Carl Pei’s Nothing recently launched a U.S. beta test for the Nothing Phone (1), giving people in North America a way to try out the new device that made waves across Asia and Europe with its flamboyant look.
The device was released in select parts of Asia and Europe in early 2022, with Canadians and Americans blatantly left out of the picture. According to the company, a lack of partnerships, paired with a lack of carrier coverage, was the reason for the phone not arriving here. “Nothing phone (1) is not fully supported in North America. Functionality may be impacted depending on your carrier, coverage, speed and/or reliability; or it may not function at all,” reads a disclaimer for a Nothing Phone (1) auction page.
US, we have something special just for you.
Experience Phone (1) with our Nothing Beta Membership. You'll receive a Phone (1) to test Nothing OS 1.5, powered by Android 13. And the opportunity to claim a Nothing Community Black Dot.
— Nothing (@nothing) January 10, 2023
Now, with the new U.S.-based Beta, Nothing is allowing interested customers to pay $299 USD (roughly $404 CAD) in exchange for a black version of the smartphone with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage to test. The beta program is set to end on June 30th, 2023, with testers allowed to retain their devices thereafter.
If you’re looking to get your hands on the device via a relative in the States, or trying to buy a device from the likes of Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or Kijiji, you should note that the device isn’t fully supported by all Canadian carriers, but you should still be able to get by. I’m not going to talk about the phone, since it is already pretty well covered. Rather, this is more about the experience of using the device in Canada, and the issues that come with it.
The Nothing Phone (1) does not support all of the frequencies used by Canadian networks, but it does support a majority of them. Rogers-owned Fido offers the 1,700MHz and 2,000MHz Band 4 spectrum, 2,600MHz Band 7 spectrum and 700MHz Band 17 spectrum, all of which are 4G bands supported by the device. On the other hand, Rogers’ 5G bands, including the 1,700MHz n66 frequency and 600MHz n71 frequency bands, are not supported by the device.
Check below for a table of Canadian carrier bands and frequencies supported by the device:
Check below for a list of Canadian carrier bands and frequencies not supported by the device:
Data for both the tables above was found on kimovil.com.
As evident in the tables above, network coverage for the Nothing Phone (1) isn’t necessarily spotty, though to offer optimal coverage, the device needs to support all frequencies for all networks used in Canada. Network coverage might be limited in certain areas, though I haven’t had a problem with coverage anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Even with a SIM as obscure as Eastlink in the GTA, the device provides reliable 4G coverage, though with slower download and higher upload speeds when compared to my daily driver iPhone. This might not be the same for you, depending on where you live.
For me, the iPhone always seemed to offer faster download speeds, even when both devices were tested with the same exact SIM card. However, the lower mobile data speed wasn’t very noticeable in daily use with the Nothing Phone (1), and shouldn’t be an issue for a majority of Canadians interested in the smartphone.
Telus, Bell, Rogers or Koodo are the best networks to use with the Nothing Phone (1), as the device supports 5G frequencies provided by the mentioned carriers, along with support for the most 4G and 3G bands.
Canadian weather and the Nothing Phone (1)
There have been mixed reports about the Nothing Phone (1) being sensitive to cold temperatures. Considering weather in Canada is not just cold, but, in peak winters, numbingly cold, is the device’s reported sensitivity to sub-zero temperatures a cause of concern?
It’s worth noting that in general, phone batteries do deplete faster in cold weather, but reports have suggested that the Phone (1) even performs worse when exposed to sub-zero temperatures.
According to Reddit user ‘u/TheLucas777‘ on the ‘Phone (1)’ subreddit, the Nothing Phone (1) performs worse in weather below Zero-degree Celsius. “The battery drains like 20% in 45 min SOT [screen on time], and this even with the dimmest extradim and battery saving mode.”
Another user that goes by the name ‘Crappyuserrnamee‘ added that they are an international student and brought the Nothing Phone (1) along with them when coming to Canada, and the device does not like negative temperatures.
Others have had differing views. ‘Momo8969‘ said that “I do snow removal in an unheated tractor for hours. My phone’s in my jacket breast pocket and it works no problem even when it’s an ice block.”
‘KailiTheThechie‘ added that they went skiing in -9 degree Celsius weather and their device and its battery was fine. While ‘the-mighty-taco’ said that their device performs without any issues, even in -10 to -15 Fahrenheit (-23 Celsius to -26 Celsius).
In my experience using the device, I wasn’t able to go skiing with it, or take it out in -20 or colder weather. However, being out and about in -10 to -15 celsius temperature had no noticeable effect on the device’s normal performance. The battery did seem to drain comparatively faster, but the 4,500mAh cell’s normal screen time offering is higher than roughly eight hours, which is already more than what I’m used to with the iPhone 12 Pro, so the difference felt negligible.
Canadians can easily get in touch with Nothing customer support via phone or live chat for basic support, troubleshooting, and to request help, but what about repairability?
Since the device isn’t officially available in Canada, Nothing wouldn’t be able to provide warranty repairs for the Phone (1). However, you can pay the company to fix your device, roughly 170 Euros for a screen repair + shipping costs ( roughly $244.84 CAD).
I called Canadian phone repair services to check if they’ll be able to fix the device, but since the parts for the Nothing Phone (1) aren’t available in Canada, you’ll find it impossible to get the phone repaired from a third-party repair shop.
We know that the Nothing Phone (2) will launch in the U.S. later this year. In an interview with Inverse, Pei said that the device will come later this year and that they’re “developing a smartphone that’s more premium than the Nothing Phone (1).” In such a scenario, we can likely expect the device to be available in Canada as well, alongside greater support for repairs and warranty.
The device is expected to release sometime in the second half of 2023, and is likely to be named model A065. For reference, the Nothing Phone (1) is model A063.