Nothing Ear 2 First Impressions: Awesome Upgrade!
If this looks familiar to you, that’s because it’s really almost identical to its predecessor. This, however, is the new Nothing Ear (2), and I have to say, it definitely is an improvement.
At first glance, this might look exactly like the Ear (1), but when you put them side by side, you’ll notice that Nothing has actually managed to make the case slightly smaller and lighter this time around. Additionally, there are a few textural changes to the plastic inside and such, but all for the better in my opinion. The earbuds themselves look alike visually and in the ear, but they are ever so slightly lighter.
Nothing has also changed the control system here. Instead of the old touch controls, it’s now a squeeze on the stems, much like the AirPods Pro’s system. A single press controls play/pause while a double press skips tracks forwards. A triple press skips tracks backwards while a long press and hold toggles between ANC and transparency mode.
This is now customisable in the Nothing X app, which is great. In the Nothing X app, you get an EQ feature as well, low lag mode, dual connection (otherwise known as multipoint), a sound test to personalise the earbuds’ sound as well as a test to personalise the ANC.
As for the major differences between Ear (1) and Ear (2), the case size difference is one, as I’ve mentioned. Another is that the earbuds are now IP54 rated, with the case rated for IP55. Also, these are now running on Bluetooth 5.3 and while they still don’t offer support for aptX, they do now offer support for LHDC high-res audio.
Additionally, battery life has been improved, with the total battery life going up to 36 hours including the case when ANC is turned off. With ANC on, though, it’s a measly four hours in the earbuds with a total of 22.5 hours including the case. However, I will say that I feel this is justified by the improvement in the ANC performance of the Ear (2). There is also wireless charging included.
Mic quality is pretty good, the background noise rejection worked well to keep construction noise out of my work calls.
As for sound quality, I have to say, I’m not sure if this is due to the personalised hearing test, but it just sounds better to me overall than the Nothing Ear (1). The bass is thumpy and deep, although not very detailed and textured. There’s still a decent amount, of course, but yeah. Mids-wise, these do pretty well with guitar strums, percussion, all that. Good separation, good detail, even if it’s a touch recessed. As for treble, it’s bright and sparkly, flutes and instruments in this range do have a good amount of energy.
Again, this could be due to the personalised sound. And of course, I tested these with a Nothing Phone (1) instead of my iPhone, which means I had access to LHDC for high-res audio.
At US$149 or S$199, this is a fantastic upgrade from the first version.