Still a Solid Pixel Software Alternative? [Video]

Nothing has hit the ground running with the phone (1). The company’s first smartphone ships with an AOSP-like build, but the release of Nothing OS 1.5 on Android 13 has taken longer than expected. What’s new and does this improve the experience? We got to work to find out.

With news of future Nothing phones coming to the US, you might want to know what Nothing OS 1.5 offers over the Android 13 build on Google Pixel phones. There really aren’t that many Android devices out there that offer clean, lightweight versions of the software without some major downsides.

The London-based start-up isn’t currently taking on the biggest and best, but Nothing OS 1.5 is certainly more desirable to many than heavy third-party skins like Oppo and Xiaomi. Here’s everything you need to know:

Android 13 features

After all, since Nothing OS 1.5 is based on Android 13, it has wrapped a number of features and functions that have been commonplace on Pixel phones since its official launch in August. Many of these features aim to improve user experience and privacy on the device.

  • Active apps: Background app processes can be managed and tracked from the quick settings panel. In this way, you can prevent malicious applications from running so that performance is not affected.
  • New Settings Buttons in QS Panel: Nothing OS 1.5 adds improved accessibility for settings and power controls to the Quick Settings panel. The new icons are in the bottom right of a fully expanded notification panel. The edit icon for QS toggles stays just below the quick access controls.
  • Advanced dynamic color options.
  • Theme Icons: As part of the default Nothing Launcher, there is a new option to toggle the “Theme Icons” supported by Dynamic Color. When enabled, supported icons adopt a two-color glyph theme with a circular icon determined by the system’s default color rules.
  • Screenshot in Recents Menu: Handy quick screenshot tool is now present in Recents app screen. This allows you to take a full screen app screenshot without pressing any hotkeys. Unfortunately, the quick tool for copying text is not present with the update to Nothing OS 1.5 Open Beta.
  • Language settings per app: In addition to the default system language, Android 13 adds the ability to set the app language individually for each app. This makes it easier for multilingual Nothing Phone (1) users to find the perfect setup for their device.
  • Internet/Wi-Fi and Bluetooth floating menus: Just like Pixel devices, the advanced QS tiles for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections now appear in central floating notification panels rather than docked sections.
  • Bundled notifications: If you get more than three notifications from at least three separate apps, Android 13 will bundle them with shorter icons indicating that more app-specific notifications are waiting. This is visible when you view the lock screen.
  • Scan the QR code tile in QS: Nothing OS 1.5 also adds the Google Lens-powered QR code scanner to your selection of QS tiles. This will just launch Lens and you can scan QR codes without launching the dedicated application and changing settings.
  • New media player controls: The media player for Android 13 is larger and improved with additional controls and includes advanced features with playback scrubbing, app-specific controls, and themes based on album art. This is visible on the lock screen and in the notification bar.
  • Clipboard preview for copied text: When copying text from webpages or other applications, it will appear in a pop-up window at the bottom left with the option to edit the text, quickly share it with other applications, or Nearby Share it to other devices in a similar way as in Screenshot popup tool.
  • Improved photo picker: Android 13’s photo picker is also available in Nothing OS 1.5. This privacy-friendly pop-up UI allows you to only allow apps access to the photos/albums you select instead of your entire media/photo library.
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Brand new features

Alongside many of Android 13’s “core” additions, Nothing has implemented a number of existing features that are technically brand new to the device. Some of these are even being seen outside of Pixel phones for the first time.

  • Game Dashboard: Google’s gaming toolbox is now also part of Nothing OS 1.5 with the built-in game mode, including the dedicated Game Dashboard feature. This allows you to track in-game screen refresh rates, take in-game screenshots, quickly enable or disable Do Not Disturb mode, and start live streaming to YouTube from a connected account. The game dashboard may not work with every game.
  • Personal Safety app: The Nothing Phone (1) is the first device outside of the Pixel ecosystem to have the Personal Safety app preinstalled. Unfortunately, car crash detection is not available. However, you can access other features like crisis alerts, add medical information, and add emergency contacts.
  • Redesigned volume control panel: Floating volume controls in the sidebar now provide quick access to notification, media, and alarm volume controls via the three-dot overflow menu.
  • Live Subtitles: AI generated subtitles are now available for all video content with the addition of live subtitles in Nothing OS 1.5. A quick toggle to enable this feature is also now available under the sidebar volume controls.
  • New Weather Application: Nothing has built a dedicated weather tracking application from the ground up, utilizing the company’s dot matrix font and key design elements. This is powered by AccuWeather.
  • Screenshot Trigger: Sound and Vibration has received a new option that allows the user to completely disable the screenshot trigger sound when using the default ringer mode.
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UI and cosmetic changes

Mandatory UI and cosmetic changes are also present. Most of these tweaks were made to improve the aesthetic and visual flair of Nothing OS 1.5 on the phone(1), but don’t detract from the overall functionality.

  • Separation of WLAN and hotspot from Unified Internet Toggle: Nothing OS 1.5 separates the large QS Internet tile, the hotspot function now lives behind its own tile. With this change, the ability to quickly enable/disable Wi-Fi connectivity is now lost. Similar to Pixel devices, you’ll see a floating panel where you can enable/disable Wi-Fi connections and see any nearby networks.
  • Smaller icons on the lock screen: The icons for Home and Google Wallet are now smaller on the lock screen, similar to the Pixel series. However, the home icon still doesn’t match the updated icon.
  • Lockscreen clock widget emulates At a Glance on Pixel: When notifications are visible on the lock screen, Nothing OS’s persistent clock/date widget now emulates the At a Glance widget on Pixel devices. The digital time is above the date and the current weather conditions/temperature. In Android 12 and Nothing OS 1.1.7, weather conditions are displayed over digital time.
  • Rounded M3 Buttons: More areas of Nothing OS now contain rounded M3 buttons or more prominent button borders. A prime example is the Clear All button in the Recent Apps menu.
  • Adjusted on-screen prompts: On-screen pop-ups to provide access to notifications or location information now contained rounded buttons and matched dynamic color settings.

performance improvements

  • 50% Faster App Load Times: Nothing claims the company’s Android 13 build offers up to 50% faster app load times. In practice this seems to be true, but it depends a lot on the specific application. However, with this increase in performance, the system should be faster when accessing applications on the device.
  • Self-healing: The Nothing OS system automatically clears unused app caches and expired system dumps to improve long-term performance levels. It’s not clear how much of a difference this makes at this point.
  • Sleep Standby Optimization: A quietly added feature in Nothing OS 1.5 is Sleep Standby Optimization. It works by temporarily restricting mobile data and certain device functions while in sleep mode to increase its lifespan. However, this can affect the speed at which notifications are received.
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known problems

  • Google Pay does not work: Wireless payment is not possible with the Nothing OS 1.5 Beta.
  • Netflix may not function normally: Due to the nature of this beta update, certain applications such as Netflix may experience issues or not function properly.
  • Picture-in-Picture may not work normally.

When will your Nothing Phone (1) get Android 13?

nothing os 1.5

The Nothing OS 1.5 Open Beta offers some important performance-related improvements for a still mid-range smartphone with modest internal hardware.

At this early stage, we would not recommend installing this beta build of Android 13 on your device due to the lack of NFC payment capabilities. There are other risks such as B. Chances of your device getting bricked if you don’t follow the right process. The folks at XDA have a fantastic guide that details exactly how to get started. There are also numerous leaked versions of Nothing OS 1.5 that can be downloaded from the links below:

We expect the stable release sometime in Q1 2023, which could be very soon as this build is pretty much bug free for the most part.