July 11, 2023, marked a truly momentous occasion—the release of a new smartphone in the United States. While new phone launches are not uncommon, this particular release carries significant weight due to its source—a brand that has never before ventured into the U.S. market. This development is not merely rare; it is extraordinary because it signifies a crucial expansion of choices for buyers.
Reflecting on the last occurrence of such an event, it becomes clear that the U.S. smartphone landscape has been dominated by a select few brands. As a resident of the United Kingdom, I have grown accustomed to a wide array of phone options from various manufacturers, regardless of my budget. In addition to prominent brands like Samsung, Apple, OnePlus, Motorola, and Google, the U.K. market is graced with the presence of Oppo, Huawei, Realme, and Honor.
Among these names, one must not forget Nothing, the brainchild of Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus. While the release of Nothing Phone 1 saw limited availability in the U.S., it was launched online, in stores, and through carriers in the U.K. right from the outset. However, everything changed on July 11 when the announcement of Nothing Phone 2 took place, accompanied by its immediate availability in the U.S.
To comprehend the magnitude of this development, it is crucial to provide context for those less immersed in the smartphone world than our esteemed Mobile section at Digital Trends. To the best of our knowledge, the last time an unknown brand introduced a new phone in the U.S. was back in 2017 with the unveiling of the Essential PH-1. Prior to that, the Nextbit Robin emerged in 2016, while Pei’s former venture, OnePlus, made its debut in 2014.
Therefore, we are witnessing a rare occurrence—three new brands emerging over the course of a decade. While companies like Planet Computers, Blu, and Unihertz may also introduce phones, they often lack grandiose launches, primarily sell through online platforms such as Amazon, or rely on crowdfunding. These brands, while serving their purpose, do not seem to target the mainstream market. In contrast, the mere mention of Carl Pei in tech circles elicits recognition and appreciation, underscoring his impact and influence.
During this period, other notable names such as Razer (which acquired Nextbit) and TCL made significant splashes with their phone releases in the U.S., but they do not fall into the same category. Razer is widely recognized among gamers, while TCL is renowned for its expertise in screens, particularly within the realm of televisions. The ill-fated Amazon Fire Phone and the resurrection of Palm also occupy a similar space.
In recent years, more prominent brands have exited the U.S. smartphone market than entered it. TCL discontinued BlackBerry, Huawei’s tenure was abruptly cut short, and LG bid farewell to the phone industry altogether in 2021. Instead of new brands filling the void left by LG, HMD Global capitalized on the departure by selling more mid-priced Nokia phones, while Motorola leveraged its established brand history to gain market share. Against this backdrop, the launch of Nothing Phone 2 assumes great significance, heralding an opportune moment for disruption.
Amidst the dominance of a few established brands, the U.S. market has lacked the much-needed excitement and innovation that new contenders bring. It is imperative that Nothing does not succumb to the same fate. Fortunately, the product they have introduced is replete with excitement and unlike anything seen before.
True to its name, the Nothing Phone 2 stands out with its distinctive appearance, complete with flashing lights on the back—a feature inherited from its predecessor. It boasts remarkable specifications, captures impressive photos in daylight, offers exceptional comfort when held, and is competitively priced compared to devices like the Google Pixel 7. Remarkably, it even outshines the latest offering from Pei’s former company, OnePlus 11, at a lower price point.
Carl Pei’s pivotal role in Nothing’s U.S. launch cannot be overstated. As a charismatic CEO who shares our deep passion for technology, he fearlessly defies conventions to promote Nothing’s vision. Pei’s history with OnePlus is replete with memorable marketing stunts, some more welcome than others. Nevertheless, they have consistently captured attention. In a market dominated by two colossal names, making a splash is vital to command attention. With the Nothing Phone 2, Nothing has undoubtedly achieved that objective.
If you reside in the U.S. and possess a genuine interest in technology and smartphones, the arrival of Nothing and the Nothing Phone 2 should fill you with unbridled joy. Share the news with everyone you encounter—neighbors, baristas at Starbucks, and anyone who would lend an ear. Brand-new phone releases in the U.S. are rarer than solar eclipses, so your enthusiasm will not exaggerate the significance of this event.
Moreover, consider the Nothing Phone 2 as your next smartphone, supported by our glowing 9/10 review. Encourage others to do the same. Indifference or a cursory glance that leads to picking up a Galaxy A54 risks relegating the best newcomer to the U.S. market in a decade to oblivion. The more promising contenders fail, the fewer will emerge, and we cannot afford to let such opportunities slip away.
It is easy to underestimate the importance of the Nothing Phone 2’s arrival, given the constant influx of new products. However, this event deserves applause, as launching a company in the U.S. is no small feat—especially for a brand with a limited product portfolio that did not exist at the start of 2020. Nothing possesses the DNA of OnePlus, and for the betterment of the U.S. phone market, let us foster another OnePlus-style success story.