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After raising $200M, Nothing Phone (1) lands in the UK, is US launch on the horizon?

Every so often, a new smartphone makes waves in the technology world (it’s been a long time, though). Occasionally it’s because of an eye-catching design or innovative features, but majorly it’s just to add competition among different phone brands. 

The Phone 1 from Nothing is the new smartphone that’s among this year’s trendsetters! Change is constant, and Nothing is new! So, let’s give you a little backstory as to how it all started!

How has Nothing evolved?

Carl Pei, the co-founder of OnePlus, a Chinese smartphone company, left OnePlus and founded Nothing in 2020. 

Soon after, the London-based company secured funding from various startup founders and a few YouTubers. In 2021, the company purchased Essential products, the Apple designer Andy-Rubin’s firm that launched Essential Phone in 2017.  

Last month, Nothing reportedly secured $200M from Qualcomm, EQT Ventures and and former Apple designer Tony Fadell, bringing the total funding to around $344M. Earlier this year, Nothing secured a $70M in a Series B funding as well.

Nothing is backed by numerous investors, including GV (formerly Google Ventures), EQT Ventures, C Ventures and other private investors including Tony Fadell (Principal at Future Shape & inventor of the iPod), Casey Neistat (YouTube personality and Co-founder of Beme), Kevin Lin (Co-founder of Twitch) and Steve Huffman (Co-founder and CEO of Reddit).

Post that, Nothing partnered with Swedish company Teenage Engineering, popularly known for its synthesizers. And now, we have Phone 1.

Well, it is certainly not the company’s first product since Nothing launched Ear 1, a TWS, last year. According to Ryan Latham, General Manager UK and Ireland at Nothing, the company partnered with Stock X, HP X, and several fashion first partners to launch the TWS. 

Nothing Phone (1) – Market 

Talking about the elephant in the room, Nothing’s latest Phone (1) is reportedly not coming to North America at the moment. In an exclusive interview with Tech Funding News, Latham reveals that the company is currently focusing on the UK, Europe, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, China, and its biggest market India.

“We’re still a little team, and we must focus and prioritise. We’re focusing on these key markets and will eventually be global,” he adds. 

According to Latham, India is one of Nothing’s biggest market and has partnered with the e-commerce website Flipkart for sales. In fact, Nothing confirmed that Phone (1) will be manufactured in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, last month. 

2 good cameras > 1 good + 3 cheap cameras

If you are following technology, you probably know by now that smartphone launches just aren’t what they used to be and have in fact become rather mundane.

“The industry and tech generally is kind of plateaued, nothing game-changing, nothing particularly exciting, especially with smartphone category. The excitement you had 10-15 years ago has kind of faded,” Latham adds. 

In the past couple of years, smartphone makers, particularly Chinese brands, have jumped into camera racing. By this, we mean, smartphone brands like Realme, Xiaomi, vivo, OPPO, OnePlus, and others continue to launch phones by increasing megapixel count or the number of cameras.

“In the Android space there is a lot of focus on specifications, including the addition of extra cameras, but overall the quality of cameras is not very good,” he adds.”

In fact, Nothing’s founder Carl Pei took a dig at other companies and phones that come with multiple sensors before the launch. In one of his tweets, Carl said ‘experience’ is more crucial than ‘specs’ and ‘two good cameras’ is better than ‘one good camera’ and ‘three cheap cameras.’

The Nothing Phone (1) comes with just two 50MP cameras. Just to give you a brief about the specification:

  • Primary camera: 50MP with Sony IMX766 sensor 
  • Secondary camera: 50MP with Samsung JN1 sensor (Ultra-wide)
Image credits: Nothing

“Glyph” interface

Phone (1)’s marquee feature is the “Glyph” interface!  

“With Nothing Phone (1), we had the opportunity to create something unique. We use the space to create a whole new interface for the phone, which we call the Glyph interface,” he says. 

Nothing says it was inspired by a modernist version of the New York City subway map from Italian designer Massimo Vignelli in the 1970s. 

Another quirk to the phone is that it lights up when you receive a call or app notification, thanks to transparent back! The Glyph interface is made of 900 LEDs.

According to Lathom, lights are synced to flash in unique patterns to every custom sound, letting users know who’s calling, notifications, charging status, and more. Users can pair individual contacts to ringtones, each with a Glyph pattern.

Similar to Motorola phones, Phone (1) also gets Flip to silent feature with added Glyph benefits. Users can flip the phone with the Glyph Interface facing up to trigger silent mode with lights-only notifications.

Image credits: Nothing

What else?

The Nothing Phone (1) sports a 6.55” OLED display with HDR10+ support for richer color and deeper contrast. 

“We did a lot of investment into the screen which features 10-bit 1 billion color flexible OLED display,” says Latham. 

The Phone (1) also comes with Android 12 with NothingOS on top. If you are concerned about updates and security patches, the company promised 3 Android OS updates and 4-years of security patches every 2 months during the launch. The NothingOS comes with a lot of customisation options in terms of voice recording, fonts, UI, and mainly without any bloatware. 

Since Nothing’s philosophy is more of an open ecosystem, users can control third-party products, including Tesla from the Phone (1). He also said that more third-party brand integrations will be announced soon. Also, there is an NFT widget that shows your NTF collection, when you connect to a wallet.

The Phone (1) is powered by an Octa-Core Snapdragon 778G+ chipset with Adreno 642L GPU. The Phone (1) has a 4500mAh battery with support for 33W PD charging, which can charge up to 50% power in 30 minutes. It also has 15W wireless charging and 5W reverse wireless charging.

The phone has a 100% recycled aluminium frame making it light and robust, while over 50% of the phone’s plastic components are made with bio-based or post-consumer recycled materials. It is available in three variants: 8+128 GB, 8+256 GB and 12+256GB.

“We’ve tried to create a really interesting product that adds value at a good price point,” he notes. 

Teams, recession, and availability

Talking about the team, he says, “Launching a smartphone takes an incredible amount of resources and energy. We’re building our team rapidly yet we’re still a small startup.” Currently, Nothing employs around 300 full-time people. 

About the tech downturn, he shares, “We’re a young and new company without too many portfolios. Consequently, we don’t have a big burden on our business and can be nimble and react to changes.”

Nothing Phone (1) is now available officially via Smartech at Selfridges, Oxford Street. From July 21 (tomorrow), the devices can be purchased on John Lewis, and O2 both in stores and online, as well as Amazon. You can get your hands on Nothing Phone (1) 8+128 GB variant at  £399 in the UK, while the 12+256 GB is priced at £499. The 12+256 GB model will be available at a later date.

“Our mission at Smartech is to help bring life and excitement to the best tech on the market. Nothing Phone (1) provides a combination of iconic design and technology,” says Nathalie Bernce, Co-Founder & CEO of Smartech. “I’m thrilled we are partnering with Nothing as its exclusive department store in the UK, as we continue to create unforgettable experiences that amaze and amuse.”

Interview by Akansha Dimri

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