Nothing Phone (2): Cool New Details About The iPhone Rival


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Jun 13, 2023

Nothing Phone (2): Cool New Details About The iPhone Rival

A detail of the new Nothing Phone (2). Carl Pei said a lot in an exclusive

A detail of the new Nothing Phone (2).

Carl Pei said a lot in an exclusive interview last week, including exclusive information as to the phone's release date. But I have since asked him more questions, about how the new phone will be different, how the company has developed and why he got into making a new smartphone in a difficult industry in the first place. He was pretty forthcoming.

June 1 update below. This post was first published on May 29, 2023.

June 1 update. Although the phone won't be released until next month, Nothing has just revealed details about Phone (2)'s carbon footprint. In an extensive series of tweets, the company has also described sustainability efforts it's taken to lower it from last year's Phone (1). As it says, "Phone (2) is the first time we’ve achieved a lower carbon footprint on a second-generation product. A significant step towards a more sustainable smartphone industry."

First of all, the carbon footprint, and the upcoming phone has "an SGS-certified carbon footprint of 53.45kg, which is 8.6% lower than that of Phone (1)". This is all the more impressive given the new phone will have a larger display, 0.15 inches bigger than last year, and, as first reported here on Forbes, a bigger battery, too. The battery is 200mAh bigger this time around. That 8.6% reduction means it's more than 5kg lower than the previous-generation model.

The company has also been working to introduce more recycled parts, something many phone manufacturers have been focused on. For Nothing it means, "Phone (2) has 3x more recycled or bio-based parts vs Phone (1)." This includes, "100% recycled tin on 9 circuit boards, 100% recycled copper foil on the main circuit board & over 90% recycled steel on all 28 steel stamping parts. With 80% of plastic parts being sustainably sourced." There's also new packaging so that when you unbox your Phone (2) it's "an entirely plastic free experience".

Some elements, like the aluminum used for the phone's mid-frame, was recycled already and for the new phone it will continue to be recycled, and made with 100% renewable energy.

Of course, one of the best ways to really make a difference is to not update your phone constantly and Nothing says it's continuing to offer three years of Android updates and four years of security updates so you can use your phone for longer.

Overall, the company says, "With a focus on recycled and bio-based materials, renewable energy, and product lifespan, Phone (2) is designed to be one of the most sustainable smartphones on the market."

Focusing on sustainability has long been a preoccupation for companies like Apple, and more recently for Samsung, but it's tougher for a start-up to be able to prioritize like this. Back to my interview with Nothing co-founder Carl Pei.

So, why throw your hat into a tough market, the smartphone industry? Pei tells me, "The smartphone industry has grown dull and predictable. The giants play it safe with more of the same. Today, it is all about monotonous products that nobody cares about and will be quickly forgotten. It all feels a bit boring—it's a sea of sameness out there."

Well, I think you can find innovation if you look, but I hear what he's saying. Doesn't that make his task even tougher, to introduce something more cutting-edge than the first phone? Pei seems quietly confident. "Building on the success of Phone (1), we are now super excited to be at a stage where we are launching our second-generation smartphone, Phone (2), as many new brands in this industry never get to that stage. Phone (2) will be a significant upgrade from Phone (1)."

It's a fair point: some new brands do turn out to be one-miss wonders, as it were. And his confidence is partly built on how the company has grown.

Pei explains, "A lot has changed since we started working on Phone (1) about two years ago. Our teams and operations are much bigger and stronger, especially when it comes to engineering. We have over 400 people actively working on Phone (2), twice as many compared to Phone (1). This includes a lot of specialized engineers, but more importantly, our own internal software team of close to 100 people. People can now expect a lot more from the Nothing OS in Phone (2), with a design approach that is much more considered and innovative from a user standpoint."

This focus on software is key. It's one thing to refresh a phone with a better processor or higher pixel-count in the camera sensor, as some manufacturers do, but the software that powers it needs to speed ahead, too. Pei told me previously that before the launch of the first Phone, the company only had ten people in-house working on software. And the bigger team has already seen a new build of Nothing OS which is faster and smoother. The testing process has also been improved with more rigorous testing protocols, I’m told. Hundreds of samples have each had 800 hours of testing already, across tens of thousands of user scenarios.

It also plays into the decision to launch this phone in the U.S. As Pei says, "This decision was driven by the unique R&D requirements of each market, and we aimed to avoid spreading ourselves too thin. However, with Phone (2), we are expanding our presence and making a notable entry into the highly sought-after US market. The strong demand for our audio products, combined with persistent inquiries from people eager to access our smartphones, has led us to strategically expand into this market."

And the result of this progress? Well, Pei is bullish: "Phone (2) will have more premium experience across the board compared to Phone (1), competing with the very best flagship smartphones on the market today."

Finally, what about those Glyphs, the cute LED lights that adorn the back of the phone and can flash in different ways to show who's calling, for instance? Pei is careful in his reply, and won't say much but hints that there's going to be more customization in Phone (2), and more functionality. This is intriguing. Let's hope we hear more before it launches in July.