Nothing Tech

Nothing Phone (1) review

It’s lit

₹ 38,999

(12GB / 256GB)

It’s not every day that a new phone generates the kind of hype and excitement reserved for nothing but a new pair of Yeezys. But that’s exactly what has taken place with the Nothing Phone (1) – and for good reason. 
It looks nothing like any of the phones out there and is taking a path untrodden. That is to focus more on the design and experience than on hard specs. But does it succeed? The TL;DR version – yes and no. For a longer answer, read on.


The one thing that separates the Nothing from everything out there is its design. Well at least from certain angles. The front is dominated by the display with slim bezels on all sides so uniform that it is bound to give a funny feeling in the pants to anyone with OCD. The rounded edges and the flat aluminium sides give off a very iPhone-like vibe, which is not a bad thing. 
Turn it around, and that’s where the Phone (1) really catches the eye. Nothing has opted for a glass back that gives us an illusion that we are looking into the soul of the phone. But while there is no internal circuitry visible like on the Nothing Ear (1) buds, you do however see the wireless charging coil. Complimenting this look are the Glyph LED lights, but more on them in the section below.

The glass back panel is Gorilla Glass 5 certified, which makes it resistant to scratches. If that doesn’t allay your fears, you can opt for Nothing’s transparent cover (₹1,499), which is of surprisingly high quality. 
Unlike most of the devices in this segment, the device is IP53 certified. While it won’t survive a dunk at a crazy pool party, it doesn’t mind a few splashes.

The Glyphs

The highlight of the Nothing Phone (1), in a very literal sense, is the host of LED lights carved into the back panel. Over 900 tiny white LEDs light up whenever you get a notification, plug in the charger or place something on the wireless charging coil for a bit of reverse charging. 
They don’t just light up but also dance in perfect rhythm when your phone rings or you get a notification. The lights are synced with Nothing’s bespoke ringtones and notification tone. They are minimal at best but really come to life along with the lights. At the time of writing, there are a limited number of tones to choose from, and you’re only allowed to assign a ringtone to a particular contact.

That said, the potential is almost endless with more ringtones no doubt coming via future updates. But what we would really like is a proprietary app for the community to build more ringtones and lighting effects to go with them. We would also like the ability to assign a particular tone to an app, so we know when to flip around the phone to check. In the meantime, the Always-on display is a far more useful feature, once the novelty of the lights wears off.


The 6.55in OLED panel with 2400 x 1080 pixels resolution and HDR10+ support is a real treat for the eyes. Expectedly, the OLED panel delivers excellent colours and contrast levels, and the 1,200 nits of peak brightness are enough for when you’re out on a hot summer day.
The display also supports up to 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, which is already a level up from the recently launched Google Pixel 6a. While the real-world difference isn’t immediately visible, those who have experienced it before prefer the buttery smoothness. There’s however no option to force 120Hz, so the refresh rates jump around based on the support. All in all, this is a wonderful display that is well suited for reading or watching OTT content without really going overboard with the colours.


Costs have been kept in check by opting for a mid-range chipset. But Qualcomm has optimised the Snapdragon 778G+ chip for the Phone (1), and it shows. Coupled with up to 12GB of RAM, you won’t find a lot to complain about here. 
Day-to-day tasks, involving office and social apps and a bit of multitasking, are handled with relative ease, and we don’t remember seeing any lags or jitters. It can even do gaming to an extent. The likes of Asphalt 9: Legends and CoD Mobile worked well without any major frame rate drops. It’s worth mentioning though that the phone heats up after about 20 mins of putting it under stress. The rise in temp is more pronounced if you’re using the phone without the case. 
For audio, the speakers at the bottom combine with the earpiece to offer stereo sound. But in reality, the bottom speakers tend to overpower the earpiece giving the sense of mono audio. Don’t get us wrong, the speakers are plenty loud, but let’s just say you aren’t going to enjoy your favourite song or an episode. With no audio jack onboard, you’ll have to rely on a pair of Bluetooth earbuds.


The Android 12-based Nothing OS is refreshingly vanilla. Some might call it too plain, but we found the user experience to be quite pleasing. The custom fonts and icons are as different as they can be, and maintain the minimal ethos of the brand. 
Nothing has promised up to three years of software updates, and four years of security patches. This is on par with what we expect from brands these days, but it remains to be seen how quick Nothing is with its major update rollouts. It’s worth noting that since we started using the phone, we have received one close to 100MB OTA update.


If you’re looking for a phone that won’t give you battery anxiety when on the move, well this is not that phone. The 4,500mAh battery is strictly average by the standards set in this price range. Even with moderate usage, we had to hunt for the charger before the end of the day, which is a task in itself, since the phone doesn’t come with a bundled charger. 
The Phone (1) battery supports up to 33W fast charging, which is nothing close to the mind-boggling numbers offered by rivals. You can opt for Nothing’s 45W charger, which can be bought for ₹1,499, and that will charge the battery up to 65% in about half an hour. 
As mentioned above, the phone supports wireless charging, which is a rarity in this segment. It can also wirelessly reverse charge other small devices, like say the Ear (1) or the AirPods, which is another handy feature when away from home.


Sticking to its minimal theme, Nothing has opted against going for the fancy zoom, macro or monochrome lenses. Instead, you get a pair of 50MP primary with OIS and 50MP ultra wide-angle lenses. 
Both lenses take good photos when the lighting is good. On a bright day outside, you will get shots that have plenty of details and the right amount of colour accuracy and vibrancy. If you’re looking for true-to-life images, you will probably enjoy images shot on the Google Pixel 6a.

With the ultra-wide lens, you get to fit a lot more into a frame, and it manages to keep the exposure and colours in check. But you do notice a slight drop in details around the edges. The camera tends to struggle a tad bit after the sun goes down. Noise creeps in, and the level of details goes down a fair bit. Night mode bumps up the exposure helping you see more details in the shadowy regions, but at the cost of quality. 
The 16MP front camera too is just about good when clicking selfies in well-lit conditions. You won’t need a lot of editing before posting them on your social accounts. But this camera struggles as well when the sun has gone down or you’re in a dimly lit pub.


There’s no doubt a lot to like about the Nothing Phone (1), which in our opinion is a fantastic debut effort. In the sea of same-looking phones, it stands out with its design and overall user experience. It’s still early days, but one does feel that there’s a lot more to come from the Glyphs. 
But in terms of a complete package, the Phone (1) does feel a tad behind the likes of its immediate rivals. Phones from the likes of Xiaomi, Realme or Samsung in this segment may not look anything like the Phone (1), but they offer much more in terms of specs and features. The choice then comes down to buyers’ preference for design and user experience over cold hard specs.

Stuff Says

A refreshingly new take on mid-range smartphones, putting design and experience ahead of specs
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Unique design

  1. The Glyph lights

  1. Wireless charging

  1. Bloat-free software

  1. No charger in the box

  1. Cameras are strictly mid-range