Nothing ear (1): AirPods Pro killer or massively overhyped?

As far as wireless earphones go, Apple's AirPods might rule the streets – but a much-hyped competitor is finally here to try and take the white buds' crown. London-based Nothing has finally launched its ear (1) headphones (catchy name, right?) – and the splashy entrance has the internet divided.

Heavily teased for a while now, the earbuds appear to be a transparent take on Apple's famous AirPods Pro, complete with short stem and rubber tips. But then again, Nothing co-founder Carl Pei claims they're nothing like Apple's offering, so what do we know? (Nothing?) Either way, it'll be interesting to see/hear if the see-through buds are worthy of our best wireless headphones roundup (in the meantime, if you're considering the Nothing's phone, see our guide to the best Nothing Phone 1 prices.

Nothing ear (1)

A lot of fuss about Nothing? (Image credit: Nothing)

The earphones offer Bluetooth 5.2, touch controls, noise cancellation and wireless charging. All pretty standard stuff – but the headline feature here is definitely that transparent design. "It turns out there’s a reason why there aren’t many transparent consumer tech products out there," Pei told TechCrunch. "It’s really, really hard to make it high quality. You need to ensure that everything inside looks just as good as the outside."

And the other killer feature? The price. While Apple's AirPods Pro will set you back $249, these are just $99. If they sound anywhere near as good as the Apple offering for less than half the price, Nothing's ear (1) could be a no-brainer. But we don't know how they sound yet – and when it comes to information about the all-important sound quality, Nothing has given us, er, nothing.

Indeed, it seems the internet is split into two camps: those who love the swanky design and low price, and those who aren't buying all the edgy marketing – this is definitely the first product launch video (above) during which we've seen the head of design start casually eating a bag of crisps. For some, these are just see-through AirPods Pro clones that aren't guaranteed to sound as good. 

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Time will tell whether the ear (1) will take Apple's crown, or if nothing will come of Nothing. The transparent earphones are available from 31 July via Nothing's website. But with plenty of tantalising AirPods 3 rumours doing the rounds, the battle could be about to get even more interesting. If you think Apple's offering sounds better than nothing, check out todays best AirPods deals below.

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.