Fantastic design is all a phone needs to thrive (1)

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To me, it feels like Nothing is trying to emulate Apple, and it won’t be the first Android manufacturer to do so. To its credit, the brand is doing something different in this segment, and that’s great to see. Ultimately, the success of the phone (1) will be down to two things: value and software. There are over a dozen great mid-range phones available today with little to no difference in the hardware or camera prowess, and Nothing has no recourse but to position its phone according to market conditions.

Nothing need a powerful overall design to stand out in a crowded field. Nothing is finally ready to introduce the phone after months of teasing (1). There is plenty to like about this scene based on what we have seen thus far: The LEDs on the rear give the design a distinct look, while the hardware is comparable to that of other mid-range phones. We don’t have to wait long to learn what’s in store because nothing has provided too many specifics about the software or the rest of the device.

Highlights

  • Nothing is instead turning to design as a differentiator, but that by itself isn’t enough to make the phone stand out. Where I think the brand can genuinely make its mark is the software. Right now, there’s a distinct lack of devices with a clean Android interface. OnePlus used to be the flagbearer for enthusiast users looking for a vanilla interface, but its integration with ColorOS changed that.

  • While Nothing is doing an Apple-esque job with marketing, the fact of the matter is that the phone (1) isn’t a premium device. Apple is able to command a premium for its phones because of its cachet; In most parts of the world, an iPhone is a status symbol. While Nothing did a good job generating interest for its device, it doesn’t have any cachet like that.

There aren’t enough brands that provide a clean Android interface, so there is a lot of potential for Nothing here. In short, there’s a lot of potential here. A lot of what Nothing is doing right now has parallels to OnePlus’s early days, and if it manages to deliver a clean UI without any bloatware, the phone (1) has a good shot at becoming a bestseller. As for what constitutes a good sales figure, Nothing’s estimates will be wildly different to Samsung. It’s easy to forget that Nothing is a year-old brand at this point, and while it has garnered a lot of attention in the last 12 months, its scale is miniscule against the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, and even Google’s hardware efforts.

There are only four manufacturers that still offer a clean UI without any customization: Google, Motorola, Nokia, and ASUS. Google doesn’t sell its hardware in most parts of the world — making it a moot option — and Motorola’s hardware is often lackluster, and its phones don’t get as many updates as the industry standard. Nokia, meanwhile, seems keen on releasing the same entry-level phone year after year, and while ASUS gets a lot right, it takes too long to bring its phones to the U.S. and other key markets.

For instance, if Samsung sold under a million units of the Galaxy A53, it would be considered a failure. But if the phone (1) came close to a million sales, it would be a landmark achievement for Nothing. After all, the ear (1) wireless earbuds only sold over 500k units over the course of the last year. Furthermore, Nothing needs to make sure it doesn’t run into the same hurdles that affect other smaller brands: availability and after-sales service. With Nothing undoubtedly going with smaller production runs, it needs to have adequate inventory of the phone (1) to meet initial demand, and it needs to have the after-sales service infrastructure ready to go by launch day.

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