It’s NOT often that you see a smartphone that looks truly different than the run-of-the-mill rectangular slabs we’ve all grown accustomed to.
That’s why I turned my head when I saw the first phone from Nothing, a London-based startup that aims to shake things up a bit.
Launching operations in 2020, the tech company is led by Carl Pei, the brains behind successful Chinese phone maker OnePlus.
Nothing released a pair of stylish wireless earphones a year later, and earlier this year it launched its first mobile.
The Nothing Phone 1, as it’s catchily called, is a mid-range phone with decent specs and a design that’s certainly out of the ordinary.
But is a portion of your paycheck worth it? I tried it for two weeks to find out.
Nothing Phone 1 design
There is no other place to start other than the design of the Nothing phone.
It has a transparent back, under which is a “glyph” illumination, which basically means it’s in the shape of a hieroglyphic character.
The technical wizardry at play here is not a hack, however it does provide the user with useful information.
Those white LED strips that snake across the back of the device form shapes that flash when you get a call or text.
They’re timed to flash in unique patterns to let you know when you have a notification, who’s calling, charging status and more.
The glyphs will even dance along with whatever ringtone you’ve selected.
It may not look like much, but it certainly turns heads.
I’ve found that it can come in handy if you’re the kind of person who leaves their phone face down on the table in front of them.
However, if you tend to leave your phone face up (like I do), then the lights never serve a purpose beyond being a bit of fun.
Elsewhere, when it comes to design, the Nothing Phone seems to follow in the footsteps of the iPhone 12.
That means a straight-sided metal frame with rounded corners, a flat front and back, and dual rear cameras.
It’s a design we’ve seen before, of course, but it’s elegant and in that sense doesn’t take the focus away from the lighting of the glyph.
Overall, I’d say the Nothing Phone design isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for something a little different: this is it.
Nothing Phone screen, camera and specifications
While the Nothing Phone 1 has a striking design, its solid if unspectacular screen and camera let it down a bit.
The 6.55-inch OLED screen does a decent job that would certainly satisfy the average person.
It’s big, sharp and colourful, with plenty of brightness, but nowhere near those offered by the best phones from Apple and Samsung.
That shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering their respective prices.
But if you’re watching Netflix or YouTube on the Nothing phone, you won’t get the best picture.
As for the cameras, the device has two rear lenses (50MP main and 50MP ultra wide angle) and a 16MP front camera.
Again, for most smartphone owners, they’ll get the job done, good enough without doing anything groundbreaking.
I’d say overall the camera and display are in line with most mid-range phones on the market, like the Samsung A-series.
Elsewhere, the Nothing Phone 1 houses a 4,500mAh battery that during my tests struggled to last a full day.
I got about five hours of screen time in a day before the device needed to be charged again, which is disappointing to say the least.
The phone runs a version of Google’s Android operating system powered by an older Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+.
Overall, I’d say the phone’s specs are good enough without going above and beyond its price.
Nothing Phone release date and price
The Nothing Phone 1 went on sale in the UK and Europe on July 21, 2022.
It starts at just £399, making it less than half the price of the recently launched iPhone 14.
Considering what you get for that price, it’s an absolute bargain, in my opinion.
You don’t get a camera or screen to match flagship phones from Apple or Samsung, but you do get a lot for your money.
Nothing had hinted at one point that the door was open for a US release, but then it poured cold water on the plans.
He confirmed to CNET in June that the smartphone would not be coming to North America.
If you’re looking for a smartphone that looks good and doesn’t break the bank, you could lose worse than the Nothing Phone.
Its camera and display are good enough to recommend the device, but it certainly won’t win any awards.
However, it is the design and the price that really make the device stand out.
If you can handle lighting up your mobile phone like a Christmas tree every time you get an email, then this is a great phone to go for.
It’s a great first effort from Nothing and I’m excited to see what they come up with next.
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