120 Hz Extraordinary display
Great wide-angle camera
Great battery life
Charger not included in the box
The Nothing Phone 1 may be the first phone to have been willed into existence through pure hype.
Not to take anything away from uber-cool brand Nothing, the brainchild of OnePlus co-creator Carl Pei seems like a concerted effort to do it all over again.
The limited availability, an exclusive invite process and PR juggernaut (now with added NFTs to make it so 2022) all scream peak OnePlus Yet the Nothing Phone 1 does not claim to be an iPhone killer. Nor does it sport flagship Android specs at cutthroat prices.
So what on Earth is it then? Let’s find out.
Looking at the Nothing Phone 1, it’s impossible to get away from the influence of Apple’s iPhone on the design.
The metal frame and rounded corners, met with a refreshingly flat display is premium-adjacent, but looks undeniably cool.
Important to underline how refreshing it is to have a more compact design, with a flat front display, although Asus’ Zenfone 9 is also standing out on that side of the house.
The rear of the phone is where the designers earned their bonuses – with a completely transparent back panel, immediately lending it a retro-futuristic styling.
The device really sings when you spot the array of LEDs on its back that react according to sounds and notifications – affectionately named the Glyph lights, more on those later.
Pair Nothing Phone 1’s staccato flashes from the curiously positioned lights with the retro bleeps and bloops that pass for its notifications…you’ve got style in spades.
The IP53 certified Nothing Phone 1 (think splashproof as opposed to being submerged) comes in two simple colors - black and white.
Even though the transparent back looks cool, stuff is just getting interesting. It has a Glyph interface with a series of 900 white LEDs arranged in a certain pattern that lights the whole phone up.
The LEDs are in the form of little strips and give a whole new vibe to the phone, making it look even more futuristic.
From wireless charging and charging indicators, to Google Assistant listening to your voice and having the lights react to music like a 21st Century graphic equalizer, the Glyph interface is arresting – if not entirely essential - in almost every scenario.
All in all, it looks and feels quite fun to use and with a few new updates, the phone might even set a new trend for these LEDs.
The Nothing Phone 1 comes with an OLED panel that supports HDR10+ and gets as bright as 700 nits at its peak. While the maximum brightness isn’t overly impressive, the 120Hz fluid refresh rate reassures whether consuming or engaging with content on the display.
In terms of size, Nothing Phone 1 comes with a 6.55-inch panel at a resolution of 1080 x 2400 - seemingly the new standard for phones.
All in all, the display is good but brightness levels leave a little to be desired, considering that competitors have already passed the 1000 nits mark.
The truest deviation from the OnePlus playbook comes when we look at the Nothing Phone 1’s specs.
Coming with a Snapdragon 778G+ chipset clearly highlights cost-saving intentions - it’s a budget series processor and coupled with 8GB or 16GB RAM, the phone can surely handle basic gaming and day-to-day tasks, but falls short when it comes to the enthusiast early adopter.
The phone also comes with 128GB or 256GB storage which is fine given where they’re aiming for with this device.
The phone comes with Android 12 and Nothing OS 1.1.3 out of the box. While the interface is pretty minimal, it still requires a lot of improvements, feature updates, and bug fixes to make it work to the standard we’ve come to expect.
Visual glitches or resizing issues are close to a daily occurrence, whether it’s function arrows remaining on the screen or occasional delays in responsiveness that require a device restart, it does truly feel like you’re in at the ground floor with an entirely new mobile manufacturer…which is essentially what this is.
Time will tell if they can iron out the kinks and deliver an equivalent experience to that which avid mobile phone fans expect.
Talking about the cameras, the Nothing Phone 1 comes with dual 50-megapixel rear cameras and a 16-megapixel front camera. It has the Sony IMX766 sensor which also supports OIS.
Now, this surely isn’t the best camera in its class but thanks to the punchy colors, it will be great for social media. Under low light is where the phone starts to suffer due to low detailed image quality and grainy pictures. But all in all, the Nothing Phone 1 has a good dual rear camera with a few caveats.
The phone camera also gets the job done and as a 16- megapixel effort, you can expect a decent amount of detail from it. The phone can record at 4K at 30FPS only and the front camera can record 1080p at 30FPS. Both aren’t quite impressive but this is where the processor’s limitations kick in.
When we talk about the battery, the Nothing Phone 1 comes with a 4500 mAh battery which is just about cutting it, if we consider the 6.55-inch screen. It will surely last you a long time and can get you through the day with a couple of percent left at the end, however, the company makes it up by allowing the 33W fast charging that charges your phone 50% in just under 30 minutes…except not with a charger provided by Nothing, as there isn’t one.
A bold new direction forged by Apple, and sustainability aside, is a slightly awkward situation that isn’t clearly reflected in a lower price tag.
So even though the battery isn’t best in class, the charging experience is something that improves matters somewhat. Moreover, the phone also supports Wireless Charging up to 15W and Reverse Wireless Charging up to 5W.
All in all, the Nothing Phone 1 is decent, unabashedly cool mid-tier effort, but doesn’t quite capture that incredible pairing of top-flight specs and rock-bottom pricing that made the OnePlus such a lightning rod in the Android space.
There are some minor drawbacks but for the price, the phone is quite worth it if we look at all the unique features it provides weighed up against its teething issues.
This is a device for people who have a sense of aesthetic taste and want a phone that will stand out from the pack, but not necessarily outperform it.
Nothing Phone 1 starts with a price tag of £399 for its base model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. The maxed-out model with 12GB RAM and 256GB is priced at £499 which is sort of a bargain at this point. The phone was first unveiled on July 12, 2022, and is currently available on sale almost everywhere.