Nothing Phone 1 review: Android with funky lights on its transparent back | smart phones

TThe Telephone 1 is the primary smartphone from British tech startup Nothing, led by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, who single-handedly created with the purpose of bringing a bit little bit of curiosity and pleasure again into the more and more comparable world of client electronics.

However the firm’s pursuit of the funky Ear 1 is not a flashy telephone of the very best spec. At £399 (AU$749), it appears to compete instantly with extra inexpensive fashions like Samsung’s mid-range A-series and Google’s Pixel 6a. It does so whereas providing one thing distinctive: a sequence of white LED strips scattered throughout clear glass again to create patterns of sunshine that nothing known as “glyphs”.

The Nothing Phone 1 is back showing off the transparent design and light strips.
5 separate mild bars flash and pulse in time for the sound and vibration patterns of 10 totally different ringtones and notification sounds, and the charging standing is proven when the telephone is plugged in. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

It reveals totally different lighting patterns from the caller, the app that notifies you and even several types of notifications from the identical app with out having to see the display. You’ll be able to set one type for a piece e mail or one type for private e mail in Gmail, for instance, however, sadly, you may’t distinguish between messages from totally different contacts, solely calls.

The glyphs and the clear again add a bit curiosity to the in any other case minimalist design. The recycled aluminum sides and flat OLED show look remarkably just like an Apple telephone, which has led a couple of particular person to surprise if I am carrying an iPhone 13. That mentioned, construct high quality is fairly good, and the 6.55-inch Full HD display is superb for the cash: massive, shiny , crisp, and very clean, due to the 120Hz refresh fee.

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  • Monitor: 6.55 inch 120 Hz FHD + OLED (402ppi)

  • Healer: Snapdragon 778G Plus

  • RAM: 8 or 12 GB

  • storage: 128 or 256 GB

  • The working system: Android 12 with no working system

  • digicam: 50 MP Important and Extremely Extensive, 16 MP Selfie

  • Supply: 5G, eSIM, wifi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, GNSS

  • Water Resistant: IP53 (Splash Resistant)

  • Dimensions: 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3 mm

  • Weight: 193.5 grams

mid-range quick slice

USB-C port for Nothing Phone 1.
The telephone helps as much as 33W wired charging, reaching 100% in simply over an hour, however it does not include an influence adapter. 15W wi-fi charging and 5W reverse wi-fi charging are additionally obtainable. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The telephone has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus chip, which is kind of able to on a regular basis use, with the interface and apps feeling very quick.

Nevertheless, it does not fairly stay as much as the uncooked efficiency of top-notch chips, which is most noticeable when processing photos and sluggish switching between lenses within the digicam after taking photos. Solely these mid-range telephones with high-spec chipsets like Apple’s iPhone SE or Google Pixel 6a will carry out considerably higher for the value.

Battery life is sweet, lasting round 38 hours between prices together with two hours on 5G, which places it on par with most top-of-the-line gadgets. You’ll in all probability must cost it as soon as a day.


The Nothing Phone 1 displayed from above shows recycled aluminum striping around its sides.
The telephone is manufactured from recycled aluminum and plastic with a premium feel and appear much less frequent for mid-range smartphones. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Nothing charges the battery for not less than 800 full cost cycles whereas sustaining not less than 80% of its authentic capability. Telephone 1 can usually be repaired within the UK and the battery could be changed with Nothing.

Telephone 1 is manufactured from 100% recycled aluminum with greater than 50% of its plastic parts comprised of bio- or recycled supplies. The corporate plans to publish an environmental impression report for the telephone, which it says has a carbon footprint of 58.5 kg of carbon dioxide2 Equal.

No working system

Nothing Phone 1 quick settings panel.
The short settings panel additionally has some customized options, with nothing supposed so as to add extra, like integration with Tesla vehicles, so you may unlock doorways remotely. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Telephone 1 comes with a stripped model of Android 12 known as Nothing OS. It affords all of the options you’d anticipate however with out the bloat of duplicate apps, which principally depend on these Google affords, which is an efficient factor.

The interface is stuffed with a contact of dot matrix nostalgia in widgets, typefaces and logos, in addition to some customized backgrounds and a voice recorder app with a brand new file player-like interface. It’s enticing with out being too radical.

The corporate will ship three years of main Android updates and a complete of 4 years of safety fixes each two months. That is first rate however lower than a yr than that provided by rival Google and Samsung gadgets, and it is nicely behind Fairphone and Apple assist by six to seven years.

There was no clean and secure OS, however I did run into some small bugs, a few of which have been mounted throughout the testing interval, so I’ve no doubts that these remaining points shall be resolved. When restoring the telephone from a cloud backup of my knowledge, the auto-rotate between portrait and panorama did not work, and the Glyph mild exhibiting Google Assistant exercise did not work. Organising the telephone with out restoring my knowledge mounted the problems.


The Camera app on Nothing Phone 1 displays the viewfinder.
The digicam app is straightforward to make use of and similar to these on different Android smartphones, so it will likely be acquainted to many. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Telephone 1 has a refreshingly easy lens array on the again, with solely two 50MP cameras – one common and one ultrawide – forgoing the additional macro or mono cameras frequent in mid-range telephones for advertising and marketing functions.

Each cameras are good for the cash. The principle digicam produces one of the best photographs that usually have good shade steadiness and element. Photos could lack a little bit of sharpness and effective element when considered at full measurement, and it may be a bit difficult to get a pointy shot in low mild. The ultra-fast display produces photos with cooler tones and smoother particulars however continues to be first rate. The digicam can typically oversaturate components of the picture, akin to crimson flowers that lose all readability and nearly glow.

The telephone does not have a telephoto digicam, however the digital zoom produced usable photos at 2x, turning into stuffed with artifacts after zooming round 5x. Avatars could be illuminated to create a fill mild at night time as a substitute of utilizing flash, which is new however produces a blue gradient for photographs. The selfie digicam is equally good, and produces detailed photographs in good mild.

Video recording was stable for the cash however solely as much as 4K at 30fps, not 60 as is more and more frequent.

Total, the Telephone 1 is ready to produce actually good photographs, outperforming many mid-range rivals, however it will not hassle one of the best.

Image showing the fingerprint scanner lit at the bottom of the Nothing Phone 1 screen.
The fingerprint scanner on the backside of the display is quick and correct. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


The Nothing Telephone 1 prices £399 (AU$749) with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, £449 (AU$799) with 8GB and 256GB, or £499 (AU$849) With 12GB and 256GB, it’s obtainable in black or white relying on the mannequin.

For comparability, the Google Pixel 6a prices £399, the Samsung Galaxy A53 prices £399, the Fairphone 4 prices £499, and the Apple iPhone SE prices £419.


Telephone 1 is a well-executed first try at a smartphone from scratch.

Its design is distinct from the again and easy elsewhere. You may not just like the iPhone-like look however the recycled aluminum sides positively really feel extra premium than the aggressive mid-range value may recommend.

The avatar lights on the again are definitely new and crowd pleasing however keep in mind the exhausting type and I often keep away from placing telephones down to forestall scratches. It is good to see one thing totally different and attention-grabbing.

Though there’s a bizarre bug to repair, the Android software program is bloat-free, which helps the telephone really feel fast to make use of. Battery life can also be superb. 4 years of promised software program updates are good however not one of the best, counting on nothing succeeding of their commitments, which isn’t assured for any new entrant.

It has stiff competitors from rivals like the superb Google Pixel 6a, however in comparison with numerous boring mid-range telephones, the £399 Nothing Telephone 1 stands out.

Positives: New again design, totally different graphic lights, good display, first rate efficiency, stable battery life, recycled aluminum, Android 12 bloat free, aggressive value.

Negatives: There is not any optical zoom, simply 4 years of safety updates, simply splash-proof, nothing a bit by an unknown quantity.

Image showing cameras and other design elements on the transparent back of Nothing Phone 1.
The design of the again that reveals the wi-fi charging coil, screws and different particulars is a particular function of the Telephone 1. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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