Nothing might launch new hi-res earbuds at CES under the XO brand

With two models under its belt — the Ear 1 and the Ear Stick — Carl Pei’s Nothing brand is no stranger to wireless earbuds. But the maverick smartphone company might be planning something a little different for 2023. It seems as though it’s readying its third model of wireless earbuds, according to a tweet from developer Kuba Wojciechowski that was reported by 91mobiles.com. Wojciechowski claims to have found references within Nothing’s firmware and also managed to unearth what are claimed to be renders of the as-yet-unannounced product.

Particles by XO leaked render.
Kuba Wojciechowski/91mobiles.com

Known as “Particles by XO,” the wireless earbuds have a unique, peanut-like shape reminiscent of the Sony LinkBuds. Though unlike the LinkBuds, which use a doughnut-shaped driver that allows external sounds to be heard clearly, the Particles use a traditional ear canal-sealing design. The report suggests that these will be active noise-canceling buds, which is consistent with the silicone-tipped design.

The use of the XO brand might give some folks reason to wonder if this is in fact a Nothing product. After all, why go to the trouble of creating an entirely new subbrand when the Nothing parent brand has only launched a few products so far?

Particles by XO leaked render.

And yet, one of the few specs that have accompanied the leak makes me think this is a legit Nothing creation. According to 91mobiles, the Particles will support the LHDC Bluetooth codec. LHDC is a low-latency, yet hi-res -capable codec that is notable for its lack of support outside of a small handful of smartphones and earbuds.

The Nothing Phone 1, which was released earlier in 2022, has just recently received a software update that adds LHDC support. And since the phone doesn’t support Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive — one of the other major hi-res codecs along with Sony’s LDAC — it makes a lot of sense that Nothing would want to offer its users a set of earbuds that work with LHDC.

How soon might we see the mysterious Particles by XO hit retail? At this point, it’s looking like early 2023, a time frame that syncs nicely with a recent but vague tweet from Pei that said, “preparing for a U.S. launch.”

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