Unveiling Nothing’s CMF: Are the Neckband Pro and Buds worth it?

In a short time, Nothing has made a notable presence for itself in the Indian tech space. The Nothing brand launched its sub-brand CMF a year ago, which consists of wearable tech products. While Nothing has recently launched its new phone (2a), we will take a closer look at it in a few days. Under the CMF brand, they unveiled the Buds at Rs. 2,499 and the Neckband Pro at Rs. 1,799. Let’s assess whether these products are worth it in these competitive segments.

The first thing you would notice about these products is their rather different orange color, which not many companies go for, whether in audio products or phones. The Neckband Pro manages to be a little more interesting than the Buds with its circular Smart Dial that doubles up as a button too. You can rotate it either way in order to adjust the volume, or press it, long-press it, or double or even triple press it for different functions such as noise cancellation, going to the next song, or going back to the previous song. The other side of the neckband features a small conventional button called the functional button that’s used to put the band into pairing mode or connect it to the previously connected device by double pressing it. The two earbuds attach to each other magnetically on the back to switch off, and they instantly switch on and then connect to your device when detached. It’s a very useful and reliable feature, especially if you use these for calls regularly. The Buds come in a square box case that doesn’t catch any smudges or fingerprints too quickly. On one corner of the case, you have a grey fidget spinner where you can attach a lanyard. You get two pairs of different-sized tips with the Buds. On the other side, you have the USB type C port alongside the pairing button. The Buds have a stem design and are all made out of plastic with silicone tips. The stems also carry the CMF logo in white. Both of these come in exactly the same color options — dark grey, light grey, and orange. While the Neckbands Pro weigh about 30 grams, the Buds weigh 53 grams with the case (around 4.6 grams each otherwise).

In the audio department, the Neckband Pro comes with 13.6mm drivers. It supports fast pair for Android as well as Swift Pair for Windows. The pair didn’t show any trouble in the initial pairing or at any other time, and they were quick to connect as soon as you detach the buds from themselves. They support Bluetooth 5.3 and allow you to pair and switch between two devices. With a total of 5 mics, I found the call quality of the Neckband Pro to be quite good and reliable. Even when outdoors, the pair didn’t struggle to handle noise and provided decent voice clarity on the other side.

In terms of sound, you get a bass-heavy output with okay mids and lows to go along with clear vocals for most genres. For people looking for bass oomph to go with their music, the pair does deliver for the price tag, but it can get a little too heavy for those that prefer a more neutral tone. Regarding active noise cancellation, you can expect to cancel out some chatter and low volume music around you to get your work done, but nothing much else, which seems to fit the bill.

Regarding the Buds, they feature 12.4mm drivers and support the same codecs as the neckbands – AAC and SBC with Bluetooth 5.3. They offer very similar ANC to their neckband for outdoor usage, provided you get a good in-ear fit. I found them comfortable to wear even for a couple of hours and didn’t have to adjust them frequently when commuting. You can expect clear and loud sound from the Buds without sacrificing on mids and lows for rock and metal genres. For Bollywood content, they handle vocals quite well, but handling different instruments can be a bit of a struggle. In terms of call quality, they do a fine job, but the neckbands Pro outperform them outdoors. They have standard gestures to skip forward, answer or hang up calls, pause or play, and switch between noise cancellation. There’s a little bit of lag when used for playing games or for high bitrate 4K videos, and low lag mode is supported only on Nothing phones for now. You can use the Nothing X app for both products to tweak settings as per your preference.

The IP55-rated water and dust-resistant Neckband Pro is powered by a 220mAh battery. The IP54-rated water and dust-resistant Buds have a 45mAh battery for each bud, and the case has a 460mAh battery. The Neckband Pro is really good when it comes to battery life, lasting a week when used for 3-4 hours per day, including calls and music. The LED on one side indicates the charging status, the same as the small LED on the Buds’ carrying case. The Buds, on the other hand, can last around 6-7 hours and add two more cycles with the case. With ANC always on, this comes down to around 3.5 hours and three more cycles with the case on. Both of these also support fast charging with compatible PD chargers, with the Neckband Pro charging to full in a little over an hour, while the Buds took a bit over 2 hours with the case plugged in.

The CMF Neckband Pro and Buds are competitive products that seem to be overall good performers. The former stands out in terms of design, audio, and mic performance, while the Buds have a sturdy design and comfortable fit. However, they are not exactly a home run when it comes to gestures and battery life. Nevertheless, they can still compete with the likes of Oppo Enco Buds 2 and OnePlus Nord 2 in terms of audio quality.