TheCMF Devices prove yet again that cheap doesn’t have to mean boring

The Phone 1: A Budget-Centric Smartphone with a Totally Customized Back Panel and an Almost-Field-Shield

There are tradeoffs to consider when it comes to being a budget phone. The Phone 1 is splash- resistant, but there’s no near field communication. That is understandable, considering the price point as well as the way the entire back of the phone comes off. Carrier support in the US is also quite limited. Like the Phone 2A, it will work on T-Mobile’s 4G and 5G networks, but only supports Verizon and AT&T’s 4G bands. But for $199? It is one heck of an accessory, so it might just be worth it.

CMF, Nothing’s budget-conscious but still extremely style-driven subbrand, is shipping its first phone, the aptly named Phone 1. Nothing’s first own- brand phone has an operating system and a name, while it also comes with a modular approach to phone customizations. Why put a different case on your phone when you can put a whole new phone on your phone?

The phone is a phone, but the back panel comes off so that you can swap it with another one. The replacement comes with everything you’ll need, including a screwdriver, screws, and a color-matched sim tray.

There’s also a round accessory port cover in the bottom corner of the phone. Although it resembles the control dial on CMF’s neckband earbuds, it doesn’t offer any functional use aside from protecting the accessory port. CMF will offer three accessory at launch: a lanyard, wallet, and kickstand, each with $25 and an orange color.

Those are all sold separately, as are the colorful replacement back panels, which are $35 each. You get a budget phone in the box with a very decent screen, a great camera, and a generous battery. It comes with black panels and a range of options including orange, green, and blue.

There are some black screws on the phone’s case. You can basically take the phone away and use the back cover to switch it up with other back covers at a cost of $35 each. The removal of the screws is cumbersome because of the tool’s short length, and I nearly lost a screw in the process. CMF says that it will be offering screws as spare parts.

Once the phone is safely encased again, you can add accessories. The wallet is made of plastic with a MagSafe-like magnet embedded in it. I am sure it is not a coincidence that I was able to attach the phone with the magnetic mount to the MagSafe charging stand, since the Phone 1 does not offer wireless charging. The wallet can be attached with the lanyard or kickstand.

The lanyard is made of thick fabric. Someone who was much younger than me could probably wear their phone with them. The kickstand seems strong, though I wish the arm sat flush against the phone while not in use. They’re all a vibrant orange color — the gadget color of the year, I guess.

What’s most remarkable about these devices is the price. After setting up the CMF Phone 1, I was surprised to find that it was just $199 and performed nearly twice the price. The Buds Pro 2 are already $59, and the Watch Pro 2 is just $69. Better yet, they’re not just cheap devices. There’s plenty of character in their designs that make you want to use them.

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