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 objective of bringing a little bit of curiosity and pleasure again into the more and more related world of shopper electronics.

However the firm’s pursuit of the funky Ear 1 is not a flashy cellphone of the very best spec. At £399 (AU$749), it appears to be like to compete straight with extra reasonably priced 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 referred to 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 completely different ringtones and notification sounds, and the charging standing is proven when the cellphone is plugged in. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

It reveals completely different lighting patterns from the caller, the app that notifies you and even various kinds of notifications from the identical app with out having to see the display screen. 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 possibly can’t distinguish between messages from completely different contacts, solely calls.

The glyphs and clear again add somewhat curiosity to the considerably minimalist design. The recycled aluminum sides and flat OLED show look remarkably just like an Apple cellphone, which has led a couple of individual 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 screen is superb for the cash: large, brilliant , crisp, and very easy, because of the 120Hz refresh charge.

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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

  • digital camera: 50 MP Fundamental and Extremely Large, 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 cellphone helps as much as 33W wired charging, reaching 100% in simply over an hour, however it would not include an influence adapter. 15W wi-fi charging and 5W reverse wi-fi charging are additionally accessible. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The cellphone 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 would not fairly stay as much as the uncooked efficiency of top-notch chips, which is most noticeable when processing photographs and sluggish switching between lenses within the digital camera after taking footage. Solely these mid-range telephones with high-spec chipsets like Apple’s iPhone SE or Google Pixel 6a will do higher for the worth.

Battery life is nice, lasting round 38 hours between costs together with two hours on 5G, which places it on par with most top-of-the-line units. You’ll most likely must cost it as soon as a day.


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

Nothing charges the battery for at the least 800 full cost cycles whereas sustaining at the least 80% of its authentic capability. Telephone 1 can usually be repaired within the UK and the battery may be changed with Nothing.

Telephone 1 is fabricated from 100% recycled aluminum with greater than 50% of its plastic parts created from bio- or recycled supplies. The corporate plans to publish an environmental affect report for the cellphone, 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 automobiles, so you possibly can unlock doorways remotely. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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

The interface is full of a contact of dot matrix nostalgia in UI components, typeface and logos, in addition to some customized backgrounds and a voice recorder app with a brand new report player-like interface. It’s engaging 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 respectable however lower than a 12 months than that provided by competing Google and Samsung units, and it is effectively behind Fairphone and Apple help by six to seven years.

There was no easy and steady OS, however I did run into some small bugs, a few of which had been fastened through the testing interval, so I’ve no doubts that these remaining points can be resolved. When restoring the cellphone from a cloud backup of my information, the auto-rotate between portrait and panorama did not work, and the Glyph mild exhibiting Google Assistant exercise did not work. Setting the cellphone with out restoring my information fastened the problems.

digital camera

The Camera app on Nothing Phone 1 displays the viewfinder.
The digital camera app is simple to make use of and similar to these on different Android smartphones, so it is going to 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 widespread in mid-range telephones for advertising and marketing functions.

Each cameras are good for the cash. The primary digital camera produces the perfect photographs that usually have good coloration stability and element. Photographs could lack a little bit of sharpness and tremendous element when considered at full dimension, and it may be a bit tough to get a pointy shot in low mild. The ultra-fast display screen produces photographs with cooler tones and smoother particulars however remains to be respectable. The digital camera can typically oversaturate components of the picture, equivalent to purple flowers that lose all readability and virtually glow.

The cellphone would not have a telephoto digital camera, however the digital zoom did produce usable 2x photographs, and it is fairly filled with artifacts after the almost 5x zoom. Avatars may be illuminated to create a fill mild at night time as an alternative of utilizing flash, which is new however produces a blue gradient for photographs. The selfie digital camera 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 widespread.

General, the Telephone 1 is ready to produce actually good photographs, outperforming many mid-range rivals, however it will not trouble the perfect.

Image showing the fingerprint scanner lit at the bottom of the Nothing Phone 1 screen.
The fingerprint scanner on the backside of the display screen 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 accessible 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 is easy elsewhere. You won’t just like the iPhone-like look however the recycled aluminum sides positively really feel extra premium than the aggressive mid-range worth may counsel.

The avatar lights on the again are actually new and attention-grabbing however bear in mind the laborious type, I normally keep away from placing telephones down to forestall scratches. It is good to see one thing completely different and attention-grabbing.

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

It has stiff competitors from rivals like Google’s wonderful Pixel 6a, however in comparison with quite a lot of boring mid-range telephones, the £399 Nothing Telephone 1 stands out.

Positives: New again design, completely different graphic lights, good display screen, respectable efficiency, stable battery life, recycled aluminum, Android 12 bloat free, aggressive worth.

Negatives: There is no optical zoom, simply 4 years of safety updates, simply splash-proof, nothing a little bit of an unknown amount.

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 the cellphone 1’s distinguishing function. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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