It’s tough to separate the Nothing Phone 1 from the hoopla around it. Because Carl Pei, the OnePlus co-founder with a large following in the tech industry, was involved, many people were quite enthusiastic about this phone. But, after months of constant teasing, many people were jaded and even had unfavorable preconceived notions about it, and no amount of bright, flashing lights could change that.
Nothing Phone 1 Design
The Nothing Phone 1 is unlike any other phone on the market right now. Although the phone features glass on the front and back and a metal frame, the back is translucent. As a result, it reveals the inside components and is illuminated by Nothing’s sophisticated Glyph LED lights. Ignore the haters; it’s unique, amusing, and plain fantastic. The phone is available in black or white, is 8.3mm thick, and weighs 193 grams. It’s easy to use with one hand, it’s not too bulky or thick, and it fits easily into most pockets and bags.
The flat-sided metal shell looks great, but it’s not particularly pleasant to use for long periods of time, much like the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. The phone has a chamfered edge, but not quite enough to make it as comfortable to grip as the Xiaomi 12 Lite, which has a similar design. The phone’s 193-gram weight, on the other hand, is exactly ideal, making it pocketable and never tiring to handle. I was provided a transparent cover for the Nothing Phone 1, which I love since it lowers the way the phone digs into your palm. If you acquire the phone, I’d say it’s a must-have.
The Nothing Phone 1’s translucent back looks fantastic. All of the phone’s internals are concealed, leaving the wireless charging coil as the sole exposed component. That may surprise some people at first, but it is actually a wonderful thing. Components are typically unsightly, and aesthetics are not considered while designing the guts of a phone. Covering them with various-shaped panels under the glass gives the Nothing Phone 1 a fascinating, sci-fi appearance.
Nothing has built a phone that is unlike any other and has a distinct feature that attracts the attention when triggered. Given that this is the first phone from a small firm, it seems surprisingly robust and well-made. Some may ask why the Phone 1’s design has generated such a stir and dismiss it all as hype, but this is cynical and shortsighted.
Nothing managed to come up with anything entertaining and different despite the fact that there were many good-looking cellphones released last year. Reducing the Phone 1’s design to a collection of flashing lights for those who are drawn to such things, or just dismissing it as an iPhone clone, misses the point entirely. Nothing is continuing to create its brand identity, which began with the Nothing Ear 1 true wireless headphones and continues with the Nothing Ear Stick in-ear headphones. Whether you like or dislike the style, it is instantly identifiable. It’s amazing to see, because very few firms begin with such a clear design goal, let alone after only a few goods. It bodes well for the company’s design future.
Nothing Phone (1) Camera
The Nothing Phone 1’s main camera is a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 with optical image stabilization (OIS), electronic image stabilization (EIS), and an f/1.88 aperture. A 50MP Samsung JN1 wide-angle camera with EIS and an f/2.2 aperture is also included. That’s right, there are just two cameras. There are no threes, fours, or fives. That must imply it’s quite basic, right? How will it function in the absence of a depth camera, a macro camera, or a monochrome sensor?
It survives perfectly well and, in fact, benefits from the removal of the extra cameras. The Nothing Phone 1 takes beautiful photographs. It tends toward a more natural color palette and away from the saturation present in many midrange cameras, which are geared to appeal to consumers who want to post to social media immediately. The camera on the Phone 1 is more sophisticated and refined in its approach. It still boosts the blue sky but leaves the green mainly alone, resulting in more realistic pictures. In other words, it’s more iPhone than Galaxy.
We’ve had a lot of fun taking shots with the Nothing Phone 1, especially with the natural bokeh and some excellent usage of HDR. It is, however, far from ideal. When the light is poor, indoor images sometimes have a lot of noise, the shiny glass back and lighting system may cause more lens flare than on other phones, and Night mode is quite glitchy, having failed to operate multiple times and continually failing to focus. The wide-angle camera’s photographs are more subdued, and they lack the color of the primary camera’s. More tweaking is required to bring consistency in line with the primary camera. Recording 4K video, which is only possible at 30 frames per second (fps), isn’t as smooth as 1080p and has an extremely blue hue.
The Phone 1 has a 16MP selfie camera in the hole-punch cutout on the screen for selfies. Photos catch skin tone and detail effectively, and the portrait mode’s artificial blur isn’t overly strong, while edge detection is excellent. When taking shots of individuals with the back camera, you may utilize the Glyph lights as a fill light instead of the harsher flash.
Even after multiple upgrades and with the most recent Nothing OS 1.5 software, the camera on the Nothing Phone 1 remains unreliable. That said, I think most of the images shot with the Nothing Phone 1 are shareable and eye-catching, but there are instances when the HDR effect overpowers the wide-angle camera, causing you to lose faith in it. However, I haven’t missed the additional cameras on the rear, and the images don’t appear to degrade as a result of their lack.
Glyph Interface for Nothing Phone 1
The Glyph Interface refers to the lighting, haptics, and sound features that distinguish the Nothing Phone 1. They are primarily activated when the phone rings or a notification is received, and they are made up of ten different sets of special ringtones and notification alerts, all of which flash the lights in different patterns, vibrate the phone in different ways, and make different sounds when something happens. Otherwise, the LEDs light up to indicate charging status and when Google Assistant is listening, and they may be used to replace the flash in the camera app.
Nothing has the perfect balance of lighting, haptics, and music. They’re different and one-of-a-kind, and the way the phone lights and vibrates makes it impossible to confuse it with any other phone. They certainly give the Phone 1 individuality, albeit a very mechanical one, and weirdly remind me of Pixar’s famed desk light, which the firm utilized at the start of its films. The Glyph lights are extremely bright, and even at 75% brightness, some of the sharper notification alerts appear to be lightning strikes in a dark environment. It’s a good thing you can arrange Do Not Disturb times.
I really enjoy the Glyph Interface concept, and after living with the phone for a bit, I’ve mostly utilized the Flip to Glyph function, in which putting the phone face down causes the lights to flash to warn you of an upcoming notice. It’s both eye-catching and functional. It also means I have a cause to show them off without having to adjust any settings.
The haptics are excellent (noticeable and well-engineered), and the noises they accompany are a delightful blend of charming (the “Oi!” and tennis sounds), nostalgic (any of the bulb sounds), and strange (the excitable Scribble and Squirrels). I don’t mind having the speakers on at home, but in public, I’d turn them off and probably not bring the level back up.
Everyone will react differently to the Glyph lights and may purposefully change their lifestyle to accommodate the phone. At first, I thought the novelty would wear off and I’d revert to the most handy and established method of notifying me of calls and notifications: my phone (a haptic-generated buzz and the always-on screen). However, the Flip to Glyph function has seamlessly integrated into my usage, preventing the lights from being a gimmick.
Nothing Phone (1) Software
Before I began using the Nothing Phone 1, the excitement around Nothing OS — the moniker given to Nothing’s software — had led me to expect something unique, novel, and potentially even controversial. It’s not truly any of those things, but don’t let that deter you. Nothing OS is better – it’s easy to use, devoid of bloat and annoying interruptions, and incredibly quick and fluid.
Because there aren’t any extraneous programs or functions, the software doesn’t bother you to alter this option, test that feature, or use a different app. Nothing made a sensible decision, bringing the Phone 1’s experience closer to that of the Pixel 6 than, say, the OnePlus Nord 2T. I really hope it continues.
Apart from a few minor changes made by Nothing, the design is sleek and quite close to Android on the Pixel. Under Quick Settings, for example, there are four distinct Nothing clock widgets and a couple of huge multipurpose connection panels. Don’t be concerned that Nothing would cover NothingOS in its pixel-themed typeface. It’s all really normal.
Using the Nothing Phone 1 is simple, easy, and pleasant. You rapidly get into a rhythm with the phone, which takes longer on phones with more sophisticated, attention-seeking applications. It is not without flaws or idiosyncrasies, although the most of them are minor annoyances. Many have been healed by several software upgrades since launch, including the ability to remove the Google Search box from the home screen. Considering this is Nothing’s first phone, it has done an excellent job with the software overall, which I haven’t been able to get enough of.
When you connect Nothing’s earbuds to the phone, you will notice an improvement. Noise cancellation is switchable in the Quick Settings menu while using the Nothing X plug-in, and connectivity was likewise lightning quick. The integration is precisely what we were promised from the start, and it’s a compelling incentive to purchase the Ear 1s with the phone. You can experience NothingOS on your own phone right now by utilizing the NothingOS launcher app, and the design is remarkably similar to the software on the phone.
Nothing Phone 1 Performance
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ CPU powers the Nothing Phone 1, and my review model has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space. The phone performs admirably in common duties, such as keeping up with the GPS when used for navigation in a car, utilizing social networking applications, or using the camera. Because to the combination of NothingOS, the microprocessor, and the 120Hz screen, the Phone 1 is always smooth and responsive.
When you play games, the CPU begins to strain and emits heat as a result. When you play Asphalt 9: Legends or Diablo Immortal, you’ll feel a substantial buildup of heat on the back of your phone. It doesn’t get too hot to handle, but it’s clear that the phone is working hard. The Xiaomi 12 Lite, which also employs a Snapdragon 778 CPU, experienced heat issues.
The Nothing Phone 1 has a 6.55-inch OLED screen with a 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, 10-bit color, HDR10+ certification, a 240Hz touch-sampling rate, and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz on the front. The phone defaults at 60Hz out of the box, but you should adjust this immediately. Switching to 120Hz eliminates the visible blur while scrolling, and it works in the places you want it to: in applications like Twitter, Google Discover, and Chrome browsing.
I like how the flexible OLED display is so near to the glass and how the bezels are all the same size around it. It offers the Phone 1 a contemporary, consistent appearance. The viewing angles are also extremely good, and the screen is viewable and useful in sunlight for the most part. The screen’s tone, color balance, and general performance have been tweaked to match the iPhone, just like the camera. When compared to the iPhone 13 Pro, there’s absolutely nothing to distinguish them, since they both have the same natural aesthetic, with amazing detail in shadows and vivid, vibrant colors.
It’s not typical screen performance on an Android phone, especially on phones with Samsung screens, which often increase contrast for a higher degree of saturation at the price of detail. Personally, I love the screen performance of the iPhone, thus the Nothing Phone 1 is ideal for me. However, the speakers let the phone down – despite being stereo, the sound is harsh and tinny at any volume other than low.
Nothing Battery 1 and Charging
The Nothing Phone 1 does not come with a charger, however it does come with a USB cord. This forces you to rely on the chargers you currently own. I used a USB Type-C charger that claims to charge the phone quickly to Qualcomm Quick Charge 3 standards, and the phone displayed “Charging Rapidly” on the screen. The battery jumped from 2% to 20% in 10 minutes. It was at 55% after 30 minutes and was completely charged in just over an hour.
Wireless charging is available, as seen through the glass back panel, however at 15 watts, it will not be faster than conventional charging. At 5W, you may also reverse charge. The Nothing Ear 1 true wireless earbuds, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and the Apple AirPods Pro, are all compatible. When you insert a device to charge on the back of the phone, the center Glyph light flashes for a few seconds to ensure that electricity is being delivered.
In comparison to many other competitive handsets at this price, charging on the Nothing Phone 1 is disappointing, as is battery life in general. When used moderately — one hour of gaming or GPS, emails, social networking, and photos — while connected to a 4G or 5G signal, the battery will struggle to survive a single, long day. Play 30 minutes of Diablo Immortal with the default settings, and the battery will drop by roughly 8%.
Even with moderate use, I haven’t gotten two full days out of the battery on the Nothing Phone 1. It’s OK if you charge it every night, but if you play a lot of games or stress the phone in other ways, don’t anticipate more than a full day.
Using the Nothing Phone 1 with Android 13 in 2023
I’ve been using the Android 13-based Nothing OS 1.5 beta software on the Nothing Phone 1 since the beginning of 2023. There have been no visible flaws that have interfered with my regular use, as applications work as expected and notifications appear. I come from the Pixel 7 Pro and enjoy the design choices that kept it very near to Android on Google’s phone.
And what about the camera? The inconsistency highlighted in my first evaluation and my six-week update persists, with the primary camera and wide-angle camera only sometimes capturing similar-looking photos. It also struggles with exposure when you snap a shot just after launching the app, although this might be due to the experimental version. The camera may capture beautiful images, but it can also take bad ones. The photographs in the gallery below were captured in 2023 using the phone running Nothing OS 1.5.
Battery life remains average, if not slightly worse than previously, with a 30-minute gaming session using at least 10% of the battery and even moderate use during the day causing the battery to drop below 50% by mid-evening. All of this implies that the Nothing Phone 1 still has to be charged every night if you want to be sure it will survive a second day.
There are a few oddities in the beta, the most aggravating of which being WhatsApp’s refusal to show the most recent photographs when I attempt to share something. A new weather app is included in the Android 13 upgrade, and it adopts the Nothing “pixel-art” aesthetic style that it has been identified with since its inception. It’s a nice look, but it’s still just a weather app, and the Home screen widget hasn’t been changed to properly show off the design.
The Nothing Phone 1 has not been modified by time or the Nothing OS 1.5 software. It’s still a really decent phone, with more advantages than disadvantages, and I haven’t felt the urge to remove my SIM card and switch to another phone. It also remains unrivaled for anybody looking for a cheaply priced phone with personality rather than one that looks the same as everyone else’s.
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