5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

Both of Carl Pei’s companies have made stellar budget buds, but the OnePlus Buds 3 still have my ear.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

Key Takeaways

  • OnePlus Buds 3 have the edge over the Nothing Ear(a) when it comes to comfort and fit, making for all-day wear without slippage.
  • OnePlus Buds 3 have less sensitive in-ear detection, ensuring audio playback continuity and convenience.
  • The Buds 3 offer on-bud touch controls with hands-free volume adjustment along with superior microphone quality.

As the bar continues to rise for quality wireless earbuds, both Carl Pei-founded companies, OnePlus and Nothing, have developed solid options with pro features at just $99. Released earlier this year, the OnePlus Buds 3 may not have the OnePlus Buds Pro 2's — "Pro" nomenclature, but they by no means compromise any pro features. If anything, the buds improve on the two drawbacks we noted regarding the Pro 2 with little to no lags and adding OnePlus 3D audio — the company's version of spatial audio.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

Nothing also released its newest budget buds last week — the Nothing Ear (a) — which feature a gorgeous yellow hue and ANC almost comparable to the flagship Nothing Ear buds. The new bubbly buds are no doubt impressive, but OnePlus has a few subtle, but overtime noticeable touches that have me leaning towards Pei's first venture company's buds as my long-term mainstays.

1 A more snug, comfortable fit

Less adjusting and readjusting

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

While both the Nothing Ear (a) and OnePlus Buds 3 feature soft silicone ear tips with different size options, the Buds 3 have a larger, more oval-shaped in-ear speaker that lays more flush against my ear canal. The Ear (a) has a smaller ear bulb that digs into the flat part of my ear and can continue to build-up pressure after a few hours of listening.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

Conversely, I can — and will — listen with the Buds 3 in all day without noticing. Additionally, the flat fit makes for a more secure fit, and the stems angle down where the Ear (a) stems tend to slip and skew outward. Adjusting doesn't take much time, but I've accidentally pressed on the stem and skipped a song, hung up a call, or paused the most enticing part of a podcast.

2 Less sensitive in-ear detection

Nothing mysteriously pauses my music

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

Building on my first point, the Nothing Ear (a) buds are more slip-prone. That not only leads to readjusting for comfort's sake, but because the their in-ear detection is ultra-sensitive. If the buds aren't perfectly placed rather deep in my canal, my audio stops playing. It took me about five mysterious pauses when I thought I was getting a call to even realize this was the case.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

The Buds 3, however, pause without lag when I purposely take my buds out and play again seamlessly upon positioning them back in my ear.

3 On-bud touch controls

Hands-free volume control is seriously underrated

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

The OnePlus Buds 3 took one of my favorite AirPods Pro 2 features and perfected it. The AirPods Pro 2 feature on-stem volume controls in which you can swiftly swipe and control audio volume phone-free. With the Buds 3, I get even better control as I can swipe on the back of the bud, and the bigger surface area makes for a more natural motion.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

I found myself habitually swiping with the Nothing Ear as I walked down past a blaring siren on the New York City street and wanted to adjust my volume, but didn't want to fumble for my phone in the depths of my gym bag. While subtle and undoubtedly "premium," this small feature makes my listening even more convenient and I wish every wireless bud integrated these controls.

4 A better microphone

Clear two-way sound for calls

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

I use my earbuds as a streaming instrument and microphone to take calls almost equally, so mic quality is up there when it comes to evaluating earbuds. And calls on my Buds 3 sound clear and loud for both myself and the person on the other line even in the New York City chaos.

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5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

The Ear (a), however, has some echo issues and hearing my own voice is quite distracting.

5 A more subtle, but still fun design

Bright yellow isn't for everyone

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

Personally, I love that Nothing is in its yellow Ear(a). My shameless pun aside, yellow is fun for spring and summer but a color that bold can be devisive — or clash with outfits. If you're looking for something still fun, but that breaks the traditional black or white wireless bud mold, the OnePlus Buds 3 come in a stunning "Splendid Blue" with just enough color without being distracting.

5 reasons to buy OnePlus Buds 3 over the Nothing Ear (a)

Plus, when in-ear the metallic stems give a premium, luxe finish — and the color perfectly matches my LuLulemon belt-bag. Additionally, there's a Metallic Grey option if you want something even more muted, but still "pro" looking.

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