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Carl Pei's Nothing launches maiden smartphone

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish tech entrepreneur Carl Pei launched the first smartphone from his new company Nothing on Tuesday, hoping to crack a fiercely competitive market with new features.

Pei co-founded smartphone maker OnePlus in 2013 and made it a rival to Apple and Samsung by offering premium features at half the price, and becoming the top seller in several countries including India.

After leaving OnePlus in 2020, he founded Nothing last year with backing from the likes of Tony Fadell, designer of Apple's iPod, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and Reddit CEO Steve Huffman.

London-based Nothing says its smartphone offers 18 hours of use with every charge, and two days on standby, and that it can reach 50% power in just 30 minutes of charging. It says the phone also has an array of remote features including being able to unlock the doors of a Tesla car.

The phone is priced from 399 pounds ($470), with the company saying it is cheaper than premium phones with similar features and that there are over 200,000 pre-orders for it. OnePlus used an invite-only strategy for selling smartphones that created high demand by keeping customers in a constant state of anticipation. Following a similar strategy, Nothing held an auction in June for an initial 100 of the new phones, fetching bids of over $3,000, it said.

IDC's research director Navkendar Singh said Nothing will compete against phones from Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo but competition will be intense.

Gartner has revised down its forecast for global mobile phone sales this year to a decline of 7.1% from growth of 2.2%. "The smartphone market is frighteningly competitive and is dominated by Apple and Samsung who have incredible resources," said Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight. "Add in the current macroeconomic situation and cost of living pressure and it means being successful will be a huge challenge."

(1 pound = $1.18)

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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