What Do Those LEDs On the Back of the Nothing Phone (1) Actually Do?

The Glyph interface is the most unique feature on the Nothing Phone (1). But what is it and what can you use it for?

The whole tech industry is talking about the Nothing Phone (1), and its most impressive feature is undoubtedly the Glyph interface—those bright white LEDs on the back of the device.

But what do those LEDs actually do? Is it a gimmick or does it provide any real functionality? And most importantly, is it worth buying the phone for? Let’s find out.


What Is the Glyph Interface on Nothing Phone (1)?

The biggest reason behind the hype of the Nothing Phone (1) is the unique pattern of LEDs on the back of the device called the Glyph interface. It contains five strips of LEDs tucked underneath the transparent back glass.

Aside from being an interesting visual design to impress onlookers, it also serves some real functionality. Here’s what you can do with the Glyph interface.

  • Visual Ringtones: The Glyph interface will mimic the ringtone you’ve set on your phone for a visual indication. This can help in case you didn’t hear your ringtone.
  • Unique Caller ID: You can customize the Glyph interface to light up a certain way by choosing from different presets for different contacts saved on your phone.
  • Notifications: The Glyph interface can serve as a dedicated notification LED for SMS, WhatsApp chats, app updates, and other general notifications you get throughout the day.
  • Charging Status: When plugged in, the bar-shaped LED at the bottom can tell you how much your phone is charged. Just wiggle the phone and the LED will show up the current battery percentage.
  • Wireless Charging Indicator: The Phone (1) has wireless and reverse wireless charging capability. When you put the phone on a charging pad, or your earbuds on the back of the phone, the LEDs will light up once to let you know that wireless charging is activated and in progress.
  • Fill Light for Portrait Shots: While taking shots, you can use the Glyph interface as a fill light to brighten up the subject of your photo or video—adding to the flashlight which is also present on the phone.

5 Cons of the Glyph Interface

While the Glyph interface is certainly exciting, it has its cons. Take a look.

  • Reduced battery life: The Glyph interface will keep lighting up throughout the day as you receive calls and notifications. This could drain the battery faster than normal. You can extend your battery life by turning off the Glyph interface, but then what’s the point of making it such an integral part of the phone’s design?
  • Distraction: In a public space, especially hospitals, temples, and libraries, having those LEDs fire up and grab everyone’s attention can be very inappropriate and feel embarrassing. Not to mention they can disturb you when studying, meditating, or relaxing.
  • Build compromises: The Glyph interface takes up extra room in the phone that could otherwise have been used to include a bigger battery or make the phone slimmer.
  • No RGB lights: You can’t change the color of the LEDs according to your liking. You only get basic white LEDs. So if you were expecting to get a cool gamer vibe, you can’t.
  • Requires a transparent case: You can’t just put any back cover you like on the phone since that would hide the Glyph interface. You can only use a transparent back cover, which means your Phone (1) will look just like anyone else’s. You can’t personalize it to reflect your unique style.

There’s also a red video recording indicator on the back of the phone. It’s technically not a part of the Glyph interface but is useful nonetheless because it informs the person in front that they are being filmed—promoting consent and privacy.

The Glyph Interface Is Cool, but Not Necessary

We can confidently sum up the Glyph interface in one line: it’s trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. In other words, it’s admittedly cool to look at, but it’s not doing anything dramatically different or performing a function that you can’t already do on an Android phone (or any phone, for that matter).

Ringtones are enough to know someone is calling you; the flashlight is enough to brighten up a subject; you can quickly see the charging status from your lock screen; and most earbuds already have an indicator to show they’re wirelessly charging.

The Glyph interface simply exaggerates these features without adding anything new to the smartphone experience. It’s not worth buying the Nothing Phone (1) for on its own, although the device as a whole could be a good deal given its £399 price and the specs it offers.

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