Nothing Looks to the Us for the Next Phone Launch: Tech firm Nothing, created by Carl Pei of OnePlus fame, aspires to compete with Apple’s flagship device. Simply having the phone manufacturer distribute its product in the United States would satisfy us.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to Pei’s (oddly called) follow-up act, Nothing. Pei is the co-founder of the Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus. The Nothing Phone (1), the company’s first smartphone, was released earlier this year, but in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe rather than the United States.
However, this may soon alter. Pei told CNBC (opens in new tab) that “early negotiations” have begun with U.S. carriers about carrying Nothing’s phones. While Pei has yet to name names or provide a timeline for any announcement, a partnership between Nothing and a wireless carrier would be a significant step toward future gadgets becoming available in the United States.
But even if that scenario plays out, Nothing still has an uphill battle before it can make Apple sweat. However, Americans would appreciate any development that increases their options for the greatest Android phones currently available.
Why it never made it to the United States, phone (1): Silence
According to Pei, there’s no big secret behind the decision to not release the Nothing Phone (1) in the United States when the business first announced it earlier this year. “The reason we didn’t launch in the U.S. is that you need a lot of additional technical support, to support all the carriers and their specific adaptations that they need to do on top of Android,” he explained to CNBC. “At the time, we didn’t think we were prepared.”
With no access to the American market, the Nothing Phone (1) yet managed to do well for a first-time product from a startup. The Nothing, according to what Pei told CNBC, has sold 500,000 units. There are currently 1,000,000 Nothing items in circulation, including the 600,000 Ear (1) and Ear (stick) earphones sold by the company (both of which are readily available in this area).
If the company’s exploratory talks with carriers conclude in a deal, the release of a Nothing phone in the United States might conceivably increase those figures. Even though there is no shortage of options when it comes to picking out a top-notch unlocked phone, the vast majority of consumers still buy their phones from wireless service providers. Companies that produce mobile devices but aren’t partnered with a U.S. carrier sometimes find it difficult to gain widespread attention for their products.
To appreciate the role of carriers in the U.S. smartphone market, consider Pei’s previous employer, OnePlus. However, it wasn’t until the OnePlus 6T became available through T-Mobile in 2018 that OnePlus products became viable alternatives to more established handsets and earned the company’s “flagship killer” moniker.
The problem that Nothing must solve
As competitive as the U.S. smartphone market is, it is still overshadowed by two giants: Apple and Samsung. Based on data from Counterpoint Research, Apple and Samsung accounted for 78% of all smartphones sold in the United States during the second quarter of this year (opens in new tab). If a Nothing phone ever made it to the United States, it wouldn’t be challenging Apple’s position in the market, but rather contending for the remaining 20% share against companies like Google, OnePlus, and Motorola.
In order to make a splash in the United States, Nothing’s next smartphone will need to be more refined than the Nothing (1). The mid-range phone, which competes with the likes of the iPhone SE 2022 and the Pixel 6a, is available for £399 and has a lot going for it.
To start with the good news: As one of the few new phones to arrive in the past year with a really unique design, the Nothing Phone (1) stands out from the crowd. The back of the phone is covered in curving glyphs that give it a unique look. However, the LED lights within the glyphs serve a practical use as well: they signal when you have incoming calls or notifications. Individual callers can be singled out by adjusting their own unique light patterns. It’s a novel strategy that’s helped the Nothing Phone (1) breakthrough.
Sadly, that’s all there is to the advances. Battery life was greater on Nothing’s phone than on many midrange models we’ve tested recently, but overall performance was lackluster, and the camera quality lagged below that of other top smartphones. We compared the Nothing Phone (1) to Google’s Pixel 5a, so we can only presume that the difference between the two cameras has expanded since then, thanks to the upgrades Google made to its successor, the Pixel 6a.
As far as the United States is concerned, nothing is happening.
That leaves Nothing with two improvements it can make to the Nothing Phone (2) in order to make it more appealing to consumers, especially in the United States. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be occurring anytime soon, regardless of whether or not a carrier partner arises.
Phone (2) isn't launching anytime soon. We're focused on doing a few things well, and won't churn out dozens of products a year like many others.
Phone (1) is our main focus. We're cooking something really great in terms of software, Android 13 and beyond.
— Carl Pei (@getpeid) December 5, 2022
After his interview with CNBC, Pei sent a tweet(opens in new tab) in which he hinted that a successor to the Phone (1) was not on the horizon. According to a tweet from Pei, the second-generation iPhone won’t be available any time soon. To paraphrase, “We won’t churn out dozens of goods a year like many others; instead, we’re focused on producing a few things well.”
That’s great news for Nobody and its potential U.S. users, as it gives the company more time to focus on enhancing the next phone and bringing a U.S. carrier on board. There’s no doubt that Nothing has a long road ahead of it.
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