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The best wireless earbuds of 2023, including Apple and Sony

  • Battery life: 6.3 hours, 36 with charging case
  • Weight: 4.5g each
  • Water resistance: IP54 (rain resistant)
  • Noise cancellation: Yes
  • Bluetooth codecs: Bluetooth 5.2, SBC, AAC, LHDC

Reviewed by Simon Lewis

Formed by OnePlus founder Carl Pei, with help from iPod designer Tony Fadell, British tech company Nothing was a surprise new entry in our guide to the best smartphones for their wildly original Phone 1. These headphones are designed to go with – although they work with any phone – and share its distinctive look. Both the earbuds and the case have transparent exteriors so you can see the metal work. I had a Walkman like this in 1985.

The little buttons on the sticks that you press to control volume, playback, and other functions are also somewhat retro. You hear satisfying clicks in your ear, much like a rotary phone. When you switch to noise canceling you hear a sound (as best I can describe it) like a spaceship door closing and when you switch to transparent there is a slight sigh.

But the best thing about them is the customization. There is an EQ function on the app, with Balanced, More Bass, More Treble and Voice or, my favorite, ‘Personal Sound Profile’ settings. This optimizes the sound for you alone, based on a five-minute hearing test – different tones and sounds in each ear – which sounds quite scientific and actually gives you richer, more detailed sound.

Noise cancellation is excellent and can be set to High, Medium, Low, or Adaptive. Again, this can be customized to your unique hearing sensitivity. All of this takes some time to configure in the app, as does the specific combination of controls you want (two taps on the left button does this, three taps does that, press and hold on the right button does this, etc. .) but it feels good to wear heads that fit just for you.

Nothing makes a cheaper version called the Ear (stick) that I tried last year and couldn’t use because they lacked the rubber tips to hold them in place. These only cost £30 more and are far superior – almost on par with Beats and Apple in terms of sound quality and desirable design. They are also very comfortable to wear. It’s definitely worth the detour.


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