It’s time to take a close, hard look behind the light show to determine whether the Nothing Phone 1 is a smartphone that will change the industry or whether the hype surrounding it was overblown. I’ve been using the Phone 1 as my primary phone for about a week, and I believe it’s safe to say that most users, especially those who value attention to detail, should be happy with what it offers.
The Phone 1 might not have the luxurious features that some of its rivals love to boast about, but a good experience comprises some minor details. This review will discuss some of the flaws and issues that still need to be fixed.
|Resolution:||2400 x 1080 pixels, 20:9 ratio, 402 PPI|
|Features:||HDR support, Scratch-resistant glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 5), Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor|
|System chip:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ SM7325-AE (6 nm)|
|Processor:||Octa-core, 1x 2.5GHz Cortex-A78 + 3x 2.2GHz Cortex-A78 + 4x 1.9GHz Cortex-A55|
|Internal storage:||128GB, not expandable|
|Type:||Not user replaceable|
|Charging:||Fast charging, Qi wireless charging, Reverse charging|
|Max charge speed:||Wired: 33.0W; Wireless: 15.0W|
|Main camera:||50 MP (OIS, PDAF)|
|Specifications:||Aperture size: F1.9; Focal length: 24 mm; Sensor size: 1/1.56″; Pixel size: 1.0 μm|
|Second camera:||50 MP (Ultra-wide)|
|Specifications:||Aperture size: F2.2; Sensor size: 1/2.7″|
|Video recording:||3840×2160 (4K UHD) (30 fps)|
The primary and secondary cameras of the Nothing Phone 1 are quite good. The primary camera’s optically stabilized (OIS), 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 sensor has an aperture of f/1.88. The ultra-wide camera is also 50 megapixels, but it uses a Samsung JN1 sensor, which, as we saw in our review of the OnePlus 10 Pro, is inferior to the Sony one. However, because it has autofocus, macro photographs are useful. When given enough light, the Sony IMX471 sensor used by the 16-megapixel selfie camera performs admirably.
When I first started using the Nothing Phone 1, the colors from the primary camera were a little too saturated, however this slightly improved after two software updates. Photos of the landscape taken in the daytime exhibited good detail and a lovely warm tone to the colors. You had to carefully look for it to see that details on things near the sides of the screen were slightly softer. Rich, brilliant colors and good detail could be seen in close-up photographs. Reds and greens occasionally tended to be a bit too intense, but this was nothing that a fast edit couldn’t correct. Images taken in portrait mode exhibited accurate edge recognition for both inanimate items and animals.
Daylight ultra-wide landscape shots lacked the quality of those captured with the primary camera. The broader angle was useful, but the details were noticeably less strong and the color tone tended to be cooler. Photos taken in the macro mode looked good, but the camera app doesn’t automatically switch to that mode or even suggest it when you’re sufficiently close to your subject.
|5G:||n1, n3, n5, n7, n8, n20, n28, n38, n40, n41, n77, n78, 5G Ready|
|LTE (FDD):||Bands 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(AWS-1), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 12(700 a), 17(700 b), 18(800 Lower), 19(800 Upper), 20(800 DD), 26(850+), 28(700 APT), 32(1500 L-band), 66(AWS-3)|
|LTE (TDD):||Bands 34(2000), 38(2600), 39(1900+), 40(2300), 41(2600+)|
|UMTS:||Bands 1(2100), 2(1900), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 6(800), 9(1700), 19(800)|
|SIM type:||Dual Nano SIM|
|Headphones:||No 3.5mm jack|
|Speakers:||Earpiece, Multiple speakers|
|Screen mirroring:||Wireless screen share|
|Additional microphone(s):||for Noise cancellation|
CONNECTIVITY & FEATURES
|Wi-Fi:||802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, ax (Wi-Fi 6); Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot|
|USB:||Type-C (reversible), USB 2.0|
|Location:||GPS, A-GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou, Cell ID, Wi-Fi positioning|
|Sensors:||Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass|
|Dimensions:||6.27 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches (159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3 mm)|
|Weight:||7.02 oz (193.5 g)|
|Materials:||Back: Glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 5); Frame: Aluminum|
|Keys:||Left: Volume control; Right: Lock/Unlock key|
The design of the Nothing Phone 1 has already been covered in great detail in our first impressions post, but I do want to highlight a few features that, after using it for a longer time, I genuinely like. The Phone 1 is a cozy phone to use and, in many aspects, resembles an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13. Particularly with the black version, the fully flat sides, front, and rear look quite industrial.
Since the back panel and display are both made of Corning Gorilla Glass 5, I didn’t notice any scratches on the glass during the testing period. However, even after just one week of somewhat careful use, the pre-applied screen protector over the display managed to accumulate numerous scratches on both of my review units. It should come as no surprise that Nothing will gladly sell you a tempered glass screen protector for 12$.
If you look closely, you can see that the borders on all four sides of the Nothing Phone 1’s display are the same width. Nothing has ever made use of a flexible OLED panel that can be folded inwards at the bottom to create a chin similarly narrow to an iPhone. The Phone 1’s display might not be something everyone likes. According to reports, some early adopters experienced a green tint problem with their screens, while others discovered dead pixels close to the selfie camera.
Nothing has since stated that this is the case and that an upcoming software update should resolve the tinting issue. Although bugs are common in newly released products (ask Google), it’s not a good look for a startup releasing its first smartphone, if there are any.
On the devices that were supplied to me, I didn’t detect any of these display problems, but at low brightness, I did notice purple fringing while sliding between the toggle buttons in the notification shade. On Phone 1, this is pretty obvious. OLEDs often struggle to transition from black to darker greys in low light.