Might Nothing's CMF Phone (1) fail expectations… even before its release?

Might Nothing's CMF Phone (1) fail expectations… even before its release?
Are you shivering in excitement over the upcoming new handset by Nothing: the CMF Phone (1)? Okay, let me paraphrase that: should you be excited about the CMF Phone (1)?

The thing is, up until five minutes ago, everything was looking promising. It was shaping up to be a fairly decent true budget-friendly option. It even managed to draw attention with a unique screw mechanism and replaceable back panel.

Days and weeks passed since the CMF Phone (1) was rumored back in May 2024 – days and weeks of peace and quiet. Details about the handset were leaking and pouring in. As usual, key specs and price leaked before launch: again, we (and many others) were happy about the upcoming device.

Then, out of the blue (as it happens so often), a wild tipster appeared, dragging another pack of details and rumored specs. It's not that funny.

Let's take a step back and see what happened, darn it!

CMF: Nothing for the masses

Nothing is by no means a brand that fabricates copious amounts of cheap phones. In fact, they don't have cheap phones at all – there's the flagship $599 Phone (2), the OG $299 Nothing Phone (1), and the latest addition to the family: the $349 Phone (2a).

When discussing $1000+ titanium, AI-packed, quad-camera monsters, it's easy to forget ourselves and see the $349 Phone (2a) as a "budget" option. However, there isn't a shortage of people who can't justify, or, better: do not have the need for a $500+ phone.

If you don't believe me, you can check out the report we talked about just recently, which outlined how the sub-$200 Galaxy A15 outsold the $799 iPhone 15 in Europe for the first three months of 2024.

So, it's clear that there's a market for affordable phones!

That's why Nothing announced as back as August 2023 its new sub-brand, CMF, which comes along to offer more affordable products. In a YouTube video, CEO Carl Pei introduced "CMF by Nothing" as a budget-friendly option while maintaining the company's design and technology standards.

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At CMF’s launch, the company said its products will feature clean designs and be accessible and reliable.

The CMF Phone (1) was looking good at first…

As we already mentioned, the CMF Phone (1) was hinted and teased for some time now. Several days ago, along came a video teaser that displayed the unique screw mechanism:

The mechanism on its rear panel suggests that users can easily replace it (the back panel, that is). This is the latest in a series of teasers released by Nothing to build anticipation for its sub-brand's first smartphone.

While the mechanism itself may not be groundbreaking, it provides intriguing insights. The back panel includes a flat-head type screw with grooves, indicating the potential for interchangeable panels and high repairability. The teaser also highlights a textured orange back panel, though a matte black option was previously seen in another teaser. It remains unclear whether these panels will be included with the phone or sold separately.

Then, the CMF Phone (1) specs leaked even harder:

  • 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate
  • MediaTek Dimensity 7300 processor
  • 50MP + depth sensor
  • 16MP selfie
  • In-display fingerprint sensor
  • 6/128GB, 8/128GB
  • 2TB expandable via microSD
  • 5,000mAh battery, 33W charging support
  • Android 14

More importantly, the leak also outlined the CMF Phone (1)’s price. Apparently, the 6/128GB will be available for purchase in India for Rs 15,999 (approximately $190 / €180), while the 8/128GB will be priced to sell for Rs 17,999 (approximately $215 / €200).

The new news about the CMF Phone (1)

Prominent tipster Yogesh Brar, the same one who leaked the CMF Phone (1) specs earlier, now has more to say about the phone.

Here are his latest findings – some "additional details", as he calls them – about the affordable phone:

While the mentioned 4K 30fps support for video is not bad at all, there are several things that got users slightly mad.

Namely, it's these findings about the phone:

  • No OIS (EIS only)
  • Mono speaker
  • 2+3 years software cycle

People are not impressed (to say the least) with the CMF Phone (1)'s lack of OIS – that's short for optical image stabilization. OIS is a must in 2024, although we're talking about a $190 phone here.

The mono speaker is also a blow below the belt, because cheap or not, people have been enjoying stereo for decades now. On the other hand, most of the Beatles' catalog was originally mixed and released in mono, so the CMF Phone (1) could turn out to be a hit among the Fab Four's fans.

Additionally, what grinds people's gears is the software support period: okay, Samsung and Google may have spoiled us with the seven-year-long support for their latest devices, but two years of OS updates and three years of security update looks… outdated in 2024.

Also, some are worried whether the CMF Phone (1) would come with a charger out of the box.

Final food for thought

The market is already saturated with budget-friendly handsets, which are, in their turn, saturated with major compromises.

So, if you're in search of a sub-$200 phone – even if you're not, let's pretend you are – would the lack of OIS, the mono speaker situation and the short software support cycle make you not get the CMF Phone (1)?

Let me know in the comments!

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