Nothing Phone (1) Review: Fun Lights Just Right

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It is very rareIt is rare for a first generation consumer tech product to be as perfect as the Nothing Phone (1). It’s the first-ever smartphone from Nothing—a new company headed by former OnePlus cofounder Carl Pei—and only the company’s second-ever release, following last year’s Wireless earbuds by Ear 1.

What’s NotIt is rare for a first-gen product with a flashy feature to grab your attention. Keep these things in mind Red Hydrogen OneIts funky holographic display? The Essential Phone’s magnetic portThat never really added up to much.There are good reasons.)? Or even the Amazon Fire Phone’s “Dynamic Perspective”? The glitz on the Nothing Phone (1) is extra fun: 900 LEDs underneath the glass on the rear that light up with unique patterns when notifications arrive and can act as an alternative camera flash when you shoot in low light.

It is not known by the Glyph Interface. It’s silly, and maybe even gimmicky. It is beautiful and I love looking at it. I like seeing it light up, so much so that I regularly flip the phone around when it’s on my desk to see the design. I also love the fun little sounds the device makes with Nothing’s custom ringtones and alerts. Beep boop! (Fair warning: The alarm sounds may cause you serious harm if there’s someone sleeping next to you.) 

The primary function that sets the Nothing Phone (1) apart is its ability to perform every function flawlessly. Take away the bright lights and you’re left with a simple, affordable, and effective phone, from the screen to the camera to the battery. It’s hard to find many faults. The problem is? It’s not sold in the US.

Nothing is everything

Nothing Phone (1)

Photograph: Julian Chokkattu

Everything is price these days, and the Nothing Phone (1) starts at £399, or roughly $472, putting it in league with the Google Pixel 5A(plus the upcoming Pixel 6A), Samsung Galaxy A53Other devices and accessories from Xiaomi, Poco and OnePlus. For the money, you’re getting mostly high-end smartphone specs, which is the same tactic OnePlus employed back in the It was good times

There’s the exceptional 6.55-inch OLED display. It’s sharp and gets plenty bright enough to clearly see on sunny summer days. It also features a 120-Hz adaptive refresh rateThe phone’s smooth operation is made possible by the, which feels like a knife through butter. It’s a respectable size—not too big, not too small—with flat edges that make it easy to hold. 

Another highlight is performance. Powered by the midrange Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ with 8 GB of RAM, I’ve nary seen a stutter on the Nothing Phone (1). (You can also upgrade to 12 GB RAM. Games like Dead CellsAnd Alto’s OdysseyIt went smoothly, with more demanding titles such as Genshin ImpactIt performed well enough. The temperature of the device was never in doubt.  

You get all the important perks, such as wireless charging and reverse wireless charging for wireless earbuds. NFC can also be used to make contactless payments. There’s even a wonderful haptic motor that produces gentle vibrations. The front and back are protected by Gorilla Glass 5. There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor I’ve found to be quite reliable, and the dual stereo speakers sound great.

Photograph: Nothing

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