What a surprise

Nothing reveals Phone (1) design before leakers do

A month ahead of its July 12 event, Nothing surprise dropped an image of the Phone (1)’s transparent design.

Nothing is not waiting for leakers to spoil its first smartphone, the Phone (1). Carl Pei’s tech startup — makers of the transparent Ear (1) wireless earbuds — decided to catch everyone by surprise today with a full-blown image of the rear of the Phone (1).

The image, shared on Nothing’s Twitter and Instagram accounts shows off the Phone (1)’s transparent backside and confirms the teaser shapes and symbols are indeed outlines for components such as the camera and the wireless charging coil. “Bold. Warm. Full of soul. A return to instinct. This is phone (1),” reads the accompanying text for the Phone (1).

Confirmed: The Phone (1) is transparent.Nothing / Instagram

Last week, Nothing announced a virtual event for July 12 where the Phone (1) was expected to make its official debut, but it looks like Pei and the company are firing up the hype machine early. As I always say, Pei’s social media savvy is one of his greatest strengths when it comes to launching products.

“Leaks are harder to contain nowadays and many of you have been waiting for a long time,” tweeted Pei. “So here it is. This is phone (1) design. More to come. Tune in on 12 July.”

On Tuesday, Pei tweeted “The essence of marketing: Don't tell me what to feel and just make me feel it.” Springing the Phone (1) a month ahead of its official launch event definitely made us feel something — we weren’t expecting a complete look at the rear.‌‌

Is there room for the Phone (1)? — That is the question. Apple and Samsung dominate mobile worldwide; the latest iPhone 13 and Galaxy S22 are the pinnacles of smartphones. Can a new startup like Nothing break into such a saturated and competitive market with the Phone (1)?

A semi-transparent design might have worked for $100 Ear (1) wireless earbuds, but a smartphone is not an accessory, and it comes with a higher sticker price. The Phone (1) distinguishes itself from other devices with its see-through backside, but most people tend to slap a case over their phones. Perhaps Nothing is betting that people won’t cover up the Phone (1), but attractive hardware is only half of why people choose a particular phone model.

Software is equally important to a good phone. We know that the Phone 1 runs Android, customized with NothingOS, Nothing’s own launcher. But how much differentiation can tweaks to Android’s stock UI really provide? Google’s stock Android experience is “pure” and “clean” yet that hasn’t convinced more people to buy a Pixel over a Samsung Galaxy phone.

Pei’s work at OnePlus gives him some credibility when it comes to building a complete smartphone experience. Can he do it again with the Phone (1)?

We’ve got a full breakdown of everything we know about the Phone (1) that includes all of the tech specs and features that Nothing has announced. We’ve got our calendar marked for July 12, but something tells us to keep a close eye on the company’s social media accounts. This is only the start of the marketing blitz.