Nothing Tech

CMF by Nothing Buds review

What’s in that orange box?

₹ 2,499

Nothing’s sub-brand approach with its CMF product label has made for some colourful and budget-friendly accessories to go with its design-focused smartphones. Of course, you don’t even have to have a Nothing phone to be able to use any of these accessories - they happily compatible with just about anything else. After the CMF Neckband Pro, it’s now time to turn our focus to the CMF Buds, the label’s first true wireless earphones which come with active noise cancellation and app support.

Priced at Rs. 2,499, the CMF by Nothing Buds are all about the colours, materials, and finish as the name suggests, while keeping the price affordable enough for more people to want. It’s a promising pair of true wireless earphones, but just how good is the overall package? Find out in this review.

CMF by Nothing Buds review: Design and specifications

CMF by Nothing Buds

Nothing’s pitch has largely been one of design, and the smartphones have been adventurous in this regard. With CMF, the brand is adopting a similar approach, but not quite as radical. Instead, it’s a focus on the CMF design philosophy - colours, materials, and finish. The CMF Buds are a neat combination of this, taking elements of Nothing’s established styling with the Nothing Ear 1 and Nothing Ear 2, and simplifying it with bright colours and things that feel nice to touch.

Although it’s available in three colours, the CMF by Nothing Buds stands out in its signature orange. Apart from the looks, it feels great too, and is definitely a more impressive looking product that most of what you’d get for around Rs. 2,500. The circular metal element is typically to let you attach the included cord, but it feels nice enough to just fidget about with for no reason at all even if you don’t tie on the cord.

The earphones themselves are just as striking, fit well, and have useful touch controls which can be customised through the app. They are also IP54 rated for dust and water resistance, which should protect against light splashes. Charging for the case is through a USB Type-C port on the side, and the entire thing is small and light enough to slip into your pocket securely when not in use.

In terms of features and specifications, the CMF by Nothing Buds is well-equipped. You get active noise cancellation with up to 42dB of noise reduction, 12.4mm dynamic drivers, Bluetooth 5.3 with support for the SBC and AAC codecs and Google Fast Pair. The sound has been tuned by Dirac, which also has a special equaliser mode within the app.

You can connect two devices simultaneously, and the Nothing X app also lets you tweak other things such as equaliser settings, touch controls, and the ‘ultra bass’ mode. It’s a decent app that is rather nicely designed, and works with other Nothing audio products as well, including the CMF by Nothing Neckband Pro and Nothing Ear 2.

CMF by Nothing Buds review: Performance and battery life

CMF by Nothing Buds

There’s a lot to like about the CMF by Nothing Buds when it comes to the design and features, and much of it pushes the boundaries of what you can expect from a true wireless headset priced at under Rs. 3,000. However, audio performance doesn’t quite go as far as the rest of the package, and you tend to get a level of quality that is on par with competition in this price segment.

That’s not to say that performance is out of place; you’ll get a decent level of sound quality from the CMF Buds that is enjoyable with most genres, particularly those that rely on punchy bass to do the talking. There are often times when the bass sounds a bit too overbearing, even with the flat equaliser setting and ultra-bass mode turned off. Needless to say, don’t turn on the Ultra-Bass mode, or you’ll lose much of the detail on offer.

Listening to Indiana by Magic City Hippies, that punchy bass was a lot of fun. It did tend to push a bit harder than the mid-range which made vocals a bit harder to listen to, but that can sometimes be the point of listening to music. The CMF Buds do manage to keep up with the pace of even faster tracks, and provide a fair level of detail while at it. 

Active noise cancellation isn’t going to match up to what more expensive true wireless headsets offer, and indeed at times it feels a little inconsistent even in environments that shouldn’t challenge it. However, it’s workable in the typical home or office setting where noise isn’t off the charts, especially when paired with moderate or high volume levels. It’s somewhat helpful for calls, too.

Battery life is decent on the CMF by Nothing Buds, with a claimed runtime of 8 hours on the earpieces with ANC off, and a total of over 35 hours with the charging case. In practice, I could get the earphones to run for about 5-6 hours per charge, and the charging case will deliver three additional charges. There is also fast wired charging, with a 10-minute charge of the case and buds claimed to deliver over 4 hours of listening time on the earpieces.


CMF by Nothing Buds

The CMF sub-brand from Nothing is an interesting opportunity for the brand to sell its premium and design-centric products at more affordable prices, without affecting the perception of the main brand name. Not quite as eye catching as the Nothing Ear 2 but still fairly interesting to look at, the Buds are also well equipped with ANC and app support, making it a good deal for the price.

While the sound is a bit bass-happy, it’s still a worthwhile option to consider if you’re looking for true wireless earphones at under Rs. 3,000.

Stuff Says

Looks and feels great, sounds a bit too bass-happy though
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Looks and feels so good

  1. App support, acceptable ANC

  1. Punchy bass

  1. Decent battery life

  1. Bass can sometimes be a bit too much

Drivers: 12.4mm dynamic
Bluetooth: v5.3, SBC and AAC codecs supported
Battery: 45mAh in each bud, 460mAh in the case
Charging: USB Type-C, fast charging
Water and dust resistance: IP54