Nothing’s Carl Pei has confirmed that the upcoming Phone 2 will launch in the US later this year. The CEO and co-founder described the 2023 flagship as “more premium” than the Nothing Phone 1, which Engadget saw as an “impressive debut” in our review.

Pei dropped some goodies in an interview with On the contrary. First, he says the US launch of the Ear 1 headphones is a barometer of US demand. “We’re really excited about the US market because it’s a big country,” Pei said. “If you look at our headset sales, about a third come from the US. And by not launching our phone in the US, we’re leaving potentially a third of the volume on the table.” Pei describes the launch of the Phone 2 in the US as Nothing’s top priority this year.

Pei suggests that declining smartphone sales indicate that the US market is ripe for innovation. “From a business perspective, [Apple and Samsung] they shouldn’t go too niche and try something completely different because they might alienate current users. This is where smaller companies like us can step in and try to do something different. It’s not that we’re smarter or that they can’t, but it just doesn’t make sense for them to do it.” However, while stagnation may play a role, the biggest reasons for the decline are likely to be supply chain issues, inflation and an unpredictable economy.

Carl Pei in 2019

Steve Jennings via Getty Images

Pei says red tape is the main reason Nothing won’t launch the Phone 1 in the US. US carriers require Android manufacturers to accommodate various customizations and pre-installed apps, which takes significant resources. But the company’s rapid growth and proven ability to move volumes gave it leverage. “When you make a smartphone for the US, you have to work with the carriers to certify and adapt some of their features to your operating system,” he said. “We didn’t have the resources to do it before, and now we do,” adds Pei, who says Nothing has grown from 200 employees in 2021 to 400 today.

While Pei didn’t reveal many secrets about the Phone 2, he hinted at a higher-end design than its predecessor. “We’re developing a smartphone that’s more premium than the Nothing Phone 1, and software will be a big area of ​​focus for us.” However, he stresses that the Phone 1 is also a flagship phone. “Mobile chipsets have really improved over the last seven to nine years. That’s why I want to avoid calling the Phone 2 a flagship, because that would imply that the Phone 1 isn’t a flagship. Within our own portfolio of smartphones, the Phone 1 was pretty much the leader in terms of the care we put into the product. That’s why I used the word “premium” [to describe the Phone 2] instead, meaning it’s a more premium step up, but still a flagship just like the Phone 1.”

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