The Nothing Phone (1) Beta Membership program is your chance to buy a really cool broken product

The back of the Nothing Phone (1)
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

When I was a kid a friend's dad had an MG Midget with the steering wheel on the "wrong" side. We all thought it was super-cool because it was different from all the other tiny compact cars and was built to be driven in England, which we kids thought of as someplace next to Narnia. 

When I got a little older I realized that it probably wasn't worth the trouble and costs to import a cheap car from the U.K. when there were so many cars made for the Americas. Someone spent the money to do it simply because it was cool. This is the first thing I thought of when Nothing announced that the Phone (1) Beta Membership was kicking off.

For $300 you can get a Nothing Phone (1) sent from the company to your door in the United States. The phone certainly seems to be worth 300 bucks and most people who have used it think the same way. There's a catch, though — it's not designed to work with your phone carrier and never will be.

Nothing is hiding behind words like "testing purposes" and "beta version" to whitewash all the problems you will have if you buy this from them and they basically admit to it right on the product page.

The back of the Nothing Phone (1) with its glyph lights illuminated

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

There is nothing wrong with this. Google built a bunch of Nexus phones that were absolutely beta products filled with beta software and sold them to anyone in the states who wanted to buy them. But then they seemed to pretend that they weren't beta products, started charging way too much, and we all hated them for doing it.

Handing out free cheaply-made phones at a developer conference is one thing, but charging as much money as Google would for a Nexus 6 at launch is a completely different animal.

Nothing isn't telling any obvious lies here, and I'm not accusing them of it. They tell you that this isn't an official release, the FAQ section tells you that this phone doesn't play well with AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon and that you will probably encounter plenty of "limitations" because this is all just a beta program designed to only test the Nothing Phone (1), not any sort of official U.S. release.

If you buy one, do it because it's cool like a tiny convertible that has the steering wheel on the wrong side. Don't buy it because you want or need a dependable phone and don't want to spend a lot of money on one. There are plenty of others.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.