Nothing's budget smartphone is bare bones on connectivity

T-Mobile is currently the best bet for connectivity for CMF Phone 1 customers. AT&T 4G and 3G networks are available as well, but phone maker Nothing recommends users avoid attempting network access through Verizon.

Kelsey Ziser, Senior Editor

July 9, 2024

2 Min Read
Nothing launched their first smartphone, The Nothing Phone 1 5G with dual 50 megapixel camera, in October 2022.
Nothing's Phone 1 5G smartphone. Not pictured: the CMF 1 Phone, launched this month.(Source: Daniel Chetroni/Alamy Stock Photo)

Electronics maker Nothing has launched its first smartphone within its budget brand CMF for $199. The price point for the CMF Phone 1 is tempting, as is the MediaTek Dimensity 7300 5G chipset, Android 14-powered OS, dual-SIM capability, 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. Users can also add a microSD card for an additional 2 terabytes of data storage, according to Wired.

Where the bloom is off the rose is in CMF Phone 1's minimal connectivity options. Nothing warns on its website that "not all carriers will fully allow CMF Phone 1 to operate on their network." T-Mobile is currently the best bet for customers – T-Mobile's 3G, 4G and 5G networks are supported, but "not all 5G bands are supported."

AT&T's 5G network isn't supported on the CMF Phone 1, but the phone does support AT&T 4G and 3G. VoLTE and VoWifi also won't work on AT&T's network. The company dissuades users from connecting via Verizon altogether.

"Compatibility with Verizon is very limited. We do not recommend using CMF Phone 1 with Verizon. Verizon 5G and CDMA networks are not supported. 4G is supported. Prior to using your CMF Phone 1, you will need to contact Verizon customer service to add CMF Phone 1 IMEI to their database," states Nothing's website.

The CMF Phone 1 is currently being released in the US as a beta program, and Nothing "strongly recommends" reviewing the FAQs for the phone before committing to a purchase.

Related:Meteoric demand for low-priced smartphones – Omdia report

Low-end smartphone growth

The CMF Phone 1 is also being launched at a time when the low-end price segment for smartphones has experienced the fastest growth compared to midrange, high-end and other price points for the devices, according to research firm Omdia.

Shipment of lower-priced smartphones – under $150 – increased by 30 million year-over-year, from 90 million in Q1 2023 to 120 million in Q1 2024, an increase of 33%.

While the connectivity options are limited, the price point for the processing power and data storage of the CMF 1 could be appealing to customers drawn to low-end smartphones. In addition, for smartphone users with a penchant for tinkering, the CMF 1's back covers are interchangeable and can be swapped between blue, orange, light green and black covers. With the battery exposed, it's tempting to swap it out, but Nothing doesn't recommend this.

"We do not provide battery parts to users and do not encourage users to remove the battery. We have marked warnings on the PET film reminding users not to remove the battery," Nothing told Wired.

Shipments of the CMF Phone 1 will begin on July 12, 2024.

About the Author(s)

Kelsey Ziser

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Kelsey is a senior editor at Light Reading, co-host of the Light Reading podcast, and host of the "What's the story?" podcast.

Her interest in the telecom world started with a PR position at Connect2 Communications, which led to a communications role at the FREEDM Systems Center, a smart grid research lab at N.C. State University. There, she orchestrated their webinar program across college campuses and covered research projects such as the center's smart solid-state transformer.

Kelsey enjoys reading four (or 12) books at once, watching movies about space travel, crafting and (hoarding) houseplants.

Kelsey is based in Raleigh, N.C.

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