Since its launch in late 2020, mysterious start-up Nothing – created by former OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei – has led a fairly private existence, however, its second product ever, the Nothing Phone (1), is now confirmed to be coming this summer.
How the Phone (1) will serve as the heart of Nothing’s promised ecosystem remains to be seen, especially from a software standpoint, but there are already details surrounding the phone’s software, feature set, and the hardware it might be sporting when it does arrive later this year. Here’s all we know so far.
When does the Nothing Phone (1) launch?
The company first confirmed that it was working on a smartphone at its 23 March event, but didn’t offer much in the way of detail beyond promising a summer release.
You can rewatch the March event stream, right here:
The event also saw the reveal of Nothing OS – the Android-based user experience that the Nothing Phone (1) will sport. While this won’t officially launch until the phone does, part of the OS is already available to try in the form of a beta version of the Nothing Launcher, which is free to install and try out on select smartphones.
How much is the Nothing Phone (1)?
The company’s debut product – the Nothing Ear (1) true wireless headphones – boasted competitive pricing at $99/£99, while retaining premium features like ANC (active noise cancellation), placing them at the upper end of what would be considered ‘budget’ within their respective product category.
If the same treatment were to be applied to the Phone (1), we’d expect something in the region of $500/£500, however, suspicions and leaks point to Nothing producing something a little more high-end.
If the phone were to come powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, for example, competitive pricing would land it in the region of $800/£700, taking on the likes of Realme’s GT 2 Pro and Google’s Pixel 6, while undercutting entries from more established players like the Oppo Find X5 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22, and iPhone 13.
What features does the Nothing Phone (1) offer?
The notion that the Nothing Phone (1) will run on a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 isn’t wholly speculative, as the company openly announced a partnership with Qualcomm in late 2021. The latter’s involvement reportedly consists of supplying Nothing with its Snapdragon hardware for use in “future products” (as per a report by Forbes from October 2021). Of course, Qualcomm makes lots of chips, and the Phone (1) may well use cheaper silicon rather than the flagship Snadpragon.
As for what this Snapdragon-powered Nothing smartphone looks like, the company has kept things cryptic for the time being, starting off with a stylised teaser image that alludes to the potential placement of hardware on the Phone (1).
The first teaser image for the Nothing Phone (1)
What looks to be a pill-shaped camera module (reminiscent of the iPhone X’s or, more recently, the Honor 50’s multi-sensor setup) looks as though it sits in the top left, a large element in the centre resembles a wireless charging coil (but could also simply represent the battery’s placement), while the verticle lines a the bottom are assumed to be in reference to power input. There’s also an unknown element in the top right, represented by a diagonal line.
If you’re after something a little more tangible, in the run-up to the phone’s official tease, established tipster @evleaks shared the below image, depicting Nothing CEO, Carl Pei showing off a mysterious device to Qualcomm’s CEO, Cristiano Amon; taken in the private area of the latter company’s stand at MWC 2022.
Nothing to see here. pic.twitter.com/mzLeTVHSXm
— Ev (@evleaks)
March 7, 2022
Even when cropping in and enhancing the image, however, it’s difficult to make out what the device in Pei’s hands actually looks like.
The 23 March event also cleanly laid out some of Nothing’s other key hardware and manufacturing partners, with Samsung, Sony, and Visionox all making an appearance (see image below), alluding to who may be responsible for supplying the Nothing Phone (1)’s display, camera sensors, and beyond.
On 31 March 2022, the official Nothing Twitter account teased another announcement for the following day. However, as you can see below, it turned out to be an April Fool’s joke; the final design is likely to be very different:
Say hello to just Another (1).
You’ve seen a phone just like this before.
Experience edge-to-edge monotony. It’s inspiringly uninspired. Utterly unoriginal. And exactly the same as everything else.
Coming to bore you soon.https://t.co/pLWW07l8G7 pic.twitter.com/2FHHI5ELr1
— Another (@nothing)
April 1, 2022
Just a day later (on 2 April), however, Nothing posted another tweet, reminding fans of the Phone (1)’s summer arrival. What really stuck out was the image embedded in the post, however, which shows a closeup of what looks to be white plastic in various partially-recognisable shapes.
There’s what could be representative of a wireless charging coil to the right of frame and something that looks a lot like flex cable in the top left, while the head of a Torx screw is easily visible in the bottom left.
Another (1): coming… never.
Jokes aside, it’s easy to follow everyone else, yet that’s not who we are.
But phone (1) is coming, and it really is like nothing else.
Get notified: https://t.co/pLWW07l8G7 pic.twitter.com/N4OMvf03B5
— Nothing (@nothing)
April 2, 2022
This image may simply be a kit-bashed render of components usually associated with smartphone construction, but depending on how forthcoming Nothing wants to be, this image could be our first official look at the Phone (1), or at least a developmental mock-up of the device.
With Teenage Engineering defining the brand’s industrial design language thus far and Dyson’s former head of design joining Nothing in more recent months, simplicity and minimalism seem like likely bedfellows with regards to the look of the Phone (1).
It’s a notion that’s clearly resonated with a lot of fans, with various concept creators sharing their interpretations of what Nothing’s debut smartphone could look like since the company’s launch.
The most popular concepts even gained enough momentum to receive recognition from Pei and other members of the team; with Nothing’s head of design, Tom Howard, reacting to concepts by Over The Edge Agency, Povilas Grigas, and Osho Jain in a video released on the company’s YouTube channel on 11 March.
While Jain’s design, in particular, has seen a lot of support from Nothing fans since its publication in late 2021, it was Grigas’ concept that appeared to strike a chord with Nothing’s design head. “It’s fantastic to see some ideas around how we could work with the internal components of things and sort of bring them to the surface,” Howard exclaimed in the video.
Source: Povilas Grigas
The Lithuanian design student, currently studying at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland, told Tech Advisor that his decision to create his Nothing phone concept (apparently inspired by old pacemakers, ice cubes, and jewellery) was born out of an appreciation for the company’s vision. “I got into concepts because of Nothing… This project was probably the most enjoyable in my life.”
Howard’s comments during his reaction video hint at elements that the company’s design team might be focusing on with their debut smartphone but details are still too ambiguous to be sure of anything at this stage.
Ahead of the company’s March event, Pei had shared an innocuous tweet that some took to mean he had moved from an iPhone to a Nothing-made device, running on Google’s mobile operating system:
Back on Android
— Carl Pei (@getpeid)
February 15, 2022
Fast-forward to the 23 March reveal and alongside confirmation of the Nothing Phone (1)’s forthcoming summer release, Pei also introduced Nothing OS: the Android-based user experience that will debut on the company’s first smartphone.
Our first official look at Nothing OS
Based on Pei’s words, Nothing OS “captures the best features of pure Android, distilling the operating system to just the essentials, where every byte has a purpose.”
It’s a decidedly familiar approach, following similar principles to the OxygenOS user experience found on phones made by Pei’s former company OnePlus.
As seen in the screenshots above, there’s a distinct aesthetic to Nothing OS, carrying through the retro-futurism already seen across the brand’s wider assets.
Purpose-made iconography and the company’s signature dot matrix font are plentiful, with a “smooth and uniform experience” manifesting in elements like the clock, which persists across the always-on display, lock screen and home screen, offering greater coherence.
The OS’s sound design is apparently influenced by “Morse code, oscillators and digital watches,” while the user experience will reportedly be comparatively light on UI animations, in pursuit of offering a cleaner and simpler navigation experience.
Pei also promised 40% fewer pre-loaded apps, focusing Google own experiences as the first port of call for most services, as well as tight integration, not just with Nothing products, but devices and services from other companies; with Apple’s AirPods and Tesla’s cars getting name-checked during the March stream.
To round out the software side of things, Pei promised three years of Android OS updates and four years of security updates, which paired with a summer launch suggests that the Phone (1) will arrive running Android 12.
Check out our rundown of the most hotly-anticipated phones of 2022, to see what else is coming besides the Nothing Phone (1) this year and check back here regularly to see how the story develops.