Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Nothing Phone (1) is Something

The Nothing Phone (1) is that kind of gadget that will be quite a conversation piece. But beneath its unconventional design, features, and the company that made it, the Nothing Phone 1 is an excellent midrange Android smartphone that will definitely stand out.

Let me talk about Nothing for a moment. This is the company behind the Nothing Phone (1). It is founded by Carl Pei, who also co-founded OnePlus, another unusual Android smartphone company. I reviewed their inaugural OnePlus One in 2014. Carl left OnePlus, founded Nothing, which has made the earbuds, before now launching their first smartphone.

Like OnePlus before, Nothing is surrounded by a lot of hype. Or excitement, if you prefer. There’s a lot we can talk about the company, the people behind it, the making of their phone, as well as their earphones. But I just want to talk about the Nothing Phone (1) itself in this post.

As far as function goes, the Nothing Phone (1) checks all the boxes for what you’d expect in any midrange Android smartphone. The physical device has a lot of iPhone-vibe in its look and feel. Let me skip over the usual feature tour and jump right into its most outstanding feature, the thing that makes this device most recognizable as the Nothing Phone (1). This is abou the back of the phone.

The transparent glass back shows off a bit of what’s inside the body. Notably, you will see the NFC (or charging?) coil as well as some innards of the phone. Also, most outstandingly, is the LED that shows under the glass. Nothing calls this the Glyph interface, and it is an arrangement of 900 LEDs that light up to indicate some notification. There’s no other phone that has anything like this, and for sure, this Glyph interface can be quite mesmerizing. The can blink in various patterns and light up in different parts.

However, these LEDs only light up in white. RGB might have been really fancy, though maybe a little overkill. Heck, the Glyph interface is already overskill, but it will certainly be a conversation piece at any party.

The light show is configurable. They can dance according to your ring tone. They are far more customisable than you can probably remember what they mean when the lights start dancing.

While we’re on the back, I’ll just mention that those two cameras in the corner sport 50 MP resolution. One is a wide lens, f/1.9, 24 mm, 1/1.56″ sensor, with PDAF and OIS. The other is an ultra-wide, f/2.2, 114° FOV, 1/2.75″ sensor, with AF. The camera system records 4K @ 30fps and 1080p @ 30/60fps. Images from the camera are actually quite good and can certainly run with the big boys.

The Nothing Phone (1)’s front is adorned by a 6.55-inch 120 Hz HDR10+ 500 nits display with 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution. This is a little tall at a 20:9 aspect ratio. The screen is really bright and colours are very vibrant. Protecting the display is Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Wished it might have been 6.

There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor located at the bottom. Works well, faster than the Pixel 6. The selfie camera in the hole punch at the corner has 16 MP resolution on a 1/3.1″ sensor, f/2.5, wide lens.

Like with most smartphones these days, there isn’t a 3.5 audio jack. You do get dual-band Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 with A2DP and LE, NFC, and positioning with GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO and QZSS.

The Nothing Phone (1) has a 4500 mAh lithium ion battery. The device runs for 12 hours 8 minutes int he PCMark for Android battery test.

A Snapdragon 778G+ processor powers the Nothing Phone (1). My review unit has 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. These are some benchmark numbers ran on this device:

  • Geekbench 5 single-core: 812
  • Geekbench 5 multi-core: 2989
  • Geekbench 5 Compute: 2445
  • PCMark for Android Performance: 10703
  • 3DMark Wildlife: 2891

The Nothing Phone (1) comes with Android 12. There is no Android 13 in sight, and it appears it might not even happen in 2022. This could be a little disappointing if you like having the latest software from Google, though for the most part, it seems like Android 13 isn’t a bit change from the earlier version.

The Nothing Phone (1) retails at $769 in Singapore. It is available in black (as reviewed here) and white, from M1, Challenger, Lazada, Limited EDT & Zym.

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