Hands up if you thought the Nothing Phone (1) was literally nothing to get excited about.
Yep, me too.
Following an attention-grabbing yet ultimately unsatisfying event earlier this year when Nothing showed, erm… nothing of the device itself, I’d personally forgotten it was even a thing.
Then, good old MKBHD popped up this week with a hands-on preview of the Nothing Phone (1).
“What I am allowed to show you now, is the back of the phone,” he explained, before continually showing us the front of the phone throughout the video.
Well, Nothing – you’ve got me. I am now super interested in this device. More importantly, I think the Nothing Phone (1) has already proved that it can teach the iPhone a thing or two.
Here are five ways the iPhone can learn from the Nothing Phone (1).
1. Different is… interesting
I’ve been saying for a while now that smartphones have reached peak design and function. Operating systems and services can be continually tweaked and built out, but when it comes to the hardware, how much further can we go with that rectangular slab of aluminium and glass?
There are an increasing number of folding phones hitting the market. I’m all for that – they’re interesting. But the Nothing Phone (1) has managed to differentiate itself in a much simpler way.
Nothing has simply attached a see-through glass panel to the rear of the Phone (1) and placed 900 LEDs beneath it. Let’s not beat around the bush – this is still ‘just’ an Android phone. It’s still rectangular. As many have pointed out, it even looks suspiciously iPhone-like.
But it isn’t an iPhone. Nor is it quite like any of the Android devices it joins. That see-through rear is interesting – far more interesting than the iPhone 14 can ever hope to be.
As it turns out, it’s super functional, too.
2. Notification LEDs aren’t yesteryear
Those 900+ LEDs are grouped together to form the symbol teased throughout the lead-up to the Nothing Phone (1) launch. A circle(ish) in the middle of the device is joined by two straight lines – one positioned vertically at the bottom of the phone, the other angled to the right at the top-right.
Even the camera lenses have received the LED treatment with a ring of cool white light circling them.
These LEDs have a few interesting features, and one of them is, well, a bit Blackberry. You see, the Nothing Phone (1) uses those LEDs as notification indicators. I’m with MKBHD on this one – it’s a useful, pleasing feature that shouldn’t have been lost on so many modern smartphones.
3. Glowing charging is cool
Oh come on – it is!
When you connect a charger to the Nothing Phone (1)’s charging port, the vertical line above acts as a battery status indicator. To avoid any form of sleep deprivation (presumably) it automatically switches off a short while after, but a quick jiggle of the phone brings the light back to life.
I love that. I also love the fact that, when you place an earbud charging case on the back of the phone for some reverse wireless charging action, the large white ring glows to confirm the charging status.
I want more glowing charging across all devices, please.
4. Ringtones are STILL cool
iPhone ringtones are as dull as the wallpaper selection in iOS. But the ringtones demonstrated in MKBHD’s video are really, really cool.
These ringtones not only sound interesting, but they kick those rear LEDs into life, too. As the Phone (1) beeps, burps, and skits its way through a bunch of different ringtone styles, the LEDs flash perfectly in sync.
How awesome is that?
Admittedly, this will probably result in more phone calls being missed while Nothing Phone (1) users admire the light show, but who cares?
5. Marketing hype is easy (kinda)
Apple’s marketing department is one of the best in the world. It features copywriting talent that continually sets the bar, product imagery that screams “BUY ME NOW”, and creates an entirely fabricated view of modern-day life to which you can’t help but aspire.
That stuff costs a lot of money, though, and I think it’s safe to assume that Apple’s marketing budget is somewhat larger than Nothing’s. Despite this, Nothing has built an impressive audience already, and the MKBHD hands-on joins a bunch of recent marketing efforts that have grabbed significant mind share in the tech space.
This is smart. It also shows that it’s relatively easy to generate marketing hype – if you know the right people. You simply start a company that is shrouded in mystery, tempt in some big-name investors, create a product that is interestingly different, tease it to the point where you frustrate people with the lack of detail, and pick one of the world’s biggest YouTubers to finally show it off. But not all of it.
Nothing has also been running an auction for the Phone (1), in which the first 100 to roll off the production line can be bought now, before launch, via StockX. This is another clever marketing tactic that continues to build the hype and adds that all-important scarcity factor that’ll get people flocking to the full launch.
The Nothing Phone (1) will be launched fully on July 12th and I’ll be getting one to try out as soon as I can. Full details on the device are still scarce, but I’ve heard rumours that the pricing is going to sit more within the ‘attainable’ category than many of the flagships. I hope that’s the case.
I’m more excited about the Phone (1) than I am about the iPhone 14, which I think is telling. As MKBHD rightly points out, the key to the success of this phone is whether or not it is different enough to draw fans of other brands to Nothing.
I can’t wait to find out.