Getting started with the Nothing phone (1): a one-of-a-kind phone



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We had the opportunity to see and handle the Nothing phone (1), one of the most anticipated phones of this summer. Prints.

Nothing phone (1) from the front // Source: Robin Wycke – Frandroid

Carl Pei, iconic co-founder of OnePlus, launched his new high-tech brand in January 2021: Nothing. It may be nothing, but a year and a half later, the first phone from the firm is awaited with great impatience by technophiles. The hype is high, but will the product live up to it? We saw the Nothing phone (1) – freshly formalized – for an hour and here is our opinion on the matter.

A unique design

From the first contact, what shocks the most is obviously its design. If in its shapes with flat edges, it is reminiscent of the latest iPhones, its transparent back shell gives it an undoubtedly unique visual aspect… and particularly successful. Especially in its white color which allows more to perceive all the details of this design.

And details, there are many to discover. Between the smallNothing» on the edge, the different textures of the plates visible by transparency, or even the shape of an elephant at the bottom right, everything is thought out to create as much a game of tracks as wonder. Of course, all this meticulousness will not be perceived immediately by everyone, the gaze being rather attracted by the LEDs all in curves and in straight lines, reminiscent of the geoglyphs of Nazca. Really, the result is visually very successful and we can only appreciate the risk taking.

We can see an elephant on the back of the Nothing phone (1) // Source: Robin Wycke – Frandroid

On the side of the grip, we do not complain either. With just over 190 grams on the scale, the Nothing phone (1) is not too heavy and it fits well in the hand. Not everyone appreciates straight edges, but we can’t deny that this ensures very good stability for the phone, both between our fingers and placed vertically on a table. Horizontally, however, note that its photo module is protruding enough to make it wobbly when tapping its keyboard. A very common defect for fortunately very rare use.

From a very personal point of view, I must confess that I regretted not finding alert slider this little switch present at OnePlus and Apple allowing you to switch very quickly from vibrate mode to silent or ringtone mode and vice versa. Maybe for a next iteration?

What we find, however, is a magnificent screen on the front. It is a flexible Oled panel that has allowed Nothing to integrate a uniform outline, which is still too rare. On paper, it doesn’t have much to envy to the best: Full HD+, 120 Hz, 1200 cd/m², HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 5… Everything is there and, to the eye, there’s nothing to blame him. We will have to wait for our full test and a passage under our probe to verify what it is really worth.

A basic interface

Running on Android 12 and a home interface, the Nothing phone (1) does not really innovate on its software features apart from its luminous glyph. We must be content here with the bare minimum. The features are few and not always well arranged, but the essentials are there. We are therefore far from Oxygen OS (the OnePlus interface), but it remains pleasant, especially since there are still some good ideas, such as highlighting devices connected by Bluetooth for example to easily manage them from the quick settings menu, or the use of the brand’s font.

Moreover, Nothing wanted to create a real ecosystem, with its own products of course, but also those of other popular brands. The Nothing phone (1) will therefore integrate Tesla’s APIs in beta when it is released, and those of the AirPods Pro in the future to facilitate interactions with these products.

This minimalism wants above all to leave room for a new way of using your smartphone. “We want to minimize interactions with the screen“, admits a spokesperson for the brand. With the Flip to Glyph, all you have to do is flip your phone over to receive a lot of information through the LEDs. In particular, you can choose different flashes for each contact or group of contacts, or even see in a simpledouble tapthe battery level when charging. The idea is good, to see in the long term if it goes beyond the simple gimmick.

Despite our first tests on a beta version, the interface seemed very fluid despite its mid-range configuration. Remember that on board we find a Snapdragon 778G and 8 to 12 GB of RAM (8 GB in the version we had in hand).

Ecological wishes

A young company, Nothing wants to show its credentials from the start and displays great ecological ambitions in an industry that pollutes a lot. Without going as far as Fairphone’s commitments, the small London company has announced that it will stop buying carbon credits, wishing to invest in what really matters. The packaging of the phone (1) is therefore refined, its frame is made of 100% recycled aluminum and 50% of the plastic components in the phone are also recycled. Unfortunately, it is difficult to source recycled materials on a large scale, which complicates the desires of the company to go even further in its approach.

A price that will have to be paid

An extraordinary design and ecological ambitions, as we know, this has a cost. Starting at 469 euros, the Nothing phone (1) is more expensive than a phone with a similar technical data sheet. There are obviously a few unknowns in the balance, such as its autonomy or the quality of its photos for example. Nothing has integrated two 50 Mpx sensors (wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle), refusing to add unnecessary sensors just to inflate the number of lines of the technical sheet and the final price. We can only applaud the move.

At first glance, the Nothing phone (1) seems to be interested in the essentials and the design, and to add small novelties that will please the most tech-savvy people who will not be afraid to pay a little more for it.

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