Nothing’s marketing for the Nothing Phone has used phrases like “a new way of communicating” and “hardware and software speak a single visual language” (1). We recently had the chance to conduct an in-depth review of the device and must say that while it is certainly innovative and exciting, the phone falls short of the expectations that many people have for it.
The Nothing Phone (1) is essentially what you’d expect from a mid-range smartphone that aims to shake up the smartphone industry. But even though it’s only a first-generation device, it stands out from a crowd thanks to the care and attention paid to the design of certain elements.
There are many similarities between the OnePlus One from eight years ago and the Nothing Phone 1, which is aimed at the enthusiast crowd. Does the Nothing Phone 1 have enough pyrotechnics to light its own path as it attempts to rekindle the smartphone fire? In this Nothing Phone 1 review, we’ll find out.
Build & Design
Nothing Phone 1 looks different from other phones. The front and back are glass, but the back is transparent. Because of this, Nothing’s Glyph LED lights illuminate the internal components. It’s fun, special, and cool despite the naysayers. The 8.3mm-thick, 193-gram phone comes in black or white. It’s easy to use one-handed, not too bulky, and fits in most pockets and bags.
The flat-sided metal body looks slick, but it’s not comfortable to hold for long periods, like the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. The phone has a chamfered edge, but it’s not as comfortable to hold as the Xiaomi 12 Lite. The phone’s 193-gram weight is perfect for pocketing and holding. The Nothing Phone 1’s transparent case reduces how much it digs into your palm.
Nothing Phone 1’s transparent back is cool. The only exposed component is the phone’s wireless charging coil. That may disappoint some, but it’s good. When designing a phone’s interior, aesthetics isn’t considered. Different-shaped glass panels give the Nothing Phone 1 a sci-fi look.
Nothing has designed a phone that stands out when it’s turned on. Considering it’s a startup’s first phone, it’s solid and well-made. Some question why the Phone 1’s looks caused a furor and dismiss it as hype, but that’s cynical and shortsighted.
Nothing created a fun and unusual smartphone in a year with many good-looking models. Reducing the Phone 1’s design to flashing lights or an iPhone clone misses the point. Nothing’s brand identity began with the Nothing Ear 1 true wireless headphones. The look is recognizable whether you like it or not. Very few brands have such a clear design vision after just two products. The company’s design future looks bright.
The display on the Nothing Phone 1 is absolutely stunning, offering vivid colors in addition to strong contrast and crystal clear text. While the display itself can get quite bright and is readable even in direct sunlight, the bezels are perfectly symmetrical, which makes for an immersive viewing experience. Nothing asserts that it has a typical brightness of 500 nits, but in our tests, it reached as high as 809 nits, which is impressive for a phone with a price point in this range.
Even though the display complies with HDR10+ standards, neither Netflix nor Prime Video currently offer HDR capabilities. The display is capable of an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz, which means that the refresh rate will change automatically to accommodate the content that you are watching. However, there is no option to maintain the Phone 1’s running speed at 120Hz at all times. I had a lot of fun watching Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on this, and the colors and clarity were really punching you in the face the whole time. In addition, there is a slider that allows you to manually adjust the color temperature, and you also have the option to change the color profile of the display to match your preferences.
My review unit of the Nothing Phone 1 comes equipped with 8 Gigabytes of Random Access Memory (RAM) and 256 Gigabytes of internal storage space. The Nothing Phone 1 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G+ processor.
When it comes to performing general tasks, the smartphone has no problems, whether you’re trying to keep up with the GPS while using it for navigation in a car, using social media apps, or using the camera. Because it runs NothingOS, has a chip, and a screen that refreshes at 120 Hz, the Phone 1 has an extremely fluid and responsive feel to it at all times.
When you start playing games, the processor starts to struggle, and as a result, it generates quite a bit of heat. If you want to avoid overheating your device, avoid playing games. When you play Asphalt 9: Legends or Diablo Immortal for half an hour, there is a discernible increase in the amount of heat that builds up on the back of the phone.
You never have to worry about it catching fire, and the phone never gets so hot that it’s uncomfortable to hold, but you can tell that it’s putting in a lot of effort. It is also distracting and causing a phone to get hot in this way can only have a negative impact on the battery life of the phone.
When you use the Glyph lights as a fill light on the camera for more than a minute or so, the back of the phone will start to get warm. Heat was an issue on the Xiaomi 12 Lite, which also uses a Snapdragon 778 processor, and it has also been evident on the Phone 1 when charging the battery. Both of these problems occurred because of the Snapdragon 778.
Because I’ve been using the Phone 1 during a string of extremely hot days, which may have affected the way it cools, I won’t judge it too harshly and will revisit this issue when the weather begins to cool down. There is a small caveat here, as I’ve been using the phone for a string of extremely hot days. On the other hand, it would appear that the Nothing Phone 1 gets quite hot when it is being used.
There is no Android 12-based operating system on the Phone 1. A healthy three years of Android updates and four years of security updates have been promised by the business. You only receive Google’s suite of apps, thus the software is completely devoid of bloatware. Everything else has largely remained unchanged, with the exception of the Recorder app’s retro appearance and the camera app’s design, which is obviously influenced by iOS.
When the phone is charging and when the display is locked and unlocked, Nothing OS includes some amazing animations. The dot-matrix font that is used for menu labels and the always-on display throughout is one that I quite appreciate.
Overall, I had a really nice experience with the software, however during my evaluation period, I did run into a few unexpected bugs. The glyph lights occasionally became disabled at random, and I had to manually turn them back on. Sometimes the display’s tap-to-wake setting would not function, requiring me to push the power button.
When using the camera app, the auto brightness adjustment was a little wacky because, even in bright daylight, the brightness level would be too low for me to see the viewfinder effectively, necessitating my intervention.
These problems did not last, and I was unable to reproduce them. The majority of these errors appear to have been resolved in the most recent software version (v1.1.0), which was released just a day before this review was published.
Nothing has teamed up with Flipkart in India to offer “Nothing Community Dots” NFTs to everyone who pre-ordered the phone and has also developed a widget to display your NFT collection. These redeemable tokens are supposed to grant access to exclusive advantages like first access to brand-new goods and offline events. In the Settings app’s “Experimental features” area, there is only the “Connect to Tesla” feature available for now. This is meant to enable you to manage several aspects of a Tesla vehicle without actually having to download the Tesla app.
The battery life on the Nothing Phone (1) is respectable, and a single charge can typically keep it powered for a full day’s use. You will be able to get more out of this phone if you are a casual user, but if you use it in any capacity that requires medium to high amounts of power, you should plan on the battery life lasting for less than a day.
Our video loop test, which involves playing a 4K video file locally via VLC, found that the Nothing Phone 1 lasted for 9 hours and 46 minutes with the brightness set to the maximum and a 120Hz refresh rate enabled at all times, which is pretty good. In addition, the Nothing Phone 1 was able to maintain a refresh rate of 120Hz throughout the entire test. You can expect longer runtimes if you fine-tune your use case.
The fact that Nothing does not include a charging adapter in the package is disappointing given that it is capable of 33W rapid charging. The manufacturer makes the assumption that anyone who buys the Phone 1 will already have a PD fast charger or a 33W adapter in their possession, which, in my opinion, is quite incorrect, especially when the consumer is purchasing their very first smartphone. In addition to that, Nothing is currently selling a 45W PD-supported charging adapter on its own for the price of Rs 2,499. This is an additional cost that I will not recommend anyone spend, as it is not necessary.
Nothing Phone 1 has a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 camera with OIS, EIS, and f/1.88 aperture. The Samsung JN1 wide-angle camera has 50MP, EIS, and f/2.2. Two cameras. Not 3-4-5. So, it’s simple, right? How will it survive without depth, macro, or monochrome cameras?
It’s better without the extra cameras. Nothing Phone 1 takes beautiful photos. It has a natural colour palette, unlike many midrange cameras designed for social media posting. The Phone 1’s camera is subtler. It boosts the blue sky but leaves green alone, creating more realistic scenes. It’s iPhone-like, not Galaxy.
I love the Nothing Phone 1’s natural bokeh and HDR. Incomplete. Indoor shots often have a lot of noise when light is poor, the reflective glass back and lighting system may introduce lens flare more than on other phones, and Night mode has repeatedly failed to work and focus. Wide-angle photos lack the vibrancy of the main camera. To match the main camera, it needs more tuning. Recording 4K video at 30 fps isn’t as smooth as 1080p and has an overly blue tint.
Mobile Phone 1 has a 16MP selfie camera in the screen cut-out. The portrait mode isn’t too aggressive with its artificial blur, and edge recognition is good. When using the rear camera to photograph people, you can use the Glyph lights as a fill light instead of the harsher flash.
Phone 1’s camera needs work, but I’m using it before public release, so more software updates are possible. I’ve never missed additional cameras on the back, and the photos don’t seem to suffer. Refining the software may help the camera realize its potential, as it only does so 75% of the time now. I’ve had confidence in the Phone 1’s camera and find most of my photos shareable and eye-catching.
The Nothing Phone (1) is a great smartphone with innovative and well-thought-out features. It isn’t the fastest or best smartphone, but it costs half or less than one. During rumor season, we weren’t sure about where the Nothing phone was going, but we’re glad we were wrong.
The design and see-through back of the Nothing Phone are impressive, and the Glyph user interface isn’t just a gimmick. We’re sure you’ll love it once you start using Android on the high-quality OLED screen. The Nothing Phone (1) is good for playing games, stays still, and has a good camera.
It sounds bad and has a quiet speaker on top. The audio should be fixed in the next update. It would have been nice to have full water protection instead of splash resistance, but it might have been too expensive. We want iPhone (2). Phone (1) paved the way for a series of great phones that run quickly and have cool Glyph backs. Even though it had some problems, the first Nothing phone made us feel good.
We like the Nothing Phone (1) because it is different, it is fast, and it has a camera. It’s not a flagship killer, but it’s also not a mid-ranger with more features. Nothing, well done!
Pricing and Availability:
In India, the base model of the Nothing Phone (1) has an 8GB RAM and 128GB storage capacity, and it can be purchased for Rs 32,999. The 8GB RAM/256GB storage unit can be purchased for Rs 35,999, and the 12GB RAM/256GB storage variant can be purchased for Rs 38,999. It will be available on Flipkart and Nothing Website.