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Nothing Phone 1: Everything we know about Carl Pei’s next phone

The Nothing Phone 1 was officially announced earlier this year during a livestream in which the company’s CEO, Carl Pei, revealed his ambitions for the smartphone. Nothing has been pretty tight-lipped when it comes to specific details about the Phone 1. However, there have already been a handful of credible leaks that suggest the device will be on par with other leading flagships.

Here’s all the information we have so far about the Nothing Phone 1.

Design

After much speculation and plenty of teasing from Nothing, we’ve finally gotten a good look at the design of the Nothing Phone 1. The official images shared by Nothing have created a divide of sorts among fans due to the smartphone’s transparent back. Despite Pei’s insisting that the Phone 1 will be something of an iPhone killer, it certainly takes a lot of inspiration from Apple’s handset. It’s because of the conventional design that some fans are feeling a little bit disappointed, especially seeing how Nothing has been talking about its expectations for the Phone 1 to be the start of an industry-wide shake-up.

Nothing Phone 1 official render

The Nothing Phone 1 features two main cameras on a vertical pill-shaped island directly next to a microphone and flashlight. There’s currently no word on the lenses that the cameras will have. Across from the cameras on the right side of the phone’s back is a red recording light that pulses on and off while the phone is recording video. It’s a nice touch but seems like the kind of feature that might get turned off by many, as the light might be seen in recordings.

Reliable leaker Ishan Agarwal has also shared an alleged render of the Nothing Phone 1 in black, alongside the white trim that is already making waves on social media. Following in the footsteps of the Ear 1 earbuds that also got a black option, the only key change here is that the rails are black, and the innards visible under the see-through rear cover also flaunt a matching black paint job. The signature LED strips are here to stay, providing a neat white contrast against the black surroundings.

Nothing Phone (1) in Black, Official Watermark-less Render!

It is indeed coming in a Black color & this render hasn't been officially revealed yet but 🤷🏻‍♂️

Do you like it? Which color option do you prefer? ⚫️⚪️
Please give credit if you publish further.#Nothing #NothingPhone1 pic.twitter.com/aSXSthxDF9

— Ishan Agarwal (@ishanagarwal24) June 28, 2022

While we haven’t had an in-depth look at the smartphone in full, there appear to be three buttons on the sides — two on one side and one on the other — mirroring the industry standard of two volume buttons and one to lock the screen.

The only truly unique elements of the Nothing Phone 1’s design are the light strips around the camera island and the wireless charging coil. The design of the three light strips has been teased in previous Nothing events for the Phone 1, and it’s certainly striking to see. A recent overview from tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee (aka MKBHD) shed some light on the functionality of LED strips.

Someone holding the Nothing Phone 1, showing the front of it and its display.
MKBHD

The lights serve several purposes — such as being notification indicators when the phone is lying face down and displaying charging information. As shown off by Brownlee, the lights are programmable and give device owners a variety of options when it comes to how the phone lights up for each type of notification. However, as many have pointed out, the lights’ practicality immediately disappears when putting a case on the Phone 1.

Turning the Nothing Phone 1 over to the front, its unique design flair is all but impossible to see. It has a large display with slim bezels, rounded corners, and a hole-punch camera cutout in the top-left corner. It’s not a bad design by any means, but it also feels very similar to most other modern flagships.

Specifications

Fans have speculated that the Phone 1 will be fitted with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but those hopes have now been officially quashed. The Nothing chief has told InputMag that the company’s first phone comes armed with the Snapdragon 778G+ chipset. The aforementioned processor is identical to the vanilla Snapdragon 778G chip, save for two key upgrades: support for wireless and reverse wireless charging.

Qualcomm reportedly added those two features at Nothing’s request, and subsequently gave a “+” badge to the Snapdragon 778G in order to distinguish it. Nothing has already showcased the reverse wireless charging prowess of its hype-driven phone on camera, juicing up the Ear 1 earbuds as soon as the earbuds’ case is placed on its transparent rear panel.

Lots of gems in the comments and also lots of bad takes. Looking forward to July 12. 🤣

— Carl Pei (@getpeid) June 29, 2022

As for the reason why Nothing embraced a midrange chip instead of flagship silicon, Pei cited cost, performance, and power consumption as the key benefits. Pei is said to believe that “phones have reached a point of good enough performance for general tasks and more powerful chips have diminishing returns.” In the case of the Snapdragon 778G+, it sucks up less power and happens to be more effective at thermal management than its flagship siblings from Qualcomm.

The choice of a non-flagship chip also makes sense from the pricing perspective, as the company reportedly wants to sell the Nothing Phone 1 for under $500, with invite-based pre-orders already live in markets like India. And to really send home the message about why he is so bullish on the Snapdragon 778G+ prospects, just look at the meme that he tweeted earlier this week, and wait for the reviews to drop.

According to a leak from TechDroider, the Phone 1 will feature a 6.55-inch OLED display that can display up to a 2400 x 1080p resolution. Based on the renders we’ve seen so far, the smartphone will feature a singular “hole punch” front-facing camera in the top-center of the display. There is no information regarding the specs of any of the cameras fitted in the device.

Software

Although there isn’t much known about the technical specs of the Phone 1, its software is a completely different story. The Phone 1 will run on NothingOS, which uses Android as a foundation. The company ran a NothingOS beta preview in April, giving fans the chance to get a feel for what the Phone 1 will be like when it eventually launches.

Nothing OS Android launcher running on Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The reception to the beta was mixed due to NothingOS feeling a little bare-bones as a result of its intentional minimalism. A lot of the typical AndroidOS experience was stripped away for a more straightforward design, but there’s not a whole lot of new that Nothing is bringing to the table. There’s still time for the company to fix the less than ideal parts of the UX, but there’s nothing concrete suggesting that they will, especially given how integral minimalism has been to the Phone 1’s marketing.

U.S. availability

Many assumed that the Nothing Phone 1 would be launching globally. However, Carl Pei recently revealed to PCMag that the company has other ideas. Surprisingly, there will be no U.S. launch for the Phone 1. Instead, it’ll be exclusive to Europe and Asia. Pei’s explanation for leaving the U.S. out is that Nothing has “strong partnerships with leading local carriers” in the European and Asian regions. According to Pei, launching a phone in the U.S. would be too difficult for their first launch as Nothing doesn’t have the types of relationships required to get a new smartphone off the ground.

While this is certainly disappointing for anyone in the U.S. who was hoping to get their hands on the Phone 1, Pei is hopeful that future Nothing smartphone releases will eventually launch here. He says that the company has “big plans” for future products, but said nothing specifically about what those plans entail.

For a device meant to take on the iPhone and be the start of an industry-wide shake-up, many fans have expressed their disappointment in Nothing for not launching in the U.S. where a shake-up is seen as necessary. For many, Apple and Samsung are the only two options when it comes to owning flagship smartphones, so the lack of support for the Phone 1 is a big hit.

Release

There isn’t a specific release date for the Nothing Phone 1 yet. Currently, the only release date information available is that the company will be hosting a full reveal event on July 12. We’ve had an inkling that the device would be launching sometime this summer, and the reveal event seems to be supporting those hunches. While the event date gives fans a general window for when they can expect to hear more, the official launch date is still unknown.

Despite the lack of a full reveal for the Phone 1, Nothing recently announced that fans are able to sign up for the chance to pre-order the smartphone before it officially goes on sale. Using a portal on the Nothing website, you can sign up for a special invite to pre-order the Nothing Phone 1.

Concept for Nothing smartphone

Nothing has stated a few times that the Phone 1 is going to be in limited supply due to production issues and that this is a way for them to get their phone in the hands of the people who want it most. Once the Nothing Phone 1 officially launches, it seems as if Nothing is anticipating stock issues for the first round of sales. In other words, it might be tricky for people not included in the pre-order to get their hands on it.

While Nothing is certainly going all out in a final push to market the Phone 1 before its July 12 reveal, many have found it hard to make a decision about purchasing a new device that still has so many big unknowns in so many areas.

There’s plenty of excitement built up for the Nothing Phone 1, but it would seem like some of that anticipation comes from how mysterious it has been up to now. As we’ve gotten closer to the July 12 reveal, more details have been shared, but we’re still far from seeing the full picture just yet. We’ll update here with more news and rumors about Nothing’s first phone as they come in.

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