Is it possible for a brand new company to produce an exciting phone in a sea of same colored black slabs?
If there’s one person who stands a chance, it could be Carl Pei. The OnePlus co-founder has a new outfit called Nothing. Arguably the most hyped new smartphone of the year launched this week: Nothing’s Phone 1. (It’s actually called Phone (1), but we’ll lose the parenthesis for your reading benefit.)
That Irish Independent got one earlier this week.
The most important feature of this 6.5 inch Android device? A system of 900 micro-LED lights built into the back of the phone. These serve as visual aids for alerts and ringtones, and can be customized for different people and different social platforms.
In the relatively short amount of time I’ve had to play around with them, they’re a whimsical novelty. Whether or not they become something I can rely on (will a different glyph lighting routine for my mom, my wife, or my boss evoke different reactions?) remains to be seen, at least for a few days.
The other big design statement is the transparent case on the back. This shows a lot of the inner workings of the phone. Depending on the model, they are colored either black or white. This is certainly different than what is out there. And Nothing has a transparent body so you don’t lose its impact.
There are some other general points worth mentioning at this stage.
Despite this being an Android device, Nothing positions the Phone 1 as something much closer to an Apple replacement. As soon as you take it out of the box you can see why. Out of the box, there’s no question that it physically resembles an iPhone 12 or 13. The round camera lens shapes on the back of the phone are also very similar to Apple’s cameras. And Nothing’s custom operating system (OS) adaptations to Android show a clear commitment to seamless integration with things like earbuds (own or others like AirPods) and popular electric car brands.
But there’s not much Apple-ish about the price. Nothing positions this as a premium device that sells very much at a mid-range price. The basic model (128 GB) costs 469 euros. That’s about half of what an iPhone 13 costs, and probably less than half of what the iPhone 14 is selling for.
From what I’ve seen so far, everything is pretty high-end
Budget-wise this is in the same class as a OnePlus Nord 2T (€399), a Pixel 6a or a Samsung A53 (€459), all decent phones if they lack a lot of uniqueness.
It’s pretty obvious that the whole point of Nothing’s Phone 1 is personality and identity in a world of boring black records. Laying face down on a table, an incoming call or text should tell the difference.
Does that mean it skimps on specs? Not for the money.
From what I’ve seen so far, everything is pretty high end without being absolutely best in class at anything.
It has two rear cameras. The main unit uses the same 50-megapixel Sony sensor found in some phones already on the market, from the mid-range OnePlus Nord 2T to Oppo’s flagship Find X5 Pro.
It records in 4K and has things like optical stabilization, a portrait mode, and a night mode. It’s good. A second ultrawide rear lens, also 50-megapixels, is also more than capable, as is the 16-megapixel selfie camera (with portrait mode).
The Oled screen is really nice too, with an adaptive refresh rate of 60Hz up to 120 hours, 402ppi and 1,200 nits of peak brightness.
Nothing’s Ear 1 buds have sold nearly 600,000 copies
The underlying engine is a step below the best flagships, but absolutely fine. The Snapdragon 778+ chip enables 5G, reverse charging and wireless charging without sacrificing battery life too much. It’s also good enough for most gaming and things like processing videos you’re recording. This is backed by 8GB of RAM on the two standard models or 12GB on the top model.
The included storage is similarly decent: 128GB or 256GB depending on which model you choose.
I haven’t really been able to test the battery life yet, but at 4,500mAh it’s holding up pretty well so far.
There are some nice software touches built into the Nothing OS. Notably, it includes feature controls in the settings that many other phones would need a separate app for. This includes changing the “Glyph” lights or turning them off completely. It also includes some anointed third-party services such as B. Optimizing the controls of a Tesla car.
So, can the Nothing Phone 1 capture people’s imaginations? The company is upbeat, pointing out that its Ear 1 headphones have sold nearly 600,000 units as a brand new product from the ground up.
My guess here is that the price and some hype may well capture the enthusiast’s phone budget. It remains to be seen whether this will be at the expense of other Android phones or Apple.
Look for an in-depth feature review on Independent.ie in the coming days.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/reviews/review-nothing-1-phone-a-premium-device-thats-on-sale-at-a-mid-market-price-41838026.html Rating: Nothing (1) Phone – a premium device that comes at a mid-range price point