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CMF Phone 1 is a new modular phone by Nothing that only costs $199

Published Jul 8th, 2024 10:15AM EDT
Nothing CMF Phone 1: Modular accessories.

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Later this week, Samsung will unveil new foldable phones that are expected to be just as expensive as their predecessors, if not even more expensive. But for the same price as a new Samsung foldable, you’ll be able to buy as many as eight CMF Phone 1 units, each priced at $199.

What’s CMF, you ask? It’s Nothing’s budget subbrand, and the Phone 1 is the first affordable handset from CMF. Wait, didn’t Nothing launch the Phone 2a only a few months ago, its own very affordable mid-range phone that challenges the likes of the Galaxy A35/A55 and Pixel 8a? Yes, yes it did. But the CMF Phone 1 is even cheaper than that.

Like the Nothing phones, the CMF Phone 1 comes with its own gimmick on the back. You’re not getting Glyphs that light up this time around. Instead, you’ll have a modular back to play with, which means you can replace the case with different options. Modular phones were never a thing, not even when Motorola tried it. But, for $199, you might as well go crazy.

Before you get too excited, you won’t get to buy the CMF Phone 1 in the US anytime soon. And when you do, it’ll be part of a beta program similar to the Nothing Phone 2a approach. But you won’t have long to wait that long after the European launch. The US should get the handset at some point next month, while European buyers can preorder it right now.

Nothing CMF Phone 1: Pick your color.
Nothing CMF Phone 1: Pick your color.

So, let’s get the modular part out of the way. The CMF Phone 1 doesn’t let you change the internal parts. This isn’t a Fairphone alternative.

What you can change is the color of the back of the enclosure. Also, you can add a stand to the case, a lanyard, and a wallet that can hold up to three credit cards. All you need to do is unscrew the rear-facing screws with a tool that will come in the box. Depending on the accessory type, they will sell between $25 and $35.

That means this Phone 1 version won’t have the best water resistance rating. However, it’ll still survive some contact with water, as the phone has an IP52 water and dust resistance rating.

Speaking of the specs you’re stuck with, the CMF Phone 1 seems ready to pack a punch. It is a cheap phone, but it doesn’t seem like one. You get a 6.67-inch OLED panel with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and 2,000 nits of peak brightness. The screen has a hole-punch design, a built-in optical fingerprint sensor, and seemingly symmetrical and relatively acceptable bezels.

Nothing CMF Phone 1 display.

The CMF Phone 1 is powered by a new MediaTek Dimensity 7300 5G 4nm chip with 8 cores and 8GB of RAM. The phone can convert 8GB of the 128GB of built-in storage into temporary RAM, for a total of 16GB of memory. You can extend the storage with up to 2TB microSD cards.

The camera experience is also important, and the CMF Phone 1 will have what appear to be decent cameras. There’s a 50-megapixel rear-facing main camera rocking a Sony sensor. The second camera on the back seems to be a depth sensor for portrait shots. On the front, we have a 16-megapixel selfie camera.

The battery life should be amazing, too, thanks to a 5,000 mAh battery pack that supports 33W charging. That will get you a charge of 50% in just 20 minutes. Nothing says the phone lasts 22.6 hours when watching YouTube or 15.6 hours of Instagram doomscrolling.

The handset also functions as a portable battery pack, supporting 5W reversed wired charging. However, the CMF Phone 1 does not support wireless charging.

See those screws? You get to play with them.
See those screws? You get to play with them.

Other specs include 5G connectivity, dual-SIM support, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.3.

Finally, you’ll get Nothing OS based on Android 14 complete with AI camera features and ChatGPT integration. Nothing guarantees 2 years of major Android updates and 3 years of security updates. That’s great support for a phone that retails for $199.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.