Ignore the haters, Nothing phone (1)'s light-up backplate is pure Android phone drama

At a surprise mini event in Germany, Nothing gave us a closer look at its phone (1)

Nothing phone (1) Android phone on black background
(Image credit: Rafael Zeier / YouTube)

If you're looking for the best Android phone then you might need to wait a beat before buying a Samsung Galaxy S22 because the Nothing phone (1) is coming.

Nothing have made something of a name for themselves by releasing the widely praised Nothing Ear (1) earbuds, which featured a lovely design and great audio, putting them against Apple's AirPods Pro for the best wireless earbuds.

We didn't expect to see the Nothing phone (1) until July 12, when an event is scheduled to take place, but founder and CEO Carl Pei decided to reveal (opens in new tab) the physical design of the device early, citing the risk of leaks.

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But the fun didn't stop there because Nothing secretly gave an exclusive launch event in Germany, inviting select YouTubers to look at phone (1) in person.

One of the lucky few was Rafael Zeier, who released a video (opens in new tab) giving his thoughts on the phone (1) and showing us perhaps its most unique feature: a flashing back LED. YouTuber Das kann was (opens in new tab) was also there to give their impressions. 

We've created a GIF below to show you how that looks in practice. 

Nothing phone 1

(Image credit: Dan Kann Was / YouTube)

Ahead of the crowd 

It's not secret that the Android smartphone landscape is very, very crowded, which makes offering something unique pretty difficult, especially for a relatively affordable price.

Over the past few years we've been serious innovation with curved and folding displays – even if it didn't always work well in practice – that offer something above and beyond the traditional iPhone 13 design. 

Some people on Twitter quipped (opens in new tab) that the Nothing phone (1) was essentially an iPhone with the back removed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

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Adding some flashing LEDs on the back might not seem like a game changer (and it almost certainly won't increase sales) but it does demonstrate a willingness to think outside the typical Android smartphone box. 

What purpose the LEDs service is also up for debate – we'll know more when T3 receives a review unit – but there are plenty of cool tricks that could be pulled, as well as the obvious ones like notifications. 

Too soon to tell 

Ultimately, it's too soon to tell whether the Nothing phone (1) is the refined Android enthusiast's dream or not, especially without access to the full spec sheet. 

There's a lot of hype around this smartphone, which is a good thing for an Android smartphone trying to break through the noise. 

All will be revealed by Carl Pei on July 12, giving us a proper look at what could well be the best new Android smartphone on the market coming from a company that isn't named Google or Samsung. 

There is almost certainly a gap in the market for a smartphone with iPhone design sensibilities that runs a clean version of Android. The remaining pieces are battery life, camera quality, and all of the difficult-to-know things.  

But in the 25 days between now and July 12, we think the Nothing phone (1) looks pretty cool and offers something a little bit special and different. 

Max Slater-Robins has written for T3 now on and off for over half a decade, with him fitting in serious study at university in between. Max is a tech expert and as such you'll find his words throughout T3.com, appearing in everything from reviews and features, to news and deals. Max is specifically a veteran when it comes round to deal hunting, with him seeing out multiple Black Friday campaigns to date.