OPINION: The jury is still out regarding the quality of the Phone (1) compared to its peers, but its launch has undeniably shaken things up.
Without fail, there are always a few days of the year that cause everyone in the smartphone industry to stop and take note; the upcoming launch of the iPhone 14 will surely be one of them, and the launch events for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the unveiling of Android 13 were also highly noteworthy. However, these much-awaited days are penciled into the calendar years in advance so that to quote an unusually poetic James Bond villain, they can seem to “appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.”
While the products themselves do tend to be impressive, they are still variations on the same theme that we’ve been hearing for a long time, and so don’t quite give us the thrill of the new; usually the names, designs, and even many of the internals can be confidently predicted from one year to the next.
That’s why one of the year’s pleasant surprises has been this week’s launch of the Nothing Phone (1), which is the first smartphone to be released by the London-based start-up, and remarkably it has already achieved similar levels of interest as usually enjoyed only by Apple’s latest and greatest product unveilings.
Whether you’re a fan of its unique design aesthetic, as is my colleague Tom Deehan, or if you’re a bit more sceptical about whether or not it can really deliver the goods, as is my colleague Alastair Stevenson, the point is that this product has got people talking like few others have managed to achieve in recent memory.
This effect not been limited to just the four walls of our office of course, but rather to all four corners of the globe, as the same debates have been raging back and forth on social media, with fans and detractors alike getting stuck into the thick of the action (and even the brand’s co-founder Carl Pei has been weighing in, with apparent glee).
All this talking is a very good thing for the market in general, which can sometimes seem to coast along based on received wisdom rather than taking many daring steps into the unknown (at least in recent years). The launch of this device has prompted us to ask each other interesting questions – such as how important innovative design can be to a smartphone’s appeal, whether a flagship chipset is really necessary for our performance needs, and how much value for money you can find in today’s mid-range handsets.
For industries to continue to break new ground, then it’s important that discussions like this don’t cease, but intensify, as consumers wonder aloud where they can best spend their money. If the conclusion is that they do indeed want (literally) flashy handsets, or that flagships are redundant as the mid-range marches on, then we could be in for a few interesting years as the market changes itself to suit these new tastes.
Our full review of the Nothing Phone (1) will be published shortly, after we’ve had the time to put it through our rigourous reviews process to find out just how good it really is. That’s when we’ll have the last word and tell you whether it’s just a curious novelty, or if it truly is worth your hard-earned cash. In the meantime, though, it’s been a pleasure to see the excitement caused by something completely different arriving on the scene, and stirring up passions across the board like nothing else we’ve seen for quite some time.