Nothing Phone (1) is not FCC certified: here’s what it means for you

The much-hyped Nothing phone (1) was launched in India recently. The smartphone comes with a transparent glass back design and a unique ‘Glyph interface’ at the back laid with LEDs, which users can customise to their liking. The Nothing Phone (1) also sports several noteworthy specifications, including a 120Hz refresh rate display, Snapdragon 778G+ SoC, and a 4,5000mAh battery. Additionally, the handset is now up for open sale in India through the e-commerce giant Flipkart and on the Nothing store at a starting price of Rs 31,999. That said, the Carl Pei-backed company has apparently skipped the FCC certification for the Nothing phone (1) (review) and here is what that means for you.

What is FCC certification?

FCC stands for Federal Communications Commission. The organisation is responsible for labelling the electronic products with FCC mark. For the unaware, Federal Communications Commission is an independent government agency of the United States that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

Why do devices require FCC certification?

The FCC mark is similar to how the BIS labelling of electronics works in India. The FCC mark on electronics is a certification that all the electronic products manufactured or sold in the USA must go through, otherwise, manufacturers are not allowed to sell their electronic products in the market. While the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) certification in India focuses on the quality, safety, and reliability of a wide range of products including electronics, the FCC certification focuses particularly on the RF (Radio Frequency) aspect of electronics products.

The organisation is responsible for making sure the electronics products such as smartphones don’t cross the safe RF limits and sets standards for “human RF exposure limits and hearing aid compatibility (HAC) with wireless handsets.” The process works somewhat similar to how the BIS certification works in India. India too doesn’t allow the selling of electronic products such as smartphones, laptops, televisions, and more without making them BIS compliant.

Why is Nothing Phone (1) not FCC certified? 

Now coming to the particulars of why the Nothing Phone (1) has skipped the FCC certification. It seems Nothing’s issue has more to do with the carrier issues involved in the USA than regulatory compliance. A report from the PCMag states that Nothing has decided to skip the USA and Canada launch for now. A statement sent to PCMag further notes that: 

“While we’d love to bring the Phone (1) to the entire community worldwide, we’re focusing on home markets, including the UK and Europe, where we have strong partnerships with leading local carriers. It takes a lot to launch a smartphone as you know, from ensuring the handset is supported by the country’s cellular technologies to carrier partnerships and local regulation, and as we’re still a young brand we need to be strategic about it.”

PCMag speculates that Nothing was unable to reach an agreement with a U.S. carrier and this may be the reason why Nothing is not selling smartphones in the USA, thus skipping the FCC certification. Unlike the rest of the world where users buy smartphones via independent local retailers, the scenario is a bit different in the USA where, per a Mashable report, 90 percent of smartphones sold are sold through carriers’ channels. So a deal with the telecom carrier is important for Nothing if the company wants to tap into the huge customer base of carriers in the USA.

Further, according to analyst Avi Greengart, the carrier certification process for smartphones is costly in the USA and apparently, OEMs have to shell out as much as a million dollars per phone, per carrier. Greengart further notes that smartphones have to go through the carrier certification to make them compatible with the combination of frequency bands and technology used in telecommunications in the USA. So it is possible that there may be cost issues involved for Nothing as the company is still relatively young in the market. 

But the company still plans to launch a smartphone in the USA and asks “if readers really want the Phone (1) to be available in the US as soon as possible, they should call their carrier to let them know about us.”

Is it okay to use Nothing Phone (1) without FCC certification?

Nothing Phone (1)

Yes, Nothing Phone (1) is absolutely safe to use even if it doesn’t have the FCC mark, as Nothing Phone (1) is still a BIS-compliant device. The latter ensures the device has no quality or safety issues. As noted above, electronics such as smartphones must go through BIS compliance before manufacturers can sell their phones in India. The Conformity Assessment Schemes of BIS ensure the quality, safety and reliability of products.