Nothing Phone 1: A Special Nothing Or Nothing Special?

Ever heard of people bidding for a special edition of a phone that is not considered a high-end flagship?  Well, that's happening even as we are writing this. People are bidding for the first 100 nothing phones on StockX and the bids are running into over a thousand US dollars. That's the price of an iPhone Pro or a Samsung Galaxy S Ultra for a phone that is by all accounts, going to be very mid-segment, and as per some rumours is likely to be priced in the vicinity of $399 (the iPhone 13 series starts at $699, to give you an idea). Nothing Phone 1: Building up hype, the Carl Pei way If that does not give you an indication of the amount of interest (and hype) around the first phone from Nothing, Carl Pei's new venture, well, nothing will. Pun intended. A co-founder of OnePlus (which he has since exited), Pei is considered a bit of a marketing wizard in tech circles and is credited with being one of the key factors in OnePlus' success. He used to have a Steve Jobs idol on his table and seems to be channelling him while very deftly stoking interest in the Phone 1, which is what the brand's first phone is going to be called. And he has been doing so without actually giving too much away. In fact, the phone was not even shown at the event in which it was announced in late March. All we were shown was the interface (similar to stock Android), a few details of the phone (it would run on a Qualcomm processor), and a little speech about how Nothing wanted to make phones fun again. ALSO SEE: Aluminium Frame To Transparent Back: Everything We Know About Nothing Phone 1 This was followed by the release of the Nothing launcher, which gives users an idea of the UI that will run on the phone. A few days ago, the back of the phone was shown in a photograph with a parrot on it, revealing a semi-transparent design, similar to the one seen on Nothing's first product, the Ear 1 TWS launched last year. And yesterday, we had our first real look at the phone and one of its key features, a back studded with LEDs, courtesy of renowned Tech YouTuber, Marques Brownlee. The tech world has been speaking of nothing else since, and as we pointed out, bidding is already underway on the first hundred units of the Phone 1. Nothing Phone 1: LIT, thanks to LEDs on the back All of which would definitely indicate that the Phone 1 is clearly something special. But is it? Well, we do not really know at this stage. There is no doubting that nothing has pulled a rabbit out of its hat in terms of design, although some have compared its straight, aluminium sides, and camera unit arrangement to the iPhone 12. The semi-transparent back, showing some of the innards of the phone, with 900 LEDs arranged in patterns, is however, one of its kind right now. Those LEDs on that back are not just for decoration. They form what Nothing calls a Glyph interface and actually serve as notification lights. ALSO SEE: Nothing Phone 1 Pre-Booking Opened? Here's What You Should Know So you can have parts of the back of the phone light up in one way when you get a message, in another when you get a call, in yet another when you place a device on it to charge (yes, it supports wireless charging and can charge other devices too), and still another when you are charging the phone itself, showing you just how much it has been charged. All those LEDs can also be used as a flash to accompany the dual cameras (yes, there are only two) on the back. You can customise how and when and how brightly the LEDs on the back panel light up, literally adding a whole new dimension to smartphone usage as we know it. Nothing Phone 1: It's got the style, it now needs substance The back-LED panel is pretty cool and makes the Nothing Phone 1 already seem a little special. A key point, however, to remember in all this is that Nothing has not talked at all about the actual performance of the phone. In an era where brands start sharing processor benchmark scores, camera samples, and battery charging speeds well before the launch of a product, this is certainly unusual, especially when you consider that the brand has been talking a fair bit about the phone. This can be construed to mean that Nothing is either saving those details for a later reveal or for the launch itself. Or perhaps because it does not actually want to fight on those fronts because it might not have too much that's different from a well-entrenched competition. It’s a very Apple-inspired approach, steering clear of specs and numbers. ALSO SEE: Nothing Phone 1 To Arrive With 45W Fast Charging? Everything You Should Know But relying totally on design can be a bit of a double-edged sword, especially in a price zone where functionality tends to trump form. The utility of those innovative LEDs is also already being questioned. Critics have been quick to point out that it would be of limited use to those who keep their phones face up (and many people do). What's more, the LEDs would also get affected by anyone put

Nothing Phone 1: A Special Nothing Or Nothing Special?

Ever heard of people bidding for a special edition of a phone that is not considered a high-end flagship?  Well, that's happening even as we are writing this. People are bidding for the first 100 nothing phones on StockX and the bids are running into over a thousand US dollars. That's the price of an iPhone Pro or a Samsung Galaxy S Ultra for a phone that is by all accounts, going to be very mid-segment, and as per some rumours is likely to be priced in the vicinity of $399 (the iPhone 13 series starts at $699, to give you an idea).

Nothing Phone 1: Building up hype, the Carl Pei way

If that does not give you an indication of the amount of interest (and hype) around the first phone from Nothing, Carl Pei's new venture, well, nothing will. Pun intended. A co-founder of OnePlus (which he has since exited), Pei is considered a bit of a marketing wizard in tech circles and is credited with being one of the key factors in OnePlus' success. He used to have a Steve Jobs idol on his table and seems to be channelling him while very deftly stoking interest in the Phone 1, which is what the brand's first phone is going to be called. And he has been doing so without actually giving too much away. In fact, the phone was not even shown at the event in which it was announced in late March. All we were shown was the interface (similar to stock Android), a few details of the phone (it would run on a Qualcomm processor), and a little speech about how Nothing wanted to make phones fun again.

ALSO SEE: Aluminium Frame To Transparent Back: Everything We Know About Nothing Phone 1

This was followed by the release of the Nothing launcher, which gives users an idea of the UI that will run on the phone. A few days ago, the back of the phone was shown in a photograph with a parrot on it, revealing a semi-transparent design, similar to the one seen on Nothing's first product, the Ear 1 TWS launched last year. And yesterday, we had our first real look at the phone and one of its key features, a back studded with LEDs, courtesy of renowned Tech YouTuber, Marques Brownlee. The tech world has been speaking of nothing else since, and as we pointed out, bidding is already underway on the first hundred units of the Phone 1.

Nothing Phone 1: LIT, thanks to LEDs on the back

All of which would definitely indicate that the Phone 1 is clearly something special. But is it? Well, we do not really know at this stage. There is no doubting that nothing has pulled a rabbit out of its hat in terms of design, although some have compared its straight, aluminium sides, and camera unit arrangement to the iPhone 12. The semi-transparent back, showing some of the innards of the phone, with 900 LEDs arranged in patterns, is however, one of its kind right now. Those LEDs on that back are not just for decoration. They form what Nothing calls a Glyph interface and actually serve as notification lights.

ALSO SEE: Nothing Phone 1 Pre-Booking Opened? Here's What You Should Know

So you can have parts of the back of the phone light up in one way when you get a message, in another when you get a call, in yet another when you place a device on it to charge (yes, it supports wireless charging and can charge other devices too), and still another when you are charging the phone itself, showing you just how much it has been charged. All those LEDs can also be used as a flash to accompany the dual cameras (yes, there are only two) on the back. You can customise how and when and how brightly the LEDs on the back panel light up, literally adding a whole new dimension to smartphone usage as we know it.

Nothing Phone 1: It's got the style, it now needs substance

The back-LED panel is pretty cool and makes the Nothing Phone 1 already seem a little special. A key point, however, to remember in all this is that Nothing has not talked at all about the actual performance of the phone. In an era where brands start sharing processor benchmark scores, camera samples, and battery charging speeds well before the launch of a product, this is certainly unusual, especially when you consider that the brand has been talking a fair bit about the phone. This can be construed to mean that Nothing is either saving those details for a later reveal or for the launch itself. Or perhaps because it does not actually want to fight on those fronts because it might not have too much that's different from a well-entrenched competition. It’s a very Apple-inspired approach, steering clear of specs and numbers.

ALSO SEE: Nothing Phone 1 To Arrive With 45W Fast Charging? Everything You Should Know

But relying totally on design can be a bit of a double-edged sword, especially in a price zone where functionality tends to trump form. The utility of those innovative LEDs is also already being questioned. Critics have been quick to point out that it would be of limited use to those who keep their phones face up (and many people do). What's more, the LEDs would also get affected by anyone putting a case on the back (again, many people do), although we are sure that Nothing would be coming out with special cases that would accommodate that Glyph interface. Finally, all those LEDs could take a heavy toll on the battery, which is not likely to be very large if the renders of the phone are an indication.

Add to this the fact that the Nothing Phone 1 will be entering a very competitive zone populated by a number of value-for-money devices from the likes of OnePlus, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Realme, and the challenge facing the Phone 1 becomes even more evident. It might have won the battle for the eyeballs with its catchy design and its literally lit back panel, but the Phone 1 right now is like a book whose cover has attracted attention. Whether it will be purchased depends on what the readers see within it, as they flick pages casually. The Phone 1 has succeeded in being a spectacle, now it needs to back those looks with specs, and spectacular performance.