Nothing sure has tried to make a splash since OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei started it. We've only seen one product from the company thus far, the Nothing Ear(1) wireless earbuds, and to be fair, the Ear(1) was pretty good. So that's a strong start.
But Nothing held an event where it — and I'm being generous here — teased an upcoming smartphone, the Phone(1). We got a name and a vague diagram, plus a look at Nothing's dot matrix-heavy Android skin. Nothing promised it'd talk more about the phone this summer in the most anticlimactic "announcement" I've seen in the smartphone industry for a very long time.
Nothing strongly reminds me of the old upstart OnePlus. While that company no longer resembles the brand that so many fell in love with, I nonetheless see Carl Pei's influence in how Nothing currently conducts itself. It's trying to drum up hype for a product that doesn't yet exist. It can certainly be an effective tactic, especially if you're trying to break into the smartphone market.
But it's a double-edged sword and, right now, the hype that Nothing so desperately wants is just irritating me. For example, Nothing just put out the beta for its launcher and, despite the PR spin on the very limited feature set, I found myself utterly disappointed after going hands-on with it on my Pixel 5. It's far from revolutionary — you'd be better served installing anything else from the best Android launchers list.
I realize I'm feeding into Nothing's strategy by writing this, but someone has to call the company on this nonsense. The Phone(1) has a lot to prove to earn a spot among the best Android phones and I want to see more about the device instead of vague hints about it. The phrase "put up or shut up" comes to mind.
Hype is a dangerous thing to let take over, and it can easily backfire for the person or company behind it. Pei has a reputation for this and, to his credit, it succeeded for OnePlus. Just look at where that company is now, regardless of whether you like its current direction or not.
It seems like Nothing wants to be like the old OnePlus, but the last noteworthy upstart we saw, Essential, failed. Many factors went into the success of OnePlus, and from all appearances, Essential also had the same tools for success: a famous founder, a very solid product (I still like the PH-1 to this day), and a roadmap for the future. And yet, that company died ever so slowly, finally closing its doors in 2020.
So is Nothing the next OnePlus or the next Essential? We'll have to see. The Phone(1) could be the best phone we've ever seen and Nothing could still fail. I want to know more about the device more than I want teases — I'm still annoyed about the Nothing "Truth" event and how much of a waste of time it was.
Nothing seems to want to create an ecosystem, more than just a smartphone, and to that, I say knock yourself out. Just remember that Essential wanted to do the same thing.