Nothing Phone 1 vs Apple iPhone 13: The newest Android takes on the most mainstream iPhone
The newest Android phone in town has a look that’s at once unique and familiar. The Nothing Phone 1 features an attention-grabbing transparent back panel revealing some flashy light strips, but it also has an overall shape that’s very similar to the iPhone 13 series. Today we compare the two.
It’s worth noting there’s a nearly $300 price difference between the two phones, but the iPhone 13 is the most popular and mainstream iPhone, so a comparison is still justified in our opinion.
Nothing Phone 1 vs Apple iPhone 13: Specifications
|Specification||Nothing Phone 1||Apple iPhone 13|
|Dimensions & Weight||
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery & Charging||
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner||Face ID|
|Front Camera(s)||16MP, f/2.4||12MP TrueDepth camera system|
|Software||NothingOS based on Android 12||iOS 15|
|Other Features||Glyph lighting interface||MagSafe|
Nothing Phone 1 vs Apple iPhone 13: Design and Hardware
With a 6.5-inch OLED screen, the Nothing Phone 1 is a bit larger than the iPhone 13 (it is, in fact, closer to the iPhone 13 Pro Max in size), but the rough in-hand feel is very similar. The Nothing Phone 1 offers a glass back with an aluminum frame that’s flat on all four sides. The corners are rounded in the same way as an iPhone, making for a very similar in-hand feel. (Note: the photo below is of the Nothing Phone 1 with an iPhone 13 Pro Max, not the standard iPhone 13 — but it gives you a good idea since the iPhone 13 is just a smaller version of the Pro Max).
Of course, the Nothing Phone 1 has that aforementioned back design: a transparent glass revealing the “guts” of the phone, only most of the stuff you see is only decoration. They are intricately designed, modular pieces that are meant to evoke the sense of retro 80s gadgets. The back side houses four LED light strips supposedly made up of over 700 lights. These lights are mostly for decoration but they do serve some practical uses, like flashing a specific pattern for calls from specific contacts (that you set yourself), or serving as a fill light when taking photos.
The iPhone 13, meanwhile, has a more understated design, particularly in the plain white model I tested. With a 6.1-inch OLED screen, it’s smaller and lighter, weighing 174g than the Nothing Phone 1, which tips the scales at 194g.
Flip these phones around and the Nothing Phone 1 has an undeniably more attractive screen, with symmetrical bezels wrapping all four sides and just a small hole punch in the upper right corner. The iPhone 13, meanwhile, loses quite a bit of screen to that notorious notch. Although one can easily argue the notch brings a superior biometric security system in the form of Face ID. The Nothing Phone 1 uses an optical in-display scanner, but it’s a bit slow compared to Android peers. If I’m not wearing a mask, it is easier for me to unlock the iPhone 13 than the Nothing Phone 1.
Importantly, the Nothing Phone 1 display refreshes up to 120Hz, while the iPhone 13 is just a 60Hz panel. As we approach the second half of 2022, there’s no denying that a 60Hz panel is a bit outdated in the mobile space.
The iPhone 13 takes a clear win in processing power, for it runs on Apple’s A15 Bionic, which is quite a bit more powerful than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus chip powering the Nothing Phone 1. However, these power differences will only show themselves in really intensive tasks like editing and exporting 4K videos, or for doing various iPhone machine learning tasks like applying artificial bokeh to videos, or quickly removing background from still images in just a couple of seconds with a couple of taps and swipes. But I’d argue these are more niche tasks for specific creative-minded people. The average joe who just needs a phone to send emails, read websites, watch videos and scroll through social media won’t notice the difference in power.
Both the iPhone 13 and Nothing Phone 1 offer dual camera systems on the back, with a selfie camera around the front. The iPhone’s main system is a pair of 12MP cameras, while the Nothing Phone 1 packs a 50MP main camera along with an 8MP ultra-wide.
For the most part, both phones’ main cameras capture great images, the iPhone has a more responsive shutter, and consistently finds better white balance in photos, but the Nothing Phone 1’s images exhibit stronger bokeh due to having a larger sensor, and images are slightly sharper if you pixel peep.
The ultra-wide camera is solid if unspectacular on the iPhone 13, and mediocre on the Nothing Phone 1. That is to say, they’re both fine during the day but shoot at night and you see major image detail dropoff in both phones, more so on the Nothing Phone 1.
Selfies are fine for both phones, but the iPhone takes a clear win in video performance, videos have better stabilization, better exposure, and better colors — the latter made worse by an early bug that leaves Nothing’s videos with an overly warm tint. I’m sure this will be fixed via a software update, but I must evaluate these phones by how they perform in my hand at the time.
Memory, haptics, speakers
The Nothing Phone 1 packs more RAM, but that doesn’t matter much because iOS has always needed less RAM than Android to run just as well. Both phones start at 128GB of RAM. While the Nothing Phone 1’s haptics and speakers are quite good, the iPhone 13’s are just a tad better. Haptics are a hair more precise, audio a bit fuller. But then when you consider there’s a $300 difference between the two phones, I think Nothing’s offering is more than fine — they’re better than what some other brands would offer at the same price point.
Nothing Phone 1 vs Apple iPhone 13: Software
The Nothing Phone runs a lightly skinned version of Android 12 named Nothing OS. It’s almost like skeleton vanilla Android, except with a small handful of customization features like the option to customize the aforementioned LED light strips (which the company calls Glyph Interface), and the option to make app icons gigantic on the homescreen. There are some forward-thinking software touches that are not ready for testing yet, like the ability to connect to a Tesla car (so the phone can unlock the car doors directly). But overall, the experience is very much Android, just a cleaner than usual one. Nothing reps were proud to talk about how the phone comes with “absolutely no bloatware” and that’s mostly true. The phone only ships with Google’s suite of apps (though in my opinion, there are far too many of them) and just two Nothing apps: a camera app and a recorder app. That’s it. This is indeed the fewest number of apps I’ve ever seen pre-installed on a phone out of the box.
The iPhone 13, meanwhile, runs on iOS 15 and it should be pretty familiar for most people. It’s the quintessential iPhone. I have gripes with Apple not optimizing or differentiating their software to account for differing screen sizes — the software behaves exactly the same whether you’re using a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini or 6.5-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max — but the software seems best suited for this 6.1-inch iPhone size.
There’s not much point in doing another Android vs iOS debate, as at this point most people know the pros and cons of each software. iOS is obviously well optimized for the iPhone 13, but the Nothing OS that runs in the Nothing Phone is quite smooth too. I have used both phones extensively and I haven’t encountered any major bugs or app crashes.
Nothing Phone 1 vs Apple iPhone 13: Performance and Battery Life
As mentioned earlier, the Apple A15 Bionic is noticeably more powerful than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus, so the iPhone 13 is just a more capable phone, as you can see in the Geekbench score below. But for more casual smartphone use, the Nothing Phone 1 is more than powerful enough. In fact, the faster refresh rate of the Nothing Phone 1’s screen makes the phone feel faster than the iPhone 13.
As a media consumption device, I much prefer the Nothing Phone 1 because the screen is less interrupted. Speaker quality is about even on both phones too.
In terms of endurance, the Nothing Phone 1 has a significantly larger battery, and it can indeed last slightly longer. From my personal use, the Nothing Phone 1 can last about 14 hours on a single charge, while the iPhone 13 can go about 12 to 13 hours. Keep in mind I’m a heavy user who uses the camera often. For more casual users, I’m certain both phones can last an entire day.
Nothing Phone 1 vs Apple iPhone 13: Which phone is for you?
Okay, considering there’s a $300 price gap, your budget may play a big factor. In my opinion, the iPhone 13 is a slightly more capable phone, but I think the Nothing Phone 1 is a better value. The iPhone 13 has a more capable processor (if you do intensive tasks), iOS is surrounded by a better app and hardware ecosystem, but on the other hand, the Nothing Phone 1 has a better screen and endurance.
If you are in the market for a phone and don’t want to pay more than $500, the Nothing Phone 1 is absolutely one of the best options around. As for the iPhone 13, well, do I need to say more? It’s the most mainstream iPhone, and thus people who can spend a bit more, or people who want to dive into Apple’s ecosystem, will be satisfied with the iPhone 13.