Nothing Phone 1 vs Samsung Galaxy S22: Flashy newcomer takes on the established old guard
The newest Android phone on the block is here after a flashy debut, and while we at XDA have had good impressions of the Nothing Phone 1 so far — it’s polished for a first attempt — it’s worth comparing it against the Android top dog, the Galaxy S22 series. It wouldn’t make sense to compare against the Galaxy S22 Ultra considering the significant price difference, so we are matching the new Nothing Phone 1 with the most affordable Galaxy S22 version. There’s still a bit of a price gap, but with regular deals and sales, the Galaxy S22 can often be had for a bit less than the official MSRP.
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Nothing Phone 1 vs Samsung Galaxy S22: Specifications
|Specifications||Samsung Galaxy S22||Nothing Phone 1|
|Dimensions & Weight||
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery & Charging||
|Security||Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner||Optical in-display fingerprint scanner|
|Audio||Stereo speakers||Stereo speakers|
|Software||One UI 4.3 over Android 12||NothingOS Android 12|
|Other Features||Dual physical SIM||Single SIM|
Nothing Phone 1 vs Samsung Galaxy S22: Hardware and Design
Both the Galaxy S22 and Nothing Phone 1 are glass-metal-sandwich slabs with flat display panels, but the aluminum frame in middle differs. Samsung’s frame is a bit rounded, for an overall softer, curvy in-hand feel, while the Nothing Phone 1 opts for completely flat sides with 90-degree corners a la the iPhone 12 and 13.
Nothing’s hard corners, along with the fact that the Nothing Phone 1 is wider, thicker, and heavier (159mm to 146mm; 8.3mm to 7.6mm; 193g to 168g respectively) means the phone is less comfortable to hold than the S22 in my opinion.
The back is where the two phones differ the most: the Nothing Phone 1 has that semi-transparent back revealing some carefully designed innards, along with LED light strips which the company calls “Glyph Interface.” The Galaxy S22 is more understated by comparison, though the camera module that spills over the sides and blends into the chassis is an interesting, unique look.
The Nothing Phone 1’s Glyph Interface is mostly for show, but there are some practical uses: you can assign specific light patterns to a specific contact. For example, you may want to set one pattern for friends and family, and another pattern for colleagues, so you can just glance at the phone’s back and know if you want to take that call. This, however, assumes you place your phone face down with the backside up (or facing you). I almost never do that (and I rarely take phone calls), so this feature serves almost no use for me. I do really like the look of the light strips and the textured design under the glass panel though.
Both phones are using Samsung AMOLED displays, but the Galaxy S22 has a superior panel. While the pixels are nearly identical for both phones, the Galaxy S22’s smaller screen means there’s a higher PPI (pixels-per-inch) count. The Galaxy S22 screen is also an LTPO panel with a refresh rate that can go between 48Hz to 120Hz, while the Nothing Phone 1’s panel is locked to either 60Hz or 120Hz. The S22’s screen also gets brighter and has Gorilla Glass Victus protection to the Nothing Phone 1’s Gorilla Glass 5. Bezels are thinner on Samsung’s phone too.
That’s mostly nitpicking for sake of nitpicking, however. In a vacuum, the Nothing Phone 1 display is still a very good-looking panel, with better color recreation and refresh rate than most of our computer or television screens. We are just spoiled by quality when it comes to display panels in smartphones, and Samsung happens to be pretty much the best.
Under the hood, the Galaxy S22 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200 depending on the region, while the Nothing Phone 1 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus. If we’re just comparing the Qualcomm devices, then it’s a no contest, the Galaxy S22’s SoC is more capable, though it runs a bit hotter. But if you live in a region with the Exynos version of Galaxy S22, then it may be a much closer battle.
A major caveat: I have not tried the Exynos 2200, but my colleague Adam Conway has, and he found it to be a very problematic performer, with frequent lags. He’s not alone: the Exynos chip being inferior to the Qualcomm chip is an ongoing trend in the mobile space.
Memory, storage, and other hardware bits
The Galaxy S22 only comes with 8GB of RAM in all versions, while the Nothing Phone 1 has either 8GB or 12GB options. Storage configurations are identical: either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage.
Both phones offer stereo speakers and strong, precise haptics, but Samsung’s phone is better protected against water, as it has IP68 vs Nothing Phone 1’s IP53. This means the Galaxy S22 can survive being dunked in water briefly, but the Nothing Phone 1 is protected against splashes only.
Nothing Phone 1 vs Samsung Galaxy S22: Cameras
50MP sensors make up both main cameras here, but they use different sensors: the Galaxy S22 uses Samsung’s own GN5 sensor, while the Nothing Phone 1 sourced Sony’s IMX766 sensor. Image sensor sizes for both are actually quite close, but the Galaxy S22 has a slightly faster f/1.8 aperture than the f/1.9 in the Nothing Phone 1.
Both main cameras are very good in a vacuum, and in the gallery below, look to be about equal.
But when I zoomed in and examined it on a larger monitor, I can see that the Galaxy S22 shot is slightly better — more detailed, better exposure, etc.
This trend is more noticeable when we move to the ultra-wide camera. Samsung’s shot has noticeably superior dynamic range and image sharpness.
The Galaxy S22 also has a good 3X telephoto zoom lens while the Nothing Phone 1 doesn’t, so what appears to be a close battle at first has quickly shifted in Samsung’s favor. Then again, the Galaxy S22 is several hundred dollars more expensive.
Nothing Phone 1 vs Samsung Galaxy S22: Software and Performance
Comparing the software of these two phones is a good gauge of whether you like phone makers to keep software light and lean or with loads of brand-specific features. The NothingOS that runs on top of Android 12 here is basically stock Android with a couple of tweaks: there’s a setting pages dedicated to customizing the glyph interface, and some header text in the phone uses Nothing’s dot-based font. That’s about it. The Nothing Phone 1 even ships with almost entirely Google apps only, with just two extra necessary apps: Nothing’s camera and recorder app.
The Galaxy S22’s One UI, meanwhile, changes a lot of Android things. The app tray swipes horizontally instead of vertically, for example. There are nearly a dozen Samsung-specific apps, and the phone is very keen to ask you to install this or update that in the middle of use. I actually enjoy using some Samsung apps, like Samsung’s internet browser, but it will display a pop-up menu asking me to update the browser every other week (somehow Samsung can’t do this automatically while the phone is sleeping). It’s very annoying.
But Samsung also brings additional features that Nothing’s very plain OS does not offer. You have multiple ways to multi-task, including not just the stock split-screen method but also the ability to open an app in a floating window. You can even make the window transparent, smaller or bigger. NothingOS did not allow apps to open in window mode at launch. An update has since enabled the feature, but it’s much more basic.
One UI also offers Samsung DeX, which allows the Galaxy S22 to output a Windows-like layout to an external monitor. This, too, can be very useful.
All these extra features may have affected system speed and fluidity though because One UI just isn’t as fast and zippy as NothingOS. There are occasional dropped animations when opening or closing apps. There are sometimes stutters when scrolling through Twitter. NothingOS isn’t entirely immune to these things, but they happen much less frequently, the UI just bounces around at seemingly a faster, more fluid pace.
If you plan on using your phone for years, then the Galaxy S22 software has one more clear win: Samsung is promising four years of Android updates, while Nothing Phone 1 is only promising three.
Overall performance is fine for both phones (remember, I’m speaking only for the Snapdragon variant of the Galaxy S22). Sure, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is more capable than the Snapdragon 778G Plus, but you’d only notice this if you really do intensive tasks like video editing or prolonged gaming sessions. For most normal usage, both phones can handle all the tasks at about the same level of performance.
Speakers are strong for both devices, so both are equally good media consumption devices, particularly because they’re both easy to hold for prolonged periods.
As for endurance, the Nothing Phone 1 may have a more power-hungry panel due to the lack of a variable refresh rate, but the significantly larger battery (4,500 mAh to the Galaxy S22’s 3,700 mAh) gives it better battery life. The Nothing Phone 1 can squeak by a full heavy 13-hour day out for me, while the Galaxy S22 has no chance of getting past 11 hours, often down to its final 5% of juice after hour 10.
Neither phone includes a charger in the box, but the Nothing Phone 1 charges faster at 33W to the 25W maximum speed of the Galaxy S22. There’s no sugarcoating this: the Galaxy S22’s battery life and charging are below par in 2022.
Nothing Phone 1 vs Samsung Galaxy S22: Which phone should you get?
The Galaxy S22 is a better phone — you get a slightly better display, a better processor, and a noticeably better camera system, but it’s also a lot more expensive, starting at $799, while the Nothing Phone 1 starts at about the equivalent of $480. But of course, the reason I couldn’t give a direct US price is that the Nothing Phone 1 doesn’t sell in the US right now.
So for many Americans, the choice is made for them, and that’s fine because the Galaxy S22 and its larger siblings are darn good Android phones. But for many in Europe and Asia, it is worth considering saving a few hundred bucks to get the Nothing Phone 1 because the Galaxy S22 really isn’t heads and shoulders better.
Still, if you don’t mind paying a bit more, the Galaxy S22 is a very polished flagship that can do a bit of everything. But it would be great if Nothing would eventually bring the phone to the US, so American consumers can have more options.