Nothing claims its new Telephone 1 can “Carry us again. To us” with “deeper interactions” and “courageous simplicity.” It’s not the life-changing cellphone that Nothing makes it out to be; it’s only a good midrange machine with flashing lights on the again.
The Telephone 1’s distinctive light-up notification “glyphs” are considerably helpful, however greater than something, they’re a style flourish. On condition that it’s backed up by stable efficiency and truthful value, there’s nothing mistaken with that in any respect.
One vital notice: Telephone 1 shouldn’t be coming to the US. When it goes on sale on July twenty first, it can value £399 (that’s about $475 US) for a mannequin with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. A model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage (the model I examined for this overview) will go for £499 (round $593). Will probably be out there within the UK, elements of Europe, India, and Japan, amongst different markets. Nothing doesn’t rule out bringing a future product to the US, nevertheless it positively received’t be Telephone 1 because it lacks FCC certification.
The sunshine strips that make up Telephone 1’s most attention-grabbing function blink in mixtures that the corporate calls “glyphs.” There are 20 whole in two units, every tied to a corresponding sound: 10 glyphs for notifications and 10 for ringtones. (You’ll be able to allow one with out the opposite — lights-only for silent notifications or sounds with out lights, however you may’t change which tone every glyph is assigned to.) On a excessive degree, you may set a glyph for all incoming notifications and one for all calls and go away it at that, or you may get extra granular by going into particular person app settings.
As a result of the glyph lights are tied to particular tones, you should utilize them for any app or function that permits you to customise alert sounds. You’ll be able to assign particular glyphs to particular person contacts, although you’ll solely see (and listen to) the glyph you picked when that contact calls you, not once they message you, which is a bummer — who talks on the cellphone?
You can even assign completely different glyphs to completely different app notifications — even completely different sorts of notifications from the identical app, relying on the app. To do that, you must head to that app’s notification settings, the place you may reassign the notification sound to the glyph of your alternative — this modifications the alert sound, nevertheless it additionally means you’ll see the corresponding glyph even when the cellphone is silenced. You’ll be able to set a glyph for any app notification that permits you to assign a customized notification sound — one glyph for work emails and a distinct one for private emails, for instance, or separate glyphs for Instagram likes and feedback.
In concept, it’s a much less obtrusive approach to have your cellphone inform you whether or not a notification is price interrupting no matter you’re doing — a contemporary revival of the good-old-fashioned multicolor notification LED (bear in mind these?). With a while and a bit fine-tuning, this can be a function that some folks may discover genuinely helpful, particularly if you wish to triage notifications with out particulars flashing throughout the display screen. Personally, I didn’t precisely discover it transformative.
For starters, I’m within the behavior of placing my cellphone down with the display screen dealing with up once I’m not utilizing it, so I didn’t see the glyph flashing more often than not. I’m certain that’s a behavior I’d be capable of change with out a lot hassle if I gave it a while, nevertheless it hasn’t occurred within the couple of weeks that I’ve been utilizing the cellphone. In all probability as a result of there’s one other a part of the cellphone that lights up and tells me what sort of notification I’m getting: the display screen.
Glyphs additionally require some memorization to acknowledge the distinction between sure gentle patterns. Was that “squiggle” or “beak”? Is the massive blinking “C” an electronic mail or an Instagram DM? The system labored finest for me once I set particular glyphs for one or two vital apps somewhat than a bunch of various glyphs for various apps. That obtained a bit chaotic.
There are a few different makes use of for the lights exterior of notifications. When the battery is charging, the little exclamation mark on the underside of the again panel illuminates periodically. It’s neat however a bit extra distracting than simply tapping the display screen to verify the cost degree. You can even use the glyph lights as a fill gentle for the digital camera. It’s a pleasant possibility and a bit much less intense than utilizing the flash, although with a cooler tone. And there’s an unadvertised bonus function: if you need a younger baby to have a look at the digital camera, they’ll positively do the trick.
The glyph lights are additionally very brilliant at their default setting. You’ll be able to modify the brightness, and I turned them right down to about 30 %. Should you’re going to be exterior in direct daylight, you may need to preserve the brightness cranked up; in any other case, they’re very arduous to see — sadly, the brightness doesn’t modify mechanically to replicate ambient situations. They’re additionally disabled mechanically when the battery is low. As soon as the battery is sufficiently charged, you must flip them again on manually within the glyph settings menu.
As a differentiating function, the glyphs are possibly a bit helpful, in all probability principally gimmicky. But it surely’s sensible. It stands out and makes a press release to anybody else who sees it, and it doesn’t take something away from the expertise of utilizing the cellphone in the event you’re not into it. If something, it can inspire you to maintain your clear cellphone case clear — Nothing will promote equipment tailor-made to the Telephone 1, however I didn’t get to check them out for this overview.
Most significantly, it doesn’t really feel like one thing that needlessly drove up the price of the cellphone. That’s some extent I preserve coming again to as I take advantage of the Telephone 1 — if this was a $1,000 flagship cellphone constructed round this supposedly life-changing, blinking notification system, I’d really feel cheated. However this can be a $500-ish cellphone, and if the lights are solely typically helpful, then it feels extra like a bonus function, not a rip-off.
On the extra standard aspect, Telephone 1 features a 6.55-inch 1080p OLED with an adaptive refresh fee as much as 120Hz, that are nice specs within the mid-tier class the place excessive refresh charges aren’t too widespread. The Galaxy A53 5G matches its 120Hz refresh fee, however the OnePlus Nord 2 manages simply 90Hz, and the Pixel 6A will embody an ordinary 60Hz display screen. The Telephone 1 display screen sticks to that high refresh fee more often than not, too, making for a really clean scrolling expertise. It affords 1,200 nits of peak brightness, which retains it usable even in direct daylight. The under-display fingerprint sensor is dependable and fast; it hardly ever misinterpret my fingerprint, even with moist arms or in direct solar.
The Telephone 1 makes use of a midrange Snapdragon 778 chipset with 5G connectivity. Don’t anticipate to have the ability to import a tool and toss your SIM card in it — Sascha Segan at PC Mag tried it out on a couple of US networks and didn’t have a lot luck. My overview unit with a wholesome 12GB of RAM handles each day duties and not using a downside — the cellphone feels very responsive, and apps load shortly. Haptics are reassuringly sturdy however not “buzzy.” Mixed with the quick refresh fee, all of it feels prefer it ought to value greater than $500 or $600.
There’s no headphone jack or MicroSD card slot; Nothing is following within the flagship OEMs’ footsteps by not together with them. The Telephone 1 does have an IP53 splash and mud resistance ranking, which is healthier than — look ahead to it — nothing, which is widespread amongst midrange telephones.
Battery life is one space the place the Telephone 1 falls behind different telephones across the similar value — and even much less. The £399 (round $475) OnePlus Nord 2 lasted a bit greater than a day with numerous screen-on time in our testing, and the sub-$300 Nord N20 simply will get by a full day of heavy use. In my expertise, the Telephone 1 is ready to get by a full day however not more than that. It appears to empty a stunning quantity when the cellphone is in standby — I’d decide it up within the morning to seek out the battery down by double digits in a single day.
The glyph lights don’t seem like completely accountable, both. Nothing claims that preserving the lights illuminated repeatedly for 10 minutes solely drains the battery by an additional 0.5 %. In common use, they gentle up for such a brief time period at such rare intervals that I can’t think about they’re contributing to the issue a lot in any respect.
However the excellent news is that the 4,500mAh cell within the Telephone 1 helps 33W quick wired charging. Qi wi-fi charging at as much as 15W and 5W reverse wi-fi charging are additionally included — not one thing you discover in most midrange telephones. There’s no charger included with the Telephone 1, which suggests you must price range one other $30–40 for a quick charger in the event you don’t have already got one, so I examined quick charging with an adapter from an organization that does embody one with its telephones: OnePlus.
A 65W charger (overkill however obtained the job finished) took the Telephone 1 battery from completely flat to one hundred pc in a bit over an hour. For a midrange cellphone that additionally affords wi-fi charging (i.e., not OnePlus’ midrange fashions), that’s superb. The cellphone’s battery efficiency isn’t among the many finest for the cash, however at the very least a fast 20-minute cost in the course of the day will go a great distance.
Nothing makes an enormous deal about solely together with two rear-facing cameras on the Telephone 1 somewhat than the surplus depth and macro sensors on so many Android telephones (taking a look at you, Samsung A sequence) that basically aren’t price anybody’s time. I want this was a norm somewhat than a differentiator, however right here we’re.
The principle rear-facing digital camera is a 50-megapixel sensor with an f/1.9 lens that features optical picture stabilization. OIS isn’t unparalleled on a midrange cellphone — the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G and Pixel 6A each have it — nevertheless it’s positively not assured under the flagship class. The opposite rear digital camera is a 50-megapixel ultrawide with an f/2.2 lens; round entrance, there’s a 16-megapixel selfie digital camera. There’s no telephoto digital camera wherever, however that’s a scarce function in telephones that value lower than $800. Video recording is out there at as much as 4K/30p.
Pictures with the 2 rear-facing cameras in brilliant gentle are detailed and vibrant — a bit heavy on the saturation however often not too heavy-handed. There’s a barely cool colour solid that may make shadows look a bit blue, nevertheless it’s the form of factor that you simply solely discover in a side-by-side comparability with one other digital camera. Portrait mode images in good gentle look high-quality with topics that aren’t too difficult; in very low gentle, they’re a grainy, noisy mess.
HDR on the Telephone 1 digital camera is a bit squirrely. One picture of a high-contrast scene exhibits a blue sky, whereas the sky in one other picture of the identical scene taken from a really barely completely different angle is blown out. In dim lighting — and in very dim lighting with evening mode — the Telephone 1’s images are nicely detailed, if a bit saturated, although a bit colour element will get misplaced in shadows. Optical stabilization appears to assist out most in reasonably dim gentle when shutter speeds dip under 1/30 of a second. It’s not as useful as I’d hoped it will be with portrait mode photographs in these lighting situations — out of seven images I took of my husband in a reasonably well-lit bar, solely three are sharp.
Video clips are typically good, with a gentle mixture of optical and digital picture stabilization. There’s a little bit of a crop leaping from 1080p to 4K (and a bit extra with stabilization enabled versus with out), nevertheless it’s nothing extreme. Clips at 30p can use HDR, nevertheless it’s unavailable at 60p. There’s a enjoyable, bonus glyph function for video, too: a small, purple recording indicator gentle that blinks while you’re filming. How’s that for nostalgia?
The Telephone 1 ships with Nothing’s light-touch tackle Android 12. It’s refreshingly clear — no duplicate apps and few pre-downloads. There are a number of nods to retro tech all through the interface, together with Nothing’s most popular dot-matrix font on menu web page headers and an audio recording app styled like a classic tape recorder. There are additionally 4 Nothing-designed homescreen widgets for time and climate, plus a widget to show your NFTs. It’s a small factor and never enabled by default, nevertheless it tells you numerous about who Nothing is designing this cellphone for.
In any case, the corporate has promised three years of OS platform upgrades and 4 years of safety updates, which is among the many finest software program help insurance policies for Android telephones — if Nothing makes good. Contemplating that is the primary machine from a brand new firm with no monitor report, that’s an enormous “if.”
Nothing says it needs to permit third events to convey controls for his or her merchandise proper into the cellphone’s OS, and for a begin, it’s working with Tesla. The corporate says you may unlock your automobile doorways and begin the AC inside the system settings. Should you reside in a scorching local weather and personal a Tesla, that will be helpful. As somebody who lives within the Pacific Northwest and drives a Honda Match, I can’t say it has the identical draw for me.
When Nothing began up its hype machine and started revealing particulars about its first cellphone over the previous few months, one explicit spec raised a number of eyebrows: the Snapdragon 778 chipset. Particularly, it was stunning that the cellphone wouldn’t use the newest and best processor from Qualcomm.
The selection to incorporate a cheaper (however nonetheless extremely succesful) chipset has helped form the Telephone 1 as one thing worthy of a distinct form of hype: an excellent, moderately priced cellphone backed up with a stable software program help coverage. It’s precisely the form of cellphone we might use extra of within the US, so it’s an actual disgrace that it received’t be out there right here.
The Telephone 1’s marquee function, the glyph notifications, are form of a gimmick — however they’re in the end innocent. It’s a part of the cellphone’s distinctive type, which some folks (possibly the type who personal NFTs and drive Teslas) will discover interesting. Others received’t, and that’s high-quality. As it’s, the Telephone 1 doesn’t reside as much as Nothing’s advertising hype as a result of no shopper tech product probably might. It’s only a cellphone — and that’s okay as a result of it’s one.
Pictures by Allison Johnson / The Verge