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Phones

3 reasons why the Nothing Phone (1) is not coming to the US

By Sanuj Bhatia June 22, 2022, 1:32 pm
Nothing Phone 1 back design 2 Source: Rafael Zeier

Carl Pei's new technology startup, Nothing, is all set to launch its first smartphone, the Nothing Phone 1, next month. The company revealed the Nothing Phone (1) launch date earlier this month and has been teasing the looks, design, and features of the smartphone, revealing one detail at a time, since then.

Many tech enthusiasts and fans have criticized the way Nothing is marketing its Phone 1, but the company has definitely generated a lot of hype in the market. However, don't get too excited if you're a Nothing fan living in North America as the company has just revealed that its Nothing Phone 1 won’t be sold, or even work properly, in the US.

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

There were some reservations about the device not launching in the United States after the company listed 100 limited edition units of the Phone 1 on StockX yesterday. The listing, for which the lowest bid currently is ~$3,000, noted that "Nothing phone (1) is not fully supported in North America." After the listing went live, a lot of people started speculating that Nothing won't launch the Phone (1) in the States. The company has now confirmed to PCMag that the Phone 1 won’t be getting a widespread release in the United States or Canada.

Nothing Phone 1 Source: Rafael Zeier

"While we'd love to bring Phone 1 to the entire community around the world, we're focusing on home markets, including the UK and Europe, where we have strong partnerships with leading local carriers," Nothing spokesperson told PCMag in a statement. "It takes a lot to launch a smartphone as you know, from ensuring the handset is supported by the country's cellular technologies to carrier partnerships and local regulation, and as we're still a young brand we need to be strategic about it."

The report also suggests that anyone trying to use the Nothing Phone 1 in the US could face issues. The phone will have "unpredictable" coverage on T-Mobile, no support for VoLTE calls on AT&T, and absolutely no service on Verizon. Thankfully, the company says that it has plans to launch a U.S. supported smartphone in the future. However, it seems like it won't be a special version of Phone 1 and, instead, a future smartphone. "In the meantime, if readers really want phone (1) to be available in the US as soon as possible, they should call their carrier to let them know about us," says Nothing towards the end.

So, there you have it: Nothing Phone 1 won't be coming to the US, which is a big let-down for Nothing's (and Carl Pei's) North American fans. However, we believe that the US is a special market and it's not only Nothing's fault that it's difficult for them to sell their smartphone — every company would want to maximize its sales, won't it? After giving it a thought, we could come up with three reasons why Nothing Phone 1 might be skipping the US:

1. US carrier partnerships

ATT T Mobile Verizon Major US Carriers Source: Pocketnow

First, and the most obvious thing, is the inability to establish carrier partnerships in the US. As much as online shopping is preferred nowadays, you need to be present in the offline carrier stores to sell smartphones in the US. It could be possible that Nothing was not able to establish any sort of partnership with a carrier in the States and thus has decided to skip the US launch. Let's take a look at OnePlus and try to understand why Nothing is skipping the US launch, for now.

OnePlus wasn't a big name in the US until it partnered with T-Mobile (and then with other carriers) to sell its smartphones. Yes, it was popular among smartphone enthusiasts, but the sale numbers were quite low due to very less carrier presence. It took the company years to sell its smartphones through a carrier. On the other hand, Nothing is a new brand and it is probably not ready to take the hit if its smartphone sales end up being low in the US — OnePlus is backed by a multi-billionaire company BBK Electronics and it still took them some time to develop an offline presence.

Moreover, as the report from PCMag notes, that carriers in the US have been getting tough to crack. During the 3G era, the carriers were obligated to accept any phone that was compatible with their systems. However, with the 4G and 5G, there is no such requirement and the carriers only permit smartphones that are sold through them. In the recent years, carriers have been trying to make the "international phones less compatible here," claims the report. This is probably why Nothing is claiming that its smartphone won't work properly even if you import a unit.

2. It's hard to sell sub-$500 phones in the US

Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus in hand Source: Pocketnow video

The second reason could be the fact that it's very hard for smartphone brands to sell sub-$500 smartphones. Most of the smartphones sold in the US are sold in partnership with carriers. This breaks down the hefty fee of a smartphone into a monthly installment, which makes buying a smartphone a lot more affordable than it would be if a consumer paid the full amount up front. Due to this, most of the people opt to buy a flagship smartphone and do not care about the mid-premium smartphones — although there are a lot of exciting options in the sub-$500 price range.

The case is the opposite in the markets Nothing is officially entering. Markets like the UK and India are quite price-sensitive. People want the maximum value for their money and often buy carrier-unlocked smartphones. For these markets, the Nothing Phone 1 seems like a perfect fit. The phone will reportedly be priced around the $500 mark and could sell like hot cakes in these regions.

3. Component and supply-chain limitations

Nothing Phone 1 back design Source: Rafael Zeier

And finally, to add to the mix is component shortages. As we all know, every company in the tech industry (and even automobile) has been facing issues to secure components for their products. For a startup like Nothing, these issues are far more restrictive than they would be for an established smartphone brand, for example, Apple. The added cost of securing components and then unpredictable yield rates make it hard for the company to choose its debut markets. This is probably why the company isn't even bringing the unlocked variant of the Phone 1 to the US, since it would end up costing the company a lot. It rather seems that Nothing is betting on the markets where it thinks it would succeed and would make some money right from the start.

What are your thoughts on Nothing Phone 1 not launching in the US? Let us know in the comments section below!

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