Nothing Telephone 1 overview: an Android with funky lights on its clear again | sensible telephone

The Telephone 1 is the primary smartphone from the British know-how startup Nothing, led by the OnePlus co-founder Carl Peiwho arrange on his personal with the intention of bringing again a little bit of curiosity and pleasure to the more and more samey world of client electronics.

However the agency’s follow-up to the funky Ear 1 earbuds isn’t any flashy top-spec telephone. Priced at £399 (A$749), it appears to be like to compete straight with extra inexpensive fashions resembling Samsung’s mid-range A-series and Google’s Pixel 6a. It does so whereas providing one thing distinctive: a sequence of white LED strips strewn throughout a clear glass again to create patterns of sunshine that Nothing calls “glyphs”.

The back of the Nothing Phone 1 showing the transparent design and light strips.
5 separate gentle bars flash and pulse in time to sound and vibration patterns for 10 completely different ringtones and notification sounds, and present the charging standing when the telephone is plugged in. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Totally different gentle patterns present who is looking, which app is notifying you and even various kinds of notification from the identical app with out having to see the display. You possibly can set one sample for a piece e-mail or one for a private e-mail in Gmail, for example, however, sadly, you’ll be able to’t differentiate between messages from completely different contacts, solely calls.

The glyphs and clear again add a little bit of curiosity to an in any other case pretty understated design. The recycled aluminum sides and flat OLED display look remarkably just like an Apple telephone, main a couple of particular person to ask if I used to be holding an iPhone 13. Nonetheless, the construct high quality is superb, and the complete HD 6.55in display is superb for the cash: large, shiny, crisp and super-smooth, due to a 120Hz refresh charge.

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Specs

  • display: 6.55in 120Hz FHD+ OLED (402ppi)

  • Processor: Snapdragon 778G Plus

  • R.A.M: 8 or 12GB

  • Storage: 128 or 256GB

  • OS: Android 12 with Nothing OS

  • digicam: 50MP fundamental and ultrawide, 16MP selfie

  • Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, wifi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GNSS

  • Water resistance: IP53 (splash resistant)

  • Dimension: 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3mm

  • Weight: 193.5g

A quick, mid-range chip

The USB-C port of the Nothing Phone 1.
The telephone helps as much as 33W wired charging, reaching 100% in just a little over an hour, however doesn’t include an influence adapter. 15W wi-fi charging and 5W reverse wi-fi charging are additionally out there. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The telephone has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus chip, which is completely able to day-to-day utilization, with the interface and apps feeling fairly snappy.

Nonetheless, it falls wanting the uncooked efficiency of top-class chips, which is most noticeable when processing photos and its sluggish switching between lenses within the digicam after taking images. Solely these mid-range telephones with top-spec chips resembling Apple’s iPhone SE or Google’s Pixel 6a will carry out markedly higher for the value.

The battery life is nice, lasting about 38 hours between fees together with two hours on 5G, placing it on a par with most high gadgets. You’ll most likely need to cost it as soon as a day.

Sustainability

The Nothing Phone 1 viewed from above showing the recycled aluminum band around its sides.
The telephone is fabricated from recycled aluminum and plastic with a premium feel and appear much less frequent for mid-range smartphones. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Nothing charges the battery for no less than 800 full cost cycles whereas sustaining no less than 80% of its unique capability. The Telephone 1 is mostly repairable within the UK and the battery is replaceable by Nothing.

The Telephone 1 is fabricated from 100% recycled aluminum with greater than 50% of its plastic parts constituted of bio-based or recycled supplies. The corporate plans to publish an environmental influence report for the telephone, which says it has a carbon footprint of 58.5Kg CO2 equal.

NothingOS

The quick settings panel on the Nothing Phone 1.
The short settings panel additionally has some customized options, with Nothing intending so as to add extra, resembling integration with Tesla’s vehicles, so to unlock the doorways remotely. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Telephone 1 ships with a stripped-back model of Android 12 known as Nothing OS. It gives all of the options you’ll anticipate however with out the bloat of duplicated apps, principally counting on these supplied by Google, which is an effective factor.

The interface is sprinkled with a contact of dot-matrix nostalgia in its widgets, typeface and logos, plus some customized wallpapers and a voice recorder app with a novel record-player-like interface. It’s engaging with out being too radical.

The corporate will supply three years of main Android updates and a complete of 4 years of safety fixes each two months. That is respectable however a 12 months wanting that provided by Google and Samsung’s competing gadgets, and effectively behind Fairphone and Apple’s six- to seven-year help.

Nothing OS was {smooth} and steady however I encountered a couple of small bugs, a few of which had been fastened inside the testing interval, so I’ve little question these remaining issues will probably be sorted out. When restoring the telephone from a cloud backup of my knowledge, autorotation between portrait and panorama didn’t work, and neither did the Glyph gentle displaying Google Assistant exercise. Establishing the telephone with out restoring my knowledge fastened the issues.

Cam

The camera app on the Nothing Phone 1 showing the viewfinder.
The digicam app is easy to make use of and similar to these on different Android smartphones, so will probably be acquainted to many. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Telephone 1 has a refreshingly easy lens lineup on the again, with solely two 50-megapixel cameras – one regular and one ultrawide – for going extra garbage macro or monochrome cameras frequent on mid-range telephones for advertising functions.

Each cameras are good for the cash. The principle digicam produces the perfect photos which have usually good coloration stability and element. Images can lack just a little sharpness and nice element when seen at full measurement, and it may be just a little troublesome to get a pointy shot in low gentle. The ultrawide produces photos with cooler tones and softer element however remains to be respectable. The digicam can often oversaturate elements of a picture, resembling pink flowers shedding all definition and virtually glowing.

The telephone has no telephoto digicam however the digital zoom produced usable photos at 2x, changing into stuffed with artifacts after about 5x magnification. The glyphs could be lit as much as create a fill gentle at night time as a substitute of utilizing the flash, which is novel however produces a blue hue to the photographs. The selfie digicam is equally good, producing detailed images in good gentle.

Video recording was strong for the cash however solely as much as 4K at 30 frames a second, not 60 as is more and more frequent.

General, the Telephone 1 is able to producing actually good photos, and beats many mid-range rivals, however will not hassle the perfect.

An image showing the fingerprint scanner lighting up beneath the screen of the Nothing Phone 1.
The optical fingerprint scanner underneath the display is quick and correct. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Worth

The Nothing Telephone 1 prices £399 (A$749) with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, £449 (A$799) with 8GB and 256GB, or £499 (A$849) with 12GB and 256GB, and is accessible in black or white relying on the mannequin.

For comparability, the Google Pixel 6a prices £399the Samsung Galaxy A53 prices £399the Fairphone 4 prices £499and the Apple iPhone SE prices £419.

verdict

The Telephone 1 is a remarkably well-executed first try at a smartphone from Nothing.

Its design is distinctive on the again and easy elsewhere. You may not just like the iPhone-like look however the recycled aluminum sides actually really feel extra premium than the aggressive mid-range value may recommend.

The glyph lights on the again are actually novel and crowd pleasing however remembering which sample is which is troublesome, and I usually keep away from placing telephones face down to stop scratches. It is good to see one thing completely different and enjoyable, although.

Regardless of an odd bug as a result of be fastened, the Android software program is pleasingly bloat-free, which helps the telephone really feel snappy in use. The battery life is fairly good, too. 4 years of promised software program updates is nice however not the perfect, and depends on Nothing succeeding in fulfilling its dedication, which isn’t assured for any new entrant.

It has very stiff competitors from rivals resembling Google’s wonderful Pixel 6ahowever in contrast with lots of boring mid-range telephones, the £399 Nothing Telephone 1 stands out.

Execs: novel again design, glyph lights are one thing completely different, good display, respectable efficiency, strong battery life, recycled aluminium, bloat-free Android 12, competitively priced.

Cons: no optical zoom, solely 4 years of safety updates, solely splash-resistant, nothing a little bit of an unknown amount.

A photo showing the cameras and other design elements on the Nothing Phone 1's transparent back.
The design of the again displaying the wi-fi charging coil, screws and different element is the Telephone 1’s standout function. Photographer: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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