Nothing, the company founded by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, has unveiled its first smartphone called the Phone (1). Similar to the Ear (1) wireless earphones, the Nothing smartphone features a unique “transparent” back design and it is offered in black and white.
For an upper-midrange smartphone priced above RM2,000 in Malaysia, this isn’t really the flagship killer that most OnePlus fans would hope for. Is this just a product fuelled by hype or does it offer something refreshing in an already saturated market?
In terms of hardware, the Nothing Phone (1) seems to be somewhat similar to the Motorola Edge 30 and the Xiaomi 12 Lite. Upfront, it gets a 6.55″ Full HD+ OLED display with symmetrical bezels and it pushes a 120Hz refresh rate. For better durability, it uses Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 for both front and back, and it also comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor.
Besides having a unique design, Carl Pei shared that the Phone (1) is made with lots of sustainable materials. The mid-frame uses 100% recycled aluminium while more than 50% of its plastic components are bio-plastics. What’s more interesting is that 100% of tin used for soldering is also recycled, which is something Carl believes is the first in the industry.
Under the hood, it runs on a 6nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ chip, which has a slightly higher (2.5GHz vs 2.4GHz) Kryo 670 Prime Core than the previous Snapdragon 778G. The device gets 8GB or 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage.
While most Android smartphone makers would put at least three or four cameras for the rear, the Phone (1) only gets two. The main 50MP camera with optical image stabilisation uses a 1/1.56″ Sony IMX766 sensor which is the same camera sensor that’s found on the Xiaomi 12S and the Oppo Find X5 Pro.
Meanwhile, the secondary camera is a 50MP ultra-wide shooter that offers a 114-degree field of view and it uses a 1/2.76″ Samsung ISOCELL JN1 sensor. For selfies, it gets a 16MP front camera that uses Sony’s IMX471 sensor.
The biggest standout feature is its Glyph lighting at the back which consists of several elements. It works as a notification light for incoming calls and alerts, and the individual sections also double as an indicator light. For instance, the thin bar at the bottom can be used to show the current battery levels during charging, while the larger C-shaped ring around the middle will illuminate to let you know that reverse wireless charging is enabled. If you need to take close-up shots in low light, the Glyph lighting can be used to illuminate your subjects in full brightness. During the live stream launch, Nothing says they are working with partners to build more features for the Glyph interface.
Connectivity-wise, the Phone (1) supports 5G, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 as well as NFC with Google Pay support. As you would expect for a modern smartphone, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack or a microSD expansion slot. However, it does come with a pair of stereo speakers. Unfortunately, this isn’t a phone which you can submerge under water as it only comes with a splash-resistant IP53 rating.
Powering the device is a decent 4,500mAh battery which supports 33W fast wired charging via USB-C as well as 15W wireless charging. If you need to charge other devices such as the Nothing Ear (1), the phone also supports reverse wireless charging at 5W.
In the software front, it seems that Nothing is following OnePlus by offering a smooth and bloat-free experience. The Phone (1) runs on their very own Nothing OS that’s based on Android. Nothing promises to offer 3 years of major Android OS updates and 4 years of security updates, which isn’t groundbreaking and it’s on par with OnePlus.
Carl said during the live stream event that stability, quality, and reliability are way more important than having a ton of fancy features. Therefore, Nothing is putting more resources on testing and quality assurance as well as bug fixing than feature development for their software. This sounds quite promising as OnePlus users have been reporting bugs, as well as delays and inconsistent software updates.
For the Malaysian market, Nothing has revealed the pricing of RM2,399 for the 8GB RAM + 256GB storage model and RM2,699 for the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage model. Both black and white variants are coming but we still don’t know when it will officially go on sale in Malaysia.
No doubt that the Phone (1) looks interesting but you can find better value for money smartphones that run on a more powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip under RM3,000. Some of the concerns about picking up a Nothing phone include the lack of official customer service presence and a track record for regular software updates. And that’s something you might want to consider if you’re spending more than RM2,000 on a new smartphone brand.
If Nothing can prove itself of being a reliable smartphone maker with consistent and quality software updates, it could possibly be a serious contender for buyers that want a no-nonsense and bloat-free Android experience. What do you think of the Nothing Phone (1)? Let us know your thoughts below.