Since its launch in late 2020, mysterious start-up Nothing – created by former OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei – has led a fairly private existence. However its second product ever, the Nothing Phone (1), is now confirmed to be coming this summer – and has in fact already gone on sale. Sort of.
With news that the phone’s full launch will be invite-only, and won’t arrive in the US at all, excitement for some fans has likely been dampened – but this is still a pretty unique phone that will no doubt earn (some of) its hype.
There are already details surrounding the phone’s software, feature set, and the hardware it will sport when it does arrive officially next month. Here’s all we know so far.
When is the Nothing Phone (1) release date?
The company first confirmed that it was working on a smartphone at its 23 March event, but at the time only confirmed that the phone would launch in the summer. Since then it’s gotten more specific, promising to launch the phone at an event on 12 July at 4pm BST (that’s 8am PT, 11am ET, 5pm CEST, 8:30pm IST).
German tech site AllRound PC claims to have received pricing and availability information from a “European dealer,” who wished to remain anonymous. According to the source, the Phone (1) will arrive on 21 July. Obviously that’s after the phone’s now-confirmed launch event, but could still be revealing: this might be the date the phone officially goes on sale.
When it does launch though, not everyone will be able to buy one. The phone will initially only be available through an invite system, which will apparently allow Nothing to make sure that the first people to get the Phone (1) are “in the community”, and the “people who deserve it the most.” Read on below for full details of how to sign up for an invite now, or check out our more detailed guide to how to pre-order the Phone (1).
Although it’s not out yet, some people have technically already bought the phone. Nothing partnered with auction site StockX to release the first 100 units – all engraved and serialised – in a 48-hour auction that ran from 21-23 June, with the highest bid ending up at over $2,000/£2,000. Each of the top 100 bidders received a phone engraved with a number corresponding to the value of their bid – with number one going to the highest bidder.
Nothing / StockX
Where will the Nothing Phone (1) launch?
One more thing to note is global availability. Nothing has already confirmed worldwide carrier partners across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia, but the phone isn’t getting a launch in the US or Canada.
Nothing has confirmed to PCMag that it will only be running a “closed beta program” with “a limited number of our private community investors in the U.S.”. It sounds like even those lucky few will struggle to use the phone widely, with “unpredictable” service on T-Mobile, no voice-over-4G on AT&T, and no service on Verizon at all.
“While we’d love to bring 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, and as we’re still a young brand we need to be strategic about it.”
Still, there is hope in the future. The company confirmed that it has “big plans to launch a U.S. supported smartphone in the future,” but no commitment to when that might be.
How to get a Nothing Phone (1) invite
As we mentioned above, buying the phone won’t be as easy as just turning up to the store on day one – you’ll need an invite.
This is a marketing tool straight out of the OnePlus playbook, though the Nothing team admits that as much as anything this is a question of supply and demand. As a small company, Nothing has limited production capacity, and there’s a risk that the phone could be difficult to purchase around launch if it goes straight to general sale – or that they’d have to delay the launch to build up stock first. The invite system gets around both problems.
Some members of the Nothing community have already received invites to secure a pre-order slot, but don’t fear – there are still more left.
You have until 11 July to sign up to the public waitlist on the Nothing site. You’ll then be able to see your position in the queue.
It’s not static though – log into your Nothing account and you’ll find a referral link. Share that with friends and family, and when they sign up to the list you’ll move up the queue too.
Pre-order invites will be sent out in batches up until 11 July, and once you get an invite you have 48 hours to pay a £20/₹2,000 non-refundable deposit to secure your pre-order. That deposit will be deducted from the final price of the phone, but you’ll also get the same amount of money back in credit to spend against either Ear (1) earbuds or any of the official (and yet to be announced) Phone (1) accessories.
Finally, starting from 12 July you’ll receive an email with a link to buy the actual phone. At that point you’ll have 14 days to place your order.
If you’re tempted, you’ll want to act fast though – at the time of writing there are already over 10,000 people on the waitlist, and that number is only likely to go up.
How much will the Nothing Phone (1) cost?
With a launch yet to come, we naturally don’t know the Phone (1)’s price. Expect it to be more affordable than most, however.
The company’s Ear (1) headphones boasted competitive pricing at $99/£99/€99, while retaining premium features like ANC (active noise cancellation), placing them at the upper end of what would be considered ‘budget’ within their respective product category.
If the same treatment were to be applied to the Phone (1), we’d expect it to hit the market around $/£/€500.
That’s exactly what was predicted by the unnamed European dealer who suggested the 21 July launch date, mentioned above, claiming that Nothing’s debut phone will cost around €500 at launch. A leak from Amazon Germany reveals pricing in a similar range: €469 for 8+128GB, and €549 for 12+256GB.
That price – or even a little higher – would position the Phone (1) well to take on the likes of Realme’s GT 2 Pro and Google’s Pixel 6, while seriously undercutting flagships like the Oppo Find X5 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 and iPhone 13.
What are the Nothing Phone (1) specs and features?
Carl Pei’s former company OnePlus is infamous within the industry for drip feeding details of its products ahead of launches, and the same ethos has clearly carried over to Nothing, so we already know a little about what to expect.
The most tantalising is the phone’s design, finally revealed on 15 June. You’ll have seen it at the top of the page, but you can get a better look in these two shots of the phone from its real-world debut at the Art Basel show:
The design language is immediately familiar to anyone who’s seen the Ear (1) headphones, with a mix of white and transparent plastic that hints at the phone’s internals without explicitly revealing too much of them. We can also spot a volume rocker on one side, with a power button across on the other.
These images also reveal that the phone packs a set of LED light strips. You can see these in action in the video below from MKBHD, and they appear to be able to flash in white (though only white) in various patterns. As the YouTuber details, the lights are apparently called the Glyph Interface, and they have a few neat tricks:
Flashing for notificationsGlowing around the charging coil when reverse wireless chargingSlowly filling the bottom bar when using wired charging, as a battery indicatorAll illuminating at once as a fill light when using the cameraFlashing in distinct patterns in time to a number of pre-set ringtones and notification alerts
The company has separately confirmed that the phone’s frame will be made out of recycled aluminium.
German site WinFuture has obtained high-resolution images of the phone that seem to reveal a second version of the phone, in black. A black model wouldn’t be a huge surprised – while the Ear (1) buds launched in white, a black model eventually followed later. Black phones traditionally sell the best too, so it’s smart to include one in the line-up.
Pei and head of design Tom Howard spoke with Wallpaper* in an interview that contains numerous tidbits which grant more insight into the development of the Phone (1)’s hardware (and, to a lesser extent, its software).
While sharing some concept sketches, Howard stated, “From a design perspective, we really wanted to bring the inside out… There are over 400 components in a smartphone, assembled in layers. We wanted to celebrate the ‘good ones,’ the things we thought were really interesting to emphasise.”
The scanned sketchbook page (above) might also hold some additional technical information, with the width of one of the sketches sporting a measurement of 51mm (which would suggest a very small device, based on the proportions of the overall sketch), while a couple of figures can be seen, partially cut off on the far right of the scanned page: ’90’ and ’64’, which could suggest a 90Hz display and a base storage of 64GB, although it’s difficult to make out.
The interview also covers the challenges of applying the transparent aesthetic to a phone, and how Nothing’s engineering team worked to lay out and style the visible components in a “jigsaw puzzle” that’s not only functional and logical but visually pleasing as well.
Howard mentions that iconic transit maps like the 1972 New York subway map by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda, as well as Harry Beck’s original 1933 London Underground map (itself inspired by circuit diagrams and the visual clarity) have played a part in informing the visual language set to be used by the Phone (1).
First up, Nothing has confirmed a few key specs officially. The big one is that the phone will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ chipset, dashing hopes that it would use the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or the more recent Snapdragon 7 Gen 1.
Carl Pei told Input that the “custom-tuned” version of the chip was made specifically for Nothing, and that Qualcomm added in support for wireless charging and reverse charging just for this phone.
We already knew the phone would feature wireless charging – which you can see in the big circular coil present in the middle of the design.
Of course that design also reveals a dual rear camera, though specs for it remain unknown for now.
One leak on SlashLeaks points to further specs, though with the source unverified we’d take it with a pinch of salt. Apparently we can expect a 120Hz OLED display, 50Mp main rear camera, and a 4500mAh battery with 45W charging.
The 23 March announcement event also cleanly laid out some of Nothing’s other key hardware and manufacturing partners, with Samsung, Sony, and Visionox all making an appearance, alluding to who may be responsible for supplying the Nothing Phone (1)’s display, camera sensors, and more.
Getting back to speculation, TUV certification for a Nothing-branded charger seems to reveal that the phone will support 45W charging speeds. Bear in mind that this is likely for the phone’s wired charging, and its wireless capabilities are likely a little slower.
At the March announcement event Pei also introduced Nothing OS: the Android-based user experience that will debut on the company’s first smartphone.
In Pei’s own words, Nothing OS “captures the best features of pure Android, distilling the operating system to just the essentials, where every byte has a purpose.”
It’s a decidedly familiar approach, following similar principles to the OxygenOS user experience found on phones made by Pei’s former company OnePlus.
As seen in the screenshots above, there’s a distinct aesthetic to Nothing OS, carrying through the retro-futurism already seen across the brand’s wider assets.
Purpose-made iconography and the company’s signature dot matrix font are plentiful, with a “smooth and uniform experience” manifesting in elements like the clock, which persists across the always-on display, lock screen and home screen, offering greater coherence.
The OS’s sound design is apparently influenced by “Morse code, oscillators and digital watches,” while the user experience will reportedly be comparatively light on UI animations, in pursuit of offering a cleaner and simpler navigation experience.
Pei also promised 40% fewer pre-loaded apps, focusing on Google’s own experiences as the first port of call for most services, as well as tight integration, not just with Nothing products, but devices and services from other companies; with Apple’s AirPods and Tesla’s cars getting name-checked during the March stream.
To round out the software side of things, Pei promised three years of Android OS updates and four years of security updates, which paired with a summer launch suggests that the Phone (1) will arrive running Android 12.
If you want a taste of what Nothing OS will look and feel like, you can get the Nothing Launcher on your phone right now, with a beta version of the company’s app launcher available on select phones running Android 11 or newer. It’s not the full OS, but will give you a hint of what’s to come.
Check out our rundown of the most hotly-anticipated phones of 2022, to see what else is coming besides the Nothing Phone (1) this year and check back here regularly to see how the story develops.