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Nothing CEO Carl Pei took the virtual stage today to announce the company's very first smartphone, the phone (1). Following a rather buzzworthy debut of the company's wireless earbuds, the Nothing ear (1), last year, the ex co-founder of OnePlus is taking a swing at the smartphone market again -- particularly, at Apple.
"(Right now) there's no alternative to Apple. This means that consumers don't have a choice, innovation slows down, and that's not right," said Pei. To challenge the iPhone makers' bounded, walled-garden ecosystem of products, Nothing is set to launch the phone (1) later this year, while curating a seamless, integrative ecosystem with third-party products. What those third-party products entail remains unknown.
What we do know is a series of key features and specs of the phone (1) and when consumers can expect the Nothing smartphone to arrive in store shelves.
The phone (1) will operate on Nothing OS, layered on top of Android. Staying on brand, icons, widgets, and fonts will follow Nothing's dot-matrix design language -- as seen in the press images below. "Nothing OS captures the best features of pure Android, distilling the operating system to just the essentials, where every byte has a purpose. It is designed to deliver a fast, smooth, and personal experience," said Pei during the keynote. Clearly, the operating system -- like OnePlus' OxygenOS of early days, will provide a near-stock Android experience. Fans of Google's native launcher will be pleased to hear that the phone (1) likely won't carry much bloatware and unnecessary applications.
According to Nothing's press release, a first preview of Nothing OS will be made available to download and test on select smartphone models, starting in April.
Powering the Nothing phone (1) will be a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The two companies had announced a partnership back in October of last year, promising future tech products with Qualcomm's chips baked inside. Whether it's the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or the 2022 iteration of the flagship processor remains in question.
Software update policies continue to be point of emphasis for consumers and brands alike. During the keynote, Pei announced that the Nothing phone (1) will receive three years of OS updates and four years of security updates. Though not as competitive as Samsung and Apple's update standards, it's good to see that a company as new as Nothing is matching that of OnePlus and Google. The cadence and quality of updates is left in the air for the phone (1), but with its lightweight approach to Android, tuning the software should be less of an issue.
While little to nothing was disclosed about the hardware and outer appearance of the phone (1), it would come as no surprise if the device carried elements of Nothing's signature, transparent design language. Last year's ear (1) made headlines for its see-through finish, showing glimpses of the wiring and engineering intricacies that went into the earbuds. We expect nothing less from an industrial design standpoint with the company's first smartphone.
Nothing has yet to reveal the pricing of the phone (1) but did say that the device is expected to launch in Summer this year. Stay tuned to ZDNet for the latest updates on pricing and availability.