Carl Pei’s Nothing debuts its first product – a pair of TWS earbuds with a ‘zero-secrets’ transparent design




There was a time when you could take a screwdriver and practically fix anything. A radio, a telephone, a washing machine, all you’d need was a simple tool to help you inspect, replace, and repair parts and your product was good as new, but that isn’t the case today. Try venturing a guess on what’s really inside your smartphone, or how your TWS earbuds work, and the regular consumer will probably draw a massive blank. We take these complex products for granted because they do their job without a fuss, but without even really knowing how beautifully complicated they are on the inside. Nothing, former OnePlus founder Carl Pei’s latest venture, is lifting the veil on products with its brand of minimalist ‘nothingness’. The ear (1) marks Nothing’s debut in the product space and comes with a rather alluring transparent design. The earphones sport a transparent housing that lets you really appreciate the design and detail gone into the product’s inner assemblies, and a transparent case accentuates the brand’s ethos… of being a breath of fresh air in a saturated tech space that’s all about making black and white boxes.

Partnering with Teenage Engineering over the design of the ear (1), Nothing highlights the fact that the design’s beauty lies in ints inherent rawness. “Nothing like you’ve seen before, the raw beauty of ear (1)’s stripped-down aesthetic features transparency to expose the engineering, including microphones, magnets, and circuit board. Everything that is ear (1) is there with purpose”, the brand mentions in a press release.

The earphones boast a massive 11.6mm audio driver, tuned to perfection by the folks at Teenage Engineering, who have established themselves as one of the leading audio-tech brands of our time. The audiophiles at Teenage Engineering painstakingly dialed in the software and hardware for balanced bass, mid, and treble performance, and equipped the TWS earbuds with Bluetooth 5.2 for incredible connectivity.

The earbuds sit rather tightly in your ear thanks to liquid silicone ear-tips, and are even equipped with ANC – a feature that’s definitely worth praise given the TWS earbuds’ $99 price tag. The ANC can be controlled with different modes – like a Light mode for moderate cancelation in a relatively noise-free setting, and a Maximum mode for much noisier environments like in the outdoors, or in public transport. A Transparency mode lets you easily listen to the world around you when you’re walking down roads or you need to pay attention to your surroundings, and the ear (1)’s built-in Clear Voice Technology dramatically reduces distractive background noise, like the wind.

Yet another noteworthy feature is the earbud’s battery life – a cumulative 34 hours, along with the charging case. I’ll admit, there’s definitely an allure to being able to see the earbuds inside their case – it’s almost like a work of art… and you’ve got to admire the way every single element in the earphones is visible, including the magnets that cause the buds to align inside the case. The transparency does trigger a human response to think that the earbuds are fragile, but Nothing ensures that they’re built to a world-class standard. They come sweat and water-resistant, and each earbud weighs a stunningly low 4.7 grams. The case charges wirelessly too, and is Qi-compatible.

The launch of Nothing’s ear (1) quite mirrors how OnePlus established itself as a brand. When OnePlus launched its first phone, it capitalized on crowd fanfare brought about by an alluring design, an extremely competitive price, and a highly limited edition drop that had the crowd begging for more. Nothing seems to be employing a similar strategy too, given its rather eye-catching transparent design and transparently low price. The TWS earbuds will also be available via limited drops on their website nothing.tech. Open sales will begin on 17 August 2021 across 45 countries and regions, including the UK, USA, and Canada.

Designer: Teenage Engineering and Nothing