Nothing Phone (1) review: Android phones finally got exciting again

Nothing Phone (1) review

Nothing Phone (1) review (Image: NOTHING • GETTY)

Nothing Phone (1): 60-Second Review

Nothing might be new to the smartphone market but its rivals definitely shouldn’t ignore it. The Phone (1) is a total breath of fresh air in a market that’s now saturated by tedious devices that offer nothing unique.

That’s not the case with the Phone (1). Its see-through styling will certainly turn heads and the glowing Glyph Interface is actually pretty useful with it alerting you to calls, texts and emails without looking at the display.

Along with those distinctive upgrades, the Phone (1) also packs some seriously impressive tech for a ludicrously low £399 price. Owners are treated to a speedy 120Hz OLED screen, solid rear camera, wireless charging and full access to fast 5G downloads.

There’s even reverse charging which means it will refill your AirPods by simply placing them on the rear case. It’s incredible value!

Like most phones, there are some niggles. The large size won’t suit everyone’s taste, the camera can be a little slow at times and we’ve had some battery drain problems. Then there is the obvious risk in investing in a phone that’s from such a new company.

However, if you like the look of it and are prepared to take a punt on Nothing being around for the long haul then the Phone (1) is a tough device to beat. In fact, it’s one of the most exciting devices we’ve seen in years!

Nothing Phone (1) review

The Nothing Phone (1) features a see-through design (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone (1): Full Review

If you’ve never heard of Nothing you are definitely not alone. This fledging tech firm has only been around since 2020 and although it did launch a pair of wireless earbuds last year (read our full Nothing Ear (1) review here) it’s never released a phone before.

The brand does have some impressive history though with its founder, Carl Pei, one of the brains behind the hugely successful OnePlus brand.

He left that company back in 2019 and is now pinning his hopes on Nothing.

The big question is, can the Phone (1) take on the likes of OnePlus, Samsung and Google?

Here’s our full review.

Nothing Phone (1) review

The Nothing Phone (1) features a 6.55-inch OLED screen (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone (1) Design and Display

When we first saw the pre-released images of the Nothing Phone (1) back in June we weren’t sold on the slightly whacky see-through design. However, get this device in your hands and there really is something hugely loveable about it.

The clear Gorilla Glass back lets you peer inside and see the unique Glyph Inferace which glows when you get notifications – more on that later – and the aluminium finish gives it a super premium feel.

Now, one thing that definitely won’t have escaped your attention is how much this device looks like an iPhone, In fact, during our testing, there’s been a number of times when we’ve actually picked it up thinking that it was the Apple device we use alongside all of the Android phones we test at

The sharp edges and aluminium sides really make it feel like it’s come straight out of the design studio in Cupertino. Maybe that’s not a bad thing as it looks great and it might even convince some Apple fans to make the jump to Android.

The only negative we’ve found with the design is that it is quite big and wide making it pretty unwieldy when trying to use it with one hand. That size is due to Nothing cramming a 6.55-inch OLED display into the Phone (1).

Although it’s not great for small pockets this is a really solid screen for bingeing on Netflix and whizzing around the web.

Not only is it bright and crystal clear but it also gets speedy 120Hz refresh rate technology which makes scrolling through websites and checking those endless emails feel silky smooth and stutter-free.

Considering the £399 price tag, this is an impressive display from Nothing and it beats other phones such as the new Pixel 6a which only packs a 60Hz screen for the same price.

Nothing Phone (1) review

Nothing Phone (1) review (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone (1) Power and Battery

Tucked under the hood of the Phone (1) is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G+ processor which is powerful enough for most needs but certainly doesn’t come close to more premium silicon such as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Nothing has clearly had to make compromises to keep the cost down but, in our tests, this mid-range chip performs pretty well. It’s also worth noting that this plus version of the processor has allowed Nothing to bring wireless charging to its device, that’s something phones using the standard Snapdragon 778G processor can’t match.

Although the brain inside is perfectly adequate we have found some weird performance with battery life. We’ve generally got through a day without it running out of juice but since enabling the always-on display the powerpack now seems to drain badly when in standby mode.

One evening we went to bed with 20 percent left in the tank and woke up to find the device completely flat.

Nothing is, no doubt, still ironing out issues and expect some software updates to be released that will hopefully fix this gripe. Just be aware that, right now, the battery life isn’t as good as some of its rivals.

Nothing Phone (1) review

This phone is certainly unique thanks to its glowing Glyph Interface (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone (1) Camera

Instead of packing the Nothing Phone (1) with endless rear lenses, the firm has instead opted for a simple dual-lens setup.

This includes a main 50MP Sony sensor and a 50MP Ultra-wide lens made by Samsung. It definitely makes sense to have two really good cameras rather than loading it up with less impressive snappers that offer poorer quality.

Our general impression of the camera is good with most of the images we snapped appearing pin-sharp and packed with detail.

When the light is good the Phone (1) holds its own but shooting in trickier situations can see this device struggle compared to more expensive phones. We did also find some oversaturated colours at times.

Nothing Phone (1) review

Nothing Phone (1) review: Camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone (1) camera sample

Nothing Phone (1) camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Along with standard images, there’s also a wide-angle option and 2X zoom plus you get the usual Night Mode for shots when the sun goes down.

Night Mode can take some hugely impressive photos without the need for a flash but the results can be a bit hit and miss so you’ll need to be patient.

One final thing we noticed about the camera is that it can be a little sluggish with the shutter not always snapping a shot when you tap the capture button. It doesn’t happen all the time but can be a tad annoying especially when you want to photograph something quickly.

Nothing Phone (1) camera sample

The Night Mode can be pretty hit and miss (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

We can’t talk about the Extras without mentioning the Glyph Interface. Nothing has packed around 900 LED lights into the rear casing of this device which flickers and glows when notifications come through.

Just like ringtones, these flashes can be customised depending on your taste and different themes can even be assigned to contacts so you know who is ringing without looking at the screen. These lights can also show how much charge is in the battery when it’s plugged in and there’s the option to make them shine when shooting video – a bit like a ring light. Yes, the Glyph Interface is a total gimmick but there’s something really fun about it and there are definitely times when you’ll make use of it.

Nothing Phone (1)

The Glyph Interface glows when messages come through (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Other extras worth mentioning include a fast under-screen fingerprint scanner, a useful always-on screen and its design is IP53 rated for Splash, water and dust resistance.

You can fast charge the battery although Nothing doesn’t ship a power brick in the box and there’s also reverse wireless charging which means you can pop your AirPods Pro on the rear case and give them a power boost. If you have a 5G SIM you’ll get superfast downloads when away from fixed-line broadband.

Sadly, unlike most Android phones in the price range, the device doesn’t come with a case in the box so you’ll need to head to the Nothing Store to keep things looking box fresh.

Nothing Phone (1) Android

Along with the design looking pretty unique, Nothing has also added its own styling to Android via its Nothing OS software.

It looks really fresh with the bespoke widgets, fonts, sounds and wallpapers adding a distinctive style when using the phone.

There’s also no bloatware to be seen and it includes some nice bonuses such as the ability to unlock Tesla cars without any additional apps and you can even check the Apple’s AirPods battery status.

Nothing also says it delivers speed where it’s needed most with smart software that learns from your usage. Most-used apps load super-fast; the rest are frozen to conserve power.

Nothing Phone (1) review

Nothing Phone (1) review (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone (1) Price

Although prices start from £399 that doesn’t tell you the whole story and things do get slightly complicated so bear with us. That low cost is for the Black model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. This Black version is also available with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for £449 or 12GB RAM 256GB storage for £499.

If you want the white version then you’ll need at least £449 in your bank account as Nothing is not selling this model with that entry-level 128GB of storage.

Along with the Nothing Phone (1) being on sale SIM free you can also pick it up on contract from O2 with this network having exclusive rights to sell this device in the UK.

Full pricing below.

Nothing Phone (1) review

Nothing Phone (1) review (Image: NOTHING)

Nothing Phone (1) Verdict

Nothing Phone (1) review – at a glance

What We Loved

  • Unique design makes it stand out
  • Glyph Interface is fun
  • Speedy 120Hz screen
  • Loads of premium features for £399
  • No bloatware

What We Didn’t Love

  • Nothing is new to the market 
  • Some battery life and performance issues
  • Contracts only available on O2 in the UK

Android phones have just got exciting again! Nothing has really pulled something super unique out of the bag with its Phone (1) a design offering and features that have never been seen before. There’s also plenty of premium technology tucked inside such as reverse wireless charging and that 120Hz screen for a bargain £399 price.

The camera is pretty good, it’s fully 5G ready and the Nothing OS software makes things on the display feel fresh and exclusive.

With so much praise you might be thinking of rushing straight out to buy one but there are some niggles that could put you off.

The camera performance is erratic at times and the weird battery drain is a worry. There have also been reports on social media of users suffering from strange screen issues although that’s not something we’ve witnessed ourselves.

This is Nothing’s very first phone and it’s no surprise that there could be teething problems – even Apple and Samsung have had issues in the past when launching all-new devices. Who can forget the batteries exploding on the Galaxy Note 7 or antenna-gate on the iPhone 4.

We’re very smitten with the Nothing Phone (1) and can highly recommend it – especially for that ludicrously low £399 price. Just be aware that Nothing hasn’t yet got a long track record for producing phones and that means being an early adopter does come with an element of risk.