CMF Phone 1 Review: Unveiling the Best Budget Smartphone Under Rs 20,000! Is It Worth Your Money?

The CMF Phone 1 offers excellent value for money. Priced at Rs 15,999, and effectively reduced to Rs 14,999 with bank card discounts, it’s a compelling option. For a detailed review, read on.

Introduction: Innovation at an Affordable Price

Nothing has disrupted the smartphone market with its sub-brand debut, the CMF Phone 1. With a price tag of Rs 17,999, it brings the innovative design ethos of Nothing phones to a more accessible range. Notable for its “industrial” aesthetic, the company assures it delivers in performance as well. For a sub-20,000 smartphone, it provides a solid experience.

Design: Nothing’s Unique Touch

The CMF Phone 1 showcases Nothing’s innovative design. Departing from the semi-transparent look of previous models, it features a sleek black panel with minimal branding. This design is not only visually appealing but functional too.

One standout feature is the removable back panel. Nothing sells back covers with a screwdriver, allowing you to easily swap panels. This throwback feature is practical and fun, available in colors like blue, orange, light green, and black, and finishes in matte and vegan leather, each priced at Rs 799. Both finishes offer a good grip and resist fingerprints. I favored the jet black cover. The device is IP52-rated, making it resistant to water splashes.

The “Wheel” Feature

A unique element is the “wheel” on the back, initially speculated to be a fidget dial. It actually serves two purposes: attaching a lanyard or a small stand for content viewing. To use it, rotate the wheel 4-5 times to remove it and attach the accessory. Note that these accessories are sold separately.

I tested the stand, which has decent build quality but needs careful attachment to avoid damage. While the stand folds neatly along the back, removing and reattaching it can be cumbersome. The phone is comfortable to hold with the stand attached. Losing the wheel is a concern, as it leaves an unappealing look. A replacement cover costs Rs 799, or you’ll have to use the stand or lanyard permanently.

A card case is also available separately, capable of holding three cards at a time.

Overall Build Quality

Nothing has crafted a unique design with solid build quality under Rs 20,000. The device’s plain back panel, screws, and wheel add a distinctive personality.

Display: Broad and Vibrant

The CMF Phone 1 boasts a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen with up to 700 nits of typical brightness and 2000 nits peak brightness in HDR content. The screen is bright enough for outdoor use, with punchy colors and a warm tone. Display settings allow tone adjustment, though the default setting is impressive. The panel supports a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate for smooth animations and scrolling, though it seldom drops to 60Hz even with low-demand apps. This high refresh rate enhances the experience but may slightly impact battery life. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, a rarity in sub-20K phones.

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