We’re doing our best to maintain accurate pricing and inventory levels for all of our references. This review was updated in October 2023 to include our thoughts on Nothing’s flagship device, the Phone (2).
It’s an excellent upgrade over the original Phone, and some of the new software features will even make their way back to the original Phone. Despite the higher price tag, the Phone (1) is still a great buy in 2023 because Nothing is still selling and supporting it with software updates.
Carl Pei plans to cause a stir in the smartphone industry. The chief executive officer of Nothing, a tech company based in London, has had it with identical-looking smartphones. To be fair, he does make some valid points. These layouts have stalled in terms of new developments.
It’s nice to see something other than the usual glass slabs that pass for models for a change. While the front of Nothing’s first phone looks similar to the iPhone 13 or iPhone 14, the transparent design of its back is unlike anything else on the market.
The promise of the sleek Nothing Phone (1) to be “a wake-up call for the industry” may be a bit exaggerated for our tastes, but we can’t deny that we haven’t seen anything that looks as likely to start a conversation in quite some time. And that’s not even mentioning the starting price of £320, which makes it cheaper than the Pixel 7a and the iPhone SE.
- Zero Primary Features of a Phone
- 6.55-inch display
- Dimensions: 2400 by 1080 pixels
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ processor.
- Dual 50MP (one main, one ultra-wide) cameras on the back, and a single 16MP shooter up front.
- Memory size: 8GB or 12GB
- Extensive storage options: 128 GB or 256 GB
- Disposable MicroSD card slot:
- Weighing in at 193.5g
- Effortless One-Phone Layout
The Nothing Phone’s (1) aesthetic appeal far exceeds that of its actual functionality. It’s a phone that stands out from the crowd, and the company markets it as the polar opposite of every other similar product on the market. If you have a see-through case, you can see right through the back and inspect the inner workings. The original Nothing Ear headphones took a similar tack and the improved Nothing Ear 2 headphones are now among our favorite alternatives to the Apple AirPods Pro.
The open layout serves a purpose. The “Glyph Interface” is the reason it was made; it’s a collection of more than 900 LEDs that light up to indicate when certain people are calling, the phone’s charging status, or to serve as a portable ring light. (More on the interface’s features will be covered below, but rest assured that the whole thing looks like it was lifted from 2001: A Space Odyssey or Tron: Legacy.)
The feat of making a phone’s internals look aesthetically pleasing is also not to be overlooked. If you took your current phone apart, you would see a bunch of ugly parts and screws.
Zero One (1) camera phone
We think it’s safe to say that the quality of the camera is one of the most important features for most people when looking for a new phone. It’s also true that most smartphone cameras perform admirably under ideal lighting conditions, with the best cameras from Apple and Google taking advantage of computational advancements to outperform the competition. Nothing has been re-invited here, but a set of trustworthy cameras that should satisfy most people’s needs (despite some drawbacks) has been added.
The rear cameras are both 50 megapixels each (one wide-angle, the other ultra-wide), and there’s a respectable 16-megapixel shooter up front as well. We’ve taken some pictures with them and found them to be solid in most circumstances; however, we don’t expect the outcomes to astound anyone. In bright conditions, you can take photos worthy of posting to Instagram, though we found that the images were slightly oversharpened.
In low light, however, the Nothing Phone (1) faltered a bit in terms of focus and detail, producing results that were serviceable but too blurry for pixel-peepers to truly appreciate. We also noticed that the camera had trouble bringing out all of the detail in scenes with a mix of dark shadows and bright sunlight, and it had trouble focusing when shooting in portrait mode.
Obviously, these are exceptional cases. In most situations, the camera’s capabilities will be more than adequate. Those who place a premium on photography will appreciate the computational improvements found in the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a.
We have included some of the photos we have taken with the Nothing phone below. We captured some tight portraits and expansive landscapes with our ultra-wide lens.
You can see the color treatment you’ll get without any post-processing work because these are all straight from the phone.
The fact that it operates on Nothing OS (the manufacturer’s name for its proprietary operating system) is also a selling point for this device. In reality, it’s just Android’s UI stripped down to nothing. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any advantages, and it’s nice to see a phone beside the Pixel that doesn’t ship with a bunch of useless software. Nothing also confirmed that it will provide software updates for the phone for three years, meaning that the Nothing OS will be compatible with future versions of Android.
It’s also important to note that the Nothing phone, like any modern smartphone worth its salt, supports 5G networks. If you have a SIM card with unlimited data, you can quickly and easily download shows, movies, and playlists to your device even when you’re not in range of your router or a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
No Content Display Phone
When you consider the price (less than £400), there really isn’t anything wrong with Nothing’s screen. It’s bright enough and has enough contrast to be seen clearly from a distance.
This OLED display is on par with high-end models like the Pixel 6 in terms of resolution, and it offers a variable refresh rate of up to 120 frames per second. (This is just a fancy way of saying that it will improve the visual quality and responsiveness of scrolling and animations.)
It’s hard to imagine if you’ve never used a device with a higher refresh rate screen, but when compared side by side with our iPhone 13 mini, the difference is noticeable when scrolling through your Twitter timeline.
You get a premium-looking midrange Android phone that is exclusive to this manufacturer.
Not only does this processor not compete in terms of raw performance, but the interface can also feel sluggish and buggy at times, and the haptic vibrations can be clumsy. However, when considering how cheap it is, these aren’t the biggest drawbacks.
A Comparison of Nothing Phones 1 and 2
Just because there is now a Phone (2) does not mean you have to rush out and buy the newest Nothing handset. There’s a good reason why the company keeps pushing the Phone (1): it’s a reliable option for those on a tighter budget than the more premium Phone (2).
We have used both phones and found only minor differences in terms of design and usability. It is even more true now that the updated Nothing OS 2.0 can be found on the Phone (1). The upgraded camera, brighter display, and higher-end, rounded design of the Phone 2 are the most notable changes. Improvements have been made to the glyph interface as well. Even with these modifications, the Phone (1) remains a top choice for many users.
Result from One No-Phone Calls
There is a lot to like about Nothing’s first smartphone, especially considering the company is a relative newcomer to the smartphone market. This model’s impressive features include a high-quality screen, speedy performance, and a camera that meets the needs of most users.
Any Android fan looking for a quality handset for less than £400, as well as those who are bored with most smartphone designs and interested in the “Glyph Interface,” would benefit from purchasing this device. However, if you place a high priority on the camera, we recommend either the Google Pixel 7a, the Pixel 7, or Google’s older Pixel 6a, which can be purchased for less than £300 at this time. There’s also the new Phone (2), a mid-range option, to think about if you’re after the newest device from Nothing.