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Nothing will debut its first smartphone on July 12

Nothing has branded the launch event as Nothing (event): Return to Instinct.

nothing phone 1 teaser logo
Image: Nothing

Nothing — the consumer electronics startup founded by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei — will debut its first smartphone next month.

The secretive company plans to showcase the Nothing Phone 1 on July 12 in London. Nothing has branded the launch event as “Nothing (event): Return to Instinct”.

As consumer electronics brands go, few are as unusual as Nothing. The company has used intrigue and self-deprecating humor as a marketing technique. It is deliberately enigmatic.

What we know so far about the Nothing Phone 1

Nothing’s secrecy — combined with Pei’s sky-high profile — ensures every launch is preceded by a crescendo of enthusiasm and speculation.

The Nothing Phone 1 is no exception. Very little is known about the product, although Nothing has drip-fed the public with details.

READ MORE: Nothing shows off its first phone a month early

We know it’ll tout a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor — although the exact model is unknown. The Nothing Phone is expected to cost €500 (roughly $600), so we’re hardly in flagship territory.

The phone will run a heavily-customized version of Android 11, dubbed (of course) the Nothing OS. We saw a sneak-peak of this last month following the beta release of the Nothing OS launcher.

If you’re curious, you can download it from the Google Play store here.

READ MORE: The Nothing Phone 1 isn’t coming to America

Perhaps most interesting of all, the Nothing Phone 1 breaks with convention in its industrial design, using a fully transparent chassis. This mimics last year’s Nothing Ear (1) earbuds, and doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Nothing has inked exclusive distribution deals in the UK, Europe, and India. Telekom Deutschland and O2 Virgin Media have exclusive rights in the UK and Germany respectively. Indian consumers can buy the device through Flipkart. US availability remains unknown, however.

Behind the buzz

nothing founder carl pei
Image: Nothing

READ MORE: Nothing opens preorders for its Phone 1, but there’s a catch

At the tender age of 23, Carl Pei founded OnePlus in 2013 with former OPPO vice-president Pete Lau. The company — a wholly-owned subsidiary of BKK Electronics, which also owns Vivo and Realme — initially targeted the Android enthusiast market.

OnePlus’ first device — the OnePlus One — mixed flagship capabilities and developer friendliness, but at the cost of a mid-range smartphone.

It was a runaway success, helped by the fact that it cost half the leading Android flagship at the time, Samsung’s Galaxy S5. OnePlus rapidly emerged as a leading smartphone brand following that.

It’s not entirely known why Pei left OnePlus in 2020. The Internet rumor mill speculated, of course. One theory suggested Pei fell out with Lau. Another argued Pei had become disillusioned with OnePlus’ gradual drift from its original vision to make enthusiast-friendly phones.

Pei has remained coy about departure, although he has dismissed rumors about a spat with his co-founder. In an interview with Wired, Pei said he left OnePlus to explore his creative vision.

“I still feel like I have a lot of creativity within me, but I still love tech and I have some new ideas I wanted to try out,” he said.

“OnePlus is a really large company, compared to where we were when we were just started. And once the company is larger, you’re kind of set in your strategy. So, by turning a blank page, I can be a lot more creative with what I choose to spend my time on.”

About Nothing

nothing ear (1) headphones with copulating ladybirds
Image: Nothing

Pei’s looming profile in the consumer electronics world allowed him to easily find investors for his new venture.

Nothing’s first seed round — made before the company had even revealed its name — raised $7m. Early investors included iPod inventor Tony Fadell, Casey Neistat, and Reddit CEO Steve Huffman.

In the months since, Nothing raised an additional $145m. The company also acquired the remains of Essential Products — the failed smartphone startup created by Android co-founder Andy Rubin.

Pei formally introduced the company to the public on January 27, 2021. Perhaps to his chagrin, the company’s name was revealed by publicly-accessible business registration records two months prior.

Nothing’s first product — the Nothing Ear 1 — debuted in early 2021. Its launch strategy mirrored the first OnePlus One phone, with the first shipments sold directly to consumers in limited waves, including through an invite-only purchase system.

Critical reception was largely positive, with reviewers praising the design and expansive feature set, but underwhelmed by the okay-but-not-outstanding audio quality and battery life.

Nothing’s approach to consumer electronics centers on a wider ecosystem, with its components working together harmoniously. With that in mind, it plans to release a slew of smart home devices in the near future. Details about these are — as you’d expect — thin.

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Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Past work can be found on The Register, Forbes, The Next Web, and Business Insider.

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