Skip to main content

The Nothing Phone 1’s LEDs do a lot more than you’d expect

The Nothing Phone 1 is prepping for a July debut, but tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee (aka MKBHD) has already gotten his hands on the device and given us a glimpse of its marquee trait — the signature LED light pattern at the back. Nothing is said to have fitted over 900 individual LED lights below the transparent glass panel.

As many had expected, Nothing is using that LED real estate for more than just blinking for notifications. In fact, there’s a healthy dose of customizability that you can tinker with, thanks to a dedicated dashboard for the whole setup.

Related Videos

Nothing calls it the Glyph Interface, and it offers a bit of functional touch rather than just serving as a standout design element. To start, users can adjust the brightness level of the LED array underneath the transparent rear panel. Aside from just lighting up for notifications, the LED strips can also be configured to flicker for Google Assistant responses.

The Nothing Phone LOOKS Different

Depending on the shape and placement of the LED lines, there is a proximally functional aspect to it. For example, the G-shaped strip surrounding the wireless charging coil illuminates when the phone is being juiced up wirelessly. Similarly, reverse wireless charging an accessory like wireless earbuds also triggers the LEDs.

The exclamation mark-shaped LED line at the bottom comes to life in all its luminescent glory when a USB-C cable is plugged in for charging. The most interesting part is that the small vertical strip acts as a charging progress indicator. It’s not lit for the entire duration of charging, though. The LEDs are off when the phone is sitting idle while being charged, but if you slightly shake it, the LEDs light up.

The entire LED array also collectively doubles as a light fill when the camera app is being used, and it appears to be sufficiently bright. It’s a neat convenience and should come in handy for capturing low-light photos and videos — especially at close range.

Nothing Phone 1 official render

The customizability runs deeper than just visual cues. There are 10 ringtones, each accompanied by its own unique pattern for lighting up the LED strips in sync with the tunes. So, if one of those ringtones is set for emergency contacts or a family member, users will know who is calling them by the signature flashing pattern of the LEDs without having to flip the phone over. The LED lighting patterns also stand out on a per-app basis.

While the Nothing Phone 1 is not the first smartphone to embrace transparent aesthetics, the Carl Pei-led startup is definitely making the most of its LEDs and lending a functional aspect to it. But in doing so, Nothing also raises doubts about the whole package.

The case study

Are those LEDs the only standout feature, aside from the divisive Nothing OS launcher experience? The design already has some obvious iPhone 12 inspirations, but can it actually take on the Apple device when it comes to raw firepower and experiences, especially in departments like camera prowess? Ultimately, design can only go so far.

Nothing Phone 1 MKBHD
Credit: MKBHD / YouTube

Apple also chased the compact phone nirvana with the ‘mini’ series, but practical failures like poor battery life have reportedly forced Apple to discontinue it after only two generations. Nothing appears to be focusing on the Phone 1’s standout design, but that could backfire majestically if the actual phone experience is underwhelming.

As my colleague Michael Allison puts it, “Nothing has made something for people that aren’t a fan of putting a case on their phone.” For those people, the Nothing Phone 1 looks incredible. But if you like using a case and don’t care about flashing LEDs, the argument for the Nothing Phone 1 is still difficult to see.

Editors' Recommendations

Does the Samsung Galaxy A54 have a headphone jack?
The top edge of the Galaxy A54.

The Samsung Galaxy A54 is Samsung's budget flagship that's a solid pick for anyone looking to get the best the company has to offer without breaking the bank. Every time a new smartphone like the Galaxy A54 launches, it can feel like questions about the phone's technical specs take up the majority of the conversation. The hardware features are equally as important since they're the things that prospective buyers will be physically interacting with when using the phone.

When it comes to frequently asked hardware questions, questions about 3.5mm headphone jacks are usually the ones asked most often. Although much of the world has moved on to relying primarily on wireless headphones, there are still those who use wired headphones as their main way of consuming audio content. Most major flagships have dropped headphone jacks entirely, but there's a devoted group of budget devices that still feature them for headphone users who prefer wired connections. Here's what you need to know about the Galaxy A54's audio options and if it has a headphone jack.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 doesn't have a headphone jack

Read more
The Huawei Watch Ultimate looks like the perfect Apple Watch Ultra rival
The Huawei Watch Ultimate in Voyage Blue and Expedition Black themes.

See if you can guess which smartwatch Huawei wants to take on with its latest release. It’s called the Huawei Watch Ultimate, and it’s made to appeal to outdoorsy types, complete with comprehensive diving and expedition modes.

It has a really big screen and a big battery too. That’s right, the Huawei Watch Ultimate is an Apple Watch Ultra competitor — but don’t pass it by just yet, because it’s worth your attention.

Read more
Samsung Galaxy Watch 6: the 6 things that would make it amazing
The Galaxy Watch 5 Pro showing a colorful watch face.

Samsung’s 2023 product lineup has turned out pretty impressive so far, but the more promising devices are scheduled for the latter half of the year. Among them is the Galaxy Watch 6 series. Now, the Galaxy Watch 5 line-up isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it also wasn’t really an appealing upgrade over the Galaxy Watch 4 portfolio.

With the Galaxy Watch 6 series, we’re already hearing some promising chatter in the leak land. Here’s a wish list of changes that would make the Galaxy Watch 6 series a truly tantalizing and potent alternative to the venerable Apple Watch.
Bring back the rotating bezel
Galaxy Watch 4 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Read more