Some years ago, OnePlus, once the champion of a clean, near stock Android experience, and known for its flagship killer phones, began a shift away from that framework. Most especially, the new OxygenOS is so far removed from the near stock experience that OnePlus fans loved. Today, the traditional fanbase of OnePlus no longer recognise the brand that they used to love. But a new brand has risen to fill that gap. Nothing is the new OnePlus, and it is clear why.
In October 2020, Carl Pei, the co-founder of OnePlus and director of the company’s global operations left the firm to start a new technology brand, called Nothing Technologies. With its operational base in the United Kingdom, Nothing embodies everything that OnePlus used to stand for.
Topmost of that is the concept of a lean and clean software experience that feature minimal bloat, that is as close to stock Android as much as possible, and that offers timely software updates. The Nothing Phone (1) embodies this well. Forget the lights on the back of the phone (which served as a great marketing tool – and a successful one, too). Once you get past the gimmicks, what you will find in using Nothing Phone (1) is the soul of the OxygenOS that we used to love.
Nothing OS (1) is the next best thing to the software in a Google Pixel right now. That used to be OxygenOS in OnePlus Phones (and also the Essential Phone, and guess who acquired what was left of Essential in 2021 – yes, Nothing Technologies). Are you connecting the dots? I remember that the Essential Phone (1) was also the only Android phone that got Android updates the very same day that Pixel phones got them. Same day, not a week later. Not two days later. The same day.
As I type this, news is out that Nothing is about releasing Android 14 Beta 1 update for the Phone (1). Impressive. The UK company is clearly aiming to fill the shoes of both the old OnePlus and the now defunct Essential. And it is doing a fine job of it so far. But what of the hardware? Is Nothing able to match what OnePlus used to offer by way of flagship killers, or the premium flagship grade that the Essential Phone (1) also offered? Psst: See the similarities in the phone naming schemes of Essential and Nothing? Yup.
As far as the first model from Nothing Technology is concerned, it didn’t even come close. OnePlus flagship killers were mid-range phones that offered similar performance to premium flagships and at a much lower price. Essential’s Phone (1) was a full-blown premium flagship. In contrast, Nothing Phone (1) is strictly a mid-range smartphone. Full stop.
I am not a fan of the gimmicky lighting, though I understand that it served its purpose in drumming up publicity for the phone. But its successor, Nothing Phone 2, is a totally different beast, if the leaked info we have are anything to go by. It is expected to show up with a more powerful chipset to provide performance that is closer to flagship grade. Add 12GB of RAM and other high-end specs, and the becoming of Nothing is finally completed.
Nothing Phone 2 will capture the full essence of OnePlus and Essential in one device, and I am itching to see what this will look like. Also, US mobile consumers who felt disappointed that the Phone 1 was not officially launched in the United States can relax and look forward to better times: Nothing Phone 2 will change that this year.
With Google still messing up the Pixel lineup with overheating issues, Android purists deserve an alter active brand to look to for a clean and smooth user experience in an Android phone. It looks like something fantastic is coming their way from Nothing Technologies. Yes, Nothing is the new OnePlus and Essential wrapped up in one.