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Here’s everything you need to know about the CMF Nothing Phone 1, a $200 modular smartphone from Carl Pei’s Nothing brand


TL;DR

CMF Nothing Phone 1: The Fun, Budget Modular Phone

What it does:

  • Budget smartphone with modular design
  • Allows for customizable back panels and accessories
  • Runs clean Android-based OS

Why it’s special:

  • Brings unique customization to budget segment
  • High-quality display for the price
  • Combines industrial design with modularity
  • Offers clean software experience uncommon in its price range


If you’re bored with the conventional approach to smartphone design and you can’t afford to spend four figures on a foldable phone, Carl Pei’s Nothing brand has something you’ll definitely want to see: a $200 modular phone. 

To be honest, this is one of the coolest things I’ve personally seen in a while. Modular phones aren’t a new concept – we have Fairphone, for instance – but one done at this ultra-low price point is very novel indeed. 

But is the CMF Nothing Phone 1 actually any good? Here’s literally everything you need to know about what is arguably one of the most interesting and novel phone releases of the year…

A Fresh, Modular Take on Smartphone Design Aimed Squarely At The Masses

CMF Nothing Phone 1: Everything You Need To KnowPin

The CMF Phone 1 immediately catches the eye with its industrial aesthetic. Exposed screws and a prominent dial on the back panel give it a distinctly prototype-like appearance.

If you’re a fan of industrial, almost brutalist design, the phone will appeal. It looks smart, slim, and has enough visual pizzazz to make it instantly recognisable as a CMF product – despite the fact CMF is a brand new brand. And that’s impressive, hats off to its designers. 

But the real innovation lies in its modularity. This is the area that will give the phone a much wider appeal than any other $200 smartphone on the market right now.

The CMF Nothing Phone 1 Come With Customizable Back Panels

You can remove the back cover by unscrewing five screws, including the distinctive dial. This allows for swapping between different colored panels, reminiscent of older phones like the Moto G series. While nostalgic, the process is more cumbersome than snap-on covers of the past.

The entire MO of this phone is its modular nature. You can switch the back panels and, thanks to its built in dial, attach a range of accessories (sold separately, of course). As a revenue tool, this is a genius idea: you pay $200 for the phone but, during its life time, you might pay just as much acquiring accessories. 

And A Range of Useful Modular Accessories Too

The dial serves a dual purpose, acting as an attachment point for accessories like stands, lanyards, and card holders.

It is a little gimmicky, I admit, but it is also extremely novel and people respond to novelty, especially when it is in the context of phones – we seldom see ANYTHING new anymore. 

As more and more accessories become available for the dial, the utility of the phone – theoretically – will increase, adding in more value to its users. 

CMF Nothing Phone 1 Accessories: The Complete List

CMF Nothing Phone 1: Everything You Need To KnowPin

Replaceable Back Covers

  • Available in four colors: Black, Light Green, Orange, and Blue
  • Black and Light Green have a matte plastic finish
  • Orange and Blue have a vegan leather finish

Card Case

  • Attaches magnetically to the phone’s back
  • Requires installation of a magnetic plate on the phone
  • Features a magnetic lid to secure contents

Lanyard Cable

  • Adjustable length
  • Neon orange rope design
  • Attaches to the phone like a satchel

Phone Stand

  • Collapsible design
  • Can be used in landscape and portrait orientations
  • Compatible with the card case

33W Fast Charger

  • Sold separately (not included with phone)
  • USB-C port
  • Charges the phone to 50% in 20 minutes, 100% in an hour

Pretty cool stuff, right? I mean some of them are definitely more useful than others, but the idea is great. I think given the price of this phone – $199 – and its specs, which we’ll get to in a second, plenty of people will be interested in trying one out. 

Specs at a Glance

ComponentSpecification
ProcessorMediaTek Dimensity 7300 (4 nm, octa-core)
RAM6/8 GB LPDDR4X
Storage128GB
Display6.7-inch Full HD+ AMOLED, 120Hz
Main Camera50 MP (Sony IMX 882)
Front Camera16 MP
Battery5,000mAh
Charging33W fast-charging, 5W reverse wired
SoftwareAndroid 14-based Nothing OS 2.6
Price$200

What Makes It Special

CMF Nothing Phone 1: Everything You Need To KnowPin

Clean Software Experience

Running Nothing OS 2.6 based on Android 14, the CMF Phone 1 offers a near-stock Android experience with minimal bloatware. This sets it apart from many budget devices laden with unwanted apps and heavy skins.

Impressive Display

The 6.7-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate is a standout feature at this price point, offering vibrant colors and smooth scrolling.

Modular Design

While not groundbreaking, the ability to customize the phone’s appearance and add accessories is unique in the budget segment. No one is doing anything quite like this at this price point. Add in the fact that its specs, while not flagship-grade, are still damn impressive and you’re looking at what could well be one of the best budget Android phones on the market in 2024 and beyond.

Pain Points It Addresses

There’s a million and one cheap Android phones available on the market right now. 99.9% of them – especially at this price point – are rubbish. You’ll get lag and hang when gaming and running apps, and the design language and materials used will be cheap and generally speaking pretty nasty. 

Looking at the CMF Nothing Phone 1, I don’t see any of these things. I see a phone that has had a lot of care and attention put into its design and its execution. And for a device that is retailing at $200, that is very rare. 

On top of this, like the Nothing Phone 1 and Nothing Phone 2, the CMF Nothing Phone 1 is pitched to address a series of “pain points” that many budget phone users have, and these are as follows: 

  1. Desire for customization in budget phones
  2. Need for a clean, bloatware-free software experience
  3. Demand for high-quality displays at lower price points

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Unique, customizable design
  • Clean software experience
  • Excellent display for the price
  • Decent battery life
  • Competitive pricing

Cons

  • Cumbersome process for changing back panels
  • Single speaker setup
  • Average camera performance
  • No charger included in the box
  • Potentially uncomfortable to hold due to design

Is The CMF Nothing Phone 1 Worth It?

CMF Nothing Phone 1Pin

There’s no getting around the fact that the CMF Nothing Phone 1 is a $199 smartphone. There is ALWAYS going to be concessions, most notably with the CPU and the camera tech. Will you get flagship-grade performance? No. Will its camera match the Galaxy S24 Ultra or iPhone 15 Pro Max’s? Of course it won’t. 

But for $199, you’re getting a hell of a lot of phone. Not only that, unlike those more expensive phones, it has its party piece: its modular component. And that, combined with its other impressive aspects, a 5000mAh battery, fast charging, and 120Hz display, is what you call punching well outside your weight class. 

For $199, I honestly don’t think you’ll find a more fun, novel, and better value for money phone on the market right now. Hats off to Carl Pei and the crew for this one, it is damn impressive what they’re doing with design at this price point – I have no idea how they’re selling this for so cheap given the R&D that must have gone into developing it. 

Stuff People Ask

CMF Nothing Phone 1 FAQs

Can I really change the back cover of the CMF Nothing Phone 1?
Yes, the phone features a user-replaceable back cover, allowing for customization.

Does the CMF Nothing Phone 1 support 5G?
Yes, it supports 5G connectivity.

What’s the battery capacity and does it support fast charging?
The phone has a 5000mAh battery and supports 33W wired fast charging.

Can I expand the storage?
Yes, the phone supports microSDXC cards for expandable storage.

What’s the quality of the main camera?
The main camera is a 50 MP sensor with PDAF, capable of capturing detailed photos.

Does it have a high refresh rate display?
Yes, it features a 120Hz AMOLED display for smooth scrolling and interactions.

What version of Android does it run?
The CMF Nothing Phone 1 runs on Android 14.

Is the phone water-resistant?
The phone is splash resistant, but not fully waterproof.

Can it record 4K video?
Yes, the rear camera can record 4K video at 30fps.

Does it have a fingerprint sensor?
Yes, it has an under-display optical fingerprint sensor.

What processor does it use?
It’s powered by the Mediatek Dimensity 7300 chipset.

Can it charge other devices?
Yes, it supports 5W reverse wired charging.


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