nothing went in a different direction with the case. There is a tube-shaped case that resembles lipstick, which the earbuds fit inside for charging purposes. The USB-C case can be twisted to open it up to get to the earbuds, and it adds 22 hours of play time.
The Nothing Ear Stick earbuds can be paired to an iOS device and they are available as an AirPods alternative for those who are interested, but features like automatic pairing and quick device switching will not be available, which is always a downside when using third-party earbuds with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.