Nothing claims its new Telephone 1 can “Carry us again. To us” with “deeper interactions” and “courageous simplicity.” It’s not the life-changing telephone 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 vogue flourish. Provided that it’s backed up by stable efficiency and truthful value, there’s nothing improper with that in any respect.
One necessary notice: Telephone 1 shouldn’t be coming to the US. When it goes on sale on July twenty first, it’s going to price £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 evaluation) will go for £499 (round $593). Will probably be accessible within the UK, components of Europe, India, and Japan, amongst different markets. Nothing doesn’t rule out bringing a future product to the US, but it surely undoubtedly gained’t be Telephone 1 because it lacks FCC certification.
The sunshine strips that make up Telephone 1’s most attention-grabbing characteristic blink in combos 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 possibly can allow one with out the opposite — lights-only for silent notifications or sounds with out lights, however you possibly can’t change which tone every glyph is assigned to.) On a excessive degree, you possibly can set a glyph for all incoming notifications and one for all calls and go away it at that, or you will get extra granular by going into particular person app settings.
As a result of the glyph lights are tied to particular tones, you need to use them for any app or characteristic that permits you to customise alert sounds. You possibly can 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 after they message you, which is a bummer — who talks on the telephone?
You may also 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, it is advisable head to that app’s notification settings, the place you possibly can reassign the notification sound to the glyph of your alternative — this adjustments the alert sound, but it surely additionally means you’ll see the corresponding glyph even when the telephone is silenced. You possibly can 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 idea, it’s a much less obtrusive option to have your telephone inform you whether or not a notification is value interrupting no matter you’re doing — a contemporary revival of the good-old-fashioned multicolor notification LED (keep in mind these?). With a while and slightly fine-tuning, this can be a characteristic that some folks may discover genuinely helpful, particularly if you wish to triage notifications with out particulars flashing throughout the display. Personally, I didn’t precisely discover it transformative.
For starters, I’m within the behavior of placing my telephone down with the display going through up once I’m not utilizing it, so I didn’t see the glyph flashing more often than not. I’m positive that’s a behavior I’d be capable of change with out a lot hassle if I gave it a while, but it surely hasn’t occurred within the couple of weeks that I’ve been utilizing the telephone. In all probability as a result of there’s one other a part of the telephone that lights up and tells me what sort of notification I’m getting: the display.
Glyphs additionally require some memorization to acknowledge the distinction between sure gentle patterns. Was that “squiggle” or “beak”? Is the large blinking “C” an electronic mail or an Instagram DM? The system labored finest for me once I set particular glyphs for one or two necessary apps quite than a bunch of various glyphs for various apps. That acquired slightly chaotic.
There are a few different makes use of for the lights outdoors of notifications. When the battery is charging, the little exclamation mark on the underside of the again panel illuminates periodically. It’s neat however slightly extra distracting than simply tapping the display to verify the cost degree. You may also use the glyph lights as a fill gentle for the digicam. 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 characteristic: if you would like a younger little one to take a look at the digicam, they are going to undoubtedly do the trick.
The glyph lights are additionally very vivid at their default setting. You possibly can modify the brightness, and I turned them all the way down to about 30 %. Should you’re going to be outdoors in direct daylight, you may wish to hold the brightness cranked up; in any other case, they’re very arduous to see — sadly, the brightness doesn’t modify routinely to mirror ambient circumstances. They’re additionally disabled routinely when the battery is low. As soon as the battery is sufficiently charged, it is advisable flip them again on manually within the glyph settings menu.
As a differentiating characteristic, the glyphs are perhaps slightly helpful, most likely largely gimmicky. But it surely’s good. 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 telephone in the event you’re not into it. If something, it’s going to encourage you to maintain your clear telephone case clear — Nothing will promote equipment tailor-made to the Telephone 1, however I didn’t get to check them out for this evaluation.
Most significantly, it doesn’t really feel like one thing that needlessly drove up the price of the telephone. That’s a degree I hold coming again to as I exploit the Telephone 1 — if this was a $1,000 flagship telephone constructed round this supposedly life-changing, blinking notification system, I’d really feel cheated. However this can be a $500-ish telephone, and if the lights are solely generally helpful, then it feels extra like a bonus characteristic, not a rip-off.
On the extra typical aspect, Telephone 1 features a 6.55-inch 1080p OLED with an adaptive refresh charge 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 charge, however the OnePlus Nord 2 manages simply 90Hz, and the Pixel 6A will embrace a typical 60Hz display. The Telephone 1 display sticks to that prime refresh charge more often than not, too, making for a really easy scrolling expertise.
Nothing initially claimed the panel had a peak brightness of 1200 nits, however has extra just lately revealed that the telephone’s software program caps it at 700 nits to protect battery life. The Telephone 1 product web page nonetheless lists the panel as able to 1200 nits, and a press release issued by Nothing signifies that it could improve the very best brightness setting in a future software program replace. In any case, I discover the panel in its present configuration usable even in direct daylight. The under-display fingerprint sensor is dependable and fast; it hardly ever misinterpret my fingerprint, even with moist fingers 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 Magazine tried it out on a few US networks and didn’t have a lot luck. My evaluation unit with a wholesome 12GB of RAM handles every day duties and not using a drawback — the telephone feels very responsive, and apps load shortly. Haptics are reassuringly sturdy however not “buzzy.” Mixed with the quick refresh charge, all of it feels prefer it ought to price 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 dirt resistance score, 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 identical value — and even much less. The £399 (round $475) OnePlus Nord 2 lasted a bit greater than a day with plenty of screen-on time in our testing, and the sub-$300 Nord N20 simply will get by way of a full day of heavy use. In my expertise, the Telephone 1 is ready to get by way of a full day however not more than that. It appears to empty a shocking quantity when the telephone 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 protecting 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 frame 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 implies it is advisable finances 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 embrace one with its telephones: OnePlus.
A 65W charger (overkill however acquired the job finished) took the Telephone 1 battery from completely flat to 100% in a bit over an hour. For a midrange telephone that additionally gives wi-fi charging (i.e., not OnePlus’ midrange fashions), that’s superb. The telephone’s battery efficiency isn’t among the many finest for the cash, however at the least a fast 20-minute cost in the midst of the day will go a good distance.
Nothing makes an enormous deal about solely together with two rear-facing cameras on the Telephone 1 quite than the surplus depth and macro sensors on so many Android telephones ( you, Samsung A sequence) that actually aren’t value anybody’s time. I want this was a norm quite than a differentiator, however right here we’re.
The primary rear-facing digicam is a 50-megapixel sensor with an f/1.9 lens that features optical picture stabilization. OIS isn’t unprecedented on a midrange telephone — the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G and Pixel 6A each have it — but it surely’s undoubtedly not assured beneath the flagship class. The opposite rear digicam is a 50-megapixel ultrawide with an f/2.2 lens; round entrance, there’s a 16-megapixel selfie digicam. There’s no telephoto digicam wherever, however that’s a scarce characteristic in telephones that price lower than $800. Video recording is offered at as much as 4K/30p.
Photographs with the 2 rear-facing cameras in vivid gentle are detailed and vibrant — slightly heavy on the saturation however often not too heavy-handed. There’s a barely cool coloration solid that may make shadows look slightly blue, but it surely’s the sort of factor that you just solely discover in a side-by-side comparability with one other digicam. Portrait mode images in good gentle look wonderful with topics that aren’t too sophisticated; in very low gentle, they’re a grainy, noisy mess.
HDR on the Telephone 1 digicam is slightly 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 night time mode — the Telephone 1’s images are properly detailed, if slightly saturated, although slightly coloration element will get misplaced in shadows. Optical stabilization appears to assist out most in reasonably dim gentle when shutter speeds dip beneath 1/30 of a second. It’s not as useful as I’d hoped it will be with portrait mode pictures in these lighting circumstances — out of seven images I took of my husband in a reasonably well-lit bar, solely three are sharp.
Video clips are usually 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 slightly extra with stabilization enabled versus with out), but it surely’s nothing extreme. Clips at 30p can use HDR, but it surely’s unavailable at 60p. There’s a enjoyable, bonus glyph characteristic for video, too: a small, purple recording indicator gentle that blinks whenever 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, but it surely tells you numerous about who Nothing is designing this telephone 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 assist 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 desires to permit third events to deliver controls for his or her merchandise proper into the telephone’s OS, and for a begin, it’s working with Tesla. The corporate says you possibly can unlock your automotive doorways and begin the AC throughout the system settings. Should you dwell in a sizzling local weather and personal a Tesla, that will be useful. 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 telephone over the previous few months, one explicit spec raised a number of eyebrows: the Snapdragon 778 chipset. Particularly, it was shocking that the telephone wouldn’t use the newest and best processor from Qualcomm.
The selection to incorporate a inexpensive (however nonetheless extremely succesful) chipset has helped form the Telephone 1 as one thing worthy of a distinct sort of hype: an excellent, moderately priced telephone backed up with a stable software program assist coverage. It’s precisely the sort of telephone we may use extra of within the US, so it’s an actual disgrace that it gained’t be accessible right here.
The Telephone 1’s marquee characteristic, the glyph notifications, are sort of a gimmick — however they’re finally innocent. It’s a part of the telephone’s distinctive fashion, which some folks (perhaps the type who personal NFTs and drive Teslas) will discover interesting. Others gained’t, and that’s wonderful. As it’s, the Telephone 1 doesn’t dwell as much as Nothing’s advertising and marketing hype as a result of no shopper tech product presumably may. It’s only a telephone — and that’s okay as a result of it’s a superb one.
Images by Allison Johnson / The Verge
Replace August seventeenth, 2:15PM ET: Up to date to incorporate new details about the Telephone 1 display’s peak brightness of 700 nits, which is decrease than the 1200 nits that Nothing beforehand claimed.