Carl Pei’s start-up Nothing announced itself with its Ear (1) earbuds. It’s since followed up with a phone and a second pair of headphones, but rumours are already arriving about the second generation of the company’s core audio release: the Ear (2).
Here’s all the news and rumours we have so far about the Nothing Ear (2).
When will the Nothing Ear (2) be released?
Nothing has confirmed the Ear (2) will be unveiled at 3pm GMT on 22 March 2023. The promo material shows a stag beetle prominently whereas the marketing for Ear (1) included ladybirds (the Phone (1) used colourful birds).
True to recent form, Nothing is drip-feeding us with information, so there’s no confirmed release date for the Nothing Ear (2) as yet, but it shouldn’t be too long after the official March announcement.
The original Nothing Ear (1) were released in July 2021 and the Nothing Ear (Stick) debuted in October 2022, so there’s no set pattern and the company is still very young. This makes it tricky to know when the Nothing Ear (2) will actually go on sale, but April or May 2023 is likely.
How much will the Nothing Ear (2) cost?
Again, there’s no word from Nothing about this, as the company hasn’t even confirmed that the Nothing Ear (2) is a reality, and our usual method of looking at the past pricing of previous generations has been thrown into some confusion by a recent price hike on the Nothing Ear (1). Here’s all the prices we’ve seen so far:
Nothing Ear (1) launch price: $99/£99Nothing Ear (1) current price: $149/£149Nothing Ear (Stick): $99/£99
Nothing CEO Carl Pei tweeted that the price rise was due to ‘an increase in costs’, and with the current currencies fluctuations, rising inflation, not to mention energy costs spiking due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it could be that it’s a while before we see a reduction once more. With this in mind, we think it’s likely that if the Nothing Ear (2) arrive soon then they may come with a similar price to the $149/£149 we see on the Nothing Ear (1) at the moment.
What features will we see in the Nothing Ear (2)?
As you can imagine, the specs for the Nothing Ear (2) remain mostly a mystery at this point. But we have started to see a few leaks that give some indication of what may lay in store.
First up, we have a good look at the earbuds’ design thanks to renders shared by leaker OnLeaks with the tech site SmartPrix.
As you can see, they are practically identical to the Nothing Ear (1), just with the name changed to Ear (2).
Still, there are some subtle tweaks if you know where to look. SmartPrix has highlighted some of those changes in the graphic below – the noise-cancelling microphone has moved away from the top of the bud (the red box) and is now found on the side. There have also been slight tweaks to some of the visible components (the orange and yellow boxes), plus a few design elements, including the name, have been brightened slightly.
We presume that some of the internals will also have been upgraded, but there’s no solid details available so far. The first generation featured 11.6mm drivers, Active Noise Cancellation and wireless charging, all of which we’d expect to see on their successor.
The SmartPrix report also predicts that the new generation will include personalised ANC settings, an advanced customisable EQ option, and a dual connectivity option to pair with two devices simultaneously.
The cheaper Ear (Stick) feature some upgrades that we’d expect to see matched by the Ear (2). The big one is a jump to larger 12.6mm drivers for beefier audio, along with a feature called ‘Bass Lock’ that automatically adjusts the headphones’ EQ to combat any bass lost to noise leak.
The (Stick) also use ‘pinch’ controls rather than the fiddly touch controls of the Ear (1), so we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ear (2) jump to a similar design – as is hinted at by what looks like a very slight indent on the stem of the headphones on the renders above.
Those changes would help to fix some of the few flaws we found in our review of the Ear (1). The audio quality was good for the price, but as that price has since increased by 50% we’d expect better audio performance if Nothing wants to remain competitive. There were also some glitches with the touch controls which will hopefully be rectified in the new model.
While the ANC was impressive (again at the launch price), it couldn’t filter out all of the surrounding environment, so a more powerful version of ANC in the Nothing Ear (2) could also see it be a real winner, even if it costs $149/£149 when it arrives.
We’ll keep updating this article as more details become available, so be sure to check back regularly. In the meantime, check out our roundups of the best wireless earbuds and best budget wireless earbuds to see the best alternatives that are currently on the market.