Nothing's Phone 1 Is Missing One Important Feature: Waterproofing

We breakdown what Phone 1's IP53 rating actually means and how it compares with the iPhone SE 2022 and Google's Pixel 6A.

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
Expertise Huawei, Oppo, smartphones, smartwatches Credentials
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Sareena Dayaram
3 min read
The Nothing Phone 1's back, featuring an LED "glyph"
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Nothing's Phone 1 made a splash with its debut earlier this month. Apart from a solid set of specs for a relatively affordable price, its transparent back literally lights up when you receive a phone call or a notification.  

But there's one important missing feature: waterproofing.  

The Phone 1 has an IP53 rating for water resistance -- a lower rating than the similarly priced iPhone SE 2022 and Google Pixel 6A's IP67 rating and Samsung Galaxy's A53 5G, indicating Nothing's hyped-up smartphone may not be as durable as its peers. Though to be fair, none of those phones have a rear adorned with hundreds of flashing LED lights or wireless charging.

IP, which stands for International Protection (sometimes Ingress Protection), is a set of standards defined by an industry body, the International Electrotechnical Commission. It reflects how effective a particular device is at preventing intrusion of foreign objects such as dust particles or water.

For the Phone 1, the first number -- 5 -- indicates how protected the product is against dust, while the second number -- 3 -- indicates how protected the product is against water. The higher the better. Phone 1's dust rating of 5 means it has partial protection from dust, but it's not completely sealed off from it (that would be a rating of 6). Still, it has enough protection that even if dust particles manage to enter the phone, it wouldn't impede performance in a discernible way. In other words, the Phone 1 should continue to function smoothly even if you end up trapped in a sandstorm, though it will get some dust and sand inside it.

Watch this: Nothing Phone 1 Is a Superb, Affordable Phone

But the dust rating was never the issue -- the water rating is what we're more concerned with. A water rating of 3 means that the Phone 1 is hardly waterproof. Phone 1 is protected from water spraying at low pressure at any angle up to 60 degrees. This also means Phone 1 can't withstand high water pressure or any sort of water immersion. In other words, you'll be fine if you're caught in a light shower with this phone, but you shouldn't go galavanting in the rain with it. Dropping it in the toilet will all but certainly mean your phone is a goner, and you should definitely avoid keeping it anywhere close to a pool.

By comparison, the IP67 rating of the iPhone SE 2022 and Google's new Pixel 6A means those devices can repel dust and water, including temporary immersion in water. To be more specific, those phones are rated to withstand being soaked under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.

Still, if you fell in love with the Phone 1's see-through design, but you're worried about water damage, there's a plethora of waterproof cases and waterproof pouches available on Amazon and other retailers that can help fortify Phone 1's defenses against liquids. For more details on how Google's Pixel 6A and Apple's iPhone SE compare with Nothing's Phone 1, scroll down for a look at CNET's specs chart. Note that the Nothing Phone 1 is not currently on sale in the US.

Nothing Phone 1 vs. peers

Nothing Phone 1Apple iPhone SE (2022)Google Pixel 6A
Display size, resolution, refresh rate 6.55-inch OLED display, 2,400x1,080 pixels4.7-inch LCD; (1,334x750 pixels); 60Hz6.1-inch OLED; (1080 x 2400); 60Hz
Pixel density 402ppi326ppi429 ppi
Dimensions (Millimeters) 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3 mm138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm 6.0 x 2.8 x 0.35 in
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.83 oz; 193.5g5.09 oz; 144g6.3 oz; 178g
Mobile software Android 12iOS 15Android 12
Camera 50-megapixel (main), 50-megapixel (ultrawide)12-megapixel (wide)12.2-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel ultrawide)
Front-facing camera 16-megapixel 7-megapixel8-megapixel
Video capture 4K at 60fps4K4K
Processor Snapdragon 778G+Apple A15 BionicGoogle Tensor
Storage/RAM 8GB + 128GB, 8GB +256 GB, 12GB RAM + 256GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB6GB RAM/128GB storage
Expandable storage NoneNoneNone
Battery/Charger 4,500 mAH; 33W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, 5W reverse chargingBattery sized not disclosed; charger not included, supports wireless charging4,410 mAh; 18-watt fast charging, adapter sold separately
Fingerprint sensor In-displayTouch ID under displayUnder display
Connector USB-CLightningUSB C
Headphone jack NoNoneNone
Special features 5G, IP53, Three years of Android updates, Dual Sim, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate5G-enabled; supports 25W wired fast charging; Water resistant (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging5G-enabled, 18W fast charging, Wi-Fi 6E, security updates for 5 years, Android OS updates for 3 years, dual SIM, IP67 water resistance
Price (USD) 8GB/128GB (~$475), 8GB/256GB (~$535), and the 12GB/256GB (~$594).$399 (64GB), $449 (128GB), $549 (256GB)$449; $599 (128GB)