The Nothing Phone (1) is a smartphone that generated a lot of buzz ahead of launch last year, largely due to its pedigree: it’s the first phone from Nothing, a new startup that’s headed by former OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei.

While the Nothing Phone (1) wasn’t initially available in North America, Nothing has just launched a “beta membership” for US customers. Sign up now and you can get a Nothing Phone (1) for $299 and a chance to test the Android 13-based Nothing OS 1.5 beta ahead of release. But there’s some important fine print you might want to be aware of before joining the beta.

The Nothing Phone (1) is an interesting mix of mid-range, premium, and… unusual features. It has a 120 Hz AMOLED display, but a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ processor. It’s most distinctive feature is the LED light bars on the back that can be programmed to illuminate in different patterns.

While global customers can pick up black or white versions of the phone with up to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, the only model available to US beta customers is an entry-level black phone with 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage.

And while $299 isn’t a bad price for a phone with those specs, what you’re paying for is the exact same phone that’s sold to customers outside of the US… which means that it has limited support for US wireless network bands.

There’s some support for all major US wireless carriers. But there’s not complete coverage for any of them:

AT&TT-MobileVerizon
LTE bands2 / 4 / 5 / 12 / 17 / 26 / 662 / 4 / 5 / 12 / 26 / 662 / 4 / 5 / 66
5G bandsNot supportedN5 / N41Not supported
Other notesVoLTE and VoWiFi not supportedLimited 5G supportNeed to contact Verizon and provide IMEI number to activate

Nothing says that the United States wasn’t originally part of its launch plan for the Nothing Phone (1), but that the US is “set to be an important market” for the company. So this beta program appears to be a way of testing the waters in the US without, you know, actually offering hardware that’s fully compatible with US networks.

The company is also offering very limited support. There’s a 14-day return policy, but after those two weeks are up, the company will offer “no after-sales service” for to members of the beta program.

So what you get for $299 is a phone with decent specs, limited support for US networks, no support, and beta software (although you’ll be able to upgrade to Nothing OS 1.5 stable once it’s available). In other words, I’d only really consider buying this phone if you’re an AT&T or T-Mobile customers (or someone willing to use it as a WiFi-only device) interested in helping beta test a new phone and new software.

Nothing Phone (1) specs
Display6.55 inches
2400 x 1800 pixels
Flexible AMOLED (flat)
120 Hz
1200 700 nits peak brightness
HDR10+
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 778G+
RAM8GB / 12GB
Storage128GB / 256GB
Cameras50MP Sony IMX766 (rear, primary)
50MP Samsung JN1 (rear, ultrawide 114 degrees)
16MP Sony IMX471 (front)
Battery4,500 mAh
Charging33W (wired)
15W (wireless)
5W (reverse wireless)
Charger sold separately
Special featuresProgrammable LED light strips on the back
In-display fingerprint sensor
IP53 dust & water resistance
Dimensions159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3mm
Weight193.5 grams
Price8GB / 128GB for £399 (July 21)
8GB / 256GB for £449 (July 21)
12GB / 256GB for £499 (coming later)

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  1. I’m looking forward to the unpaid reviews. It could be a better all-round Android phone than the Pixel.

    1. For me, or anyone who’s adamant about Graphene OS being the only option for privacy and security, how good of an all-around phone it is would depend entirely on how much custom ROM support it has.

  2. If by “pedigree”, you mean “paying a lot of bloggers and news outlets to talk about it”, and “making cryptic videos that look like conspiracy or conspiracy theory videos” sure, it was largely those things that got it a lot of attention.

    1. This is spot on, the marketing campaign is no indication of actual interest in what is essentially a midrange phone with gimmicky light effects.

      1. Glad, I’m not the only one who thinks this.
        There’s no shortage of decent phones in the low-end (eg Samsung A22-5G) and (eg Samsung A52-S) midrange markets. Can’t say the same for the high-end market (eg Sony 5 mk IV). While the luxury-market (eg Samsung Fold Z4) be damned to do whatever it wants to.