2022 could be an exciting year for Android fans, as a new rumor suggests OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei is creating a ‘Nothing‘ smartphone. Any longtime OnePlus followers will know the company has taken a few big shifts in recent years. While OnePlus started out as an enthusiast brand focused on big specs and low prices, it’s in a very different place today. Carl Pei left the company in October 2020, OnePlus is preparing to merge its OxygenOS platform with Oppo’s ColorOS, and its product lineup is now very reminiscent of any other major smartphone brand.
Shortly after departing OnePlus last year, Carl Pei announced his own tech company called ‘Nothing.’ Nothing’s first product ended up being a pair of true wireless earbuds — called the Nothing Ear (1). The earbuds didn’t receive perfect reviews, but they were mostly praised for delivering good audio, a stunning design, and a competitive price. Now, Nothing is getting ready to set its sights on something much bigger.
According to a new report from 91Mobiles, Nothing is preparing to launch its first Android-powered smartphone in early 2022. The report doesn’t go into great detail about the device, simply stating that the site has “exclusively learned from noted tipster Mukul Sharma that Nothing will launch its first phone.” It’s also teased that Nothing will release the Nothing Power (1) battery bank “in the next few weeks,” but all attention is obviously on the rumored smartphone.
Although this report doesn’t share any concrete details about the Nothing phone, it’s not hard to imagine what it could entail. If the Ear (1) earbuds are any indication of Nothing’s hardware ambitions, a phone from the company could be really beautiful. Nothing’s earbuds are lightweight, comfy to wear, and their transparent design with neatly packed internals is beyond impressive. If Nothing’s phone manages to offer that same mix of practicality with a unique aesthetic, it could have a strong design lead over much of the competition. It’s also safe to assume the Android experience of the Nothing phone would be reminiscent of the old OxygenOS — that’s to say, a stock-like interface, robust customization options, and select few feature add-ons to keep it lightweight.
It’s certainly fun to speculate about Carl Pei returning to the smartphone space, but how much weight does this rumor actually carry? There’s actually a bit to it. Don’t forget that Nothing acquired Essential back in February — a purchase that included all of the latter company’s trademarks, logos, and other branding material. While Essential was short-lived, the Essential PH1 was a pretty solid Android handset. The company also teased its Project GEM successor in late 2019, though it was ultimately scrapped following Essential’s quick demise. Nothing also announced earlier this week a $50 million partnership with Qualcomm. In a press release, Nothing says the funds will be used for “research and development in preparation for the brand’s entry into new product categories as part of its ecosystem.”
It’s entirely possible this report is inaccurate and a Nothing smartphone doesn’t exist. However, all signs are currently pointing to the opposite being true. If the rumored Nothing phone is real, 91Mobiles says to expect “teasers and reports” coming in the next few weeks.