Design is a word that has come to mean so much that it is also a word that no longer means anything.Jony Ive
When we talk about smartphone design, we often say and hear things like “design is subjective”, “design is a personal choice”, and so on. Yes, design is polarizing. Almost every smartphone design poll we put out on android authority divides people into opposing camps. But there are times when you just have to come out and appreciate something for the good it brings. In the case of the Nothing Phone 1it’s the design.
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The above quote from Jony Ive perfectly describes the problem with how smartphones look today. Very few phones can really stand out from the rest, even less when big brands and their sub-brands just take the same design and put a different name on it. I’m looking at you, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme and Xiaomi. While phones, especially in the mid-range, have a lot of so-called design achievements, most don’t go beyond customizing the back cover colorways, textures, and the shape and placement of the camera module. Design has really become a word that means very little in the smartphone landscape.
It’s like a notification system on steroids.
And in nothing comes with his transparent back and the “Glyph” interface that looks radically different from anything out there now. In dictionary terms, the word “glyph” comes from Greek architecture, but its more modern meaning is “a symbol that conveys information nonverbally.” In the case of the Nothing Phone 1, the Glyph is something that conveys information without having to illuminate the phone’s display.
The charging indicator on the back of Phone 1.
The LEDs on the back of the device can shine in different patterns and synchronize with different sounds. It’s like a notification system on steroids, pulsing for incoming calls, messages, app alerts and more. I especially like the neat charging progress bar (pictured) that lights up on the underside of the back cover. The whole can also light up at once to serve as a fill light for the cameras. And thanks to Nothing’s community-driven approach, the interface will be open for people to build more custom effects. That should be interesting.
Honestly, this is the most innovation I’ve seen in smartphone design in a while. Not only does the Phone 1 give us a look under the hood, but it also has some nice features associated with its unique design. Unlike Xiaomi’s Mi 8 Explorer Edition, which provided transparency but instead gave us a bunch of fake circuitry on the back, nothing has created a striking yet functional rear.
Nothing has created a striking yet functional tailgate that sparkles in a sea of equality.
Do not get me wrong. I am not rejecting all other smartphone OEMs and their design choices. The established brands make phones that appeal to the mass market, and they have to play more or less safe with their choices. That means equipping phones with a pair of cameras on the back, a big screen on the front and several color options.
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However, nothing is a startup and enters a difficult market. The global chip shortage is very real, resulting in launch delays, potential product cancellations, and rising component prices. Nothing also faces an uphill battle in a market overflowing with options. In addition, the Phone 1 is not expected to be a flagship killer like the early one OnePlus Phoneseven though Carl Pei is behind it.
So what does a new company do to stand out in such an environment? Just making an ordinary phone again is certainly not the solution. It will get lost in a sea of identical plates. Experimenting with industrial design is the best choice to shine through the monotony. It’s the only thing the company can count on to make a difference, especially given that the… nothing launcher doesn’t really do much for it right now.
The design may not appeal to everyone, but we don’t have to worry too much about that.
Even if you think the Phone 1’s back cover arrangement is a glorified gimmick, it’s still a smart one. The company may be overhyping the phone and the design may not appeal to everyone, but it shouldn’t worry too much about that. Nothing is a newcomer and can afford to color outside the lines. The Phone 1 won’t have a big production run to begin with either, so it’s not like the company has any dead stock on hand in case the design doesn’t find many fans. It can afford to target a specific niche, just like Pei’s first venture, OnePlus, did at the time.
For OnePlus it was: Cyanogenic OS† The first phone to ship with the commercial version of CyanogenMod – the most popular custom ROM developed by the community at the time. Not only did that attract the software’s loyal supporters, but it also appealed to people who preferred a clean, standard-like aesthetic. The Glyph and the transparent design of the Nothing Phone 1 follow the same recipe – they only do this with hardware rather than software.
You can see that Pei has a unique design theme in mind for a wider ecosystem.
Add to that the fact that the Nothing Phone 1 compliments the design of the company’s first product – the Ear 1 earplugs — and you can tell Pei has a theme in mind for a wider ecosystem. In an interview with Wallpaper, Pei expressed appreciation for Apple’s “cohesive vision” of its products. “If you had a table full of products from another manufacturer, you don’t really see that,” he said, emphasizing that Nothing wants to create its own design language for its ecosystem.
Related: Nothing borrows the right moves from the early OnePlus playbook
Tying with a bow is what Nothing has to do now. Recent rumors indicate that the Phone 1 will have a Snapdragon 700 series chipset. That automatically puts it in a pool of less powerful phones. Secure, Qualcomm’s mid-range chips offer extensive 5G capabilities and enough power for everyday needs – the Pixel 5 is a good example of a good Snapdragon 700 series device – but they lack the processing speeds and camera capabilities that only flagship SoCs can offer. No other specs of the Phone 1 have been leaked so far, but the picture being painted isn’t something we haven’t seen before.
What do you think of the design of Nothing Phone 1?
So getting that design right, making sure it works as intended, and making sure the phone’s battery doesn’t drain terribly is something we hope nothing put much thought into. Because it may be the single and largest pawn in the game. For now, I like what I see, and so do many of our readers who voted in our poll above.