Once I first pulled the Nothing Telephone 1 from its slender retail field, I simply stared at it, flipped it over in my hand and scrutinized the see-through bits and items. Nothing’s consideration to element was noticeable in all places. I’ll admit it outright: I like the way it seems.
The corporate could also be pushing a story of epoch-defining design, however its first cellphone additionally comes with respectable, if not groundbreaking, specs and, gasp, a aggressive worth level. Whereas the aesthetics scream flagship system (and there’s undoubtedly some iPhone DNA right here), the worth tag, round $476 (£399 right here within the UK, no availability within the US), places it within the arguably extra aggressive midrange weight class. That places it up in opposition to the iPhone SE, Samsung’s Galaxy A collection and Google’s Pixel A gadgets – don’t neglect, the Pixel 6a is simply across the nook. Can a actually flashy cellphone steal your consideration away from all these heavy hitters?
- Distinctive clear design
- Glyph Interface is eye-catching
- Aggressive worth
- Competent cameras
- Glyph Interface isn’t tremendous helpful
- Some options veer into gimmickry
- Display has substantial bezels
Each colours of the Nothing Telephone 1 are eye-catching. And, whereas the white model seems cooler, the black actually emphasizes the distinctive glyph lights. Gorilla Glass covers the back and front, and Nothing has curated what elements you may see and smoothed out a few of the strains.
Let’s discuss concerning the Glyph interface, as Nothing has coined it. It makes use of over 900 LEDS to create 4 totally different light-up components throughout the again of the cellphone. Some have additional options, which I’ll come again to, however collectively they mild and flash to indicate cellphone calls or notifications… and immediate strangers to ask, “what’s occurring along with your iPhone?” The one factor it attracts greater than onlookers is fingerprints. You’ll buff this cellphone so much to make sure the clear design could be correctly proven off.
Yeah, it’s eye-catching to all people inside 10 ft, however luckily, you may cut back the brightness and, nicely, the severity of a cellphone name or textual content from somebody. There’s additionally a considerate warning that the Glyph Interface is probably not protected for anybody with epilepsy or different light-sensitivity circumstances. As I’ve a historical past of seizures myself, it’s a pleasant consideration, however as somebody famous, what concerning the individuals round me?
Nothing has made 10 distinctive ringtones with devoted Glyph patterns that mild up in sync to the lo-fi chippy noises – one in all a number of indicators that the Teenage Engineering DNA runs deep right here. Many of the ringtones and patterns are one way or the other… simply plain cool? I feel it’s one thing to do with the proper synchronization or the truth that it’s not the hole, orchestral stirrings of a company audio sting.
A light-weight strip on the backside of the Telephone 1 doubles up as a charging gauge when the system is plugged in. You’ll have to allow the characteristic inside the cellphone’s Glyph Interface settings. I want the battery gauge additionally labored on the ability strip even when it wasn’t plugged in. Maybe we’ll get extra Glyph performance sooner or later.
Now, for all these claims of a novel smartphone paradigm, apart from the again, the cellphone seems and appears like an iPhone – particularly the perimeters of the recycled aluminum body. In contrast to Apple’s cellphone, there’s no mute swap, and that is likely to be an intentional design option to put a ways between Nothing and OnePlus. (Nothing boss Carl Pei co-founded the latter and I’ve made my emotions on the OnePlus alert slider recognized for a while.)
Just like the iPhone, the ability button is on the fitting facet, whereas the amount buttons are alongside the left. On the backside edge, you’ve a single-firing (however loud!) speaker, SIM card slot and USB-C port.
There’s a purple LED on the again of the cellphone to point when Telephone 1 is recording video, like a camcorder from the ‘90s. It’s equal components privateness characteristic and intentional retro nod. One other cute contact: The SIM card remover deal with is resin-tipped, and appears like a bit of transistor.
The Telephone 1 is an enormous cellphone. It dwarfs my iPhone 13 Professional. Its 6.55-inch 1080p display places it nearer to the iPhone 13 Professional Max and the Pixel 6 Professional. Although, at 8.3mm thick, it’s extra substantial than Apple’s greatest iPhone.
The midrange spec creep begins on the show, which has a comparatively substantial bezel much like the Galaxy A53 but it surely’s unlikely to be a dealbreaker for a lot of. There’s a holepunch digital camera, (16-megapixel) and the show itself is vivid and brilliant (as much as 1200 nits), whereas refresh charges can attain 120Hz. Adaptive refresh charges are one of many trendy touches that assist gadgets really feel (and, nicely, look) premium.
The Telephone 1 feels premium then, regardless of the subsequent compromise: the mid-range Snapdragon processor ticking away inside. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G+ chip has been frivolously personalized for Nothing, that means the Telephone 1 can provide wi-fi charging (and reverse wi-fi charging) capabilities, in contrast to telephones utilizing the usual Snapdragon 778G. The Telephone 1 was nonetheless in a position to deal with some battles and exploration in Genshin Influence, although it did get slightly heat within the course of.
Nothing says you may 33-watt fast-charge the Telephone 1 to 50 p.c battery capability in half-hour, and my testing just about replicated this. Wi-fi charging tops out at 15W, whilst you can reverse cost at as much as 5W from the Telephone 1 itself. I ponder if wi-fi charging is all that fascinating? Or was it a problem of getting one thing good to point out off on the clear again? One thing to border a Glyph round? Maybe I’m only a cynic. (Okay, undoubtedly.)
In our battery rundown checks, the Telephone 1 was in a position to play a video on loop for simply over 16 hours, which is best than a number of Android telephones we’ve examined within the final yr, together with the OnePlus 10 Professional, though it’s price noting that Nothing’s has a lower-resolution show.
In typical use, I managed to get a day and half out of a full cost. With extra video recording, or gaming or streaming, this is able to imply I’d be below 10 p.c by 9PM. That is ameliorated a bit of with the quick charging, however a bit extra battery life would have been good.
The dot-matrix ‘Nothing’ font that arrived with the corporate’s debut earbuds, is peppered across the firm’s tackle Android 12. There isn’t a lot totally different about this “bespoke” interpretation of Google’s cellular OS, although. There are these Glyph-connected ringtones, some monochromatic wallpapers, and distinctive widgets within the drop-down menu, however in any other case, it’s principally the Android you recognize.
A Nothing spokesperson instructed me that they’re engaged on increasing options by way of third-party APIs — one instance at the moment reside is the flexibility to unlock your Tesla from this dropdown menu. You’ll be able to activate the AC prematurely, flash the lights and some extra light-weight options. However that’s an extremely tiny slice of Venn diagram overlap: Tesla driver and Nothing Telephone 1 proprietor.
One other apparent show of the corporate’s partnership with Teenage Engineering, is its voice memo app, which has a minimalist tape deck aesthetic. You’ll be able to rewind and fast-forward, and there are a number of noise-canceling choices to raised isolate voices. It’s not podcast-ready however should you’re recording a gathering or leaving a notice for your self from a loud pub they need to a minimum of assist.
If there’s one factor I can’t get on board with, it’s Nothing’s addition of a local NFT Gallery. I don’t have any NFTs, but when I did, I’d be capable of observe their costs and “present them off” in 5 totally different sizes on the Telephone 1. Let’s transfer on.
Because it’s a brand new cellphone from a really new firm, I had my reservations about stability. However to this point, I’ve had no main points. Useful resource-intensive apps could take barely longer to load in comparison with flagship telephones, however that’s about it. The corporate has additionally vowed to deliver three years of Android updates to the Telephone 1, which ought to assist hold issues safe and secure.
In the event you‘ve been trying out lots of our cellphone evaluations over latest years, you’ll have seen that multi-camera setups usually embrace a dud – a monochrome sensor right here, a 2-megapixel macro digital camera there. There’s a purpose why the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 are nonetheless able to respectable pictures, regardless of “solely” having two cameras – diminishing returns. This cellphone additionally has a dual-camera system. At this mid-range worth, that is the place issues usually go awry. However, fortunately, that’s not the case with the Nothing Telephone 1.
Nothing has gone for Sony’s IMX766 sensor and mixed it with f/1.9 lens with optical picture stabilization. In the event you’re a smartphone obsessive, that may sound acquainted, as a result of that’s what you bought on Oppo’s Discover X3 Professional, a flagship Android cellphone from final yr that was double the worth of the Telephone 1.
The secondary ultrawide digital camera makes use of a 50MP Samsung JN1 sensor with an f/2.2 lens. This doubles as a macro digital camera, however don’t count on unimaginable macro pictures from a cellphone.
You’ll be able to count on crisp pictures in good lighting, although. I’ve been impressed with the nonetheless high quality from the Telephone 1. There appear to be some picture software program tweaks right here, however they’re comparatively mild. Evaluating daylight photographs from the Telephone 1 in opposition to the Pixel 4a, Google’s appeared to supply extra distinction, but it surely’s exhausting to name a winner between the 2. Each provided up 12-megapixel pictures, so element ranges have been usually a match, Nothing simply appears to have gone for barely extra muted colours.
With brighter components of the picture, you’ll discover some chromatic aberrations: a purplish hue round these brilliant spots. Night time-time pictures is respectable sufficient, with the standard evening taking pictures mode in attendance. It didn’t finest the highest smartphones, but it surely was in a position to rescue just a few lowlight photographs that may have in any other case been a darkish patchy mess. Regardless of the algorithms at work, outcomes have been a bit of noisy.
The Glyph Interface may also be used as a sort-of ring mild, to light up close by topics with out the oomph of a normal flash. It added a mild, barely blueish hue to images when enabled. It’s a intelligent thought however the execution is a bit of missing. If Nothing might provide finer shade temperature controls, like many ring lights do, this might be genuinely helpful.
The digital camera app affords all the standard imaging options of a cellphone in 2022: HDR, Portrait mode, timelapse and even an skilled mode for finer controls over white steadiness, ISO and extra. I discovered the essential picture mode greater than versatile sufficient. The most important limitation was the 2x zoom, which crops a part of the picture sensor. There’s some digital zoom thrown in should you’re determined. I began to overlook the extra expansive telephoto choices on different – often costlier – smartphones.
The Telephone 1 can seize 4K video at 30FPS or 1080p at 60FPS. Video high quality was easy and serviceable. There’s a bit of little bit of rolling shutter wobble if you’re panning round, and in decrease mild I seen it attempting to find focus if I used to be shifting whereas recording. It additionally struggles to steadiness publicity between a pinkish sky at nightfall and a darker avenue.
On the Nothing Telephone 1’s launch occasion, Carl Pei mentioned that “stability [was] far more necessary than a ton of flashy options.” It was an odd selection of phrases when the largest differentiator of your organization’s new cellphone is actually a flashing characteristic.
The excellent news is that each one this effort into how the cellphone seems – and it’s actually eye-catching when the Glyphs mild up – hasn’t been undone by wobbly software program, mediocre cameras or disappointing construct high quality. It’s a reliable Android cellphone.
The worth, the type and the eye to element are all spectacular. Nothing is strolling a nice line between gimmick and have at occasions, however as a brand new firm, it will get to do this. There’s no predecessor cellphone to copy, and this goes in Nothing’s favor. Having mentioned that, its greatest rival might be Google’s Pixel 6a, with an analogous worth level, and its personal distinctive look.
This can be a new cellphone from a brand new firm, so I’ll be keeping track of this cellphone long term. However, Nothing has made a formidable debut. Don’t consider all the hype, however the Telephone makes a compelling argument for mid-range customers and anybody that desires a cellphone that appears totally different however does issues just about the identical.
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