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It's hard to believe, but close to 10 years ago, OnePlus started its journey, coming out of nowhere as a "scrappy start-up" that eventually evolved into an international household name. Through it all, Carl Pei was the predominant face of the company, presenting at launch events, engaging with media, and interacting with fans. At some point, or maybe even from the start, Pei was able to create something unique with OnePlus, building a brand that people genuinely connected with.

Pei would eventually step away from the company he'd worked tirelessly to build and in a few months time, would announce his new company, called Nothing. While the brand didn't have a product or an identity at that point, Pei clearly had a plan. The firm would start small, introducing its wireless earbuds and eventually releasing its first smartphone, the Nothing Phone 1. While its specifications weren't the best, it managed to captivate an audience thanks to its strategic marketing, price, clean design, and highly unique Glyph Interface.

While a year hasn't even passed since the release of the Phone 1, many are already asking what's next. Luckily, we already have some pieces of the puzzle thanks to an interview last month that revealed more about the follow-up.

A new beginning

Carl Pei at Mobile World Congress talking about Nothing
Image via Adam Conway

At Mobile World Congress 2023, Nothing revealed the Phone 2 would make a proper release in the U.S. However, a more low-key announcement was that the upcoming handset will make use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 series chip. Those pieces feel like standard fare, but they're actually huge steps forward for the company.

By making efforts to release the handset in the U.S. and move on to a more powerful top-end chip, Nothing is signaling its transition to the big leagues. While creating products for a niche market is exciting, most for-profit companies want to shoot for mass appeal, will scale to accommodate an influx of new customers, and then sell in massive volumes. If all of this sounds familiar, that's because it's the exact same path OnePlus walked.

Without a doubt, Pei has the tenacity to will Nothing's success, and if you have technology industry veterans backing your company, he shared a clear vision that could convince them to invest. This year's Phone 2 release will be a big one for the company and since Pei has already gone through and stumbled before (OnePlus 2), you can bet that he's paving the best path possible for this upcoming product to succeed. But what kind of product will we get with the Phone 2, and will it have as much impact as the first Nothing phone?

What's it going to take?

Person holding a white Nothing Phone 1 with glyph LEDs enabled.

As we previously mentioned, there are key elements that made the Phone 1 a popular product — strategic marketing, a clean design, price, and its unique Glyph Interface. And for the Nothing Phone 2 to succeed, it can follow that strategy. When it comes to marketing, I think the team at Nothing will roll out a strategy that, like its previous campaigns, will slowly drip-feed its audience to keep the trail warm as long as it can. As far as the design of the Phone 2, that could be anyone's guess. But if the past is any indication, we can expect to see similar kinds of design aesthetics implemented.

This leads me to my next point: Nothing's Glyph Interface. While this was a novel idea at release, we've all grown accustomed to it, and I don't think it's going to go over as well a second time. Of course, there is the possibility that the company could abandon it for its Phone 2. Still, it's hard to believe that the company would take time to build out the feature and incorporate controls for it in the app, just to let it fall by the wayside in future products.

It probably won't matter that the Phone 2 will be using an older chip, that it costs more, or it has an identical design to the Phone 1.

Lastly, and probably the most part, is going to be price. The Phone 1 had a price that most could stomach. It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't all that expensive either, and I think it hit the consumer sweet spot, which made it worth taking the risk of buying it. But with the next handset moving onto a Snapdragon 8 series chip, things could get slightly pricier.

Of course, Pei was tactful when announcing the chip; he said Nothing was going with Snapdragon 8 series rather than sharing if it'll be Gen 1, Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, or the latest Gen 2. While nothing has been confirmed (although a now-deleted LinkedIn post seems to imply it'll be the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1), if the Phone 2 were going to use the latest processor, Pei would've flat-out said it. It's too juicy not to share and would've been a perfect way to start to drum up some excitement. But we all know that once "old" tech gets mentioned in a future product, it can easily take the wind out of the product's sails, making it DOA.

Is the brand going to be enough?

Nothing Phone 1 review

In the end, I think this will be another case of the brand elevating the actual product. It probably won't matter that the Phone 2 will be using an older chip, that it costs more, or it has an identical design to the Phone 1. Carl Pei's knack for building a brand and understanding the market will most likely prevail, and the Phone 2 could end up being a great success. Of course, there's nothing wrong with this, because more competition is a good thing, especially regarding Android handsets. Hopefully, Nothing will be able to bring some true innovations to market when the company is ready.