Nothing Ear (1) Versus AirPods Pro: Which Is Best?

Nothing, the new company from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, has just launched its first product. The Nothing Ear (1) buds are true wireless earbuds that seek to bring high-level performance and features down to a very competitive price point.
Looking at the overall design and feature set, it’s pretty clear that Nothing is targeting the AirPods Pro with the release of Nothing Ear (1). On paper, the two brands of earbuds have very similar feature sets but two very different prices. In practice, though, the user experience isn’t quite so similar.
In this comparison review, you’ll learn where Nothing Ear (1) and AirPods Pro are similar, where they’re different, and where one set has a clear advantage. When you’re done reading, you should have a much clearer idea of which set of true wireless earbuds are right for you.

Nothing Ear (1) Versus Airpods Pro: Design

At this point, it’d be hard not to know what AirPods Pro looks like. They’re the silicone-tipped pro version of Apple’s in-ear headphones — the ones with the ubiquitous white stems. They have a slim profile instead of that chunky earpiece style that many others take.
Nothing Ear (1) takes a very similar design approach, despite the company’s claims of introducing something radical into a sea of sameness. The one big change is that the casing is transparent, and the internals are all nicely polished since they’re visible. The outside edge is also flat, where AirPods Pro is rounded.
The ear tips on both devices are pretty similar, with multiple sizes of ear tips in the box for each.
If you’re buying on design alone, your choice comes down to the clean white look of Apple versus the more industrial components-on-display approach from Nothing.


The feature sets for these two earbuds are remarkably similar, almost as if Nothing was attempting to replicate AirPods Pro functionality entirely. Both sets feature these higher-end features:
  • Wireless charging
  • IPX4 water resistance (same as AirPods Pro)
  • In-ear detection
  • Active noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency mode
  • Fast connect (H1 chip from Apple and Fast Pairing on supported Android devices)
  • Dedicated app for EQ and more
  • Customizable touch controls
Feature for feature, Nothing Ear (1) holds up well, especially considering the price difference. That said, Nothing hasn’t pulled off every one of these features equally well, and it lags significantly behind Apple on some of them. Tom’s Guide and The Verge both dislike Nothing’s ANC, and Fast Pairing isn’t working consistently, at least not yet.


While there are legitimate criticisms with how well Nothing has executed certain features compared to the AirPods Pro, it’s still a bit of an unfair comparison when you consider the price difference. AirPods Pro list for $249 (though, to be fair, you can often find them on sale for as little as $189). Nothing Ear (1) costs just $99.
So while it’s true that Nothing hasn’t done as amazing a job with active noise cancellation, it has managed to include the feature. Hardly any other competitor offers it at this price point, and no one offers all these features together for this little money.

Audio Quality

There are three categories of audio quality that matter: listening quality, the effectiveness of active noise cancellation (which uses microphones to do its thing), and microphone/call quality.
In every one of these categories, AirPods Pro outperforms Nothing Ear (1) — but not necessarily by all that much. And really, that’s to be expected from a premium product that lists for more than double the price.
The biggest difference was in ANC, where Apple just plain does a better job. This isn’t Apple’s first rodeo, and the company’s ability to iterate gives them an edge over Nothing’s first-gen attempt.
The Verge’s reviewer had issues with call quality on Nothing Ear (1), but others report good results there. One of Nothing’s many firmware updates may resolve any outstanding issues here.

Battery Life

Battery life for Nothing Ear (1) is similar to AirPods Pro, but again, not quite as good. You’ll get 4 hours of ANC listening before you need to charge up, whereas AirPods Pro gives you 4.5. Turn off ANC, and you’ll get north of 5 hours on Nothing Ear (1).
Both offer a wireless charging case that can get you something around 24 additional hours of listening time.

Nothing Ear (1) Versus Airpods Pro: Which One Should You Get?

So, after all these observations, which one should you get?
Apple’s AirPods Pro edges out Nothing Ear (1) in nearly every category. And for Apple users, the enhanced connectivity and handoff features are huge quality-of-life improvements. If money isn’t a concern, AirPods Pro is likely the choice to go with.
That said, money matters to most people. And what Nothing has crammed into a $99 set of earbuds is impressive. Android users especially won’t be disappointed here.

Nothing or AirPods, Upsie Protects Your Buds

No matter which wireless earbuds you settle on, Upsie protects them with its top-quality extended headphone warranty. Upsie safeguards your devices from product defects and accidental damage and costs up to 70 percent less than competitors. Protect your earbuds with a warranty you can trust, at a price that won’t break the bank.

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