When the Nothing Phone 1 was launched last year, it found itself in an awkward position. Despite receiving widespread appreciation in western markets such as India, where the mid-range segment was already saturated, the phone felt stuck between price segments. It was priced too high for its intended market segment, and its performance was not relatively high enough to justify the higher price. Fast forward nine months, and it’s worth considering how the phone has fared since then.
With the upcoming release of the Nothing Phone 2, which will feature a Snapdragon 8 series chip and a higher price tag, it’s important to assess whether it still makes sense to purchase a Nothing Phone One in 2023, especially considering that the Nothing Phone 2 won’t be a direct successor.
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Build And Design
Starting with the build quality, mid-range smartphones were previously offering impressive build quality, with Samsung even introducing glass and IP ratings on their mid-range phones. However, this trend seems to have diminished in the 30k segment, which is currently uninspiring and monotonous. In this aspect, the Nothing Phone 1 has aged well, with a unique appearance that exudes a futuristic feel and premium materials used throughout.
The phone is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back, while the sides are crafted from metal. It feels great to hold and use, despite weighing around 190 grams. Surprisingly, it feels lighter than its weight suggests, which is 193 grams. The phone’s weight is well-distributed, making it easy to handle. In summary, the Nothing Phone One feels comfortable in the hands, and its build quality is impressive, especially in comparison to the uninspiring offerings in the 30k segment.
Nothing Phone 1 Battery
If you’re concerned about battery life, rest assured that the 4500 milliamp-hour battery inside the Nothing Phone One has held up well, even with the Android 13 update. It neither drains faster nor lasts longer, which is a good thing in today’s world. With regular moderate usage, this phone lasts all day, with around 30% battery remaining at the end of the day. Even with heavier usage, such as using the camera or GPS, the phone easily lasts a day on a single charge. However, the fact that the phone doesn’t come with an included charger is a disappointment, especially since most of its competitors in this segment include one in the box. This is even more frustrating today than it was at launch because it seemed like other brands might follow this trend, but they haven’t.
In the last nine months, brands have been including faster and faster chargers in the box, making it harder for the Nothing Phone One to compete. However, one positive aspect is that almost none of the competition has moved towards including wireless charging support at this price point. Many more expensive phones are now launching without wireless charging support. So the fact that the Nothing Phone One offers 15 watts of wireless and 5 watts of reverse wireless charging is a definite positive, providing added convenience.
Nothing Phone 1 Camera
The camera setup on the Nothing Phone 1 hasn’t caused any issues for me due to the flat case design. Although the camera glass is closer to the surface, I haven’t noticed any scratches on the lenses. However, the oleophobic coating seems to have worn off, so I have to clean it before taking pictures. Speaking of pictures, the camera performance has improved significantly over time. The phone has a dual-camera setup at the back, featuring a 50-megapixel Sony IMX 766 primary sensor with an optically stabilized F 1.9 lens and a 50-megapixel F 2.2 ultrawide secondary sensor. The color accuracy has gotten much better, with the secondary camera now much closer to the primary one.
There seems to be a disparity in opinions between Western and South Asian YouTubers regarding camera quality. Western YouTubers claim the cameras are just okay, while South Asian YouTubers believe they are good. This is likely because the Western market is more accustomed to high-end phones from Apple, Google, and Samsung, and the comparison isn’t entirely fair. However, for the mid-range segment, the cameras on the Nothing Phone One are pretty good, even in low-light conditions. The Snapdragon chip inside limits the video to 4K 30fps, but the footage is still detailed and color-accurate with good stabilization.
Performance And Software
During my month-long experience with the Nothing Phone, I was pleasantly surprised by how close its performance felt to that of a flagship device. Although the Snapdragon 778G is not a top-of-the-line SoC, everyday usage feels like it is. While there might be slight lags in rendering times or when playing games on maxed-out settings, it’s not something that users will notice in their daily use. I switched to the Nothing Phone from the Samsung S22 Ultra and never once felt that I missed having a flagship chip inside. The user experience is consistent and smooth, thanks in part to the Android 13 update, which has added some cosmetic extras such as new Glyph ringtones, notification tones, and wallpapers.
However, it’s not just cosmetic as app load speeds have improved by up to 50%. There have also been other quality-of-life improvements, such as the ability to switch quickly between data Sims from the quick toggles and the option to customize lock screen shortcuts. The 16-megapixel selfie camera works decently, and the fingerprint scanner and Face Unlock function flawlessly. The updates have been impressive so far, but the question remains whether Nothing can keep up its promise of three years of updates and four years of security patches, especially with the launch of the Nothing Phone 2. Only time will tell.
The display on this phone has been a disappointment. Let me quickly refer to something from my unboxing. The phone has a 6.55-inch full HD+ AMOLED display that is a 10-bit panel with a peak brightness of 1200 nits. However, after launch, reports surfaced that the peak brightness was only reaching 700 nits instead of the advertised 1200 nits. Nothing responded by saying that while the display can reach 1200 nits, they limited it to 700 nits for battery life and thermal concerns. They even updated their website to reflect this change. This could be problematic if you tend to use your phone outdoors frequently.
Nothing Phone 1 Conclusion
Let’s revisit the statement I made at the beginning of this video. It felt like it was caught in between – priced a bit too high for its target segment, and its performance not quite high enough for a higher segment. On top of that, Nothing didn’t have a track record to justify the premium they were demanding. At the end of the day, all we were hearing were promises, and we’ve seen plenty of unfulfilled promises from more established brands than Nothing.
But throughout this blog, we’ve seen that Nothing has been continuously improving the phone through updates and optimizations. What we have now is a mid-range phone that is well-supported and optimized, and looks better than most phones in this segment. I still wouldn’t recommend it for gaming because, despite the optimizations, it is still a Snapdragon 778G Plus.
However, if you’re looking for a solid mid-range phone that works well for day-to-day use and can handle other tasks too, the Nothing phone one is still a good option to consider even in 2023.
All images used in this blog are truly credited for Trusted Reviews.