New Nothing (1) phone from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei hopes to disrupt iPhone dominance

Screenshots from the phone (1) launcher
Pei said the phone is going to be a "breath of fresh air for the sleepy smartphone market". Photo credit: Supplied / Nothing

Nothing, the internet startup created by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, is intending to create a new smartphone war - with Apple firmly in its sights.

"If you want products that connect and work seamlessly together, the only choice is Apple," Pei said.

"As soon as you leave that ecosystem for a Windows PC or an Android phone, it breaks down. There is no alternative to Apple."

Pei announced the Nothing Phone during the company's first live event, entitled 'The Truth', following on from the generally well-received 'ear (1)' wireless earbuds the company launched last year.

"You've speculated, and now you know. Nothing phone (1) is officially coming. It's unlike anything else. Summer 2022," the company teased on Twitter.

"We're not just an audio company," it continued.

"From the very beginning, our vision has been of a world without barriers between people and tech. If you want an ecosystem of products that connect and work seamlessly together, there's only one choice today.

"But, soon, there will be Nothing."

OnePlus's success drew interest from other smartphone makers and Oppo eventually bought the company with Pei departing at the time.

Details on the overall specification of the new phone were scant, but like his previous company's phones, the phone (1) will be Android based.

According to Pei's keynote, the phone will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, although the version wasn't specified.

The light version of Android the phone is to run will get three years of OS updates and four years of security updates, Pei said. It also won't have the "bloatware" that some phones do.

Rumours of a potential new smartphone first emerged at the start of the month when Pei was photographed showing Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon a phone wrapped in a privacy-protecting case.

Evan Blass, a reliable technology leaker, posted a similar photo to his Twitter account earlier this month with the enigmatic caption "Nothing to see here".

During the keynote, Pei said he hoped the phone (1) would be the "wake up call the industry needs".

"We're not saying we're going to fix the industry with just one product but we want the phone (1) to mark the start of change."

Pei also said the phone's design would be like "anything you've seen before".

The company's ear (1) buds have a transparent design, but it's not known if that will also be the case with the phone yet.

In a brief demonstration of the software, Pei showed Nothing's voice recorder app, which maintained the dot matrix-styled font of the main screen but also provides an "interactive analogue tape wheel which can be used to adjust tape speeds" as well as rewinding and fast forwarding.

Pei said Nothing's ecosystem would allow seamless integration of both its own plus other brands' products. They were already working on Apple AirPod and Tesla integration, he said.

Before the phone itself launches, a version of the launcher will be made available to download in April for "selected" mobile devices to try the software out, Pei announced.

"Phone (1) is going to be a breath of fresh air for the sleepy smartphone market," he concluded.

A small selection of OnePlus phones are available to buy in New Zealand via retailers, particularly those that parallel import products.

That should mean the phone (1) will be available in Aotearoa after it launches, even if indirectly.