Not every day do we receive new colour variants for review, but then Nothing Ear 1 are not your regular TWS earbuds - at least that’s what the company claims. I remember seeing Nothing Ear 1‘s launch in July 2020, where the UK-based company spent a good deal of time explaining the design language of their first product. The earbuds were also worth the hype as we get a transparent body, highlighting the complex yet beautiful components that make this device.
In December, we received the new black colour option of Nothing Ear 1 that cost the same as the white-colour sibling at Rs 6,999. Initially, the earbuds carried a price tag of Rs 5,999 that later got hiked to Rs 1,000, likely due to supply issues.
We have already reviewed the Nothing Ear 1 White edition and we’d found them to be impressive, especially when the price was set at just Rs 5,999. The new unit features the exact same specifications and design, but only in a new darker shade. So in this review, I will touch upon the design side as the audio quality remains largely similar. However, there are a couple of upgrades on the software side that are worth mentioning as well.
Design: There is no doubt that Nothing gave a lot of thought while finalising the design of these earbuds. Thanks to the lightweight design, these tiny earbuds fit snugly in your ear’s concha region (shell-shaped region of the cavity of the external ear) without causing too much discomfort. I’ve said in my past reviews that I prefer over-ear headphones better as I’m not blessed with big ears, but it is impressive to find how tiny and light Nothing Ear 1 are. I can say confidently that some users, at times, won’t even realise that they’re wearing these earbuds.
The best part I found is the flat-edge design of the tiny stem that allows users to manage the volume without accidentally pausing music that I struggled with on the Rs 11,999-worth Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. The square-shaped charging case is very portable, but there’s a caveat (more on that below).
Speaking of the colour, I prefer Noting Ear 1’s black variant for two reasons. Firstly, it offers a uniform look as the White option wasn’t entirely white since the transparent stems highlight a black motherboard. Secondly, the black coloured charging case blends well with Nothing Ear 1 earbuds. Another reason for choosing the black option would be that the scratch marks on the buds and charging case won’t be easily visible. That being said, the plastic lid of the charging case is extremely prone to scratch marks, so take extra care of that.
Performance and battery: As I mentioned, Nothing Ear 1 Black edition’s specifications are the same as the sibling; therefore, the audio quality remains unchanged. I tested these buds mostly with an iPhone 12 but these work well with Android too.
We get a good amount of treble coupled with decent bass, if not the punchiest. The overall sound quality is crisp, and users can choose between four modes - Balance, More Treble, More Bass, and Voice. Sadly, you can’t tweak the equaliser, which is fair at this price range. These also have active noise cancellation support that I was, fortunately, able to test on a two-hour flight. The ANC works very well, without making your ears too stuffy. Users can choose between two ANC modes.
That being said, battery backup is also solid, and we almost get what the company promises - nearly four and a half hours of battery with the earbuds (ANC enabled). You can find in-depth details on the sound quality in our previous review.
Coming to the improvements, the Nothing Ear 1 has seemingly fixed the issue of connectivity that several reviewers faced in July 2021. During my recent test, I rarely faced connectivity problems - both in terms of establishing connections or connectivity drops. Some early reviewers had also pointed out that the overall sound is a bit towards the bass side, which wasn’t the case this time.
Verdict: Apart from a new darker (and even better) colour option, Nothing Ear 1 remains highly recommendable. I’d reviewed Huawei FreeBuds 4i that carry a similar price tag, but Nothing Ear 1 easily remain a better contender. However, the earbuds still face stiff competition from Jabra Elite 3 that offer similar performance. However, we get an in-canal style design without any stem, therefore, it could be a matter of preference.
But if we look at the bigger picture, customers planning to get TWS earbuds under Rs 7,000-range with good audio, solid battery, and lightweight design - Nothing Ear 1 won’t disappoint you. However, there’s no voice assistant support, so keep that in mind.