Nothing Ear vs. Nothing Ear(a) Review: Budget-Friendly Earbuds with Style

Quick Take: Nothing have produced a few new models in recent months, including the Nothing Ear 2 and Nothing Ear(a). With similar aesthetics and overall features, there are minor differences in sound quality and price.

Jason Yang

Editor, Wearables


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The Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear(a) are the latest entries in the market of wireless earbuds, each bringing their own unique features and design to the budget-friendly audio sector. Both models continue the company’s tradition of offering aesthetically distinct products with transparent casings and a focus on quality at a reasonable price point. Here’s a detailed look at these two models to help you decide which might be the right choice for you.

Design and Comfort

Both the Nothing Ear and the Nothing Ear(a) sport the signature transparent design that Nothing has become known for, making these earbuds stand out from the competition. The Nothing Ear comes in a more traditional black or white color scheme, while the Nothing Ear(a) is available in a vibrant yellow. The Ear(a) model is slightly lighter than the Nothing Ear, though the difference is minimal.

The cases of these earbuds are designed differently. The Nothing Ear features a case reminiscent of a fidget spinner, which may not appeal to everyone, while the Ear(a) opts for a more compact and rounded case that’s easier to carry and fits more comfortably in your pocket.

Audio Quality and Features

Both models offer good sound quality for their price range, with custom drivers that provide clear audio with adequate bass. They support standard AAC streaming, with the Nothing Ear providing additional support for LDAC and LHDC, offering higher-quality audio options.

Each set of earbuds comes with active noise cancellation (ANC) capabilities, allowing users to choose between different levels of noise filtering, as well as an adaptive mode that adjusts based on your environment. The in-app controls are extensive, allowing for customization of touch controls and checking battery levels.

Battery Life and Durability

Battery performance for both models is adequate but not groundbreaking. Users can expect up to five hours of playback with ANC enabled, which is sufficient for most daily needs. The Nothing Ear(a) offers a slightly longer battery life under the same conditions. Both cases provide additional charges, extending total listening time significantly between charges.

The earbuds are rated IP54 for water resistance, making them suitable for use in different weather conditions. However, the cases differ in protection; the Nothing Ear has a more robust IP55-rated case, while the Ear(a)’s case is only IPX2 rated, which means it’s less resistant to water.

Comparison with Competitors

When compared to industry leaders like Apple’s AirPods, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, and Google’s Pixel Buds, the Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear(a) hold their ground in terms of design and basic functionality. They are particularly competitive in terms of price, making them an appealing option for users who prioritize distinctive design and cost-effectiveness over integration with wider tech ecosystems.

Which Model to Buy: Nothing Ear vs. Nothing Ear(a)

When choosing between the Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear(a), your decision should be based on specific preferences and needs regarding design, audio quality, additional features, and budget. Here’s a straightforward guide to help you decide which model suits you best:

1. For Design Enthusiasts:

  • Choose Nothing Ear(a): If you are drawn to vibrant, standout colors, the Nothing Ear(a) in its bold yellow finish will catch your eye. It’s perfect for those who want their earbuds to make a fashion statement.

2. For Audio Purists:

  • Choose Nothing Ear: If you prioritize higher audio quality and codec support, the Nothing Ear supports both LDAC and LHDC, offering better performance for high-resolution audio streaming. This makes it suitable for audiophiles who want more from their listening experience.

3. For Budget-Conscious Users:

  • Choose Nothing Ear(a): Priced slightly lower than the Nothing Ear, this model offers a very similar experience without breaking the bank. It’s an ideal choice for those who want quality without the additional cost.

4. For Tech-Savvy Users:

  • Choose Nothing Ear: With advanced features like a more comprehensive app integration and personal sound profiles, the Nothing Ear is better suited for users who appreciate having extensive control and customization options at their fingertips.

5. For Practical Everyday Use:

  • Choose Nothing Ear(a): If you need a reliable set of earbuds that are comfortable to wear for long periods and provide good sound quality for everyday use, the Nothing Ear(a) with its slightly better battery life and comfort might be the better choice.

6. For Durability Concerns:

  • Choose Nothing Ear: Given its higher water resistance rating (IP55 vs. IPX2), the Nothing Ear is more suited for active users or those living in areas with frequent rain. This model offers better protection against water and sweat.


Both the Nothing Ear and Nothing Ear(a) offer unique advantages, so your choice will depend on what aspects you value most in earbuds. If you want the best audio quality and more advanced features, go for the Nothing Ear. If you prefer to save a bit while still getting a great overall experience with a splash of color, the Nothing Ear(a) will serve you well.

Both models are well-suited for users looking for stylish, everyday earbuds with effective noise cancellation, making them a worthy consideration for your next audio purchase. Whether you choose the Nothing Ear or the slightly cheaper Nothing Ear(a) will depend largely on your color preference and minor differences in case design and audio codec support.