The world of Android phone brands is crowded, so the arrival of a new smartphone is an intriguing prospect. Carl Pei, who co-founded OnePlus, left that company in 2020 to set up Nothing.
What can Nothing add to Android mix? The company will be hoping that its brand name is not the answer.
The company’s first phone has just been revealed, following numerous hints and teases. The Nothing Phone (1) certainly looks different from its rivals, with a completely transparent glass back (it’s Gorilla Glass 5 front and back) so you can see the components inside. They’re not quite naked, you understand, but clad in a semi-revealing material.
So, there’s a circular element in the middle of the back, with a small line curving out of it. It almost looks like a cartoon bomb. But the plain fact is that that design exactly mirrors the wireless charging coil that lies behind it.
Then there are the lights. These are all over the back of the phone, including around the dual camera lenses, a central area and a series of lights at the base of the phone that resemble an exclamation point.
But there are functions here, not just decoration. You can pair ringtones to individual contacts and the lights, called Glyphs, show different patterns for each.
Flip to Glyph refers to the lights interface: flip your Phone (1) over and the handset goes silent, so only the visual notifications appear. That’s part of Nothing’s desire for quiet focus, in turn an element of wanting your interactions with the phone to be about quality, not quantity.
The Nothing OS also behaves in a different way to other Android systems. Not only does it eschew the bloatware which some manufacturers permit, it lets you control multiple scenarios right from Quick Settings: such as unlocking a Tesla without needing to launch the Tesla app.
There are two cameras, which isn’t unusual of course, but these are both 50MP sensors, and the Glyph lights can help with studio lighting, though there’s a regular flash, too.
This is a mid-priced phone (from $476, £399 in the U.K.) but it looks and feels premium. Forbes will be reviewing the Nothing Phone (1) soon, but first impressions are very strong.