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CMF Phone 1 review: Changing covers

CMF Phone 1 review: Changing covers

CMF Phone 1
Great AMOLED display
Rear covers can be swapped
Accessories let you jazz the phone up
No optical zoom
Only 8GB RAM (but uses a swap file for another 8GB)

For a budget phone, the CMF Phone 1 by Nothing offers quite a lot of value. At just S$369, you get changeable rear covers, accessories such as a stand and a card holder. Performance is decent too, slightly better than the Nothing Phone 2a as well. While it may not have the beautiful transparent rear designs of the Nothing Phones, you still get the Nothing OS experience.

Unlike the Nothing Phones, the CMF Phone 1 sports a much different design. The rear plastic cover comes in four colours: Black, white, red, and blue. The latter two feature a vegan leather texture, but I prefer the matte texture of the black and white covers. Swapping out the cover isn't as simple as the old Nokia phones of yore, though, where you simply remove, and snap a new one into place. Instead, you have to remove five screws — four metal ones and a round circle located at the bottom right.

CMF Phone 1
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

Quick specs

  • 8-core 4nm MediaTek Dimensity 7300, up to 2.5GHz
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB storage
  • 50MP rear camera with portrait sensor f1.8, 16MP front
  • 6.67-inch Super AMOLED 120Hz display, typical brightness: 700 nits, peak: 2,000 nits

This design allows you to easily add accessories — such as a stand — to the CMF Phone 1. You can also add stuff like a card holder, which attaches magnetically. The card holder is strong enough to stick to Apple's MagSafe chargers, which can be useful for attaching to a car dock such as the Belkin Car Vent Mount Pro with MagSafe. Our review unit came with these three accessories, the above two as well as a lanyard, and there's likely more to come in the future.

CMF Phone 1
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

Like the Nothing Phone 2a, the CMF Phone 1 punches above its weight. Based on our benchmarks, the performance from its 8-core Mediatek Dimensity 7300 chip is slightly better than the Phone 2a, and the phone experience is pretty smooth, too. I tested it with Android Auto, which ran fine. Battery life is also pretty good, with 10hr 47min of run time in the PCMark test on the phone's 5,000mAh battery. That's slightly less than the Nothing Phone 2a, but more than enough for a full day of use.

CMF Phone 1
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

Camera performance is good. You get pictures with lots of detail if you're shooting in daylight, and low light shots look decent, if a bit muddy. The CMF Phone 1 has a 50MP main camera, and a 16MP front camera. While there appears to be two camera lens at the back, it's really only just one. The other is a depth sensor for portrait shots. While it can go up to 2x zoom, note that this is digital, not optical. Other features include Ultra XDR — not Apple's display tech — but a solution for a more accurate HDR shots.

CMF Phone 1
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

Lastly, I'm actually surprised that this phone sports a 120Hz AMOLED adaptive display. It's honestly something you don't find on phones in this price range. The Samsung Galaxy A35, which offers similar performance, is around S$150 more. However, I couldn't find an Always-On-Display option, which would have made this phone even better for its price. The screen is bright, vibrant, and makes this phone feel a lot more expensive than what it retails for.

See Also
Play For Dream MR

At S$369 for the 8GB RAM and 256GB storage version, the CMF Phone 1 by Nothing is a budget phone that's out to compete with the best. I also think it could be a good first phone for teenagers, too. The case accessories sell for S$29, while the stand, lanyard, card holder are just S$19 each. Get it from Shopee or Lazada from July 12. You can also check it out at Nothing's site.

Note: Review unit provided by Nothing.

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Excellent budget phone with great features.

Get at Shopee
Get from Lazada

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