After months of teasers, Nothing is finally ready to reveal the phone (1). Based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s a lot to like here: the design is unique thanks to the LEDs on the back, and the hardware is on par with other mid-range phones. Nothing hasn’t shared too many details about the software itself or the rest of the device, but we don’t have to wait long to find out what’s in store.
It looks to me like Nothing is trying to emulate Apple, and it won’t be the first Android manufacturer to do so. To their credit, the brand is doing something different in this segment, and that’s great to see. Ultimately, the phone’s success (1) will be due to two things: value and software. There are over a dozen great mid-range phones available today with little to no difference in hardware or camera prowess, and the Nothing has no other recourse than to position its phone according to market conditions.
While Nothing is doing Apple-style marketing work, the fact is that the phone (1) is not a premium device. Apple is able to command a premium for its phones because of their prestige; In most parts of the world, an iPhone is a status symbol. While Nothing has done a good job of generating interest for your device, it doesn’t have any cachet like that.
Nothing is turning to design as a differentiator, but that alone isn’t enough to make the phone stand out. Where I think branding can really make its mark is in software. At the moment, there is a clear lack of devices with a clean Android interface. OnePlus used to be the flag bearer for enthusiast users looking for a vanilla interface, but its integration with ColorOS has changed that.
(Image credit: Nothing)
There are only four manufacturers that still offer a clean user interface without any customization: Google, Motorola, Nokia and ASUS. Google doesn’t sell its hardware in most parts of the world – making it a debatable option – and Motorola’s hardware is generally mediocre, and its phones don’t get as many updates as the industry standard. Meanwhile, Nokia seems keen to release the same entry-level phone year after year, and while ASUS gets it right, it takes a long time to bring its phones to the US and other key markets.
There aren’t enough brands that provide a clean Android interface, so there’s a lot of potential for Nothing here.
In short, there is a lot of potential here. Much of what Nothing is doing now has parallels to the early days of OnePlus, and if it manages to provide a clean user interface without any bloatware, the phone (1) has a good chance of becoming a bestseller.
As for what constitutes a good number of sales, Nothing’s estimates will be very different from Samsung’s. It’s easy to forget that Nothing is a one-year mark at this point, and while it’s received a lot of attention over the past 12 months, its scale is minuscule compared to Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, and even Google’s hardware efforts.
For example, if Samsung sold less than a million units of the Galaxy A53, it would be considered a failure. But if the phone (1) got close to a million sales, it would be a landmark achievement for Nothing. After all, wireless in-ear headphones (1) only sold over 500,000 units over the past year.
(Image credit: Nothing)
Also, Nothing needs to ensure that it doesn’t run into the same obstacles that other smaller brands do: availability and after-sales service. With Nothing undoubtedly happening with smaller productions, it needs to have adequate phone inventory (1) to meet initial demand, and it needs to have the after-sales service infrastructure ready to go on launch day.
Nothing has to be delivered either in other areas, including after-sales service.
I’ve been reviewing phones for a little over eight years, and in that time I’ve broken half a dozen devices (not a bad average considering how I use phones). The first was the Xiaomi Mi 3; I bought the device the day it was released in India in July 2014 and it was delivered two days later. In my eagerness to switch to the device, I broke the SIM card tray – it had a mini-SIM slot and I was using a Micro-SIM at the time (Nexus 4).
While I used a SIM cutting tool, the SIM card did not fit perfectly in the box and I had to take it to a service center to have the unit replaced. There was only one problem; no one had heard of Xiaomi at the time, and since it was an online-only brand in those years, there were no stores where I could get the Mi 3. Xiaomi partnered with a local service provider, but as the phone had just be released, they didn’t have the necessary parts.
Of course, a lot has changed in this area in the last eight years, but few brands pay attention to after-sales service. Nothing needs to do this right, and while it has a fledgling list of in-ear-configured service centers (1), it’s not as extensive as other brands.
I think the phone (1) could stand out in a crowded category that features the Pixel 6a, Galaxy A53, Realme GT Neo 3, and Nord 2T. Nothing has managed to create much interest in the device, and now comes the hard part: actually delivering a phone that meets your expectations.