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Nothing Phone 1: Everything we know about Carl Pei’s new 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 steadily sharing more information ever since. Now, following the smartphone’s official reveal event, we’ve seen the Nothing Phone 1 in full and managed to get our hands on one.

If you’re on the fence about it, here’s all the information you need to know 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. In short, the design has 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.

The back of the Nothing Phone 1.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Nothing Phone 1 features two main cameras on a vertical pill-shaped island directly next to a microphone and flashlight. 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 Nothing Phone 1 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.

Following in the footsteps of Nothing’s Ear 1 earbuds, the Phone 1 is also available in black. While the main focus of the device’s marketing was around the white version, the black one looks just as sleek. That said, design comparisons to the iPhone are even more clear when contrasting the black Phone 1 and many generations of black iPhones that came before it.

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 they’re certainly striking to see.

Nothing Phone 1 MKBHD
MKBHD / YouTube

The lights serve several purposes, such as being notification indicators when the phone is lying face down and displaying charging information. 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 Nothing 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, a hole-punch camera cutout in the top-left corner, and a lock screen button on one side and two volume buttons on the other. 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 Phone 1 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.

Glyph lights active around the Nothing Phone 1's camera module.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

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.

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 Nothing Phone 1 has between 8GB and 12GB of RAM and between 128GB and 256GB of internal storage depending on which version you purchase. It has a 4500mAh battery capacity and supports 33W charging through its bottom port and 15W wireless charging.

Cameras

Now that the Nothing Phone 1 has been revealed in full, we finally have answers to the questions fans have been asking about the Phone 1’s cameras. The device has two main cameras: one 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 and another 50MP Samsung JN1 ultrawide lens. The Sony IMX766 features optical image stabilization, electronic image stabilization, and an f/1.88 aperture. The ultrawide lens only features electronic image stabilization and an f/2.2 aperture. In terms of the front-facing, hole-punch camera, it’s a pretty standard 16MP lens.

Based on the sample images provided in a blog post, the Nothing Phone 1’s cameras definitely seem to hold up when compared to other flagships.

via https://t.co/onqvgXSSCo pic.twitter.com/EoN4LUzoNv

— Ben Geskin (@BenGeskin) July 8, 2022

Display

The Nothing Phone 1 features a 6.55-inch OLED screen made of Gorilla Glass 5 that can display up to a 2400 x 1080p resolution. A recent TikTok posted to the official Nothing account showcased that the Phone 1 will have two different refresh rate options: 60Hz for regular use and a Smooth Display setting that brings it up to 120Hz for select apps. This isn’t a game-changing feature in 2022, but it’s still nice to see a 120Hz option present on the Nothing Phone 1.

The Nothing Phone 1 also features an under-display fingerprint sensor. There were rumors that it might feature a sensor on its side, but now it’s confirmed to be using a sensor similar to those found on other Android devices.

Software

The Nothing Phone 1 runs 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.

The screen on the Nothing Phone 1.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

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 Android 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.

Nothing has confirmed that the Phone 1 will receive three years of operating system support and four years of bi-monthly security patches.

Complimentary NFTs

Nothing announced on Twitter that community investors will be getting free NFTs called the Black Dot. As you can see in the tweet linked below, the Black Dot NFT is an image of, well, a black dot. This is a way for the company to say thanks to its monetary supporters. More rounds of the NFT will be given out for free to anyone who pre-orders the Nothing Phone 1 once they finally go live assumedly later this month.

Introducing Black Dot NFT. pic.twitter.com/hwj78IWCDT

— Nothing (@nothing) July 5, 2022

All of this is in a push from Nothing to promote its larger Community Dots NFT program, which is meant to connect its users and community. Due to the way that Nothing is marketing its first smartphone as something of an exclusive luxury device, it makes sense that it would want to keep pushing the idea of exclusivity in any way that it can. Even if that means making a big deal out of a virtual black dot.

U.S. availability

Many assumed that the Nothing Phone 1 would be launching globally. However, Carl Pei 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

The Nothing Phone 1 is available now. The smartphone was fully revealed during a Nothing reveal event on July 12 when the company also announced that it’s officially for sale in markets where it’s available.

Before the full reveal for the Phone 1, Nothing announced that fans were able to sign up for the chance to pre-order the smartphone before it officially went on sale. Using a portal on the Nothing website, fans were able to sign up for a special invite to pre-order the Nothing Phone 1.

The side of the Nothing Phone 1.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Nothing has stated a few times that the Phone 1 is going to be in limited supply due to production issues and that its staggered release was a way for them to get their phone in the hands of the people who want it most. 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 has certainly gone all out with the Phone 1’s marketing as something meant to shake the entire mobile industry, many have found it hard to make a decision about purchasing the new device due to its midrange specs.

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 its full reveal and release. Now that we’ve finally seen the Phone 1 in full, it’s a lot easier to see it for what it is and cut through the hype that Nothing has been leaning heavily into.

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