Imagine an image of a smartphone in your mind. Now compare it to the smartphones that already exist in the market, be it Android or iPhone. Let us guess what you imagined. Probably, a slab of glass or aluminum with a notched display and a circular or square camera module at the back? Yes, phone designs have gotten bland lately. If this isn’t what you imagined, we’re sure you’ll do great if you take up designing as your career.
Nothing, a brand of OnePlus’ co-founder Carl Pei says consumer tech has become boring. In March, the company unveiled the Nothing Phone(1), which has managed to attract many eyes thanks to its transparent design with fused LED, which begs the question, is a bunch of LEDs really going to save the smartphone industry? Here are some of the things that I’m excited to see in the Nothing Phone(1).
Can “Nothing” save the Smartphone market?
For starters, Nothing’s first product was the ear(1), a set of ANC-enabled truly wireless earphones that the company managed to sell very well thanks to the immense hype. The company was founded in 2020 and quickly raised millions of dollars in investments from Twitch CEO Kevin Lin, YouTuber Casey Neistat, Paddy Cosgrave, founder of Web Summit, Google ventures, etc.
1. The Design
This week, the company revealed its smartphone via MKBHD, a popular Tech YouTuber. The Nothing Phone(1) looks different, as the company promised. The design is eye-catching and feels, unlike any smartphone you might’ve seen.
The transparent, fused LED design is already one of my favorites. Nothing’s calling it the “Glyph” interface, and MKBHD has showcased it in the video. The YouTuber said that he wasn’t supposed to show the front of the smartphone but did it for a brief moment, and the front of the phone greatly reminded me of the Pixel 4a and 5’s displays, which also had uniform bezels.
We can see from the footage that the display greatly resembles the iPhone 12’s display with uniform bezels around the corners but with a punch-hole display instead of the notch. As soon as the design was revealed, the “no chin” remarks the company made before the release backfired a little. However, “technically,” this is a display with no chin because the overall bezels are uniform around the corners.
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The Glyph interface is pretty cool, and we can’t wait to see what Nothing does with it to make the phone more functional and unique-looking.
2. The Ecosystem
“Why don’t you move from an iPhone to Android?” “It’s the ecosystem!” You may have heard this conversation over a gazillion times, but most Android users wonder, “Will the Android ecosystem get better?”
During the event in March, Carl said, “Our ecosystem will consist of both Nothing products and products from other leading brands. This is a start of an open and diverse ecosystem that gives people a real choice. A choice to use your favorite brands instead of being forced into a closed range of products.” It’ll be interesting to see how they work with other manufacturers to integrate products into their ecosystem.
Imagine seamlessly using your phone with a Windows machine or a TWS that integrated perfectly with your Nothing phone; wouldn’t that be cool? Since we’re talking about the ecosystem, the next big Nothing product could be a smartwatch or a laptop, perhaps?
You probably know where we’re going with this—ever heard about OnePlus? One of the most vital areas of their smartphone business was OxygenOS. The clean UI, no bloat, and a ton of features made OxygenOS an impressive and one of the most popular third-party Android UIs. OxygenOS was so popular that people bought OnePlus devices just to experience it.
Now, we already know a fair bit about the Nothing OS. The company has even launched its launcher to the public, and its beta is currently available on the Google Play Store. A great start to an open ecosystem already, eh?
However, there’s not much information regarding Phone(1)’s software, but we should be seeing more leaks soon. What we do know is that it’ll take tremendous effort to pull users to the ecosystem with the software, and just like the device’s design, it needs to be unique.
4. Hardware and Pricing
A lot of early reports suggested that the Phone(1) could be powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, Qualcomm’s flagship offering. However, most recent leaks suggest that Snapdragon 778G+ will power the device. Take the hardware specs with a grain of salt until Nothing officially confirms it. Rumors about the pricing suggest that the phone will cost $399, which puts it in the upper mid-range category, again, take it with a grain of salt.
Nothing also recently revealed that they wouldn’t be launching the Phone(1) in the US, which we thought was a bit ironic since Carl talked about the company being a direct competitor to Apple. The phone isn’t launching in the country where iPhones sell like hot cakes.
The transparent back and the LEDs are cool, but I’m surprised the company hasn’t talked about the Phone(1)’s repairability. It’s interesting because the company talks about the ear(1) being carbon neutral and beyond. Or maybe they’re saving the repairability part for later.
Either way, I would love to see the Phone(1) scoring decent points on iFixit’s repairability scale and Nothing selling parts for the phone. I’m being too ambitious here, but a little desire shouldn’t hurt since Apple and Samsung already have their repairability programs in place.
Too Much Hype for “Nothing?”
Hype: Extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion. While we think marketing plays a quintessential role, especially when manufacturing and selling products, we also think that you shouldn’t let it overflow.
Remember the OnePlus Nord? The immense hype that OnePlus was able to generate around it was commendable. However, people were expecting too much in pricing and were eventually let down right after the phone launched. Hence, we’d still suggest keeping your expectations low.
Expect less, and you won’t be disappointed (No, I didn’t copy that from a movie). To answer our question, a bunch of LEDs won’t save the smartphone industry, in fact, people might get the phone and forget about the feature since it feels gimmicky. But if implemented well with great harmony between the software and hardware, the device has the potential to revive the dying market.
The Phone(1) will launch on July 12 and will be available via an invite system, which, according to Nothing,” will help “manage the inventory” IYKYK. Either way, what are your thoughts about the Nothing Phone(1)? Do you think we’re close to having an Android ecosystem that rivals Apple? Let us know in the comments section below.