Nothing Phone test (1): more than a brilliant idea?

Like many other smartphones before it, Nothing Phone (1) promises miracles. Bold, instinctive, incredibly fast and fluid… the very young manufacturer has no shortage of superlatives to qualify his latest creation. It should be a symbol of renewal, a breath of fresh air in a market that, let’s face it, sometimes seems almost catatonic as new products follow each other and look alike. So the question is whether this Nothing Phone (1) takes a (really) innovative approach or is it just a show. Answer this quiz!

Nothing Phone (1): what positioning?

Nothing has decided to position itself in the middle range with a starting price of 469 euros (8+128 GB). This choice is not trivial because it will undoubtedly reach a wider audience than with a more expensive premium smartphone.

While Carl Pei, the founder of Nothing, explains that he hit a “giant reset button” to create the brand, it’s clear that the strategy is similar to that used by OnePlus, which he founded in 2013 with his partner Pete Lu.

The Nothing phone (1) is available in three variants:

  • 8+128 GB (black): 469 euros
  • 8+256 GB (black or white): 499 euros
  • 12+256 GB (black or white): 549 euros

Design: kind of hell!

A combination of classic and atypical, Nothing Phone (1) brings a breath of fresh air to telephony. Some will accuse it of looking like an iPhone, and they’re not wrong, but what sets it apart in the first place is its transparent glass back, through which you can see some of the components.

Daily, this phone intrigues, awakens curiosity, proof that Nothing was right and that this is not a simple copy of Apple’s creations. The light patterns also contribute to this result, even if they don’t really bring anything other than the classic notification LED, but we’ll get to that later.

© Roch Arena

In addition to design, we also have to applaud the phone’s overall design, which is extremely high quality.. The assembly is very high quality, inspires confidence, the buttons emit a satisfactory “click” and fit well under the fingers. Keep in mind, however, that this is a fairly large phone, measuring 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3mm and weighing 193.5 grams, so it will be more comfortable for larger hands.

© Roch Arena

The Nothing phone (1) has a USB-C port for charging, a dual SIM slot, and a primary speaker on the bottom edge. There’s no 3.5mm audio output jack here, and it’s IP53-rated, so it’s just resistant to small spills and dust – there are a few compromises.

Attractive screen

Nothing to put the package on the screen choosing a flexible 6.55-inch OLED panel that delivers very high performance. It is difficult to blame him for something, the brightness is powerful, adaptive refresh rate (60 to 120 Hz) keeps the interface fluid, the contrast is clearly excellent, and the colors are striking. In this regard, you have a choice in the settings between the “Live” mode with bright colors or “Standard” for a more natural rendering. In any case, you can adjust the temperature so that the rendering is more or less cold.

© Roch Arena

Says nothing about an average brightness of 500 nits and a maximum of 1200 nits: this allows you to have good outdoor readabilityeven under the August sun. The only drawback is the brightness, which should be lowered a little so that reading in the dark is really comfortable.

Performance: It’s not a flagship killer

You can’t call Nothing Phone (1) a flagship killer as it doesn’t use a high performance processor like Snapdagron 8 Gen 1. Nothing chose to trust Snapdragon 778G+a more modest 6nm engraved chip, paired here with an Adreno 642L GPU.

Daily, experience is very pleasant, animation is smooth, transitions between applications are fast. In some places there are slowdowns, but very rarely. Because the interface is close to stock Android, optimization was no doubt easier than with a complex overlay. Vice versa, thermal management is a real problem. The phone gets really hot. Nothing has also rolled out an update to improve things a bit, but it’s not perfect yet. And the fast charging system also raises the temperature to such an extent that the case sometimes warms the hands …

In terms of clean and high performance, the Snapdragon 778G+ doesn’t do wonders. with a score of 4953 in 3DMark (Sling Shot Extreme), 700 in single-core, and 2729 in multi-core Geekbench. The gaming experience remains compelling as long as you don’t push the graphics to the max in the most demanding ones.

Very average scores in tests that do not reflect the impression of the interface.

Specifications :

  • Snapdragon 778G+: 1 x A78 2.5GHz + 3 x A78 2.4GHz + 4 x A55 1.8GHz;
  • GPU Adreno 642L;
  • AI processor Hexagon 770;
  • RAM: 8 or 12 GB LPDDR5;
  • Storage: UFS 3.1 128 GB / 256 GB.

Interface: it deserves better customization

in Nothing Phone (1) based on Android 12, the latest version of Google’s mobile OS with a Nothing OS overlay on top. The latter is very discreet, which is good. The Nothing commands just retouched some aspects and added some options, this is the case “Glyph” interface that allows you to interact with light strips on the back of the phone.

You can select different light patterns for call or notification signaling. They can also indicate the charge level or when Google Assistant is on. Another possibility is to activate all the lights in the camera to illuminate the subject, as can be done with a ring light.

While the idea is cool, its usefulness is limited.. We have fun for several days, show off to colleagues, but in the end it does not change our relationship with the smartphone.

Returning to the interface, we can also blame it on the lack of customization. Smartphones from Samsung or Xiaomi are much more perfect in this area. For example, the display of the Always On mode cannot be changed, and the indicators do not adapt to ringtones other than those offered by Nothing.

Autonomy: could do better …

Phone battery Nothing (1) displays 4500mAh capacity with 33W fast charging.

To be clear, this is not an autonomy champion. It is able to last a day in classic use, but don’t expect it to last 48 hours as is the case with the ROG Phone 6 Pro. The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G does a better job of this.

Fast charging is recovering 30% battery in 15 minutes. Refueling takes less than an hour, which is nice in everyday life, especially for the middle class.

Photo: 50MP sensor that shines

© Roch Arena

The Nothing phone (1) is equipped with two photo sensors on the back and a 16-megapixel camera on the front:

  • Main : 50MP Sony IMX766 (f/1.88)
  • Big Angle: 50MP (f/2.2) Samsung JN1field of view 114°

Photography is a difficult field to master, especially for such a young brand as Nothing, we did not expect miracles, but it is clear that serious work has been done in the development of the phone.

50MP main lens delivers impressive shots with good sharpness and accurate colors. Light control remains accurate even in difficult conditions, as seen in the picture below.

© Roch Arena

© Roch Arène – 50 MP Mode

© Roch Arena

© Roch Arena

© Roch Arena

Ultra wide sensor could be a little better : Photographs sometimes lack accuracy, and this distorts indoor shots too (strongly):

© Roch Arène – Wide angle sensor

© Roch Arène – Wide angle sensor

As with most mid-range smartphones,e Nothing Phone (1) can’t handle photos in low light. Focus is not always optimal, color management is more difficult. Night mode helps a little, but does not work wonders either.

© Roch Arena

© Roch Arene – Night mode

© Roch Arène – 16MP front camera

On the competitive side?

The mid-range segment is rich, especially on Android. The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a similar price (459€), it provides solid autonomy, but is less efficient. As for its design, it is not so spectacular. Google Pixel 6a (459€) has serious arguments on its side: its design is, firstly, very convincing, but it also shows good features in the photo, and its performance is on top.


The young brand Nothing managed to release the first successful smartphone. Its atypical design is one thing, but above all we remember the excellent screen quality, a clean and smooth interface, and a photo module that works well, especially for the mid-range. It deserves progress in terms of autonomy, and excessive heat should also be corrected.

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