The much-anticipated Nothing Phone goes on sale next month (12 July), and its design has been officially revealed a bit early in order to beat the rumour factory. Company founder Carl Pei, who co-founded OnePlus, wants Nothing to stand out from the best Samsung Galaxy phones and best iPhones; looking at the design it definitely stands out, but I don't feel like I'm looking at a hit.
It's interesting, though. While the stripped-down design reminds me very much of those photographic iPhone 13 cases that show the phone's innards, the lighter areas are actually strips that illuminate. That's nifty, but the design itself feels very techy; very "I built my PC with a window so you can see the GPUs"; very... male. And I'm not sure that's what the market wants right now.
Can you judge a phone by its cover?
Phones are as much about fashion as they are about tech, so while I'm still very interested in the Nothing Phone's specs – which so far are still unknown beyond an unspecified Qualcomm Snapdragon and wireless charging, so it's still possible that they'll be amazing – I'm not feeling this one's design. As I wrote previously, "Nothing's goal is to effectively do what Apple or Dyson does: to have a suite of products with a very distinct visual identity, and to stand out in a market that's becoming increasingly homogenous." But to me this doesn't look like an Apple or a Dyson; it looks very much like one of the best gaming phones.
Don't get me wrong. Gaming phones are great. But if you're looking to make a big splash with a smartphone, the mass market is where it's at. And when you look at our guide to the best phones – which are generally the best-selling mass market phones too – every one's a looker as well as having a serious specification. They're phones that make you smile, that you're happy to show off, that you choose to express something about yourself, that make you feel something. And looking at this design, I'm not feeling anything.