While mid-range smartphones with premium design cues aren’t something new in the market, the Nothing brand aims to change the smartphone landscape with its first device that is for its unique design, UI, performance, lighting, and of course, the name. We got a chance to review the new Nothing Phone (1) and here are our thoughts about the device.
The Nothing brand’s main focus was to offer consumers a mid-range smartphone with premium design aesthetics to take on the likes of big brands in the market. And to be honest, the device does look and feel a lot like the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, perhaps even better. The IP53-certified smartphone features aluminum edges and is 8.5mm thick.
For a smartphone that features an aluminum frame, along with glass on its front and rear side, the device hardly weighs 193.5g. The edges of the device feature smooth round corners. The main display comes with a brilliant 6.55-inch OLED panel that can showcase one billion colors and the screen also is capable of a 120Hz fast refresh rate to compliment the smooth animations and effects of the UI. The screen also offers a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels, along with a 20:9 screen ratio, HDR10+, and 402ppi of brightness.
While the front-facing camera packs a lot of megapixels for all those selfie buffs, the sensor is actually located on the top left portion of the screen. We would have preferred if the selfie camera was located at the top middle portion of the screen. On the left side of the device are the large volume rocker buttons that are easy to reach, and on the right side is the power button. The SIM slot, the USB-C connector, and the speaker grill are located on the bottom part of the device. And just like most of the premium devices in the market, the (1) does not sport a 3.5mm audio jack. The Nothing Phone also comes with an under-display optical fingerprint scanner and the detection speed is fast.
The rear side of the device also features an all-out glass panel. We should also mention that both the front and rear glass panels are protected with Gorilla Glass 5. While the rear panel of the device is transparent, the Nothing Phone comes with its own lighting system called the glyph interface. There are multiple glyph strips, one surrounding the double-lens camera island in the form of a “C” shape, one strip that is located on the top right side in the shape of a front slash “/”, a large strip formation in the middle that almost looks like the shape of the letter “G”, and the last strip at the bottom in the shape of an exclamation mark “!”.
The glyphs light up based on what you do with the device. And this includes incoming calls, charging notifications, and when you flip over the device. However, I noticed that for incoming calls and message alerts, the glyphs light up only if one of the built-in tones called the Nothing Machines series is only selected. During our usage, the glyphs did not activate if you have set the ringtones with any of your favorite music tracks. This is a bit of a disappointment and we hope Nothing brand can come up with a solution for this. That said, the bottom “!” glyph lights up while you plug in the device for charging. Similarly, the glyphs light up when you play a voice message from any IM application or when you view video posts from Instagram, etc. Nothing also hid a music visualizer option that is easily unlockable by simply adding a contact called “abra” and saving one of the Nothing Machine ringtones for the newly added contact.
The packaging of the Nothing Phone is quite different from what the other brands offer. Instead of the usual fat box, the Nothing Phone comes in a slim package and the device and manuals slide in or out of the box. Nothing also mentions that (1) is made with 100% recycled aluminum and 50% of the plastic components are based on bio-based recycled sources. Even the packaging is made from recycled fibre.
Features and Performance
This premium mid-ranger comes powered with the Snapdragon 778G+ 5G SoC, an octa-core chip that packs four Cortex A55 cores clocked at 1.9 GHz speeds, three Cortex A78 cores running at 2.4 GHz, and one Cortex A78 with a slightly faster 2.5GHz speeds. The 6nm chip also features the Adreno 642L GPU that can handle some graphic-intense games. The SoC teams up with 8GB RAM and the UFS 3.1-based internal memory is 128GB. We should mention that the device does not have a dedicated MicroSD card slot which could be a deal breaker for some. That said, Nothing also offers the (1) in 256GB variants too with 8GB or 12GB RAM.
During our review of the Nothing Phone, we received multiple firmware updates, including the latest Android 13 OS with the brand’s unique Nothing OS version 1.5.3. The animations of the Nothing OS are clean and smooth, thanks to the 120Hz display and the design of the UI. And I must admit that the dot fonts, menu style, icons and sound tones of the Nothing OS is really unique compared to other devices that we have come across.
Despite having mid-range hardware, the smartphone performed very well without any noticeable lags while we used it for daily tasks. And with the inclusion of a premium chassis, it almost feels like you are holding a high-end smartphone. The smartphone also supports dual-SIM functionality, along with Bluetooth 5.2, and WiFi 6 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac connectivity. The Nothing Phone also houses a large 4500 mAh battery with support for 33W fast charge, 15W wireless charge, and 5W reverse wireless charging too. We ran the PCMark Work 3.0 battery life test that ran different simulations of workloads and the device lasted for 12 hours and 46 minutes of runtime. To check out the performance of the device, we also ran benchmarks such as 3DMark, PCMark, Geekbench 6, and Antutu. Check out the scores below.
The Nothing Phone (1) also comes with some pixel-heavy cameras. Both the rear cameras on the rear side come with 50MP sensors. The main 50MP shooter is meant for wide shots and houses a 1/1.56-inch sensor that features 1.0µm and an f/1.9 aperture lens. The second 50MP snapper is meant for ultra-wide shots and comes with an f/2.2 aperture lens and a 1/2.76-inch sensor. The main camera has support for phase detection AF and optical image stabilization, along with video recording capabilities up to 4K@30fps. Take a look at some of the day and night shot capabilities of the rear cameras below.
It should also be noted that apart from the glyph interface lighting, there is also a red LED on the rear side that lights up when you start to record a video. The front-facing selfie camera packs a 16MP image sensor with 1080p@30fps as its maximum video recording resolution.
Nothing‘s first smartphone proved to be a good choice for those looking for a premium mid-range device that can do more than other competing devices. The smartphone features a premium build and holds a large 6.55-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a fast under-display fingerprint scanner. The device uses Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and rear glass panels. The device comes with its unique glyph interface lighting system that can easily get the attention of others around you. The glyphs activate when there are incoming calls, charging notifications, and more. It’s more of a unique feature that lets others know that your smartphone is a one-of-a-kind device.
The glyphs can be turned off if not required and the smartphone packs dual 50MP cameras on the rear camera island with video recording capabilities up to 4K at 30fps. The Nothing OS runs smoothly and is unique in its style and fonts, thanks to the Snapdragon 778G+ 5G SoC, 8GB RAM, and 128GB of UFS 3.1-based internal memory. Nothing also ensures that users receive the latest Android updates, and currently, the device runs on Android 13. The smartphone also comes with a 4500mAh battery with an impressive 33W fast charge, along with support for wireless and reverse wireless charging capabilities. We recommend the Nothing Phone (1) for those who are looking for more than just the average mid-range smartphone and we look forward to how the brand’s next flagship iteration shapes up.