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 but there are already details surrounding the phone’s software, feature set, and the hardware it will sport when it does arrive next month. Here’s all we know so far.
When is the Nothing Phone (1) release date?
The company first confirmed that it was working on a smartphone at its 23 March event, but at the time only confirmed that the phone would launch in the summer. Since then it’s gotten more specific, promising to launch the phone at an event on 12 July at 4pm BST (that’s 8am PT, 11am ET, 5pm CEST, 8:30pm IST).
Despite that, you’ll technically be able to buy the phone before the launch. Nothing has partnered with auction site StockX to release the first 100 units – all engraved and serialised – in a 48-hour auction that begins at on 21 June at 2pm BST (6am PT, 9am ET, 3pm CEST, 6:30pm IST). Each of the top 100 bids will receive a phone engraved with a number corresponding to the value of their bid – so the only way to get number 1 is to bid the most, though of course you’ll have to bid without knowing the phone’s full specs – or its retail price.
Nothing / StockX
Nothing has also confirmed that O2 will be the Phone (1)’s exclusive network partner in the UK, while Telekom Deutschland and Flipkart will help bring the phone to European and Indian markets, respectively.
On 25 May, German tech site AllRound PC claimed to have received pricing and availability information from a “European dealer,” who wished to remain anonymous. According to the source, the Phone (1) would arrive on 21 July. Obviously that’s after the phone’s now-confirmed launch event, but could still be revealing: this might be the date the phone officially goes on sale.
How much is the Nothing Phone (1)?
With a launch yet to come, we naturally don’t know how much the Phone (1) will cost. Expect it to be more affordable than most, however.
The company’s Ear (1) headphones boasted competitive pricing at $99/€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 it to hit the market around $/€/£500.
That’s exactly what was predicted by the unnamed European dealer who suggested the 21 July launch date, mentioned above, claiming that Nothing’s debut phone will cost around €500 at launch.
What are the Nothing Phone (1) specs and features?
Carl Pei’s former company OnePlus is infamous within the industry for drip feeding details of its products ahead of launches, and the same ethos has clearly carried over to Nothing, so we already know a little about what to expect.
The most tantalising is the phone’s design, finally revealed on 15 June. You’ll have seen it at the top of the page, but you can get a better look in these two shots of the phone from its real-world debut at the Art Basel show:
The design language is immediately familiar to anyone who’s seen the Ear (1) headphones, with a mix of white and transparent plastic that hints at the phone’s internals without explicitly revealing too much of them. We can also spot a volume rocker on one side, with a power button across on the other.
These images also reveal that the phone packs a set of LED light strips. You can see these in action in this video from the Art Basel show, and they appear to be able to flash in white in various patterns. Presumably these can be used for notification alerts, but we’re not sure what else – or if they can also be set to a full range of colours.
The company has separately confirmed that the phone’s frame will be made out of recycled aluminium.
Pei and head of design Tom Howard spoke with Wallpaper*, in an interview that contains numerous tidbits which grant more insight into the development of the Phone (1)’s hardware (and to a lesser extent, its software).
While sharing some concept sketches, Howard stated, “From a design perspective, we really wanted to bring the inside out… There are over 400 components in a smartphone, assembled in layers. We wanted to celebrate the ‘good ones,’ the things we thought were really interesting to emphasise.”
The scanned sketchbook page (above) might also hold some additional technical information, with the width of one of the sketches sporting a measurement of 51mm (which would suggest a very small device, based on the proportions of the overall sketch), while a couple of figures can be seen, partially cut off on the far right of the scanned page: ’90’ and ’64’, which could suggest a 90Hz display and a base storage of 64GB, although it’s difficult to make out.
The interview also covers the challenges of applying the transparent aesthetic to a phone, and how Nothing’s engineering team is working to layout and style the visible components in a “jigsaw puzzle” that’s not only functional and logical but visually pleasing as well.
Howard mentions that iconic transit maps like the 1972 New York subway map by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda, as well as Harry Beck’s original 1933 London Underground map (itself inspired by circuit diagrams and the visual clarity) have played a part in informing the visual language set to be used by the Phone (1).
First up, Nothing has confirmed a few key specs officially. The big one is that the phone will feature wireless charging – which you can see in the big circular coil present in the middle of the design.
Of course that design also reveals a dual rear camera, though specs for it remain unknown for now.
The company has also confirmed that the Phone (1) will use a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, but not which. While many may hope that the phone will use the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, it’s perhaps more reasonable to expect the more affordable Snapdragon 7 Gen 1.
The 23 March announcement event also cleanly laid out some of Nothing’s other key hardware and manufacturing partners, with Samsung, Sony, and Visionox all making an appearance, alluding to who may be responsible for supplying the Nothing Phone (1)’s display, camera sensors, and more.
Getting back to speculation, TUV certification for a Nothing-branded charger seems to reveal that the phone will support 45W charging speeds. Bear in mind that this is likely for the phone’s wired charging, and its wireless capabilities are likely a little slower.
At the March announcement event Pei also introduced Nothing OS: the Android-based user experience that will debut on the company’s first smartphone.
In Pei’s own 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 on Google’s 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.
If you want a taste of what Nothing OS will look and feel like, you can get the Nothing Launcher on your phone right now, with a beta version of the company’s app launcher available on select phones running Android 11 or newer. It’s not the full OS, but will give you a hint of what’s to come.
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.