OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s new venture, oddly named Nothing, will soon release a pair of earbuds called Ear 1 – or ‘ear (1)’ by the company’s style – so here’s everything we know so far.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Pei said the London-based company (despite Brexit) would release a pair of wireless headphones in the ‘summer’ followed by other devices.
While the firm announced the earbuds would arrive in June and be called the Ear 1, Carl Pei has since said they are delayed until ‘later this summer’ with a few things left to finalise before the headphones are ready to launch.
A month ago we announced that ear (1) would be revealed in June. We’re near the finish line and there are a few things left to finalize. For this reason @Nothing ear (1) will now come out a bit later this summer. Your support and patience mean the world to us. More updates soon!
— Carl Pei (@getpeid)
June 18, 2021
However, we still don’t know what they look like beyond the teaser image below that Nothing has shared where they don’t exactly look like an ergonomic design.
Pei says the design is “still top secret” so we’ll have to go largely by the concept shared a while ago that was inspired by a grandmother’s tobacco pipe, as an “expression of our design principles”.
We will find out on 27 July when Nothing will hold its first global launch event called ‘Sound of Change’. We’ll definitely see the earbuds in the flesh and we expect the firm will also have a solid release date by this point.
How much will the Nothing Ear 1 cost?
We don’t need to wait until the launch event to find out because Nothing has already confirmed they will cost £99/US$99/€99 Euro putting them in our budget category.
However, in India, they will be a lot cheaper as the price will be ₹5,999 which convert to US$80 or £58. In a video with Technical Guruji, Nothing’s VP and general manager, Manu Sharma, said it’s so it can target a larger customer base in the Asian country.
It means they are a lot cheaper than the earbuds from big names like Apple, Sony and Bose but Pei will have to compete with his former company, with the OnePlus Buds Z.
Where to buy Nothing Ear 1
We also know is that they will be available from Selfridges in the UK via the Smartech World section.
“Selfridges is an iconic shopping destination for us to launch ear (1),” said Carl Pei, CEO and Co-founder of Nothing. “Thanks to Smartech, the partnership will provide us with the platform to showcase Nothing’s uniquely designed tech to consumers who value quality and new ideas.”
In India, they will be available via Flipkart.
Nothing has also announced that the first 100 pairs of Ear 1 buds will be auctioned via DropX, starting on 19 July at 2pm BST despite this being before the launch event. The auction runs until 1:59pm BST on 21 July and these first 100 units be engraved with individual numbers in order of their sale price.
It’s the first time a consumer product will be auctioned on the StockX platform. The accompanying image gives us our best look at the Ear 1 case, too.
Here’s an even better look from Ayush Verma showing much more of the case including where the buds will dock as well as their slightly odd shape – a large oval section with a small branch that presumably goes into the ear canal.
🎧NOTHING EAR-1🎧So, here is the image of the Case of the upcoming Ear-1 (showing the positioning of the earphones). I guess, the white layer will hide the circuit and the battery of the case, as contact points to earphones are also coming from that white part only.#NothingEar1 pic.twitter.com/KUJloIUFec
— Ayush Verma (@iayush_ayush)
July 15, 2021
What are the Nothing Ear 1 specs?
In the same announcement, the firm also said the Ear 1 will feature active noise cancelling (ANC) but no other specs are currently known.
Nothing says the ANC will be state-of-the-art with “three high definition mics to bring your music, films and podcasts into sharp focus.” adding that “Users can expect a premium user experience.”
What do the Nothing Ear 1 look like?
While the final design is secret until the July event, Ubox Therapy has posted an image relating to the headphones with the caption ‘This one’s different.
Many replies on Twitter suggest it is the case for the headphones but Nothing has since confirmed it is a close-up picture of the headphones “teases some transparent elements” and posted this behind the scenes video.
This one’s different @nothing #ear1 pic.twitter.com/IuPkbT8PqB
— Unbox Therapy (@UnboxTherapy)
July 1, 2021
The three key principles of the design, according to the firm, are outlined as ‘Weightless, ‘Effortless’ and ‘Timeless. You can read the full blog post where the firm explains how it thinks about what to remove as well as add, aims for natural interaction and strives for wonder and surprise.
Since the original Apple AirPods, the TWS (True Wireless Stereo) market has boomed so Nothing will have to take on not only Apple but a large number of brands including Sony, Bose, Huawei and Samsung.
What other Nothing products will there be?
A focus on audio seems to be likely as Nothing announced on Twitter a founding partnership with Teenage Engineering, which will handle the design of products.
“Over the past months, their unique craftsmanship and thorough experience in industrial design have been instrumental in shaping Nothing’s design identity,” said Nothing.
Stockholm-based Teenage Engineering has worked on various audio products in the past including headphones (M-1 shown below), portable stereos, instant cameras, synthesizers and more.
Although Nothing will kick things off with wireless earbuds, it’s not a dedicated audio company. Pei is experienced in the phone market from his years at OnePlus and mobile could well be on the cards but he’s keeping his cards close to his chest for now.
The firm does own the logos and trademarks for Essential Products which is a good sign for a phone.
“We’re building an ecosystem of smart devices,” Pei said. “We’ll start with simpler products, wireless earbuds. We’re going to have multiple products throughout the year, not just audio products, and eventually we want to build it so these devices talk to each other.”
A range of ‘smart device’ could mean almost anything these days but it’s a plan that GV finds ‘compelling’, at least.
“We have high confidence that with Carl’s global mindset, the Nothing team will have a meaningful impact on the market for consumer technology,” said Tom Hulme, General Partner at GV.
In the Ear 1 announcement Pei said “you [can] guess what the sequel will be called.” so we will at least see Ear 2 headphones.