The Nothing Phone 1’s Glyph interface might be hot air, but it could be all it needs to succeed

Nothing has dripple-fed us with more and more details on its elusive first smartphone over the last few months. We basically already know all about it, safe for some specification details. This strategy accumulated in an exclusive MKBHD hands-on video presenting the Phone 1’s unique Glyph interface on the back, showing off how a number of strategically placed LED strips pulse, flash, and light up to give you unique notification lights, among other things. This might be flashy, and it could be a party trick that gets old rather quickly, but it’s still something that the phone industry direly needs in this day and age.


Smartphones have become a commodity. Gone are the days of experimentation, with the most exciting phones nowadays being foldable. One of the quirkiest manufacturers with interesting ideas, LG, has left the market, and even Samsung has grown up to focus on a clean software experience in favor of the gimmick-packed TouchWiz UI of old. For many markets in the world, smartphone upgrades have become iterative. The only things changing are display sizes, front and back camera placements and numbers, and slight performance and speed bumps.

As annoying as you might find Nothing’s marketing strategy, the newcomer company is one of the few to at least try and create a unique smartphone without it losing appeal to the mass market — a crux that befell many an LG phone, including the company’s last phone , the LG Wing. From all we’ve seen about the Phone 1, it isn’t really anything that forces you to relearn or rethink how to use your smartphone, and all your apps will work on it like expected. Its shape, size, and component placement is remarkably similar to the iPhone 12, making it an instantly familiar handset for the vast majority of people. It only extends the tried-and-true formula with one key differentiating feature — the transparent back complete with its Glyph interface.

The LG Wing sure looks interesting, but is it really practical for the vast majority of smartphone owners?

This strategy allows Nothing to appeal to a broad audience and create just enough of a novelty factor to make people ask others on the street what that phone is that they’re using — which has apparently happened more often than I would have expected. The Phone 1, for all intents and purposes, makes smartphones interesting again without even remotely trying to reinvent the formula.

Probably the best thing about the Glyph interface is that it gets out of the way if you don’t want to use it or once you get bored with it. There is presumably nothing that will force you to use its flashing lights and melodies for your notifications and calls, as you will almost certainly be able to mute it like any other phone.

If the Phone 1 does hold up to its promises, you still get to enjoy an excellent and exclusive midrange smartphone with a reserved take on the Android user interface, complete with a neat transparent back. The Glyph interface is basically a marketing feature that gets out of the way once you get your hands on the phone, and you might just only ever use it to glance at your battery level when you charge it (or reverse-wirelessly charge something else on it).

The company has been playing on this unique backplate lighting design from the get-go, as Nothing’s original Phone 1 teaser shows

Speaking of midrange phone — Nothing’s decision to go for a more affordable device is certainly wise. The flagship market is increasingly saturated and dominated by Apple and Samsung, so it’s hard for an aspiring brand to break into this premium space right from the get-go. A premium, unique looking midrange device (rumored to cost around €500 or ~$530) is a much better sell, as buyers won’t risk dropping a 4-digit sum on a flop. Other brands were successful with this low-to-high-end strategy, too, if you just look at Xiaomi.

This overall strategy of combining premium looks with midrange hardware and prices (plus that good old limited availability we know from OnePlus) might just work for Nothing. After all, it’s a company that doesn’t have much to show for it other than some (admittedly good) earbuds in the form of the Ear 1, so it needs to generate some Warning. It’s just a bummer that Nothing won’t manage to enter the US market with the Phone 1, but hey, the hype is there. MKBHD’s Phone 1 hands-on is already one of his most-watched videos this year, raking in almost 6 million views at the time of writing. If the company can keep the suspense high, it might just have a great trajectory to enter the carrier-driven market with its next phone (Phone 2?). It sure looks like Nothing is doing something right.

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