Back in the day, OnePlus was a brand that worked on phones for enthusiasts – the One even ran CyanogenMod. Over the years it transformed into a more traditional smartphone maker, but now one of its co-founders, Carl Pei, has started a new company. Is this a new beginning or just a continuation under a different name?
The Nothing phone (1) was announced earlier this week. This is a phone, indeed a company, that prioritizes style. The goal is to break up the monotony of current smartphone design trends (the company’s tagline on Twitter is “We’re here to make tech fun again.”).
A signature design element is the transparency – like the ear (1) TWS buds, the phone (1) uses clear glass to show off some of the internals. Nothing leveraged that with “Glyph interface”, which uses several strips of white LEDs on the back for some light effects and notifications.
The phone also comes with a custom launcher (which you can test drive on your current phone). There is also support for NFTs out of the box as well as for remote controlling certain features on your Tesla. Let’s just say that the Nothing phone (1) was built for a particular crowd.
Does that limit its appeal? Or does the perceived exclusivity (part of which is the invite-only sales system) make the handset seem all the more appealing?
Because if you strip away the glitzy exterior, this could easily have been a OnePlus Nord model. This is a mid-range phone and with a €470/£400/₹33,000 price tag, it’s not priced all that aggressively. This is for the 8/128GB model, the 8/256GB one is €500/£450/₹36,000 and the 12/256GB one is €550/£500/₹39,000.
For that you get a Snapdragon 778G+ (customized to support wireless charging), a 6.55” 120Hz HDR10+ OLED display with FHD+ resolution (not an LTPO panel) and a 50MP main camera (IMX766, 1/1.56” with OIS). There is also a 50MP ultrawide unit (114° JN1, 1/2.76”), stereo speakers and a 4,500mAh battery with 33W fast charging (0-50% in 30 min, 0-100% in 70 min), plus 15W wireless charging. There’s no telephoto camera, though, nor microSD slot and 3.5mm headphone jack.
Nothing is promising three years of OS updates (the phone starts on Android 12) and four years of security patches. That is comparable to Samsung Galaxy A series and the Google Pixel 6 phones.
Let’s have a look at the competition that the Nothing phone (1) faces. We’ll start with the OnePlus 9. Its display is basically the same and you get the more powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset. The cameras are comparable (and boast Hasselblad modes), as is the battery. An 8/128GB phone can be found for around €550 with some shopping around.
The OnePlus Nord 2 is normally €400, but can be found for a bit less. It has a smaller 6.43” 90Hz AMOLED display and is powered by the Dimensity 1300, which should edge out the Snapdragon. The ultrawide camera has only an 8MP sensor and there is no wireless charging.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G has a 6.5” 120Hz Super AMOLED display (without HDR10 support) and runs on the not-so-exciting Exynos 1280 chipset. The camera department is also quite basic with a 64MP main (1/1.7”, OIS) and 12MP Ultra wide. The 5,000mAh battery is larger, but slower to charge (also, no wireless charging). A 6/128GB unit is €360 on Samsung.com and a bit less elsewhere.
You could also consider the Galaxy M53, which is more similar to the A73 than the A53. It has a larger 6.7” 120Hz Super AMOLED (no HDR) and runs on the less powerful Dimensity 900 chipset. What it does have going for it is the 108MP main camera (no OIS), but the 8MP ultra wide disappoints. The 4,500mAh battery isn’t great for this size, but at least it does wireless charging. A 6/128GB unit will set you back €400. The A53 and M53 have microSD slots, but no 3.5mm jacks.
You may be better off with the Galaxy S21 FE. It has a 6.4” 120Hz AMOLED display with HDR10+ and a Snapdragon 888 chipset, even in Europe. The 12MP main (1/1.76”, OIS) and 12MP ultra wide (1/3.0”) camera are nothing to write home about, but there is also an 8MP 3x telephoto module (with OIS). This one also has a 4,500mAh battery with wireless charging support. The S21 FE and A53 will be treated to better software support than the M53. The S21 FE (6/128GB) routinely falls under €500.
The Redmi Note 1 Pro+ 5G in Europe goes for €400, it has a 6.67” 120Hz Super AMOLED display (HDR10) and is powered by the Dimensity 920. Like the M53, it has a 108PM main camera and an 8MP ultra wide. The phone does have a 3.5mm jack and a microSD slot, plus a 4,500mAh battery with 120W fast charging (0-100% in 15 min, no wireless, though). You can pick one up for €350 (6/128GB unit) and you will be getting both a microSD slot and a 3.5mm jack.
The Poco F4 uses the old-but-gold Snapdragon 870 and it has a 6.67” 120Hz AMOLED display (HDR10+), a 6/128GB unit goes for €400. The Poco X4 GT runs the more exciting Dimensity 8100 chipset and it has a 6.6” 144Hz LCD (HDR10), plus a 3.5mm jack. Neither phone has particularly interesting cameras (64+8+2MP, with OIS on the F4). Battery wise, they have only wired charging (67W), the X4 GT battery is larger (5,080mAh vs. 4,500mAh).
The Realme GT Neo 3T also goes for the Snapdragon 870 and packs a 6.62” 120Hz AMOLED display (HDR10+). The 64+8+2MP camera setup doesn’t impress here either. There is also a 5,000mAh battery with 80W fast charging (wired only). An 8/128GB phone sells for €430, unless you want the Dragon Ball edition (8/256GB for €500).
The Realme GT2 runs on the Snapdragon 888 and it has a 6.62” 120Hz AMOLED display (HDR10+). The main camera uses the same IMX766 (50MP, 1/1.56” with OIS) as the Nothing phone, but the 8MP ultra wide is no match. There is a 5,000mAH battery with 65W charging (0-100% in 30 minutes, no wireless). An 8/128GB unit is fairly pricey at €550.
If software support is your main concern, you will find the Pixel 6 in some countries at €530 (8/128GB). It uses Google’s custom Tensor chipset and has a 6.4” 90Hz AMOLED display (HDR10+). The main 50MP sensor is large (1/1.31” with OIS), the 12MP ultra wide camera is behind on resolution. The 4,610mAh battery supports both wired and wireless charging.
The Motorola Edge 30 also has a Snapdragon 778G+, though without the wireless charging modification. It has a 6.5” 144Hz AMOLED display (HDR10+) and a 4,020mAH battery with 33W wired charging. The camera setup is competitive with a 50MP main sensor (1/1.55”, OIS) and 50MP ultra wide (1/2.76”). The price on Motorola Germany is €450 (for an 8/128GB unit), but you can find it for less too.
The older Moto Edge 20 is also worth a look, it uses the original 778G chip and it has a larger 6.7” 144Hz AMOLED display (HDR10+). The main camera boasts a 108MP sensor (1/1.52”, no OIS) and there is an 8MP 3x telephoto lens, in addition to the 16MP ultra wide. Like its 30-series sibling, it has a small 4,000mAh battery. You can pick one up for €360.
The Moto G200 has a similar setup, though with a 144Hz LCD (HDR10) and a Snapdragon 888+ chipset. The 108MP (1/1.52”, no OIS) main camera is in place, but the tele module is gone. At least you get a larger 5,000mAh battery (still no wirelss charging). These go for around €499 (for an 8/128GB unit).
Alright, time to vote – who here will be becoming part of the community of Nothing phone (1) owners?
PS. if you’re having trouble voting using the poll widget above, cast your vote here.