Nothing Phone 1 — Nothing just took teasing a new phone to ridiculous extremes

Nothing event
(Image credit: Nothing)

If you haven't heard of Nothing yet, I'm hear to tell you that the startup has 300 people employed so far but plans to take on Apple. Seriously, this is one ambitious company, headed up former OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei.

Nothing had previously launched the Nothing Ear 1 wireless earbuds, which were fairly well received. But for a company planning to challenge the $2 trillion giant that is Apple, it needs to build out an ecosystem of products, and the new Nothing 1 phone aims to be at the center. 

As we covered in our Nothing event live blog, there was some substance to the presentation. Carl Pei laid out his company's vision of creating more "human" products and providing a real alternative to Apple's "closed" ecosystem. Pei also took a thinly veiled shot at Samsung, insinuating that while Apple's products work well together, it all falls apart when you try it with other companies.

So, yes, I'm excited for something truly new. And the Nothing Phone 1 could be just that when it arrives this summer. But this "The Truth" event just felt like a lot of hype.

The live YouTube stream, which started with a very strange set piece that mocked what many of us agree is futuristic, actually had only 15 minutes of real content. And it took until about the 22-minute mark out of 27 minutes for the worst tease ever.

Pei says that the Nothing Phone 1 "design wise, is unlike anything you've seen before. Let me show you."

Having heard that statement, you might think that Nothing would then actually show you the Nothing Phone 1. Instead, we see a series of flashing lights, a dot matrix pattern and a series of shapes that look like an alien language. 

I get it. Nothing is trying to build anticipation. And there have been some exciting rumors and teases that it could be working on a transparent design, similar to the Nothing Ear 1 wireless earbuds. But all we get is a promise: "Trust me, it's stunning."

At least we do get a real look at some software elements from Nothing, as the Nothing OS does look clean and modern with a retro vibe. For example, there's a dot matrix weather widget, and the voice recorder app has an analog tape animation you can manipulate to rewind and fast forward. Nothing also promises smooth performance by learning from your usage and keeping the apps you use most in RAM.

None of this, however, is enough to get me excited about the Nothing 1 Phone. At least not yet.

I am intrigued by Nothing's focus on building out an ecosystem of products, and not just the ones it makes. Nothing will be working with other companies to help the gadgets we use work better together. 

But as far as the Nothing 1 Phone goes, please come back to me when you have something more substantial to share. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.