The mid-range smartphone segment is highly competitive. Ironically, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei is now launching a counterattack. Once he made the Nord series popular, now he’s attacking with his own brand, Nothing. Not an easy task, but given the hype generated in advance, Pei was able to get some people enthusiastic about his new brand and the first smartphone. I had the opportunity to take a close look at the Nothing phone (1) before it was launched – big mouth and nothing behind it?

The flat and simple packaging is open and I hold it in my hands. The scope of delivery only includes a USB-C to USB-C cable. The SIM picker comes with a love of detail and a transparent element. At first glance, the phone (1) is actually reminiscent of an iPhone, as was often noted beforehand. And so I couldn’t help but pack it in the leather case of my iPhone 13 Pro Max.


There is only a few millimeters of play in the case and the buttons are also arranged differently. Unfortunately, OnePlus was not inspired by the alert slider – but by the angular design. The Nothing phone (1) is slightly narrower, but at 193 grams it is a lot lighter than an iPhone 13 Pro Max (approx. 240 g). And that makes it the clear winner in the “hand flatterers” category.

Devices with a rounded back (e.g. OnePlus Nord 2T) still feel better in my hand. The angular design is handy though. Otherwise: Absolutely high-quality feeling in the hand. No wonder, because both the front and the back are made of glass. Surrounded by an aluminum frame – luckily it doesn’t shine – unlike the big player from Cupertino.

It shouldn’t stop with the haptics alone and you probably don’t want to barricade the special back of the phone (1) in such a case. Sure, the back looks nerdy and is a matter of taste. She speaks to me. It’s just – as with the Nothing ear (1) – something different and nothing off the peg.


Another special feature integrated into the transparent back: Glyph. 900 LEDs are hidden in the back in various patterns instead of a single RGB LED. And thus probably the most creative type of notification light that has ever been seen. Glyph lighting glows to match the ringtone or notification sound. There is a choice of predefined variants, but you can also save your own tones as usual.

Glyph can be activated by turning the smartphone over. Then only silent notifications will be triggered. Glyph can be activated and deactivated via the quick settings. There is also an option to disable Glyph overnight. You also have an influence on the brightness. The vibration motor also joins in the “orchestra”. It’s high quality, but that’s no longer a special feature in this price category, at least since the Nord smartphones, and I’ve already “felt” better. All in all, a clever, detailed story that is a real eye-catcher.

Nothing has more tricks up its sleeve for the glowing back. This includes the ability to visualize the Google Assistant. If you speak to the smartphone, the display normally flashes. Here it is the LED on the back and you can see that the assistant is listening. The light reacts variably to the voice input. The state of charge can also be visualized. The smartphone does not have to be turned around for this. Shaking it briefly gives a rough impression of whether the battery is only a quarter or half full.

A “permanent light” can be activated for filming and photographing. This illuminates much softer than a flash and turns the eye-catcher on the back into a useful story. I’m curious to see if they have other applications in mind.

Chatting long enough about the back, let’s get to the front. A 6.55 inch (approx. 17 cm) large OLED panel was added. The edges are symmetrical, the symmetry is disrupted by the front camera’s punch hole on the left. The front is also completely flat – very welcome. Thanks to 120 Hz, everything looks buttery smooth, supported by a coherent operating system with suitable animations. But I want to devote a few more words to Nothing OS separately and in more detail elsewhere.

Back to the display: It’s razor-sharp, with decent colors and viewing angles. In nuances you can tell that it is not a Samsung panel. The peak is 1,200 nits on the data sheet and yes, the display gets bright. Nevertheless, in sunny weather I had the feeling that the display dimmed a little too early – perhaps under the influence of heat. Nice in my eyes: The display is also pleasantly dark for the evening hours – including a mode that turns the brightness down even further. However, when the brightness is turned down, there is a slight green tint, as has also been shown by various flagship smartphones with 90 Hz panels in recent years. Not very pronounced, but visible when the display is dimmed and the display is gray.

The combination of Nothing OS, Snapdragon 778G+ and 120 Hz panel ensure fast and reliable operation. In terms of performance, you can hardly complain. I have the variant with 8 GB of RAM (LPDDR5), the one with 12 GB will come later with a surcharge of 50 euros. Nothing also relies on fast UFS 3.1 for storage, and you can tell. It’s completely sufficient and even simple games run smoothly. The battery life is – as far as I can tell after such a short time – okay. Almost 6 hours of screentime were spread over a day and a half.

Nothing OS 1 is an overlay for Android 12. There isn’t that much overlay, so some things are similar to current Pixel models and “pure” Android. With the apps, too, you rely primarily on what Google has put together (messages, calendar, etc.). The pixel font look is used consistently, uniformly and in sensible places. For example in the widgets. It looks coherent and as if made of one piece. The functionality is limited to the essentials, without a lot of frills. In large parts, certainly what many OnePlus users wished for from Oxygen-OS.


A lot of things are off the shelf with Nothing, but that’s not bad, because you still bring numerous sensible changes with you. For example, there are adjustments in the quick settings so that you have direct access to settings and connected devices via connectivity (cellular/Wi-Fi and Bluetooth). The battery status of the headphones is displayed there, for example, and experiments are currently being carried out with a Tesla integration, which I (unfortunately) could not test due to the lack of a Tesla. Quite rudimentary apart from Glyph and the “planned ecosystem”, but it works.


All in all: The software runs smoothly. Considering that it’s the first version of Nothing OS, it knows how to please. For example, you also bring an integration for Material You. One or the other corners could still be fine-tuned or more personalization options (e.g. for the always-on display).

While we are already addressing the ecosystem at this point: You want to get started with further integrations quickly. In my opinion, you should first work on the integration of your own products. So there is no way for the Nothing ear (1) without an app to switch the ANC modes – for example via quick toggle. This is a missed opportunity and I really hope that they will work on it. So far, the Quick Settings only show the symbol and battery status when the in-house TWS headphones are connected.

It will be exciting to see how it should look with other Android versions and you are welcome to take a look at the update promise. There are 3 years of system updates, which means: Up to Android 15, although the update from Android 14 to Android 15 could be a bit difficult . I was actually hoping for more. The Nothing phone (1) appeared shortly before the Android 13 release. This means that one of the three major updates has already been “saved”. The three updates themselves are also surpassed by both Samsung and Google and are still common on the market but not necessarily up-to-date. Especially if, like Nothing, you want to take up the cause of “sustainability” (recycling and co.).


There should be security patches every two months for four years. The bi-monthly rhythm is fine for me. The extent to which promises are kept and how quickly users can hope for an update after the release of a new Android version is anyone’s guess. But one would think that this should go quickly – after all, the phone (1) is so far the only (presented) smartphone from Nothing.

Since you show off the design of the back, you don’t have to do it with the number of camera sensors, so the setup of the phone (1) is limited to two sensors: the main sensor with 50 megapixels (Sony IMX766) and an aperture of f/1.8 and the JN1, another 50-megapixel sensor, albeit for the ultra-wide camera. The latter offers a field of view of 114 degrees. Neither are unknown sensors that can be found in a similar form in current flagship models. The camera app is generic and kept simple. I was able to take a few pictures with the camera and they know how to please.

As with most smartphones, pictures in sufficient daylight are anything but a problem. The phone (1) shows its strengths in the area of HDR. Photos in daylight are quite sharp, apart from some edge blur, and even simple snaps are successful. The point-and-shoot factor doesn’t play at the level of a pixel, but the focus is more often right away for me than was the case with various OnePlus smartphones from this year.

Unfortunately, the main camera and the ultra wide-angle camera are slightly different in terms of color matching. The colors make a good and realistic impression. The main camera is a bit oversaturated, and the colors of the ultra wide-angle camera are a bit too pale for that. There should certainly be something to adjust with the first updates.

Otherwise you keep your promises. Two solid lenses have been installed. They play – and I would like to emphasize the ultra wide-angle lens – in this price segment at the top with and with a little skill and sufficient light you can definitely stand up to one or the other photo from the flagship segment. With the ultra-wide-angle lens, however, I have already seen stronger ones in the OnePlus 9 Pro. And: The ultra-wide-angle camera also shoots attractive macro photos.

When it gets darker, differences to flagships become apparent. Anyone looking for a smartphone that “turns night into day” is in the wrong place. After all, the natural coloring definitely hits the mark. Images are darker, but often more detailed than those of the competition. The bottom line is that there is still a lack of brightness and some details are lost in the dark.

Miscellaneous? The fingerprint scanner is optical, but reacted faster than average and reliably in my test. The speaker is below average for this price category. It is charged using Power Delivery (USB-C) with 33 watts. A suitable power supply unit is not included. I wouldn’t use the available, optional 45-watt power supply, there are better and, above all, more compact versions. After 30 minutes, the smartphone is half full again. It’s fast, but others – even in the mid-range segment – can do it better.

What others don’t offer: wireless charging with 15 watts via Qi and reverse wireless charging with 5 watts. The latter also provides the Nothing ear (1), for example, with fresh juice on the go. If you place them on the back and start charging, the glyph lights up again in a circle around the TWS headphones.

Finally, what do I have to say? The first impression knows how to please. Starting with the look and feel, right through to decent performance and software quality. If you want to complain, then with the camera. It can truly do more than “nothing”, but with a suitable offer there are better products in similar price ranges from the competition.

The Nothing phone (1) is a lot, but certainly not 0815 and so I’m curious where the journey may go in the coming years. Let’s see whether the flagships will also be attacked in the future – the direction and the start are always right. And for a price of 469 euros (8 GB / 128 GB) or 499 euros (8 GB / 256 GB), there is a lot to offer. I don’t see any reason to pay the surcharge and the waiting time for the version with 12 GB RAM.

Nothing Phone (1) – 8GB RAM + 128GB, Glyph Interface, 50MP Dual Camera,…

  • Glyph Interface: A new way of communicating. Unique light patterns show who is calling. App notifications, charging status and more….
  • Design: Robust Gorilla Glass on the front and back. Advanced vibration motors for realistic touch responses….
EUR 469.00 

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Nothing Phone (1) – 8GB RAM + 256GB, Glyph Interface, 50MP Dual Camera,…

  • Glyph Interface: A new way of communicating. Unique light patterns show who is calling. App notifications, charging status and more….
  • Design: Robust Gorilla Glass on the front and back. Advanced vibration motors for realistic touch responses….
EUR 499.00 

View at Amazon

Nothing ear (1) – Wireless earphones ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) White

  • The purity of the sound is achieved thanks to a 11.6 mm dynamic driver. In addition, Bluetooth 5.2 enables high-quality…
  • Active noise cancellation works with three high-resolution microphones, so you can soothe your music, movies and podcasts…
99.99 EUR 

View at Amazon

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