Exclusive: Nothing Phone (1) uses mid-range Snapdragon 778G+ chip

Nothing's Carl Pei confirmed with Input that the Phone (1) will indeed use a mid-range 778G+ chip instead of Qualcomm's flagship 8 Gen 1. Here's why.

Exclusive: Nothing Phone (1) uses mid-range Snapdragon 778G+ chip
Nothing / StockX

By the time Nothing's July 12 launch event for the Phone (1) comes around, there won't be much (if anything) left to announce for the transparent Android smartphone.

In the past few weeks, Nothing has shown off the Phone (1)'s unique see-through design in photos and videos. We know that the Glyph interface — the 900 embedded LEDs inside of the lines across the back — lights up for various use-cases such as custom notifications or to illuminate subjects for the camera. We know that the Phone (1) is not launching in the U.S. come this summer but will instead target the UK and Europe; one person has paid $3,064 on StockX to be one of the first 100 people to own it; we've seen the leaked specs.

And now, Nothing has exclusively confirmed to Input one major leaked tech spec: The Phone (1) will be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 778G+ chip, a custom-tuned mid-range chip. This means the Phone (1) will not have the performance to compete with high-end phones like the Galaxy S22 Ultra and OnePlus 10 Pro, which use Qualcomm's most powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip.

Depending on what you value in a phone, the mid-range chip will either be disappointing or not at all.

Made for Phone (1) — The Snapdragon 778G+ chip inside of the Phone (1) is pretty much identical to the regular 778G chip. It still has an eight-core CPU made up of four performance (ARM Cortex-A78) and four efficiency cores (ARM Cortex-A55), Adreno 642L GPU, and an X53 5G modem.

So what is the plus in the 778G+? Two things: wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. These are features normally reserved for Qualcomm's flagship mobile chipsets. Nothing tells Input that Qualcomm added these two features just for the Phone (1). That's quite a vote of confidence in a startup that's only released one product, the Ear (1) wireless earbuds.

Does the mid-range Snapdragon 778G+ chip matter at all?Nothing / StockX

Why go with a mid-range chip? — Nothing co-founder Carl Pei explained to Input the reason for going with a mid-range chip came down to performance, power consumption, and cost. Pei says he feels phones have reached a point of good enough performance for general tasks and more powerful chips have diminishing returns.

Additionally, the 778G+ chip is more power-efficient, which means longer battery life. The mid-range chip is manufactured by TSMC using a 6nm technology, which Nothing tells Input is 30 percent “better performing from a heating, power saving, etc. POV” and the company believes is more suitable than thermals and power savings from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ (5nm made by TSMC), 8+ Gen 1 (5nm made by Samsung) and 7 Gen 1 (5nm made by Samsung).

Not to mention Qualcomm's higher-end chips like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and slightly more powerful 8+ Gen 1 add cost to a device. Nothing hasn't announced official pricing yet, but leaks suggest the company is aiming to sell the Phone (1) for under $500 USD.

Going with a 778G+ chip is in line with Pei's belief that tech specs are now irrelevant. The last OnePlus phone he oversaw, the Nord, also used a mid-range Snapdragon chip and de-emphasized specs in favor of the overall experience such as fluid animations. It boils down to “following our instinct” and “what feels right.”

Phone (1) to the moon? — With no release for the U.S. and no plans yet for markets outside of the UK and Europe, it’s too early to say whether the Phone (1) will be a hit or not. On June 26, Pei tweeted “100,000+ on the pre-order waiting list! Can't wait for everyone to get the phone (1).” And two days before that he tweeted “Crazy that 350k+ of you have downloaded the Nothing OS Launcher beta...”

“I think one thing we’re trying to accomplish is to bring people back in time to when they felt more optimistic about gadgets,” Pei told Engadget. It’s also clear that the Phone (1) is just the beginning. “We need to gradually build to a position of strength. Then when you’re strong, you can go and do something really, really innovative, because you’ll have a business that’s stable enough to take a lot of shots.”

Pei has shared before that Nothing wants to build out an ecosystem of interconnecting devices that ultimately become invisible. Until consumer tech becomes small enough to achieve that vision, a phone is central to an ecosystem.