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Nothing Ear 2 review: More than just a pretty face

But a very pretty face nonetheless. 

Nothing Ear 2
Nothing Ear 2
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Battery
4 hours
Water-Resistance
IP54
Weight
4.5g
Alex Choros
Mar 28, 2023
Icon Time To Read3 min read

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Quick verdict: Nothing Ear 2

The Nothing Ear 2 are stylish and the best sounding buds we've tested in this price bracket, but are let down by a short battery life.

pro
Pros
pro Great sound quality
pro Solid value
pro Multi-point
con
Cons
con Short battery life
con So so noise-cancelling

The Nothing Ear 2s maintain their predecessor's nostalgia-inducing design while improving sound quality, noise cancellation, and connectivity. These improvements come at a price, however.

While the Ear 1s represented excellent value thanks to their $149 price point, the Ear 2s sell for $219. $219 is still a far cry from what you'd pay for AirPods Pro, for example, but it reframes their position in the market and makes any little niggles harder to forgive.

Fortunately, the Ear 2s manage to justify their new price tag.

Nothing Ear 2

How much do the Nothing Ear 2s cost in Australia?

Store
Price
More info
Amazon
From
$219

Nothing Ear 2 sound quality & noise-cancelling

Nothing Ear 2

The Ear 2s are the best sounding earbuds we've tested in this price bracket. They're clear, balanced, and enjoyable to listen to. The treble may be a bit sweetened for some tastes, and it can feel aggressive at higher volumes. Portishead's "Humming" from our audio testing playing started to veer into sibilant territory, for example.

You can also tweak the sound via a personalised tuning feature. This runs hearing tests on your left and right ears, and asks you to identify when you can hear certain frequency beeps. The Ear 2s retune themselves using this information. The Nothing app told me it was amping up higher frequency sounds for me. Swapping between the retuned profile and the out-of-the-box settings didn't make much of a difference for me, but I suspect that this will be the kind of feature that varies from person to person.

Noise cancellation has also been improved over Nothing's first-generation buds but it's still rather middling. The Ear 2s can certainly reduce the volume of the world around you, but they rarely block it out entirely. They were able to mostly cancel out the aircon I had in the background while I was writing this review, but I could clearly hear my dog trotting around on the floorboards. It's not the same kind of cone-of-silence effect you get from high-end options like the second-generation AirPods Pro or the Bose QC Earbuds II.

The corresponding transparency mode isn't great either. It isn't effective enough to hear someone talking to you, and it somehow made a vacuum higher pitched and more aggressive.

Microphone quality hasn't really changed since the first-generation Ear 1s; it's still just okay, but this should be good enough most of the time.

Nothing Ear 2 design & battery

Nothing Ear 2

While design changes are far less apparent, still some tweaks that make the overall product feel more polished. To start, the case lid magnets and earbud magnets are both way clickier. It's very satisfying, and helps the overall product feel high-end. The case itself is a little smaller, but it's still on the larger size.

Each Ear 2 is very light, weighing 4.5g. They're comfortable to the point you can forget you're wearing them. While the first generation used touch controls, these have been replaced with a wholesale imitation of Apple's AirPods stem controls. Instead of tapping the buds, you squeeze the stem to trigger actions like pausing your audio. Not only is it much easier to use, it prevents accidental touches.

The Ear 2 buds themselves may look all but identical to the first-generation model, they've had an internal redesign. This seems to have helped with the connectivity issues that the Ear 1s sometimes experience. I've not experienced any glitches this time around.

Multi-point is another new behind-the-scenes addition that's far from common at this price. This allows them to be paired with devices at once; your phone and your computer, for example. If you're listening to music on your computer but then get a call, the Ear 2s will jump to your phone.

Battery is a weakness, however. You only get four hours per charge with noise cancelling on, which is on the low end for a pair of wire-free buds. Turning off noise cancelling gives you over six hours per charge, which is far more respectable. Given how little the noise cancelling does in many circumstances, turning it off is probably worth it for the extra battery.

Are the Nothing Ear 2s worth buying?

Nothing Ear 2

The Ear 2s pair a novel design with the best sound in the price bracket. You do make some trade-offs, however: noise cancelling is so-so and battery life isn't as good as the competition. If these aren't deal breakers, the Ear 2s are a great buy with very little else to complain about. Second time seems to have been the charm for Nothing.

How do the Nothing Ear 2s compare?

Product
Rating
Price
Battery life
Active noise-cancelling
Water resistance
Availability
Jabra Elite Active 4Jabra Elite 4 Active
3.3 out of 5 stars
3.25
🔥From $179
$100
6 hrs (buds)
28 hrs (case/total)
pro pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ProSamsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
4 out of 5 stars
4
🔥From $349
$190
5 hrs (buds)
23 hrs (case/total)
pro pro

Disclaimer: Pricing and deal information only accurate as of the last page update. 

How we review wireless earbuds

When we review earbuds, broadly speaking, we're looking at five main considerations:

  • Sound: Obviously. Do they sound good? 
  • Comfort & Design: Are they nice to wear? 
  • Features: Is the battery good? Is the connectivity reliable? What's the noise-cancelling like?
  • Vibe: What's the overall experience like? 
  • Value: Are they good for the money?

While audio products can be quite subjective for many reasons, we have standardised testing procedures across the team designed to help us look at the category in a consistent way. You can read more about how we review wireless earbuds here

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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