There are plenty of reasons to be excited for Nothing’s first smartphone release, the Phone 1. As Carl Pei’s first smartphone venture after leaving OnePlus, fans are expecting a return to those roots, and indeed, the company is using many of the same marketing/ hype tactics used by OnePlus in its early days. Nothing’s hype machine has been going at full steam since the phone’s existence was first confirmed. If you’re in the US and thinking about biting into Nothing’s marketing, tough luck — North American folks will not be able to buy this phone. In other words, instead of the Nothing Phone 1, you’re just getting… nothing.
This restriction was first spotted by Evan Blass, who pointed out on his Twitter account that few US bands are included in Nothing’s list of compatible carriers. Then, in a statement to PCMag, the company confirmed that the phone isn’t seeing a launch in the US or Canada — at least at first. Nothing says it’s mainly focusing on markets like the UK and Europe right now, and while you can try using the Phone 1 in the US, you’ll experience spotty coverage on T-Mobile and no VoLTE on AT&T. Verizon customers, meanwhile, are completely out of luck.
While we’d love to bring phone (1) to the entire community around the world, we’re focusing on home markets, including the UK and Europe, where we have strong partnerships with leading local carriers. It takes a lot to launch a smartphone as you know, from ensuring the handset is supported by the country’s cellular technologies to carrier partnerships and local regulation, and as we’re still a young brand we need to be strategic about it.
There is, however, a silver lining: Nothing also confirmed that it has plans to launch a US-supported phone in the future, but it’ll need proper carrier support before that can happen. A limited number of the company’s private community investors will also be able to get their hands on the Phone 1 in the US through a closed beta program, but it doesn’t sound like most people will be able to take part in this opportunity.
We have big plans to launch a US supported smartphone in the future. For now, a limited number of our private community investors in the US will be able to get their hands on phone (1) through a closed beta program. In the meantime, if readers really want phone (1) to be available in the US as soon as possible, they should call their carrier to let them know about us.
It’s disappointing news for sure, especially after the company enlisted the help of US-based creators like Marques Brownlee to help with its marketing efforts. While carrier compatibility holding back US phone releases is definitely nothing new — after all, it’s the reason why many phones from companies like Xiaomi and Realme are a nightmare to use in the US — it’s not like that ever stopped Carl Pei. The OnePlus 6T was the first OnePlus phone to be compatible with a US carrier (T-Mobile), but before that, all of its older phones were sold in the US in an unlocked flavor, right down to the inaugural OnePlus One.
Then again, Carl Pei doesn’t have a giant Chinese conglomerate backing him up this time around, and this is the company’s very first smartphone release. Seeing how hard it is to get US network compatibility right, it’s not overly surprising. Given how strong Nothing’s hype game has been, this news will surely break some hearts.
We’ve reached out to Nothing about this, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.