Nothing Ear (2) Headphones Review

If they stay in your ears, the Nothing Ear (2) buds are a good-value cross-over option for sports and general use

Nothing Ear 2 headphones
(Image: © Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Our Verdict

The Nothing Ear (2) headphones experience won’t blow you away, but these buds are a cheaper alternative to Apple’s Airpods Pro 2 and the Bose QC Comfort II in that they’re great for use in sport, and then everywhere else as well. That’s if the wingless fit is secure enough for you during workouts.


  • Good sound and ANC
  • Comfortable fit
  • Stylish design


  • Better sound and ANC available
  • Can come loose during exercise

You can trust Coach We give honest reviews and recommendations based on in-depth knowledge and real-world experience. Find out more about how we review and recommend products.

The design of the Nothing Ear (2) inevitably draws comparisons with Apple’s AirPods Pro 2, since they’re similar-looking, though the see-through design of the Nothing buds distinguishes them from Apple and other rivals. 

However, you should also think of the Nothing Ear (2) buds as a cheaper alternative to those Apple headphones, because they are—and they have similar features too. However, they don’t match the sound quality and active noise cancellation on the best workout headphones.

Overall, the buds live up to their relatively modest price, although I prefer the fit, sound and battery life of the Jabra Elite 4 Active (and the Jabra buds are cheaper).

Nothing Ear (2) Headphones Review: Price And Availability

The Nothing Ear (2) headphones launched in March 2023 and cost $149 in the US and £129 in the UK. 

Design, Controls And Fit

Nothing Ear 2 headphones

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

These Nothing buds come in two colors, black and white, both with a see-through stem. They are small and lightweight, weighing 4.5g apiece, and sit comfortably in the ears for long periods of use, with ear tips in three sizes in the case to help you get a secure fit.

I tend to struggle to keep in-ear headphones like these in my ears during workouts. This was the case with the Nothing Ear (2) buds, which gradually squirmed loose over the course of a run, indoor cycle or strength workout, once I started to sweat.

Many people will find they fit securely enough for sport, but if you don’t, I found I could fix the fit problem with third-party silicone hooks, which are cheap and easy to find (just search Amazon for Apple Airpods Pro wings). I used ones designed for the AirPods Pro 2, and they fitted the Nothing buds perfectly. The case also has enough room to fit the hooks in alongside the buds, though you have to detach them each time.

Nothing Ear 2 headphones and Apple AirPods Pro2

Nothing Ear 2, top, and Apple AirPods Pro2 (Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

The stem of the buds can be squeezed to control playback and swap between ANC and Transparency mode. You can choose the controls you want in the Nothing X app, where you can also swap between EQ presets and a customizable EQ option.

While the Nothing Ear (2) headphones are not explicitly designed for sports use, the IP54 water resistance rating is high enough to withstand sweat and rain. The case has an IP55 rating, so you can stick it in a running belt or backpack and need not worry about it getting sweaty.

Sound Quality

I was unimpressed with the sound of the Nothing Ear 1 headphones, but although the new buds have a similar shape Nothing has substantially improved the sound—especially the bass, which is warmer and more powerful.

At the higher ranges the headphones are bright, almost artificially so, and this verges on harshness at times. I mostly listen to alternative music and singer-songwriters and the Nothing Ear (2) headphones lack clarity and depth for this compared with the AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QC Earbuds II. Those are more expensive headphones, but I do also prefer the sound quality of the Jabra Elite 4 Active, which are cheaper than the Nothing Ear (2) buds.

For the price, the Nothing Ear (2) buds are good on sound quality, especially if you mostly listen to bass-heavy music, but they’re not exceptional.

ANC And Transparency Modes

You can choose between three levels of ANC in the companion app but, even when you opt for the highest level, the Nothing Ear (2) headphones don’t excel. On trains and when running by busy roads, the ANC will filter out a bit of noise, but it’s nothing like the silence created by the best headphones, with the Bose buds in particular standing out.

I also found that the Transparency mode was unusable during runs because it became a “wind mode”, with the sound of air rushing past the mics on the headphones blocking out any external noise I would want to hear. It’s not an uncommon problem with in-ear headphones.

Overall, the ANC and Transparency modes on the buds are useful at times, and there’s nothing that betters the Nothing buds at their price, though spending more can get you a more impressive noise-canceling experience.

Battery Life

Nothing Ear 2 headphones

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)

Credit is due to Nothing for listing the battery life of the buds with and without the ANC activated. Turn it on and you get four hours from the buds, plus 18.5 more from the case. With ANC off you get a precise 6.3 hours from the buds and up to 36 in total with the case.

With the ANC on and the volume at maximum, I found the buds dropped slightly short of four hours, but you rarely need to max out the volume with the ANC on. The buds generally lived up to the battery life listed and it’s a good battery life for such small headphones, though the AirPods Pro 2 last six hours with ANC on.

Are The Nothing Ear (2) Worth It?

I enjoyed using the Nothing Ear (2) headphones and they are a viable alternative to expensive buds that offer similar features and great design, even if you do get what you pay for when it comes to sound quality and ANC. They’re a good-value pick for cross-over sports and lifestyle use, especially if you get on with the fit without the need to add your own wings. 

The main competition comes from the Jabra Elite 4 Active which, while not as stylish, are more practical. The Jabra buds stayed in place for me during workouts, despite the lack of wings, and while they’re similar to the Nothing headphones for ANC and awareness, they have longer battery life and better sound quality.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.