Nothing Phone 1: 1 year later, but 1 day before the Nothing Phone 2 launch

By G. S. Vasan | Published 10 Jul 2023 10:55 IST
Nothing Phone 1: 1 year later, but 1 day before the Nothing Phone 2 launch
  • Nothing Phone 1 is currently available at ₹29,999 on Flipkart, a year after its launch.

  • On July 11, 2023, the Nothing Phone 2 is launching and before that here is a long-term assessment of the Phone 1 to see if it’s still relevant as a good phone under ₹30,000.

  • A lot has changed since the last time we reviewed it in the form of several software updates on the Phone 1 and lots of competition in the market. So, let’s how good is Nothing Phone 1 in 2023.

Nothing Phone 2 is around the corner, and since that device reminds us a lot about its predecessor, the Nothing Phone 1, we decided to do a long-term assesment of it. This is to see how good the phone is a year after its launch and if you should still consider it for a phone under ₹30,000. 

Let’s start with one aspect of this phone that hasn’t changed much on the Nothing Phone 2: 

Nothing Phone 1 design

It’s not often you come across a device that manages to attract your attention and the bystanders. I have had strangers come up to me asking about it, sometimes clueless, sometimes curious. And since the design of its successor is very similar, of late, the questions have been if this is the Nothing Phone 2 or when it is coming, so and so forth. 

A major reason for that is its transparent design on the back. Through it, you can see several LED strips that are arranged in a glyph pattern. You may already know it serves different use cases, but I haven't found myself using the Glyph Interface at all. Perhaps, it is because I do not want to keep my phone upside down and scratch the screen. Even then, the front panel got a scratch as it slid and fell from the edge of the bed. Blame its slippery back. 

Well, both front and back have Gorilla Glass 5 protection. That and the aluminium frame offer a premium in-hand feel. 

I wish Nothing also gave better ingress protection than IP53, as there are IP67-rated devices in this price bracket. 

Also Read: Nothing Phone 2’s design similarities to the Phone 1 is a good thing: Fight me

Speaking of price, I get Carl Pei, and the team probably took inspiration from the most aspirational phone out there and wanted to target people eyeing something like an iPhone at this price point. I would argue the Phone 1 has definitely managed to become somewhat of an aspirational phone, and so, I think that design choice worked.

I just wish this was as compact as an iPhone 14. That has majorly to do with the aspect ratio of the screen, which brings us to:

Nothing Phone 1 display and UI

While I may have an issue with its display size, you may appreciate that for media consumption and other digital drudgeries. The OLED panel produces punchy colours, but the output lacks sharpness. I find the adaptive brightness also wonky and slow. The transition isn’t very seamless. 

But the screen refresh rate is really good. It butters through at 120Hz. Even a year later, the phone feels as good as new. The close-to-stock Android UI helps. It runs smoothly, and of late, I haven’t encountered any hiccups or glaring glitches. My unit has Android 13-based Nothing OS 1.5.4. There are frequent software updates and patches from Nothing, removing bugs and adding features. Next month, I should be getting Nothing OS 2.0, and I’m looking forward to that.

Since the company has promised three years of platform updates, I am excited to see how the Nothing OS improves or adopts newer Android releases. Since there are relatively fewer models to attend to, I have hope for the Nothing software support.

The processor’s longevity is up for debate, though.

Nothing Phone 1 performance and power

Look, don’t get me wrong. The phone fares well in everyday use and isn’t bad for gaming. In benchmarks, too, it has performed mostly better than the last time we reviewed it. It outperforms something like a Samsung Galaxy A34 or Oppo Reno 8T but pales in comparison to a Poco F5 or, in some cases, the Motorola Edge 40 and iQOO Neo 7. This shows Phone 1’s Snapdragon 778G+ isn’t as powerful as what some of its competitors have in this sub-₹30K space. 

Also Read: Nothing Phone 1 review | Motorola Edge 40 review | iQOO Neo 7 review

It is good for the time being, but how future-proof it is, only time will tell. 

Synthetic tests Scores
1. Antutu 647593
2. PCMark Work 3.0 Performance 11608
3. GFXBench Aztec Ruins OpenGL | Car Chase | Manhattan 3.1 1444 fps | 1974 fps | 3466 fps
4. Geekbench 6 CPU 1068 | 3038
5. 3DMark Wildlife 2871

The 5000mAh battery, however, can last up to 7 hours in a typical workday. It lasted longer at 9 hours and 3 minutes on the PCMark Work 3.0 Battery Life test. This means you may have to plug in the charger in the evening or before you go to sleep. The device supports 33W charging, which isn’t slow by any means, but you could get faster charging with many of Phone 1’s rivals. Also, unlike with Nothing Phone 1, you could get a charger in the box with some of them.

One thing that takes a lot of juice is photo and videography. Let’s check out some of the clicks and clips from the Nothing phone.

Nothing Phone 1 camera

Nothing Phone 1 cameras deliver decent results. However, if we pixel peep and you want to know the finer details, here are our findings:

In proper daylight, Nothing Phone 1 photos come fairly well. Whence compared to pricier phones, you notice the weak contrast. But, it is noticeable only whence you compare them side by side. 

Coming to the ultrawide, although it captures a wider perspective, the colour temperature falters compared to the main sensor’s output. 

As for the portrait mode, you’d notice some edge detection failures at difficult places like hair follicles. Considering iPhones also falter at times, we can give the spotty edge detection a pass, especially since, in ideal situations, it should do the job just fine. 

When the night arrives or say there isn’t enough light in the frame, the photos tend to come across as soft. The night mode does accentuate the sharpness, but mostly it overdoes the task, and we were left with sharpness artefacts. By this, we mean the pictures have a crispy texture that is off-putting. 

The ultrawide in low light settings present digital noise too. The night mode does fix this but may result in the aforementioned problem.

Finally, when we get to the videos, the 4K30 output is passable when it comes to stabilisation. But, the exposure isn’t right. There is a green tint and noise when shot in low-lit conditions.  

Well, considering all these conditions and the cost of the device, here’s our conclusion:

Nothing Phone 1: Should you buy or wait for Phone 2?

For a new startup, Nothing managed to do what some of the established companies would have struggled with. It brought out a mid-range smartphone that caught people’s attention and has stayed relevant even after a year since its debut. That’s partly because of the clever hype-marketing by Carl and his company, its peculiar design, and also because it’s a decent phone overall. You can get better-performing and better-equipped phones in the sub-₹30k price segment, but they may not have the appeal that this phone has. 

Having said that, if you value actual performance over this pull factor, you can check out any of its competitors. Also, just because mine is a review unit and I haven't faced major issues, I can’t discount all the subreddit posts pointing out the various pain points of using this device. Call it early adopter tax, but ask yourself if you are ready to pay that. The constant updates and bug fixes are a good sign. And we will have a better picture of the brand’s efforts when the Nothing Phone 2 lands tomorrow and we review it. So, we suggest you stay tuned for that.

G. S. Vasan
G. S. Vasan

Email Email G. S. Vasan

Follow Us Facebook Logo

About Me: Vasan is a word weaver and tech junkie who is currently geeking out as a news writer at Digit. Read More

Trending Articles


Latest Articles View All