Skip to main content

If this is Nothing’s first smartwatch, I’m not interested

Leaked render of Nothing's upcoming CMF smartwatch.

Nothing recently announced a new product line, one that would focus on affordability without sacrificing the brand’s signature approach to design and user experience. Named CMF by Nothing, it looks like the su-brand has a bunch of products ready for prime time, and one of them could be a snazzy-looking smartwatch.

In a Telegram channel, an anonymous leaker dropped marketing material and supposed renders of the Watch Pro. At first glance, it looks eye-catching with its bold orange aesthetics, but there is little to take away in terms of originality here, and the software situation sounds even more disheartening.

Nothing’s first watch gets a few things right

Leaked promo material for Nothing smartwatch

Let’s start on a positive note. The rectangular watch case is made out of aluminum alloy and offers IP68-rated protection against dust and water. The Watch Pro’s 1.96-inch AMOLED display delivers a decent 600 nits of peak brightness. There’s also support for 110 activities and on-device GPS facility.

Overall, it looks like a decent smartwatch package for the purported asking price of 4,499 Indian rupees, which translates to roughly $54 based on current conversion rates. That may sound like an attractive sticker price for Western markets like the U.S., where buyers don’t get many options like this. But in Asia markets such as India and China, there are rivals that go above and beyond in terms of looks and features.

Why it misses the mark

But all those budget perks come at a fat functional cost, and that cost is the absence of Wear OS. Now, CMF by Nothing isn’t committing a cardinal sin. It’s just following in the footsteps of OnePlus, where Nothing founder and CEO Carl Pei left quite a legacy. In fact, OnePlus’ own first smartwatch skipped Wear OS and embraced a real-time operating system (RTOS) by applying a signature aesthetic makeover over the bare-bones software foundation.

Now, running RTOS comes with its own set of benefits. First, it’s not resource intensive, which means you don’t need a fast Qualcomm chip or pricey RAM and storage modules to run a whole Android-tied operating system and the apps that come with it. Second, battery life is amazing. I’ve used RTOS-based Honor smartwatches, and they easily last for days on a single charge.

Concept design of Nothing Watch.
This is what I had hoped for on a Nothing smartwatch. @QndzyNews / Twitter

But the drawbacks are also significant. The best a brand can do is dramatically reimagine the UI. Nothing has done it with Android by serving a pleasing UI experience with Nothing OS, but there’s only so far you can go with aesthetics. You really need apps and the foundations of a solid smartwatch ecosystem to promise functionality.

That perk won’t be available with CMF’s upcoming smartwatch. I am disappointed not with the overall package – which offers all the essentials like heart rate and blood oxygen saturation measurement – but the lost promise here. With every single product it has launched so far, Nothing has tried to reinvent the fundamentals.

After smartphones and wearables, a smartwatch was the next avenue to surprise users. And the smartwatch industry could cartainly use a disruptor! Samsung’s Galaxy Watch lineup continues to carry the burden of aging looks, while the Google Pixel Watch focused so much on fresh looks that it forgot to deliver a rewarding Wear OS experience.

Nothing was a glimmer of hope, personally speaking. So far, Nothing has wowed us with some cool tricks across all its products, and I was expecting something similar with its debut smartwatch. Of course, the CMF smartwatch will be an easy purchase — almost an impulse buy — given its $50-ish asking price.

It has got clean looks and a solid brand value to go with it, especially when other Asian brands also play in the same pricing field. But it is far from the kind of smartwatch revolution I was expecting from a brand like Nothing, irrespective of the label slapped on it.

Editors' Recommendations

Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
Smartwatches are in big trouble
Different smartwatch models with displays illuminated.

I recently reviewed the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 Enduro, and it’s very good indeed. It’s fast, capable, and comfortable to wear, with a decent app and long battery life. The thing is, it’s actually only a gently warmed-over version of the same smartwatch released this time last year, which normally would be the kiss of death for any new product.

However, in the stagnant world of Wear OS, it’s apparently entirely possible to release basically the same product one year later and for it to still be a recommended purchase. The situation perfectly sums up the state of smartwatches at the moment, and it couldn't be happening at a worse time because two serious threats are looming.
Is it really the same?
Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 (left) and Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5 Enduro Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Read more
I spent five days wearing an Apple Watch clone, and now I’m angry
A person wearing the Huawei Watch Fit 3.

The Huawei Watch Fit 3 really makes me angry. Not because of the way it works or anything it does, but because of its lazy design, which makes it look like an Apple Watch.

It’s not a passing resemblance, it’s not subtle, and no one will need the similarities pointed out to get what I’m talking about. It’s a straight clone, and it’s extremely disappointing. What makes it worse is that the Huawei Watch Fit 3 is actually a very good smartwatch underneath — assuming you can get past its Apple Watch "inspiration."
An undeniable Apple Watch clone
Apple Watch Series 9 (left) and Huawei Watch Fit 3 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Read more
I can’t wait for Nothing to launch this stunning phone
Nothing Community Edition Project winner.

Say what you will about Nothing, but this brand certainly has a taste for flashy design. After all, how many phones out there light up and sync to the beat of music? But the company's latest smartphone endeavor could just be its best yet.

In March, Nothing introduced its Community Edition Project. The goal was to take ideas from its fans for hardware design, with the Nothing Phone 2a serving as the foundation. The company also has similar plans for wallpaper, packaging, and marketing shenanigans. Today, Nothing announced its winning entry for the phone design, and it’s a stunner.

Read more