Project Ara Vibes? The CMF Phone 1 with REPLACEABLE BACKPLATES Now in the Philippines!

Modular phones… are they back for real?

You may have never heard of a brand called “CMF”, or “Nothing” for that matter but they are a new startup based in London, founded by Carl Pei, the genius behind OnePlus. After his departure, he decided to found a company called Nothing with the goal of featuring unique and innovative designs and a friendly ecosystem.

The Nothing Phone series is the company’s first project and was a success (though the Nothing Ear (1) came out first). The first generation of this series is essentially a midrange phone with a stunning light show at the back. However, the second generation is a fully fledged flagship featuring the same glyph lighting at the back but with a more powerful chipset. In just a few months after the Phone (2)’s release, Nothing divided its brand into two, the other is CMF, focusing on a more budget-friendly audience.

This sub-brand is essentially a watered down Nothing, retaining the same philosophy and design culture. Today, CMF released their first phone, the CMF Phone 1 which they have been teasing for months now and frankly, many European users were hyped.

This dial at the bottom of the phone was heavily teased prior to the phone’s launch.

The phone is all about its unique modular design ala Project Ara back in 2014. In case you don’t know, Project Ara was a project launched by Google in 2014 hoping to bring modular phones to the mainstream. This meant that you can have a phone with user-replaceable displays, cameras, batteries, and even chipsets that don’t require any technical knowledge. This concept is, in a way, similar to PCs wherein you can keep the tower that you already own and then just replace any part, such as the storage and GPU, at any time. However, this was a failure mainly because of its impracticality. Since there are many Android manufacturers, each of them needs to have a consistent supply of parts and makes phone design redundant. There are also situations in which brands underdeliver and fail to supply the necessary replaceable parts. Brands that once adhered to modular designs include LG and most recently, RED.

Now it seems like Nothing wants to bring the modular design back to mainstream. Execution plays a key role in making this effective and they too need a consistent supply of accessories to keep the phones modular. Thankfully this time, their iteration is not all over the place. You can only replace the back plate, which makes manufacturing and logistics less complicated. The phone is less about “sustainability” but rather more on being personal. What we can suggest is that the brand should partner with established case makers, such as DBrand or Casetify, to exclusively make removable backs for the CMF Phone 1 and future projects. That way, users are not stuck to just what Nothing can offer but also help the brand deliver more unique designs, adding to that “personal vibe” they are going for.

Now onto the specs. See, it’s really nothing (no pun intended) special. It’s a budget phone (and we’re not talking about sub-20K budget phone specs either) in all regards. The most noteworthy feature here is the MediaTek Dimensity 7300 chipset and surprisingly, a MicroSD Card slot, a very rare feature nowadays to the point it’s now a highlight rather than a necessity. There is only one camera at the back, a Sony camera (not specified). The other is just for show, a 2MP depth sensor. The front camera isn’t noteworthy either. It’s the same 16MP camera you’ve seen in many other phones. It also features a 6.67″ SAMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate and a 5000mAh battery with 33W fast charging. The phone is splash and dust proof thanks to its IP52 rating.

Let’s go back to the design again. See, there are several screws at the back and the brand provides you with a special proprietary screwdriver which also doubles as a SIM Ejector tool. This is how you remove the special plastic casing and replace it with other cases the brand provides. The dial is a unique design element, and this holds the phone in place after you remove the screws. So far, this has been the most unique phone we’ve seen this year. Unique in a sense that it brings back a dead feature back to life: modularity.

The phone is available to purchase via Digital Walker for PHP 17,490 for the 8/256 version. There is also an 8/128 version coming soon but so far, no price has been announced.


  • 6.67″ FHD+ (2400x1080px) SAMOLED, 8-bit colour, 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate
    • IP52 splash/dust resistance
  • MediaTek Dimensity 7300 (4nm)
    • 50MP (Primary)
    • 2MP (Depth)
    • FRONT: 16MP
  • NothingOS 2.6 based on Android 14
  • 5000mAh, 33W fast charging
  • USB-C, Removable Backplate, MicroSD Card Slot (up to 2TB), In-display fingerprint sensor
  • 5G services, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.3, Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Optional Accessories (Back Cover, Screwdriver)
  • PRICE:
    • 8/128: TBA
    • 8/256: PHP 17,490

Source: CMF Phone