Phones

Nothing Cellphone 1 Overview: The Midrange Jack of All Trades

Source: Aryan Suren for Pocketnow

Nothing Phone 1 Review

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“The jack of all trades” often has a negative connotation, but if you read the entire quote, you’ll see that it’s meant as a compliment. It reads “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” And I think this describes the Nothing Phone 1 to a tee. Carl Pei’s latest brainchild is a device targeting the mid-range smartphone market under the banner of Nothing, an upstart company that wants to bring something new and exciting to the commodified smartphone world.

With a starting price of £399 ($475), the Phone 1 will likely be a favorite for many, and delivers a degree of polish that’s unexpected for a first-time product. After spending five days with Nothing’s beep-bop-boop glyph-toting handset, I think this phone is one to keep an eye out for if you’re seeking great value for your money.

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

A Nothing Phone 1 retail unit with 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage purchased in India was used for this review.

Nothing Phone (1)

Nothing’s first-ever smartphone!

Phone 1 is Nothing’s first-ever smartphone. It comes with a 6.55-inch 120Hz OLED display with slim bezels, Qualcomm’s custom-tuned Snapdragon 778G+ processor, LEDs on the back, Dual 50MP camera sensors, and more. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.

Pros

  • Unique Design
  • Symmetric & High-Quality Display
  • Clean & Simple Software

Cons

  • Improvements needed for Ultrawide Camera
  • No Charger Included

Video Review

Nothing Phone 1 Video Review by Jaime Rivera

Design

Source: Aryan Suren for Pocketnow

Let’s tackle the elephant in the room – the Phone 1’s design and its prime focus, the transparent glass back with its blinking lights. Frankly, it looks good.

That’s all there really is to it. Slab phones, at least in the mid-range, are generally quite boring — unless they’re a limited edition run — and seem to favor plastic frames or backs. Here, Nothing’s decision to ship a glass sandwich is welcome. As for the Glyph system, the way it works is eye-catching, but it’s something I’ll explore later in this review. Though one thing is for sure. It doesn’t detract anything from the phone – if anything, it only adds to it.

Behind the rear glass, the various components add a layer of depth that’s pleasing to look at. The wireless charging coil looks especially stealthy on the black variant that I tested.

Source: Aryan Suren for Pocketnow

Despite weighing 193.5g, the Phone 1 feels incredibly light. It somehow feels lighter than my iPhone 12, which weighs about 30 grams less. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but the weight distribution on this smartphone is top-notch. It isn’t top-heavy, and getting it to stand upright isn’t an issue — a welcome bonus when taking pictures of this handset.

As for its slab sides, yes, the Phone 1 looks similar to newer iPhones, but I don’t really mind. If anything, this phone feels just a tad too thick.

Display

Source: Aryan Suren for Pocketnow

The Phone 1 is one of the few Android smartphones that features a screen with even bezels all around. And not only is this 6.55-inch display a pleasure to look at, but the color reproduction, viewing angles, and sharpness on this 1080p AMOLED panel are excellent.

It has a peak brightness of 1200 nits for HDR content with a typical brightness of 500 nits. That’s a bit dimmer than I’m used to. Basically, the screen being a little harder to read in direct sunlight, but it isn’t a dealbreaker.

Also significant is this screen’s 120Hz refresh rate. It’s adaptive, and the display automatically chooses between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on the content. But after the latest update (Nothing OS 1.1.0), users can choose between High and Standard refresh rates, and the toggle for adaptive refresh rate has been removed.

Still, if you head into the Developer Settings, you’ll find an option that removes the system’s ability to fall back to 60Hz, and this works quite well. I never noticed the phone dropping frames or dropping back to 60Hz.

While the Phone 1’s visual experience is excellent, I can’t say the same about the handset’s speakers. They get loud but lack detail, which is perfectly fine for YouTube content but not ideal if you want to listen to music.

The Phone 1 ships with an optical in-display fingerprint scanner that’s quick and works like a charm. During the initial setup, the phone skipped the fingerprint edge detection step, but after updating to Nothing OS 1.1.0, I noticed the step was back.

Software

Source: Pocketnow Source: Pocketnow

The Phone 1’s software has been a major focus in Nothings’ marketing materials. Apart from a few teething niggles, I think Nothing’s delivered a positive software experience.

Nothing OS on top of Android 12 isn’t that different from stock Android or what you get with the Pixel Launcher, but most of the changes only make the device more user-friendly. This skin is so light in terms of visual customizations that if you’re looking for lightweight software that includes most of Android 12’s customizability without unnecessary cruft, it’s worth considering this phone.

Settings, Recorder App, and Home Screen on Nothing Phone 1 (left to right) Source: Pocketnow

The Dot Matrix font, the Teenage Engineering-designed recorder app, and the Nothing launcher widgets are all minor but unique additions that aren’t intrusive. And if you’re worried about seeing the Dot Matrix font plastered throughout the UI, don’t be. Its use is tasteful and controlled.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test NFT widget or Tesla integrations in Quick Settings, but the latter doesn’t appear to be functional yet.

Despite remaining clean and simple I have some qualms about the software. I’d like to see more granularity in the controls. For example, the vibration management on this device needs to be fleshed out some more. Currently, there’s too little control over how it works together with the various software elements.

Now, let’s talk about software updates. With the Phone 1, Nothing is committed to delivering three Android updates. This means the phone should be getting Android 15 and should receive bi-monthly security updates for four years — until 2026.

The Glyph

Source: Pocketnow

Imagine you’ve avoided any Phone 1 coverage until now. The Glyph consists of a series of shapes that light up on the back of the phone to indicate that someone’s calling or that you have notifications waiting. It’s basically a notification LED on steroids. Hopefully, Nothing will offer an API for developers, and give the Glyph an even brighter future.

While it’s pretty cool, I think this feature has limited appeal.. I say this because to use the Glyph, you need to actively change how you put your phone down and then make a conscious effort to configure and remember what each Glyph means. It isn’t difficult, but in the age of always-on displays and ambient notifications that pop-up on the lock screen, the Glyph is certainly unique but far from essential.

Looking beyond the notification-based features, the Glyph delivers a few more party-tricks – one of which might actually be helpful. If you’re looking to shoot a photo without the harsh LED flash on your smartphone, the Glyph doubles as a way to illuminate your subject with diffused light. And should your phone be the centerpiece of a party, the Music Visualization setting will let the Glyph react to the audio playing from its speakers.

Beyond this, I can’t wait for Nothing to surprise me with improvements to the Glyph. Hopefully, the company’s listening.

Performance and Battery

Source: Aryan Suren for Pocketnow

When it comes to performance, the Phone 1 features a mid-range SoC with results to match. The Snapdragon 778G Plus packed within feels snappy day-to-day. Navigating around the UI and juggling apps is effortless.

Gaming is also smooth, but I noticed the phone becoming warm after some time. I played Genshin Impact and F1 Clash , and while F1 Clash didn’t heat up my Snapdragon 888-based OnePlus 9RT, it warmed up the Phone 1. So that’s something to keep in mind .

Overall, though, moving away from a flagship chipset doesn’t negatively affect the Phone 1 and shouldn’t play a role in your buying decision unless you’re looking for the absolute best performance.

Charging Indicator on Nothing Phone 1 Source: Aryan Suren for Pocketnow

As for battery life, the 4500mAh battery provides respectable endurance, making it through a day. For my use case, the Nothing Phone 1 typically provides about 5 to 6 hours of Screen on Time before I have to find a charger.

Unfortunately, when it was time to fill up, I didn’t have a 33W charger on hand, nor did I have the official 45W unit. As such, I found myself using Apple’s20W USB-C adapter. It’s a shame there’s no charger supplied in the box. The Phone 1 only comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable.

With the 20W brick, I was able to charge the Phone 1 from 0 to 100% in 80 minutes. That’s almost an hour and a half, but the official 45W adapter is supposed to reduce this number to just a few minutes over one hour. Still, the phone charges quickly, and if needed, a midday boost only takes a few minutes.

For those who prefer wireless charging, I’m glad to report that the Phone 1 supports 15W Qi wireless charging. And if you have a pair of earbuds that support Qi, 5W reverse wireless charging is available.

Camera

When I received the Phone 1, the camera was one of the last things I tested because it features familiar specs, so I already had an idea about what to expect. While the primary camera matched my expectations, the Ultrawide initially left room for improvement. Fortunately, with the 1.1.0 software update, things have improved. HDR, which was a little inconsistent when dealing with leaves, is a lot better.

The 50MP primary camera, which combines Sony’s IMX 766 1/1.56″ PDAF sensor with an f/1.9 OIS lens is able to capture great images. The photos are bright, with vibrant colors and a nice, shallow depth of field.. As for the 50MP Samsung JN1 ultrawide shooter. I was initially highly disappointed, to the point that I considered never using this camera, but as mentioned above, the latest software update has rescued the camera in some scenarios. Some subjects will remain hit-and-miss, but at least I can now recommend the ultrawide and expect it to deliver usable results.

I’m pretty impressed with the Phone 1’s night mode. Low-light images receive a significant boost in brightness without sacrificing detail too much. Colors are also well maintained, and this camera system won’t let you down if you’re out in a restaurant with friends or family. As for the portrait mode, it’s par for the course and does a decent job, but I believe most of the heavy lifting is done by the main shooter’s shallow depth of field rather than the software.

The 16MP front camera is just okay. It struggles in dim situations, but takes usable pictures given enough light.

Night Mode Samples

Ultrawide Comparison Sample

As for the inconsistent HDR, the image above showcases a scenario where HDR processing on the Phone 1 was just poor. The same photo captured with Nothing OS 1.1.0 shows some improvements. In the first image, the leaves have a purplish tinge over them (chromatic aberration), but the processing is much better in the second shot. It’s hard to replicate the exact conditions of the first image, but I also noticed this improvement in other conditions.

Videos

Video Recording on the Phone 1 has been positive as well. It supports up to 4K 30 FPS, with 1080P 60 FPS and 1080P 30 FPS options. Stabilization is available in all recording modes, and on both cameras. The front camera is limited to 1080p 30 FPS.

While the output from the primary camera is usable, the clips captured with the Ultrawide are quite dim and generally lacking in color saturation, just like the photos. Also, you can’t switch between the two rear cameras while recording.

All in all, the Phone 1’s shooters are a mixed bag. The primary 50MP sensor does well in most conditions. The Ultrawide still needs some work, and the front camera is just average. But in the context of other mid-range devices, this camera system is better than most.

Verdict

Source: Pocketnow

Beyond the allure of the Glyph’s blinking lights and the transparent back’s layered components , Nothing’s Phone 1 delivers great value. Looking past the unique design, the hardware and software have all the makings of a great device from a promising company. As this handset checks all the right boxes. Its processor is more than capable, the visual experience it delivers is comparable to phones that will cost at least $200 more, and the cameras — the primary shooter at least — are better than expected.

The Phone 1 is less boring than its European competition, making it a device worth considering. In other regions, where Chinese brands are more competitive or offer more options, this handset has its work cut out. The lack of availability in the United States is a shocker but understandable. Nevertheless, considering this is Nothing’s first phone, we can’t wait to see what comes next.

Nothing Phone (1)

Nothing’s first-ever smartphone!

Phone 1 is Nothing’s first-ever smartphone. It comes with a 6.55-inch 120Hz OLED display with slim bezels, Qualcomm’s custom-tuned Snapdragon 778G+ processor, LEDs on the back, Dual 50MP camera sensors, and more. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.

Technical Specifications

Category Nothing Phone 1
Dimensions 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3mm
193.5g
Build Gorilla Glass Front and Back (unspecified version)
Recycled Aluminum Midframe
IP53 Rating
Display 6.55″ FHD+ OLED (1080×2400)
60-120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate
240Hz Touch Sampling
500 nits Typical Brightness
1200 nits Peak Brightness
HDR10+
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+
Memory 8GB or 12GB
Storage 128GB or 256GB
Battery 4500mAh
33W Fast Charging
15W Wireless Charging
5W Reverse Wireless Charging
Rear Camera Primary: 50MP Sony IMX766, ƒ/1.9, with OIS and EIS
Ultrawide: 50MP Samsung JN1, ƒ/2.2, 114-degree field-of-view, with EIS
Front Camera 16MP Sony IMX471, ƒ/2.45
Ports USB-C
Connectivity 5G
4G LTE
WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.2
Operating System Nothing OS 1.1.0 based on Android 12
3 years of Android Updates
4 years of Security Updates
Colors Black, White
Price £399/ €469/ ₹32,999 for 8GB+128GB (Black only)
£449/ €499/ ₹35,999 for 8GB+256GB
£499/ €549/ ₹38,999 for 12GB+256GB

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