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Nothing’s CMF Phone 1 Has The DIY Community Excited

Earlier this week, UK-based tech brand Nothing announced some new additions to its suite of products — a revamped pair of earbuds (AUD$99), a second attempt at a smartwatch (AUD$99) and, most importantly, the budget-and-DIY-friendly CMF Phone 1 (AUD$399). 

Each product will be shipping on July 12, 2024, but for our money it’s the phone that’s the most interesting new showing from the company.

The device has the hallmarks of an entry-priced model: it runs a custom variant of Android, features a decent midrange chip (the MediaTek 7300 5G), 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of built-in storage which can be expanded with a MicroSD card up to 2 TB. It also boasts a 120 hz Super AMOLED display, which looks stunning, and a 50 MP camera. 

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Beyond that, the CMF Phone 1 (CMF stands for colour, material and finish, if anyone is interested) is a bit of an odd beast compared to most smartphones on the market. Rather than being a largely sealed and impenetrable single unit, the Phone 1’s backplate is kept attached to the chassis by a series of exposed and easily accessible M2 screws which allow users to switch out different coloured plates and add gadgets to the ‘accessory point’.

Nothing's CMF Phone 1
Nothing’s CMF Phone 1 | Image: Nothing

What Makes Nothing’s CMF Phone 1 Stand Out

The accessory point? Yeah, the phone has a little dial at the bottom right of the backplate which, when removed, will reveal a fifth screw. That screw point is used to attach a number of pre-made accessories to the phone, like a Nothing-designed card holder, lanyard or kickstand — likely to make watching video (or gaming with a bluetooth controller) more convenient.

But who says you need to stick to Nothing’s suggestions? The company already has an established ‘maker’ community, and upon the phone’s announcement Nothing released the product’s specifications, and a basic CAD file, to its DIY-hungry fans. 

Already, they’re working on new ideas for how to turn the Phone 1 into a new beast: such as a backplate capable of featuring your favourite Pokémon card, translucent back covers showing off the device’s internals, and a potential slide-out qwerty-style keyboard.

The ability to dream up your own ideas for how your phone could work, put them into action yourself (likely with the help of a 3D printer), and simply screw your FrankenPhone together is probably a pretty niche use case: but for now, the CMF Phone 1 owns it.

One place that we’d like to see some improvement to the concept for the next iteration of CMF’s phone would be to make the battery more easily replaceable. 

It clocks in at an impressive 5,000 mAh, and should give you over 20 hours of video playback (don’t hold the phone, use the kickstand), but, by this point, we’ve probably all had issues with batteries giving up on us after a few years — especially for a product that gets as much daily use as a phone. 

For a phone that gives you access to its insides, it’d be great to be able to switch out some internal components to keep the thing feeling fresh in the long run. Leaning into this concept further, and maybe bringing it to the higher-end Nothing Phones, could be a way to differentiate the brand from its competition.

Nothing's CMF Phone 1, Buds Pro 2 and Watch Pro 2 | Image: Nothing
Nothing’s CMF Phone 1, Buds Pro 2 and Watch Pro 2 | Image: Nothing

Building Out The Ecosystem

Beyond the phone, Nothing also introduced their second-generation smartwatch in the Watch Pro 2, which features a high-quality AMOLED display, health tracking capabilities, as well as over 100 options for the digital watch face. It boasts 11 days of battery life, according to CMF, and an aluminium alloy body with a replaceable bezel. 

The Buds Pro 2, however, is the brand’s next take on wireless in-ear earphones, and will use a custom dual-driver set up to deliver bassier bass and richer sound alongside improved ANC (active noise cancelling). In a fun twist, the charging case also doubles up as an audio controller, with a tactile, clickable knob which allows you to pause music, answer phone calls (or mute them, if you’d rather), and control the volume of your device without using the earphones’ touch controls.

All three of the brand’s new products are available for pre-order now, but are shipping out on July 12, 2024, so you shouldn’t have to wait long to test them in person. For now the phones are available through Nothing’s website, but we’ll likely see them stocked at stores soon enough.