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Dear Nothing, give us something to talk about

Published by
Akriti Rana & Nimish Dubey

Carl Pei’s new venture, Nothing, seems to have a penchant for treating product launches like jigsaw puzzles. We had seen the brand drop multiple hints about its first product, the ear (1), well before it was revealed. It is following the same template when it comes to its first smartphone, the phone (1). A few months earlier, we had been told that the phone would “bring back the excitement we once felt for the tech industry.”

We were given some very vague hints of the phone’s design and then a glimpse of the launcher that would run on it. Now, we have an image of the back of the phone, complete with a parrot perched on it (the ears (1) used ladybugs).

Getting back to us…with a back and Nothing more!

We have also been told as per the press release that “Nothing phone (1) features a transparent back with a unique mechanical design composed of over 400 components. Inspiration was taken from artists like Massimo Vignelli who designed New York’s subway map and made a complex system look like art. Its 100% recycled aluminium frame makes it light and robust, while over 50% of the phone’s plastic components are made with bio-based or post-consumer recycled materials – an industry-leading percentage.”

All of which is very fine, but what do we actually know of the phone (1)? The answer in real terms is almost similar to the name of the brand behind the phone! Most of the queries consumers make about a phone tend to be about its display (type, size, resolution, refresh rate), cameras (front and back), RAM, storage, battery (and how fast its charges), speakers, connectivity options and so on. All the revelations about the phone (1) have not given us any concrete information in this regard. Yes, we do know that the phone seems to have only two cameras at the back, but we have no idea about the types of cameras or their megapixel count.

Similarly, the presence of what seems like a wireless charging coil seems to indicate support for wireless charging, but we have no idea about the battery size or the speed of charging. Knowing the UI would also have counted for a lot, but the fact that it is very similar to stock Android again does not tell us much.

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The phone that’s making news without giving details

We have all had lots of unofficial hints dropped all over the place and talk of a new generation of processors, but in terms of official information, our knowledge of the Nothing Phone (1)

is extremely limited. Yes, geeks can stare at the back of the device and make guesses about the battery size, display size and so on, but that is what it is: guesswork. What we do know about the phone (1) is its design, described in all its glory earlier. As we have remarked earlier, the brand gets full marks for trying something different but judging the phone just by its back would be akin to judging a book by its front.

There is no denying that the design itself looks very interesting. The semi-transparent look, giving the user a glimpse of the innards of the phone, not only carries on the transparent design legacy of the ears (1) TWS but also is very different from the normal smartphone crowd. That said, while the design is an important component of a phone, it plays a very distant second fiddle to specs and performance, especially in the mid-segment. What’s more, that distinct design is likely to have a case slapped over it. And before you ask us, no, we do not know what the parrot represents – a “natural-sounding” virtual assistant, perhaps.

Like Jon Snow, we know Nothing (about phone (1))

The result of all this is that almost three months after it was first announced, we have almost nothing (pun not intended) to talk about Nothing’s first phone. Yes, we have had a few announcements, but still have not much to go on simply because the brand seems to have steered clear of talking of anything that would reflect on the performance of the device. So we cannot make any comparisons, talk of possible competitors, pricing, or even anticipate any features. It is largely a clean slate. It is odd when you consider that the phone has been flitting in and out of the news for a while now and has had official events and statements about it.

For all you know, this approach might well work, but as of now, all we can say to Nothing’s phone (1) is: Dude, we literally got your back. Now please give us something to talk about.

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Published by
Akriti Rana & Nimish Dubey