Nothing phone (1) Review: Finally A New Smartphone Experience?
Does Nothing’s latest smartphone live up to its promise?
Many smartphone brands talk about new experiences, very few deliver on this promise. We took our time but can safely say that Nothing’s first attempt at a smartphone delivers on its promise of a new experience. We’ll say that with a measure of caution, don’t expect a radically new user experience but it still stands out in a crowd with a refreshingly new approach that doesn’t cost a bomb. We’ll tell you why.
Rad new design
A lot has been said about the 900 plus LEDs that come together to create a light show of sorts. Let’s get that out of the way first. It’s what Nothing calls its ‘Gliph’ interface and it certainly thrills. From unique light patterns that can tell you who’s calling to charging status, this cool interface adds life to everyday interactions. But you will get over it eventually. You’re unlikely to leave this phone to light up a table when you’re in an important client meeting. You’re more likely to show this off to your mates at the pub. It’s not just the lights that have our attention.
Look under the hood
The Nothing phone (1) sticks to the same transparent design of its first TWS earbuds and it has the same wow effect. It feels really good in your hand and certainly breaks the clutter. As consumers, it’s time we start asking questions about the materials that go into our everyday objects. We’re impressed that the phone (1) is made with 100% recycled aluminium. The phone uses bio-based and recycled sources for over 50% of the plastic components.
Minimalism to the fore
Intuitive smartphone experiences usually offer a seamless integration of hardware and software. This is an area where Nothing hits it out of the park. The trick? Keep things simple. There’s no bloatware and no aggressive attempt to leave a stamp on the Android experience. What you get is pleasant, unobtrusive touches like a sharp font that complements the minimalist design. The phone is powered by Nothing’s OS 1.0 layered over Android 12. Nothing has also announced three Android version upgrades and four years of security patch updates.
All the stuff that matters
There’s been a lot of chatter around Nothing’s choice of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778+ processor to propel its first smartphone. It’s true that it mostly powers sub Rs 25,000 phones but it’s still enough firepower for all the daily stuff, even gaming. The phone clocked a respectable 3018 on our Geekbench (multi-core) test. We tested the 8GB/256GB variant, Nothing also offers an 8GB/128GB version and the top-end 12GB/256GB hardware variant. The other box this phone ticks is the rear cam that combines two 50MP lenses (wide and ultra-wide). Images and videos were really good in our tests even in lowlight. Don’t expect the performance of a flagship camera though. The other feature that impressed us is the display.
Colours are vibrant and blacks are deep on the 6.55-inch OLED display (2400 x 1800 pixels / 402 PPI / 1200 nits peak brightness) with a 120Hz refresh rate.
An impressive start
There might be some debate around the processor and the battery life (4500 mAh) might not work for some heavy duty users. We sailed through a day in our tests. All this aside, the Nothing phone (1) is an impressive beginning for a brand new company. It takes an everyday object – one that we spend a lot of time with, and adds some new experiential elements. Even if you’re not a design fanatic, the Nothing phone (1) delivers a great smartphone experience for its asking price. It’s one of the best phones under Rs 35K.
The Nothing Phone (1) comes in Black and White. It costs Rs 31,999 (8GB/128GB), Rs 34,999 (8GB/256GB) and Rs 37,999 (12GB/256GB)