The Nothing Phone 1’s LEDs do much more than you expected Digital trends


The Nothing Phone is set to debut on July 1, but Tech YouTuber Marquez Brownlee (aka MKBHD) has already reached out to the device and given us a glimpse of its marquee feature – the signature LED lighting pattern on the back. It is said that more than 900 separate LED lights have been installed under the transparent glass panel.

Many hoped that the LED real estate was nothing more than a dazzling advertisement. In fact, thanks to a dedicated dashboard for a complete setup, there is a healthy dose of customization with which you can tinker.

Nothing calls it a glyph interface, and it does provide some functional touch instead of just serving as a standout design element. To get started, users can adjust the brightness level of the LED array at the bottom of the transparent rear panel. In addition to turning on the lights for notifications, LED strips can be configured to flicker for Google Assistant responses.

Nothing makes the phone look different

Depending on the shape and placement of the LED line, it has a proximal functional aspect. For example, the G-shaped strip around the wireless charging coil is illuminated when the phone is juiced wirelessly. Similarly, an accessory wireless charging, like a wireless earbud, also triggers the LED.

When a USB-C cable is plugged in to charge, the exclamation mark-shaped LED line at the bottom comes alive in all its radiant splendor. The most interesting part is that the small vertical strip acts as an indicator of charging progress. Although it is not illuminated for the entire duration of charging. When the phone is idle while charging, the LEDs turn off, but if you shake it slightly, the LEDs light up.

When using the camera app the whole LED array collectively doubles as a light fill and it seems bright enough. This is a neat feature and should be effective for capturing low light photos and videos – especially in close range.

Customizability goes deeper than just visual signals. There are 10 ringtones, each with its own unique pattern to illuminate the LED strips in harmony with the melody. So, if one of these ringtones is set for an emergency contact or family member, users will be able to know who is calling them through the LED’s signature flashing pattern without turning the phone over. LED lighting patterns also vary on a per-app basis.

While the Nothing Phone 1 isn’t the first smartphone to embrace transparent aesthetics, the Carl Pay-led startup is certainly making the most of its LEDs and lending it a functional direction. But in doing so, nothing raises doubts about the whole package.

Case study

ঐ What LEDs are the only standout feature, aside Nothing separator OS launcher experience? The design already has some obvious iPhone 12 inspiration, but can it actually take on Apple devices when it comes to raw firepower and experience, especially in areas like camera skills? In the end, the design can only go so far.

Nothing Phone 1 MKBHD
Credit: MKBHD / YouTube

Apple also chased down the compact phone with the ‘Mini’ series, but practical failures such as bad battery life have reportedly forced Apple to shut it down after just two generations. Nothing seems to be focusing on the standout design of the Phone 1, but it can be a great backfire if the real phone experience is irresistible.

As my colleague Michael Allison put it, “It doesn’t create anything for people who aren’t interested in having a case on their phone.” For those people, Nothing Phone 1 looks incredible. But if you prefer to use a case and not think about flashing the LED, the argument for Nothing Phone 1 is still hard to see.

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