Phone None (1) Long Term Review: Look past the lights, below is a great phone | Jobi Cool

Rarely has there been such unprecedented anticipation for a smartphone. It’s hard to promote a phone – especially in recent years when almost all smartphones have become a monolithic slab of glass and plastic. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the Nothing Phone (1) is probably the most anticipated smartphone since the renders of the iPhone X broke the internet a few years ago. With its unique secret marketing, cryptic and mysterious brand name and finally, the magic of 900 LEDs, the Nothing Phone (1) truly captured the imagination of the Internet.

But the million dollar question – is the phone really worth the hoopla? Beneath all the glitz and glitz of the hype and bright lights, does the phone stand out in the highly competitive mid-range smartphone market? Can it compete with established players like Samsung, Realme and Vivo? I’ve been using the Nothing Phone (1) for the past few weeks and have broken down my experience into the best and worst aspects of the smartphone.

Also read: None Phones (1) vs Samsung Galaxy S20 FE vs Google Pixel 6a: Which flagship killer is worth buying in 2022?

Key details

First, let’s just look at the basic features. The Nothing Phone (1) is powered by Snapdragon’s punchy 5G mid-range chipset, Snapdragon 778G+, and features a 6.55-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, up to 12GB RAM, up to 256GB and 504GB internal storage, 33W mAh battery with support for wired charging. Our review unit was the top-of-the-line model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

The Nothing Phone (1) runs Nothing OS on top of Android 12. The smartphone has a 16MP selfie camera and two rear cameras – a 50MP primary camera with Sony’s IMX766 sensor and OIS, and a 50MP ultra-wide sensor with Samsung’s JN1 imager.

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Unique design: futuristic and sleek

There’s no denying that the Nothing Phone (1) really stands out from the crowd with its futuristic Blade Runner-style design. The smartphone has a truly unique design courtesy of a set of light strips below the semi-transparent back panel. There are 4 LED strips – one around the rear camera unit, a C-shaped one around the wireless charging coil, one that looks like an exclamation mark at the bottom and a diagonal line in the top right corner.

None Phone (1)

These LEDs – more than 900 in total – can pulse to indicate notifications and charging status. The lights can flash in time with ten preloaded ringtones. This ‘GLYPH’ interface helps the phone to look memorable. Is it really useful? Not really – more on that later in the review. But it looks really fantastic.

Nothing OS: No clutter, no ads

Nothing OS – the company’s skin over Android 12 – offers tons of customization options and is relatively clean with no bloatware, unwanted ads or spammy notifications. It’s really refreshing to have a phone in this price range that doesn’t bombard you with app install instructions and ‘recommendations’.

Initially, Nothing OS had some optimization issues – there was weird animation lag and stuttering when navigating the interface. However, the three updates since the phone’s launch seem to have more or less fixed the issue. Navigating around the UI is now a fast and fluid affair.

Bright, crisp and accurate display

The 1080p OLED display is very bright and crisp. Colors are very accurate and not as oversaturated as some competing AMOLED displays. The display supports a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz with a touch sampling rate of 240hz; Thus, the touch response is very fluid and fast. There is also support for HDR10, HDR10+ and Widevine L1. I enjoyed watching a wide range of content – ​​from live sports like Formula 1 on Hotstar to HDR-enabled videos on Netflix.

Fast and fluid

On paper, the Nothing Phone (1) feels pretty underpowered when competitors like the iQOO 9SE 5G offer a flagship-grade Snapdragon 888 at the same price point, with Snapdragon’s 5G mid-range Snapdragon 778G+ chipset. However, this is a perfect example of how details alone do not spell the whole story.

None Phone (1)

The truth is that even mid-range processors have come a long way and the Snapdragon 778G+ is more than capable of handling day-to-day use. This, coupled with a minimal, lightweight and well-optimized OS, results in a hassle-free user experience. The phone handles tasks like web browsing, social media applications, streaming media, and even advanced multitasking. The phone can also run graphically demanding games like Apex Legends at 60fps, albeit at very low graphic settings (Normal mode). FPS drops now and then in such titles, but less intensive games like Asphalt 9 run flawlessly.

Solid battery life with wireless charging support

The Nothing Phone (1) has a decently sized 4,500mAh battery. Battery life is decent, if not spectacular. During my usage, the phone easily lasts a full day with heavy to moderate usage. While this phone isn’t a 2-day or even 1.5-day marathon runner – you’ll need to top it up at the end of the day.

The icing on the cake is the wireless charging support. The smartphone supports wireless charging up to 15W – a feature not common in this price range. It also features reverse wireless charging, which allows you to charge wireless charging compatible accessories like your earbuds by plopping them onto the phone’s decidedly better-looking back.

Above average cameras

The Nothing Phone (1) bucks the trend of useless macro and depth sensors to increase the camera count, and comes with just two cameras on the back. The primary 50MP sensor is above average and clicks great images during the day and when the lighting conditions are favorable. Colors are also reasonably accurate and detail retrieval is also good for the price. Low-light performance is also commendable – even with night mode on. The resulting images are reasonably detailed and noise is under control. Out of the box, Night Mode took ages to process images. Thankfully, the significant update the phone received recently didn’t improve anything. The update has also improved the colors of the ultra-wide angle camera – which were quite dull and monotonous to begin with.

The 50MP ultra-wide sensor produces sharp and accurate images as long as the light is good. As the light decreases, so does the image quality. As for videos, the phone does well thanks to the presence of OIS, which enables relatively smooth, jitter-free footage. The front sensor is decent but nothing to write home about. As with ultra-wide sensors, image quality degrades significantly in low-light conditions.

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GLYPH : Currently not very useful

A standout feature of the phone is also one of its weakest links. The 900 LEDs-based GLYPH interface is pretty half-baked at the moment and not very useful in day-to-day use. This does not mean that the GLYPH interface is bad. Such a unique design is a breath of fresh air, but it needs more customization to be truly useful. At the time of this review, the GLYPH interface is very limited. These LEDs – more than 900 in total – can pulse to indicate notifications and charging status. The lights can flash in time with ten preloaded ringtones. You can also use GLYPH lights to illuminate your environment while using the camera.

None Phone (1)

There are no individual lighting patterns for specific users, you can’t assign a unique pattern to specific apps like Whatsapp or Telegram, and the included ringtones feel too robotic and monophonic. To many, the lights may seem a bit garish. I actually forgot about the bright lights after the first week and became more invested in other more practical aspects of the phone, like the clean OS and fluid performance. The only GLYPH-based feature I found really useful was the charging meter – which illuminates an exclamation mark at the bottom with charging progress – providing a nifty visual guide to remaining charging time.

The OS doesn’t need to be spit and polished

While Nothing OS is fast, fluid and bloat-free, it comes across as a first-generation affair. It needs some fine-tuning. The drop-down notification panel, for example, isn’t very intuitive – you have to swipe twice to access brightness controls, and the button takes three swipes to access settings and Wi-Fi controls. Another annoyance can be found in the multitasking menu – where the ‘Clear All’ button is to the left of the open apps list.

The settings menu also needs to work – the various toggles, settings and sub-menus are laid out in a basic drab list without easy visual indicators.

various troubles

  • Thanks to the GLYPH interface and the associated 900 LEDs on the back, the Nothing Phone (1) is slightly thicker. As a result, it is not easy to hold or use with one hand.
  • While the display is excellent, the stereo speakers are distinctly average. They’re loud but lack mids and bass, so they can get wrinkly and tinny at high volumes.
  • 33W wired charging isn’t the fastest you can get, but it’s better than Samsung’s offering at this price point (25W). It takes about 1.5 hours to fully charge.
  • The IP53 rating is quite common. The phone should survive a light splash of water, but that’s about it. Similarly priced Samsung smartphones such as the Galaxy A53 and Galaxy S20FE offer IP67 and IP68 water and dust protection respectively.
  • With Nothing Phone (1), you’re finally taking chances with new and upcoming brands. Time will tell how nothing fares in terms of software updates and after sales service. There’s already some disappointment on the updates front, with the Android 13 update not coming this year but scheduled for Q1 2023.

None Phone (1)

In short: Should you buy the Nothing Phone (1)?

The hype around the Nothing Phone (1) is intense and it’s easy to get lost in all the confusion. If you’re buying it just for the GLYPH interface, you’ll be disappointed because it’s a bit half-baked right now. Also, the charging speed is average, the phone is quite thick and a question mark after long-term updates and service. Look past the lights, and you’ll find a capable smartphone underneath.

Simply put, the Nothing Phone (1) is an excellent choice for those who want to stand out from the crowd and don’t hesitate to invest in a new company’s product. Beyond the design and flash of lights, this is actually a very neat, solid smartphone – good but earth-shattering performance, solid battery life, above-average cameras and a clean and uncomplicated Android skin.

Pricebaba rating: 8/ 10

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