We could get a Nothing phone from ex-OnePlus co-founder in 2022

Nothing Ear 1 review
The Nothing Ear (1) wireless earbuds. (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

When Carl Pei left the OnePlus company he co-founded, the talk was that a phone would eventually emerge out of his new project – and that now seems likelier than ever, with a Nothing smartphone rumored for 2022, following on from the Nothing Ear (1) wireless earbuds we've already seen.

That's as per a report from 91mobiles, passing on a tip from well-known leaker Mukul Sharma about the existence of the Nothing phone. It's scheduled to launch early in 2022 apparently, so we don't have long to wait to see it.

Apart from that, details are thin on the ground. Given that Nothing recently announced a strategic partnership with Qualcomm though, it's a safe bet that some kind of Qualcomm silicon will be powering the upcoming smartphone (OnePlus has a similar partnership with Qualcomm, by the way).

They've got the power

Before the Nothing phone gets here though, we're going to get a Nothing power bank, according to the same source: the Nothing Power (1) is apparently the name of the portable charger, but again there aren't too many details around the upcoming device (such as its capacity, for example).

The power bank could even be out by the end of the year, so watch this space. While few people really expected Nothing to stick to just wireless earbuds, it seems the company's plans for expanding are now gathering pace.

Adding some extra credibility to the rumor, Nothing picked up the remains of the company behind the Essential Phone back in February – and that should give Nothing even more in the way of hardware and software expertise for its first smartphone launch. Expect something sleek and minimal, just like its earbuds.

Analysis: making a smartphone isn't easy

Essential Phone held in a hand.

The Essential Phone. (Image credit: Future)

The recent acquisition of Essential by Nothing (where do the ideas for these company names come from?) is a reminder of just how difficult it is to build and launch a smartphone in the market right now: the 2019 Essential Phone came and went without really making any impact.

In a market dominated by Apple, Samsung and Chinese phone makers, there's not much room left for plucky newcomers. Even a company working on the sort of scale that Samsung is still has to make tricky decisions about products and production.

Carl Pei has a good track record though. OnePlus, which he co-founded with Pete Lau, did start from scratch to seriously challenge the big players – you might remember the excitement around the arrival of the OnePlus One in 2014, for example.

In other words, Pei knows what he's doing in terms of everything from marketing to manufacturing, so the Nothing phone definitely stands a chance. The design and particularly the pricing of the handset are going to be crucial to its success, and we will of course let you know as soon as anything is made official.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.