The Nothing Phone 1 is confirmed, and this startup is hoping to create something truly different. It's been a few years since a new company joined the smartphone race, but the brand that gave us the Nothing Ear 1 is promising something revolutionary.
Nothing certainly has the credibility to do it, since its founder, Carl Pei, helped start up the successful phone brand OnePlus. But with OnePlus now far removed from its original mission of top specs for less, perhaps we're about to see the Nothing Phone 1 take that now vacant spot in the market.
Our Nothing event live blog has all the details on the type of company Pei is trying to build. But here's what we know so far about the Nothing Phone 1.
Nothing Phone 1 cheat sheet: What you need to know
- The Nothing Phone 1 is coming in summer 2022.
- Nothing says that it will offer a truly unique and iconic phone design, but has not yet shown what the Phone 1 will look like.
- The Nothing Phone 1 will be powered by a Qualcomm chip, though we don't know which one yet.
- Nothing OS promises to be fast and smooth and learns from your usage. Your apps should load and close super fast.
- The Nothing Phone 1 will offer 3 years of software updates and 4 years of security updates.
- Nothing is using dot matrix fonts and retro graphic elements to provide a human touch, such a tape recorder-like design in the voice recorder.
- Nothing is promising seamless support for third-party products like AirPods and Tesla vehicles.
Nothing Phone 1 release date and availability
The Nothing Phone 1 is coming "summer 2022." The phone's existence and its name were made official via a Wired interview with founder Carl Pei, and it was confirmed during the Nothing event.
There's no news on price right now. However, given Carl Pei helped set up OnePlus as a cheap yet premium brand, so perhaps we can expect a price that will undercut big rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S22 or the upcoming OnePlus 10 Pro, or even the already cheap Google Pixel 6.
Carl Pei did note during the Nothing event that he has a good track record selling direct to consumers, so we would expect that to continue, which would presumably keep prices down.
Nothing Phone 1 design
The outside of the Nothing Phone 1 remains a mystery, although the illustrations given to Wired by Nothing event may suggest the look of the phone's back, with a stadium-shaped camera block in the top left corner.
Founder Carl Pei says the design is "unlike anything you've seen before."
One possible glimpse of the phone came via leaker Evan Blass, who tweeted an image of Carl Pei holding an unknown phone-sized device. It's hard to make out much detail though.
Nothing to see here. pic.twitter.com/mzLeTVHSXmMarch 7, 2022
It's possible that the phone could have a transparent back. A tweet from the company, plus the seethrough design of the Nothing Ear 1, both suggest that the Phone 1 will take us back to the feature phone era when transparent gadgets were still in. You can see how this might look in this concept from Yanko Design.
Nothing Phone 1: Nothing OS
We know a bit more about the look of the phone's interface. The screenshots we've seen so far show an always-on display, rounded app icons, some custom Nothing widgets and the company's established black and white design language.
Nothing says that Nothing OS is the best of Android combined with its "iconic design language." There's apparently 40% few pre-installed and close to a stock Android experience.
By unifying the graphics between different screens, Nothing says that using the Nothing 1 phone will feel seamless. For example, the dot matrix clock that appears on the always-on display is in the same position when you unlock the device.
Nothing is also playing up its unique visual language with bespoke fonts, colors and graphical elements. For instance, the weather widget uses the same dot matrix font as the company's logo, which slick animations.
Nothing's apps have a retro and playful vibe, such as the voice recorder app. There's an analog tape wheel that you can manipulate to rewind and fast forward.
To get a taste of the Nothing Phone 1, Nothing has released a launcher you can try on other phones. After going through the launcher preview, we're pretty disappointed with what we saw, and it's adding to the perception that Nothing's phone is more hype than substance.
In terms of updates, you can expect 3 years of OS updates and 4 years of security updates.
Nothing Phone 1 specs and performance
We don't know the Nothing Phone 1 specs yet, but Nothing is partnering with Qualcomm for the handset. This suggests we'll see a Snapdragon chip, perhaps the flagship-grade Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
The Nothing Phone 1 also promises "fast and smooth performance" by delivering the optimal processing power and RAM users need for the exact app they're using. And the apps you use the most will launch faster, so the Phone 1 should learn from your usage.
Going by the presence of what looks to be an always-on display in the screenshots above, the phone would need an OLED display to make this work. Hopefully that would also mean a high refresh rate in line with the common 120Hz standard on more expensive Android phones.
Nothing Phone 1: Outlook
The Android smartphone universe has shrunk over the past few years with LG, HTC and other companies no longer in the mix. And Samsung's domination has arguably become boring for those looking for something truly exciting and different. We're hoping the Nothing 1 makes a splash, but this upstart brand has a lot to prove in a highly competitive market.