Far from reproducing the same pattern as OnePlus in “flagship killer” mode, the former members of the Oppo division who make up part of the Nothing team are counting on a smartphone that emphasizes design and unique features to the detriment pure performance. A proof of the end of the race for power in telephones?
From Apple to Samsung, from Oppo to Xiaomi, the champions of smartphones are big industrial war machines. In this ocean of sharks lands a small fish called Nothing. Like an inhabitant of the coral reefs, Nothing may be small, but shimmering: far from launching yet another smartphone, the company that plays the card of hype and design is launching a terminal called Phone (1) which has ” the mouth “.
To succeed in distinguishing itself, and since all screens are alike, the Phone (1) plays the card of transparency. Under its glass shell – mandatory for terminals compatible with wireless charging – Nothing engineers have worked on an industrial look. An apparent simplicity that is not one: ” making the interior design appealing took a lot more work than for a normal terminal “, explains Akis Evangelidis, communication director of Nothing. “ We had to find partners who were ready to polish the screws, color or even wave the connection cables. “, he explains. “ And in a highly standardized industry, it’s not that easy! “, he laughs.
Because even before talking about technology, the Phone (1) is a design object. After taking on Tony Fadell (father of the iPad) as an investor, the Nothing teams teamed up with the design freaks of Teenage Engineering, mad audio scientists who applied some of the recipes of their industrial design to this terminal. Especially through ergonomics.
let the light speak
Under the glass shell of this 6.65 inch and 193.5 gram terminal, Nothing has integrated an LED system. Inspired by neon lights, these light bars are not just a decorative element, nor a super flash system, but a communication system.
Specifically a customizable and configurable light network that the team calls “Glyph interface”. A visual communication system that allows you to know the charging status of the terminal, to know who is calling you, to be notified of an important email, etc. The whole terminal returned, without the need to look at the screen.
No need to specify that it will be necessary to wait for a test to verify if it is a gadget or a really useful system, which the engineers of Nothing on have the heart to perpetuate (I do not know about you, but I don’t want to spend hours configuring it and “learning” a “language” if my next device doesn’t have one…).
Data sheet: Nothing is not OnePlus
Before scattering in ranges of several references, OnePlus was once known for one thing: a single terminal with advanced components. It was for OnePlus that the press first used the term “high-end smartphone killer” (flagship killer), with the company having focused its strategy on high-end components (including SoCs and displays) in affordable smartphones.
But Nothing is not OnePlus. And instead of a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ or an equivalent from MediaTek, Nothing turned to a chip from the 7 series. No, not even the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 which represents the flagship of the range, but a Snapdragon 778G+. A chip engraved in 6 nm and integrating a 5G modem which basically targets “gaming” smartphones (suffix G) of which the Asian market is quite fond. Depending on the versions, the Phone (1) comes with 8/12 GB of RAM and 128/256 GB of storage. A “plus mid-range” partition, which has nothing to shake up the flagships of the competition in terms of raw power. But that Nothing claims as largely sufficient for 99% of uses. This especially since the rest of the expected equipment – facial recognition to unlock, fingerprint reader, fast charging, wireless charging, etc. – is here. And even what we no longer expected, like the charger and the USB cable that are in the box.
On the photo side too, the score is mid-range. If the main camera module incorporates a good 50 Mpix sensor (Sony IMX766) to receive the light collected by the 24 mm f/1.8 equivalent of the optical block, it is not part of the family of “giant” sensors (1/1.56 ”) and is not mechanically stabilized. Its only companion is an ultra-wide-angle optical module equivalent to a 14 mm f/2.2 of suitable dimensions (Samsung JN1, 1/2.76”), but nothing more.
The photo in the making
The quality of the photo depends as much on the hardware part as on the software. It therefore remains to be seen, in use, what is the technical mastery of Nothing for this first terminal. If after reading the technical sheet, it seems that the company does not have the ambitions to attack Apple, Samsung and Oppo for its first model, Nothing denies skipping the photo. And promised us that it will continue to work on the software part of its terminal – via more synergies with Google, which is one of the financiers of the adventure – but also on the partition of future devices.
Afterwards, the modesty of the photographic technical sheet must be put into perspective: the device is displayed at 469 € at the first price (8/128 GB), it would therefore be misplaced to compare it to terminals which cost more than double in price call. If it already takes good pictures, with accurate colors, operational autofocus and good image processing in low light, it will already be taken (even at 400-500 euros, it is not acquired for all electronics).
If Nothing doesn’t have the same commitment as Fairphone – who still created the industry’s first responsible electronic gold supply chain! – Nothing focuses part of its approach (and therefore its communication!) on the “responsible” nature of its terminal. And claims like Apple a supply of 100% recycled aluminum, but also “ 50% of plastic components from biosourced and recycled materials […] as well as packaging made of recycled fibers” according to the press release. Why then deliver the charger and the USB cable? We will question them on this subject, even if in any event, the mass is soon said on this subject.
On the software side – which greatly contributes to the durability of the terminals! – Nothing displays a good ambition: “tthree years of Android updates and four years of security patches every two months. “If this promise does not reach the size of Apple which is seven years of system and security updates, it is equivalent to what the tenors of the segment offer on their flagships more than twice as expensive. If Nothing manages to do better than them and grow to five – or even, let’s be crazy, match Apple – the brand could make an impression.
It is already starting to make a good impression for a terminal with a really different look and some unique functions – transparency, LED system on the back, original font, etc. – in a terminal that seeks the right balance between technical specifications, design and value for money. Without trying to be the cheapest in the world, Nothing still offers a device that stands out at around 500 €. It changes us terminals at 1200 euros and more!
Available in black or white, the Nothing Phone (1) will be marketed from July 21 on the Nothing.tech brand website as well as at Amazon.fr. While waiting, of course, for the first offers with distributors and mobile phone operators.
- 8GB RAM/128GB storage: €469
- 8GB RAM/256GB storage: €499
- 12GB RAM/256GB storage: €549