Phones

Nothing’s CMF Phone 1 Goes Where the iPhone Wouldn’t Dare

A phone that’s meant to be taken apart? What a concept!

CMF Phone 1 in light green, blue, orange, and black
CMF

Nothing, the British consumer electronics company, is making some of the most thoughtful phones money can buy today. From the Nothing 2, the most refreshing smartphone release of 2023, to the Ear A, headphones that are an unbeatable value, the company has shown us that the market for electronics innovations isn’t entirely cornered — and doesn’t have to break the bank. Now, Nothing is showing us how low it can go with its first-ever truly budget phone, courtesy of its subbrand, CMF.

The CMF Phone 1, as it’s been dubbed, isn’t just a pricebuster (it’s just $200), but it upends the off-the-shelf model so many of us take as a given. Here’s a phone that begs to be tinkered with, customized, and made exactly to user specs.

Introducing The CMF Phone 1

Probably the biggest and most notable feature of CMF’s $200 Phone 1 is the actual shell the phone’s guts are housed in. More specifically, the fact that it can be easily removed is something that might boggle the mind of the average smartphone user today.

Turns out that scroll wheel on the back of the CMF Phone 1, which was teased last month, isn’t a scroll wheel at all — it’s actually a big screw. By removing the screw and a few others on the back of the CMF Phone 1 using a provided screwdriver, owners of the CMF Phone 1 are able to swap out the shell of their phone for other ones with different colors.

Not feeling CMF’s characteristic bold orange? Just remove the case and swap in a light green, blue, or black one. Sure, you can kind of do the same thing with a regular old phone case, but where’s the fun in that?

It’s time to accessorize.

CMF

The modularity doesn’t stop there: CMF is also offering accessories that can be attached via the phone’s “Accessory Point.” Those accessories include a kickstand as well as a card case and lanyard attachment for those times when you want to hang your phone around your neck like a piece of jewelry.

Prices for the accessories are as follows:

  • Case: $35
  • Stand: $25
  • Card Case: $25
  • Lanyard: $25

As CMF notes, the ability to swap out shells through easily removable screws isn’t just good for those of us who want to change up the aesthetic every once in a while, it also makes the CMF Phone 1 much easier to repair. While companies like Apple have taken small steps in giving consumers modest rights to repair their phones, nobody has gone anywhere near as far as Nothing’s CMF.

While the modularity is the standout feature, the CMF Phone 1 is a fairly solid phone on paper. The CMF Phone 1 has a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz adaptable refresh rate and 2,000 nits of peak brightness.

A rear-facing camera module has two lenses — a 50-megapixel main lens and a portrait sensor with 2x zoom. The CMF Phone 1 can also record 4K video and comes with a few nice-to-haves including slo-mo and 4K timelapse.

An inside look — literally.

CMF

As a budget phone, there’s no Qualcomm Snapdragon, but instead, the Mediatek Dimensity 7300 5G is powering the device. Having tested Nothing’s Phone 2a, which also has a MediaTek chipset, I’m fairly certain it should be enough to smoothly do most everything your average person needs on a day-to-day phone.

The CMF Phone 1 should have some longevity, too, thanks to a 5,000 mAh battery that also supports 33W fast charging. CMF says its phone should be able to charge from 0 to 50 percent in 20 minutes while using a fast charger.

The Budget Is In Beta

If Nothing’s Phone 2a is making the midrange segment of smartphones exciting, then CMF is promising to do the same for the more budget end of the spectrum.

Clearly, budget phones don’t have to be barebones, in fact, they might even have some real character. Sure, you don’t need a kickstand accessory for your phone, but having the option — and one that is designed to fully fit the aesthetic of your phone — is convenient.

If you’re reading this in the U.S., there is one notable downside, which is that the CMF Phone 1 is only available via the company’s beta program, so you won’t be able to snag this at your local Verizon store. Additionally, if you do get your hands on one via the beta program, you’ll only be able to get 5G access via T-Mobile — Verizon and AT&T’s network will limit you to 4G.

Accessibility aside, the CMF Phone 1 is an interesting proposition for anyone who’s looking for a cheap phone that can still have some fun.

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