Smartphone design, as we know it, has been stagnating for quite a while now. The slab form factor has reached a point where there aren't many discerning factors in the look a smartphone offers. Some brands have gone the way of collaborations to make their phones different or bold design choices that are nothing more than a different SKU.
Now, Carl Pei's skill in generating buzz about the devices he is involved with is not one to ignore, and Nothing promised a different interpretation of mobile technology. Well, in a Twitter post, the OEM unveiled the design of its first smartphone, giving us enough to see whether it lives up to some of the hype it has generated. Thus, in this article, we dig a little into the details to see what's on offer!
What does the official first look of Nothing Phone 1 tell us?
The images shared by the OEM provide substance to the cryptic glyphs it shared during its March event, where it initially mentioned the plans of making a smartphone and gave it a launch window. Back then, many presumed the glyphs to be a significant part of the design, and we can report that it is the case.
Apart from that, the images show off a boxy design — reminiscent of the current generation iPhones — alongside industrial elements like screws that hold some of the panels in place, plus a preview of the wireless charging coil.
The branding is present in the dot matrix font in the bottom left corner of the image, with other essential tags along the right. We also get to see a reasonable-sized dual-camera array in the left top corner, so in case the Nothing Phone 1 is a mid-tier phone like some rumors suggest, we're glad to see it drops the gimmicky 2 MP lenses.
Apart from the new inferences arising since the release of the press renders, according to data released by the OEM, we know a few other things about the device. The frame here will be made from recycled aluminum, while the back panel on the phone is transparent — whether that's glass or polycarbonate is something only time will tell. In the images, we're effectively looking at what the phone has going on under this surface layer.
As for the cryptic glyphs you've seen all this while, well, according to The Verge, the glyphs are effectively light-up components that may or may not serve an additional purpose apart from being an aesthetic element.
Now, while we await July 12th to look at the phone in its entirety and learn about the little details, here are my thoughts on the phone and its attempt to "reinterpret" the smartphone as we know it.
What do I think of the design?
First off. I would say Kudos to Carl Pei and his troops for creating an image for their brand and sticking to it. The OEM is a newcomer, and it's often easy to be swept away by the flow of things and to want to do more to stand out.
In the not-so-plain looking back of the Nothing Phone 1, I see a device different from the rest but with knowledge of where to draw the line.
The decisions might make it a device that's tougher to manufacture than the rest, but if executed properly, with unique use cases in mind, the device is bound to create some lifelong customers. And I hope its implementation doesn't fall flat.
Also, my first look at the device came about when the band shared a teaser image showing off the top of the device. And what my eyes saw brought a single thought into my head — It looks like the iPhone 12.
Now whether this is a good thing or bad is something that's going to be subjective. I love the design of my 12 and am not bothered by the edges. Seeing someone replicate this and —hopefully — doing it well for Android is something that piques my interest.
So, in the not-so-plain looking back of the Nothing Phone 1, I see a device different from the rest but with knowledge of where to draw the line. And I hope the remaining aspects that make a smartphone successful are able to deliver too.
As for what I'd like to see next? Well, that will be the dimensions of the phone. What detail do you wish Nothing shares in its upcoming posts? Let us know with your comments below.