Nothing has always brushed off suggestions that it releases budget devices. The London-based hardware startup prefers to position itself as a lifestyle — or even fashion — brand, with design at the core of all it does. It’s a framing that has found the company embracing limited edition, in-person product drops — an uncommon approach for mass-produced consumer electronics.
That said, pricing has always been part of Nothing’s appeal. That was the case with its first product, the $99 Ear (1) and continues on with the recent Phone (2). Indeed, $599 doesn’t make it a budget phone, of course, but it’s well below what many big-name flagships are going for these days.
During its latest Community Quarterly Update, the company announced the launch of CMF by Nothing — an unabashedly budget-conscious line. Founder Carl Pei refers to the brand as, “a new range of products that makes better design more accessible to a wider group of consumers.”
“We believe that we can make good design more democratic and impact more people,” Pei says in the video. “Currently, when you look at the value segment within the technology sector, there just isn’t a lot to get excited about. Good quality seems like a false promise. We’re a very design-led organization, so that same high-quality, high-standard design is going to be seen both in Nothing and CMF by Nothing. We’re also a user-experience-led company, so we want the products to not just look good, but work really well.”
Pei adds that the Nothing line will focus on “the highest-end components and the best performance and will also feature the latest technology.” CMF, meanwhile, will focus on “clean and timeless design” that isn’t “excessively priced.”
The brand will operate with a distinct team under the broader Nothing umbrella. The company announced a hefty $96 million round at the end of June — money that is likely going toward a headcount expansion and the development of a distinct R&D team. CMF’s first products — earbuds and a smartwatch — are due later this year. Nothing has, of course, released multiple earbuds to date, but it will be interesting to see whether its first smartwatch arrives under the new branding.
The move echoes Nord, the budget line launched by Pei’s former company, OnePlus. Lower-priced devices afforded that device maker the opportunity to appeal to a broader consumer base and target additional markets with a lower barrier of entry. So, will CMF by Nothing be Nordthing? The company promises more details later this year.
The news follows the recent debut of the Nothing Phone (2), which found the phone maker embracing Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 series chip — albeit not the latest version. Perhaps as the company devotes a separate arm to lower-cost devices, it will focus on bringing even higher-end components to its primary line.