No phone (1) reviews

Is it really possible to reinvent something as ubiquitous as a smartphone? Well, over the past few years, many companies big and small have taken a chance, while others, like Apple, have gone the tried and true way of pushing only incremental updates every cycle. Now Nothing – the oddly-named new venture from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei – wants to take a fresh look at what they can do with a smartphone, and they seem to have something to do here for sure.

Nothing phone (1) review: What’s new?

Usually, when trying to review smartphones, it’s hard to fill out this part, and while we recognize that a set of features are new, they’re usually not something that pushes the boundaries of innovation. But the Nothing(1) phone is different.

The Nothing phone is back with LED lights. The phone has over 900 LED lights on the back. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

Yes, the phone has a different design, but without changing the fundamentals. Although the chassis looks too much like an iPhone, the Nothing (1) phone has a glass back panel that lets you see what’s inside. And it’s not like you can see the mess inside, because Nothing has redesigned the innards to give it a good look with a mix of panels. What is clearly visible is the wireless charging coil which has also been redesigned to look nothing like what it usually does. It also means that buying a cover that blocks all of that out is sort of pointless and you might want to stick with the transparent Nothing cover that showcases that transparency.

The back of the Nothing 1 phone can be seen here. With the transparent back, Nothing emphasizes the wireless charging function of the phone. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

The other novelty could well be the USP. This is what Nothing calls the Glyph interface. It’s a set of 900 LEDs on the back that light up in different custom patterns based on your ringtones and notifications. Since there are many possible combinations with the different bands, these can be configured to silently alert you to exactly who is calling. There are also many other occasions when these LED lights can be used, such as when waking up the Google Assistant. Overall, this is a new way for the phone to communicate with you. It’s definitely a feature that has a lot of potential over time, although some might find it a little too strong for their liking. But it sure does turn heads, especially if you get an incoming call while you’re in a movie theater or walking down a busy street at night. And that overshoot value itself will be something that many users might be queuing up for.

A Nothing (1) phone screen shows the company logo when you start the device The use of raster fonts throughout is both contemporary and pleasing to the eye. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

The other interesting aspect of the phone is the interface inside. The company hasn’t strayed far from the pure Android experience, but has added tweaks that bring additional value to users and clearly differentiate the brand. For example, the use of raster fonts throughout is both contemporary and pleasing to the eye. I loved that for every icon or folder on the homepage there is an option to increase the size, thus making this rather young phone a good option for older people like me.

Nothing phone (1) review: What’s good?

Let’s be clear on one thing: the Nothing (1) phone is a mid-range phone. And our expectations must also be of the same order. It has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ processor that’s powerful enough for everything the phone promises. But he might stutter a bit if you try to get him to do more than he signed up for. With most gaming, 4K video recording, and multi-tab browsing I tried on this phone, there were no glitches, lags, or stutters.

The Nothing (1) phone home screen can be seen in this photo It has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ processor that’s powerful enough for everything the phone promises. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

There’s no reason to believe that a phone really needs three cameras and I tend to agree. What the Nothing (1) phone offers is two cameras that work really well instead of three that might be mediocre. I loved the color reproduction with the regular and ultra-wide cameras.

Nothing from the phone camera photo of bright pink flowers An example of the Nothing phone’s camera (1) showing flowers captured in bright sunlight. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)
An image showing pink bougainvillea flowers taken from the Nothing phone (1) Another camera sample from the Nothing phone (1) showing pink bougainvillea flowers. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)
An image taken with the Nothing (1) phone of a plant. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)
Another image of a plant placed indoors taken with the Nothing phone (1) (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)
A low light image of the lamp captured using the Nothing phone (1). (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

Low-light performance is also good. In fact, I used portrait mode in low light and was able to adjust the bokeh effect quite well. It’s impressive.

A low-light image of a Buddha statue taken with the Nothing phone (1) (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)
A low-light image of a Buddha statue taken with the Nothing phone (1) (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

Macro mode and expert mode are hidden, but worth it. The overall user interface of the app is also easy to use and more in line with iOS and not Android.

Video capabilities are also good and from a camera perspective, this phone has it all.

The flexible 6.55-inch OLED display is vivid and ideal for content consumption. It helps that the speakers are really good if you’re someone who watches reels and stuff on your phone.

The 4500mAh battery easily lasts a day and a half of use most days and can be fully charged if you have a fast charger at home. It also supports wireless charging, but at a much slower rate. And since the Nothing(1) phone comes in a chocolate box-like package, it doesn’t come with the 33W wall charger and you’ll have to spend a few extra bucks for it.

The Nothing (1) phone screen could have been brighter, especially when used outdoors. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

Nothing phone (1) review: What’s not so good?

My only real issue with the phone is that the screen is a bit hard to see in bright sunlight, even if you’re on full brightness. I noticed this while trying to click some peaks in the morning sun in Noida. The glyph is clearly the standout feature of this phone. But there are times when you try to figure out why it didn’t turn on. I think a few updates will be needed to make this work properly for all use cases.

The Nothing (1) phone that comes in a retail box might remind you of a box of fancy chocolates. (Image credit: Nandagopal Rajan/Indian Express)

Nothing Phone (1) Review: Should You Buy?

Yes, if you want a different phone from the rest of the options available in the midrange. But be aware that this is a new brand and being an early adopter can lead to frustration. Also, after a while, the novelty of the Glyph will wear off and the phone will have to stand out for its sheer performance. As this is a first device, we will have to wait a few months to see how it goes, especially with after-sales service and customer support.

For now, it’s a good Android phone that should be appreciated for its bold efforts to step out of your comfort zone and take risks. That should make it an attractive option for many users considering phones like Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, and Vivo in this price range.

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