Nothing shows off new earbuds at Fashion Week, but I need more than catwalk looks

Nothing Ear (stick) showcased by three models, on white background
(Image credit: Nothing)

What do you do if you're a forward-thinking fledgling tech outfit keen to shift the 'one-time-half-of-OnePlus' image? You coquettishly showcase your new earbuds at London Fashion Week, revealing precisely no new information about them – nope, not even a sliver of info. Nothing. 

Founder Carl Pei has never walked a particular path when it comes to Nothing, and this recent fashion stunt is no exception. Nothing products were displayed throughout designer Chet Lo’s SS23 runway show (part of this year’s London Fashion Week) including the unreleased earbuds case and Nothing Phone 1 – with its striking lights shining out from the stretchy translucent bag it was stuffed inside. 

In accordance with previous leaks, Nothing's follow-up to the Nothing Ear (1) earbuds does look to have a tube-shaped, stick-like case. And of course it's transparent. Sadly, we don't have anything else to go on – and my love of headphones and music goes a little deeper I'm afraid. 

Based on these images, the earbuds themselves look relatively unchanged from the previous model (look closely and you can see them sticking out of one model's ears) but it is quite impossible to know whether our best wireless earbuds buying guide will need to be edited any time soon, because we know nothing else. 

We cannot talk to you about Nothing Ear (stick) – if that is indeed the name – in terms of the driver configuration, battery life, Bluetooth version, or features such as ANC, transparency profiles and on-ear touch controls. 

It's either a stroke of genius to present these natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1 like this, or utter lunacy. We don't know. In fact, we don't know Nothing… 

Opinion: is it another case of style over substance?

Nothing Ear (stick) worn inside a green bag, slung across the shoulder of a model, on white background

This is a look, to be fair (Image credit: Nothing Ear (stick))

Sorry. I want to be proven wrong, I really do. I've even written about the changes I'd like to see from Nothing's potentially talented earbuds – I love a plucky underdog and rival to Apple's soon-to-be-ubiquitous AirPods Pro 2 as much as the next audio-lover. 

But my critique of the original Nothings earbuds was, and still is now, that it all feels a little shallow. These glossy images of Nothing’s tubular case held by beautiful people suggests that I should want them – there's no denying that making them look good was a priority. 

But even though the urge to slip that stick-like case into the translucent, ribbed strap of my designer fishing net… bag (pod?) is strong, I need them to sound good too. 

And it's not as if beauty, physical transparency and sonic brilliance cannot coexist – see the stunning Campfire Audio Trifecta

Don't want to see the innards of your 'buds but want an edgy aesthetic? Look to the cubist Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW for a budget option, or the Audeze Euclid if you've got lots of expendable income. 

I'm would love to give the new Nothing earbuds a listen, I really would, because I want to believe it's genuinely working on removing the physical boundaries between us users and our boring old tech. But I can't make that judgment on looks alone.

Nothing Ear (stick) earbuds case, held in front of a model's face

Those nails look great, but I'd struggle to type…  (Image credit: Nothing)
Becky Scarrott
Audio Editor

Becky became Audio Editor at TechRadar in 2024, but joined the team in 2022 as Senior Staff Writer, focusing on all things hi-fi. Before this, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.