Nothing is as exciting as looking back and realizing all the stuff you have experienced throughout. And that is exactly what we will be doing today. We have officially entered the second half of 2022, and this year has delivered many elements to look back to. While we did get to experience some great hits, we also went through some terrible losses. We got new singers, new actors, new movies, new shows, new ideas, inventions, new tech, and new companies. Among these new ideations was one tech company that completely polarized the tech world. And that would be the young company, Nothing.
Nothing has been in the spotlight since its founding, and with the company launching its debut smartphone on the 12th of July, everyone is talking about it. This article is proof because it will also be doing the same. Let’s dive into the company’s history and everything it stands for without further ado.
The Birth of Nothing:
Nothing is a consumer technology startup founded by Carl Pei. Most famous for co-founding the consumer electronics manufacturer, OnePlus, Carl Pei left the company on the 16th of October, 2020, saying he needed some time off before pursuing anything else. But soon after, on the 29th of October, 2020, he founded his new venture, Nothing technology.
The company is described as a “London-based consumer technology company.” The company’s investors include Google Ventures, iPod inventor Tony Fadell, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Product Hunt CEO josh Buckley, PCH founder, CEO Liam Casey, founder of Web Sumit Paddy Cosgrave, and YouTuber Casey Neistat.
On February 25, 2021, the company announced Teenage Engineering as its founding partner. Teenage Engineering is mainly responsible for the brand’s design aesthetic and products.
In a press release, Carl Pei, Nothing’s founder and CEO, said, “Nothing’s mission is to remove barriers between people and technology to create a seamless digital future. We believe that the best technology is beautiful yet natural and intuitive. It should fade into the background when sufficiently advanced and feel like nothing.”
Nothing plans to release products across multiple categories, aiming to build up an ecosystem of devices. Despite their ecosystem idea, they claim their devices will work just as well when connected with other devices. The only smart devices that the company has produced are its earphones, the ear (1), and its debut phone, the phone (1).
Carl Pei has said that his motivation for starting Nothing was because he felt that the consumer tech industry had become stale, unimaginative, and awash in gadgets that looked like clones. While this might be true, companies like Samsung have brought radically innovative products like the Z fold and Flip into the tech industry.
But Carl and his company’s bold statements have brought the attention of tech geeks worldwide; thus, when the company launches a product, people’s expectations grow, and they look forward to what they see. Have the company’s products been as mind-blowing as they claim them to be?
Nothing Earphones – The Ear (1)
The company’s first product is a set of wireless earbuds, “the ear (1).” The ear (1) was launched on the 27th of July, 2021.
Nothing Ear (1) Specs:
- Bluetooth can connect the ear (1) earbuds.
- When used with the charging case, the ear (1) earbuds have up to 34 hours of battery life.
- The ear (1) earbuds have up to 5.7 hours of battery life with ANC off.
- With ANC on, the ear (1) earbuds have up to four hours of charge.
- The ear (1) earbuds come in white and black.
- The ear (1) earbuds are ultra-light and weigh only 4.7g.
- The ear (1) earbuds have pressure-relieving vents, an ergonomic design, and three liquid silicone tips to customize your fit.
- The ear (1) has an 11.6mm speaker driver and a spacious air chamber that provides advanced bass, mid, and treble performance.
- Active Noise Cancellation.
- The ear (1) earbuds use Clear Voice Technology and three high-definition mics to make sure you come through sounding like you.
- The advanced algorithms within the earbuds reference a million voice and sound combinations (even winds up to 40 km/h) to isolate and amplify your voice for remarkable accuracy.
- The Nothing ear (1) earbuds are available in black and white.
- The ear (1) earbuds are also carbon neutral.
- The ear (1) earbuds cost $99/£99/€99.
The company claims you might forget you’re wearing their earbuds, which is the point. You’d feel like there’s nothing.
These specs combined with the ear (1)’s distinctive design; the earbuds are indeed unique. Despite that being the case, the reception for the earbuds was pretty lukewarm.
Most said that the ear (1) wasn’t compatible with their android device (despite the company claiming that the earbuds will be compatible with most android and IOS devices).
Others were upset with the so-so noise cancellation, the limited controls, and all in all, the buggy performance of the device.
This being the case, many believe that the earbuds might only work best with the company’s to-be-launched phone. But this upset many because it was similar to Apple, their products, and their ecosystem.
Nothing is also trying to create an ecosystem where their devices will ‘apparently’ work seamlessly when connected to other devices made by the same company. And that would be a significant disadvantage for people who don’t own the other instruments.
Only time will tell if the company’s earbuds will work seamlessly with their phone.
Nothing Smartphones – The Phone (1)
The product making everyone talk about the company is their debut smartphone, the phone (1). Ever since the internet discovered that the company would launch a new smartphone sometime in the future, people have been speculating about the phone’s design and specs.
Many believed the design would be similar to the company’s earbuds, the ear (1), wherein the phone might also be minimalistic and see-through.
The wait was finally over when Carl Pei, on the 15th of June, showed us the company’s debut smartphone, the phone (1)’s rear panel design.
“Leaks are harder to contain nowadays, and many of you have been waiting for a long time. So here it is. This is phone (1) design.”Carl Pei / Twitter / Instagram
It was also mentioned in the tweet that the company will be giving a proper announcement of the phone on the 12th of July, 2022, via an event called ‘Return to Instinct.’
While we don’t have much information on the phone (1), we have been given more than a few sneak peeks into the smartphone’s specs.
Nothing Phone (1) Specs:
Even though it’s not due to be officially launched until next week, Nothing hasn’t been shy about revealing the Phone 1’s features ahead of time. Last month, it showed off its rear design, gave an early sample to YouTuber Marques Brownlee, and confirmed that the phone isn’t getting a US launch. So let’s take a look at what we know so far.
Nothing Phone (1) Design:
Like the internet speculated, the phone (1) does, in a way, go with Nothing’s axiom. Nothing has repeatedly mentioned how they believe in Windows and not Walls. Their wireless headphone, the ear (1), is a clear example.
According to the company, the ear (1) is designed to highlight and celebrate the craftsmanship underneath and reveal our technology’s raw beauty.
The yet-to-be-launched phone (1) also seems to follow the same belief with its transparent back and surfacing curved connections.
Nothing had previously said that the layout of the phone (1)’s design was inspired by The New York Subway map of Vignelli. The company had said that because they wanted to rethink industry norms and celebrate all the components that make a phone, they designed it this particular way. The Wallpaper called this a ‘radical representation of the modern phone.’
The phone’s rear closely follows the company’s earlier teasers and the leaks from reliable sources.
The Glyph Interface:
The phone also has illuminating light strips on its back, which seem to be made from a transparent material.
Nothing teased the arrangement of these illuminating light strips at an earlier event. What’s interesting is the logo in the middle, which looks like a silhouette of a cartoon bomb.
We got our first Nothing Phone 1 hands-on, thanks to YouTuber Marques Brownlee. The company sent the phone to Marques, and because the world was only shown the rear of the phone, Marques also talked about the phone’s rear and features.
In the video, Marques focuses mainly on the design of the phone — specifically the “glyph” interface on the back. The glyph interface is the illuminating light strips on the back of the phone with a strange design that coincides with the hardware inside.
Carl Pei had previously hinted that light strips could serve as a modern take on the classic smartphone notification LED, but now we have a better idea of how this will work.
Here is a list of all the features:
- The phone’s users can control how the back lights up
- The strips light up when your phones receive a new notification.
- The central circle lights up to indicate wireless or reverse wireless charging.
- The bottom light strip can act as a charging progress bar.
- Because the light strips are pretty bright, all the strips can also serve as a fill light for the camera.
- All strips can flash in time with the phone’s ten built-in ringtones. If this is customizable is yet to be known.
- Aside from the glyphs themselves, a red LED flashes when the phone is filming.
Nothing Phone (1) Black:
Even though Nothing’s official Phone (1) imagery has entirely focused on its white model, recent reliable leaks suggest a black version could join it.
Reliable Indian leaker Ishan Agarwal posted images of the second color on Twitter. The Nothing Phone (1) black also features the illuminating light strips as the white model.
Nothing Phone (1) Processor:
Nothing Phone (1) will be featuring a Qualcomm-created chipset. The company confirmed to Input Mag that the Phone 1 would be powered by Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 778G Plus processor.
While this does come as a surprise because the phone is unlikely to have the raw performance of a device equipped with a flagship Qualcomm processor like the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, it was also predictable because it is such a Carl Pei move.
Carl Pei reasoned this decision saying the Snapdragon 778G Plus processor offers a better mix of price, performance, heat output, and power consumption.
While some have criticized this move calling it a disappointment, Carl Pei believes that this is what’s best for the phone (1).
The phone (1) will come skinned with the Nothing OS. The Nothing OS is a custom Android skin that will power the Nothing phone (1). The skin will provide a smooth and fast user experience without bloatware or heavy system apps.
If you want to see how the skin looks, you can download its beta launcher app, the Nothing Launcher (Beta). The launcher is very raw at present. It only has novel features like its ability to resize the icons and folders, along with custom Weather and Clock widgets.
Nothing has confirmed that the Phone (1) will get 3 Android upgrades and will have four years of security patches. This is almost the same as Google’s pledge to Pixel and Samsung’s pledge to Samsung devices. Google commits three upgrades and provides five years of security patches, while Samsung commits four upgrades and five years of security patches.
As mentioned earlier, Nothing like Apple also seeks to form an ecosystem wherein all their devices can seamlessly work together when connected. But unlike Apple, whose devices only work when connected with other Apple devices, Nothing aims to produce devices that work just as well when connected with other Android devices.
The materials are made with 100% recycled aluminum. Nothing also boasts that the company makes its products, including the phone (1) and the ear (1), using 50% bio-plastic and recycled sources in plastic components.
Nothing Phone (1) News, Leaks, and Hypotheses:
Apart from the information the company has provided us, various other news, leaks, and hypothesis have been made on the phone (1).
Nothing Phone (1) won’t be launched In America
Nothing confirmed that its debut phone, phone (1), will not be launched in the United States. The company claims that the reason behind this is that it is currently focussing and putting its efforts on the UK and Europe for its initial launch. The other reason would be that the phone may not even work reliably on US networks. Read this statement the company sent to PCMag.
“While we’d love to bring (the) 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. 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. We’re still a young brand, so we must be strategic about it.”
While the statement doesn’t exactly say this flat out, the statement does strongly hint that the Nothing company was unable to reach an agreement with any North American wireless carriers. This statement and confirmation came just a few hours after Evan Blass had hinted on Twitter that the Nothing Phone might be lacking US support.
Big companies like Apple and Samsung dominate the handset selections from US carriers. So, as Evan Blass had suggested in his tweet, it is challenging for young brands to make it big in the US. Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that a very young brand like Nothing didn’t get the breakthrough everyone expected.
“We have big plans to launch a U.S.-supported smartphone in the future. For now, a limited number of our private community investors in the U.S. will be able to get their hands on phone (1) through a closed beta program. In the meantime, if readers want (the) phone (1) to be available in the US as soon as possible, they should call their carrier to let them know about us.”
While the company does urge its fans to “call your carrier to let them know about us,” the company also mentions that a select few “private community investors in the U.S.” will be able to get the Nothing Phone 1 via some kind of closed beta program.
However, for the time being, it looks like the Nothing Phone 1 will remain out of reach for North American fans.
Nothing Phone (1) Adopts The Invite System
If you followed the OnePlus journey, you would know what an invite system is. The invite system was available until the 30th of June. The company says that this system keeps supply and demand in check. This way, the smartphone will be available in limited quantities, unlike other smartphone brands’ open sale models. The invite system will also keep the unit manufacturing cost in control.
So, how will the invite system work? Nothing says it wants to ensure early supporters and community members get the phone first. Once that happens, and the company ramps-up production, the Phone (1) will start selling more widely.
This suggests that the phone might be hard to find at launch and weeks later. But Nothing has now opened a waitlist for interested customers in several markets, including India, the UK, and Europe.
While some people have criticized this move, Nothing is doing pretty good with their invite system because more than 100,000+ people are on the waiting list.
Carl Pei confirmed the same via Twitter.
The first 100 phones were sold between the 21st – 23rd of June. They were limited edition phones with #the100 engraved on them. People could order them from StockX. These were sold using a bidding system, and the highest sale of the phone was for $3064.
Leaks and Hypotheses:
Various leaks claim that the phone (1)’s specs would also include
- A 6.55-inch 120Hz display.
- A 4,500mAh battery with 45W fast charging.
- 8GB of RAM.
It is also rumored that the phone (1) will be priced somewhere between $300 – $500. Another Hypothesis is that the company will be releasing something that is anime themed. This hypothesis started when Carl Pei, Nothing’s founder, and CEO, tweeted a tweet asking for good anime-style illustrators.
Saying he wants to make something cool with them, the CEO has asked illustrators whose art is anime themed to direct message him with samples. People have speculated that Carl Pei (an anime fan himself) plans to create anime-style phones and devices or create anime-styled themes for smart devices created by the company.
Much Ado Over Nothing?
Although it’s not due to be officially launched until next week, Nothing Technology hasn’t been shy about revealing the Phone 1’s features ahead of time.
The company showed off its rear design last month, gave an early sample to YouTuber Marques Brownlee, who detailed the glyph interface, and confirmed that the phone isn’t getting a US launch (it’s focused on Europe). At this rate, the only details left to announce on July 12th will be its price and release date.
Despite all that, the hype for the phone hasn’t decreased. If you look at the comments in Nothing Community, you will find comments from people who are excited about the phone (1)’s release. Many Reddit users have even gone as far as to say that the Nothing phone (1)’s community gives off a cult-like aura.
“Consumer tech, how did we let it get so boring? We are going to change this!”Team Nothing / YouTube
Time and again, Carl Pei and his company have called the current consumer technology boring and that Nothing’s whole plan is to bring it back alive. On the 1st of April, as an April Fool’s joke, the company tweeted a tweet that read,
“Say hello to Just Another (1). You’ve seen a phone just like this before. Experience edge-to-edge monotony. It’s inspiringly uninspired. Utterly unoriginal. And the same as everything else. Coming to bore you soon.”
Apart from this, in a video from Nothing’s Official YouTube Channel, Carl Pei says that ”we just want to make people feel something you know. It’s been super boring. Hopefully, we will create a product that sparks some change in the industry.”
Pretty bold, right? Thus, the expectations and hype for the phone (1) are super high. And, ever since Carl Pei left OnePlus, the company hasn’t been doing so well. Therefore, many OnePlus fans have high expectations for Nothing and its first smartphone, the phone (1), as they hope Pei brings back the original spirit of OnePlus in his phone.
Another reason for the colossal fanbase might be because Carl Pei is a pretty good marketer. It is safe to say that a small part of OnePlus’s success is because of Pei’s marketing tactics.
Despite the vast fanbase, there are people out there who are skeptical about the phone’s design and its features. This is because Nothing’s wireless earphones did not meet the standards the company had initially hyped it up to be.
Countless jokes have also been made from time to time.
Will Something Be Made Of Nothing?
With its unique branding methods and huge hype, Nothing’s phone (1) will make a lasting impression when it gets launched. Smartphone investors are betting $200 million on Nothing, the phone (1) has 100,000+ on the pre-order waiting list, and the community is going gaga over the phone. Will all this stay the same after the phone is officially launched? Will the phone (1) exceed everyone’s expectations? Will Nothing make something out of it? We will find out soon!