Nothing phone (1): Everything we know about the upcoming smartphone

Nothing has just announced a brand new smartphone, and here are all the details that have been revealed so far.

After all the rumours and anticipation, we’ve finally been treated to our first taste of the Nothing phone (1), the start-up brand’s very first smartphone. Here’s all that we know about it so far.

Price and availability

While the Nothing phone (1) has been announced, we haven’t yet seen the phone in all its glory yet, and it’s certainly not yet available to buy. The brand has promised the launch to take place in Summer 2022, while more details will be announced over the coming months.

There’s no word yet on price or availability, but we can take notes from Nothing’s only previous product launch, that of the Nothing ear (1) true wireless headphones. In this example, the product was available for a relatively low price point considering its capabilities, but availability was very restricted to the point it’s quite difficult to get your hands on a pair. We’re hoping that the Nothing phone (1) will be more accessible — but don’t count on it.

Software

Nothing OS is the name of the user interface that the Nothing phone (1) will sport, and this is the aspect we know the most about at this time.

The manufacturer claims to have captured “the best features of pure Android, distilling the operating system to just the essentials, where every byte has a purpose.” As you can tell, this means that it’s a very light touch, with what we’ve seen so far being very similar to stock Android. That’s not altogether surprising when you consider that the brand’s CEO is Carl Pei, formerly of OnePlus, a manufacturer that holds to a similar software philosophy.

Explaining himself at the keynote, Pei claimed that this stripped-down look would remove bloatware — “why copy the great apps that Google has already made?” he asked, rhetorically — but the phone will optimise processing power and RAM to ensure that these apps load and close very quickly.

A significant amount of the design language is about consistency; so the top widget and clock will remain uniform between the lock screen, always-on display, and home screen, and the hardware and software were designed in tandem so that one compliments the other.

The press release went on to describe Nothing OS as follows: “A coherent interface, the hardware seamlessly integrates with software through bespoke fonts, colours, graphical elements and sounds.” The above image shows widgets featuring prominently on the home screen, for both time and weather, with the latter of these using the same “dot matrix” design as the brand’s logo.

Pei summarised the design technology as balancing “raw technology with human warmth”, and claimed that the voice recorder app (pictured above) best exemplified this, with an interactive analogue tape recorder symbol that can be pushed back and forward with your finger to skip forward and back when playing back an audio file.

The first preview of this user interface in action will be via a launcher that will be available to download “on select smartphone models from April.” We’ll keep you updated as more details are revealed.

Users of the Nothing phone (1) will receive 3 years of OS updates, and 4 years of security updates.

Performance

The Nothing phone (1) will be “powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform”, but for now we have no further details than that. Qualcomm makes a vast range of mobile chipsets, from those found in budget Android devices all the way up to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which is a flagship-level processor. If Nothing is intending to make a big statement of intent with its first smartphone then this is the silicon it will use, but equally the upstart manufacturer may make its debut with a more modest mid-range device.

Design

So far we’ve not seen any images of the physical product itself, which is very unusual considering it has been announced and is only a few short months away from launch.

Going by Nothing’s house style, established with its true wireless headphones, we’d expect the smartphone to have a transparent casing that allows you to see some of the internals, while the colour scheme is likely to be composed mostly of white and black, perhaps with a red highlight here and there (and this supposition certainly seems to be borne out by the software pictures we have already seen).

However, at the event itself Carl Pei emphasized that the design will be like nothing else we’ve ever seen before; a revolution comparable to that which occurred when touchscreens replaced button phones. If this expectation can be met then it’s potentially a highly exciting product, but after such a lofty promise there’s a risk that the reality can’t help but be underwhelming.

The cryptic image above seems to hold a clue as to the eventual appearance of the phone, so let speculation commence as to what it will look like when it arrives this summer.

All that said, we have actually already seen a sneak peek of the device — albeit from a distance, and not particularly clearly. The renowned leaker Evan Blass posted the above photo which appears to have been taken at MWC 2022 and depicts Nothing CEO and founder Carl Pei holding an unidentified device, showing it off to Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon. The Verge has confirmed that this device is indeed the phone (1), “albeit wrapped in a privacy-protecting case”, but it seems that we’ll have to wait until the device is unveiled before we can take a real close look at it.

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