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The CMF Phone 1 is one of the best $200 phones, but you shouldn't buy it in the US

The phone faces some serious network compatibility shortcomings in the US.

Published onJuly 8, 2024

Nothing CMF Phone 1 hero lying down
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
  • CMF Phone 1 has finally launched, marking the debut of Nothing’s sub-brand into the smartphone market.
  •  The phone isn’t sold openly in the US but can be purchased through Nothing’s Beta Program.
  • The CMF Phone 1 has limited support for US carriers, lacking full 5G compatibility and essential features like VoLTE.

Following months of social media campaigns, CMF by Nothing has finally launched its much-anticipated inaugural smartphone, the CMF Phone 1. With its unique aesthetics and attractive price tag, the CMF Phone 1 stands out as one of the most noteworthy budget Android devices in recent times. However, potential US buyers should exercise caution, as the phone’s network compatibility within the US is severely limited.

Journalist Sascha Segan, currently employed at Qualcomm, first pointed out the CMF Phone 1’s network shortcomings in the US. The phone completely lacks support for AT&T 5G, functioning only on 3G and 4G networks with this carrier. Additionally, essential features like VoLTE (Voice over LTE) and VoWiFi (Voice over Wi-Fi) are not supported on AT&T, which could significantly impact call quality and connectivity for users.

The situation is similarly bleak for Verizon customers, as the CMF Phone 1 does not support Verizon 5G or CDMA networks. While it can technically function on Verizon’s 4G network, users are required to contact Verizon customer service to register the phone’s IMEI in its database before they can access the network.

Of the three major US carriers, T-Mobile seems to be the most compatible with the CMF Phone 1, with the CMF Phone 1 supporting its 5G network but limited to just one n41 band.

The official product page for the CMF Phone 1 lists the following supported network bands:

  • 5G NR band: n1, n3, n5, n7, n8, n20, n28, n38, n40, n41, n66, n77, n78
  • 4G LTE bands: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 38, 40, 41, 66
  • 3G UMTS (WCDMA) bands: 1, 4, 5, 8
  • 2G GSM: 850/900/1800/1900

In light of these limitations, it’s evident that using the CMF Phone 1 as a primary communication device in the US is not ideal. Nothing is obviously aware of these compatibility issues, as the company has not made the phone available through regular retail channels in the US.

Instead, it’s currently being offered through Nothing’s Beta Program, with the company explicitly stating that the phone is “mainly for testing purposes” and that “full functionality and compatibility with cell carriers” cannot be guaranteed.

While the CMF Phone 1’s network limitations are a significant drawback for US consumers, it’s essential to acknowledge the phone’s strengths. The device’s innovative design, featuring interchangeable back plates and a modular accessory system, is a refreshing take on smartphone aesthetics and customization. The phone also packs a solid 120Hz AMOLED display, and its overall performance is impressive for its price point.

The phone is available to pre-order now for just $199 through Nothing’s website. For tech-savvy users willing to navigate the compatibility issues and potentially use the phone as a secondary option, the CMF Phone 1 offers a lot of value and a taste of budget-friendly smartphone innovation.

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