- The Phone (2) is the second phone from Nothing, following the Phone (1), which was launched in July 2022.
- While it follows a broadly similar design as the Phone (1), the Phone (2) comes with more powerful hardware and some new features and is placed in a higher price segment.
- At its starting price of Rs 44,999, the Nothing Phone (2) goes up against the likes of the OnePlus 11R and the Pixel 7a. Can its different design and interface help it carve a niche for itself in a new price zone?
Nothing rattled quite a few smartphone cages last year with its Phone (1). In a market where similarity designs and spec sheets are the rules, the Phone (1) boldly took the road less traveled, with a transparent-ish back with LEDs that lit up in different patterns depending on notifications and functions, only two cameras on the back, and clean Android. The brand also surprised many with its decision to make its debut in the premium-mid-segment rather than at the flagship end of the market. The Phone (1) received mostly positive reviews, and Nothing claims to have shipped 750,000 units of the device globally, a respectable figure.
It also built up a lot of expectations around its successor, expectations which were skilfully fanned into hype by the brand’s co-founder, Carl Pei. Nothing has now been released about the Phone (2). It comes with a boosted spec sheet and a price tag that place it in a totally different segment of the market as compared to its predecessor. While the Phone (1) was more of a premium mid-segment offering, mixing it with the likes of the OnePlus Nord series, the Nothing Phone (2) is a very different creature and gets into the flagship killing zone occupied by the likes of the OnePlus 11R and the Pixel 7a. The Phone (1) did reasonably well in the mid-segment, shipping over 750,000 units. Can the Phone (2) shake up the flagship killers? Let us find out.
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Nothing Phone (2) design: Looks similar to the Phone (1) but is different from everyone else!
In terms of design, the Nothing Phone (2) follows the broad template of the Phone (1) but makes a few tweaks, which make it very different from its predecessor. The front is dominated by a tall display with some of the smallest bezels we have seen (almost no ‘chin’), and the display is larger (6.7 inches as compared to 6.55 inches on the Phone (1)) and the selfie camera has been moved from the top left corner to the center of the top.
The real difference between the new Nothing phone and the old one, however, becomes evident on its back. You still have the same transparent-ish back, giving you a glimpse of well-covered innards, but unlike in the Phone (1), the back is not flat but curves and slopes gently towards the sides. This overlap is also noticeable on the sides, which helps in making the Phone (2) look not only very different from the Phone (1) at a closer glance but also reduces the chances of its being mistaken for an iPhone 13/14, a fate the Phone (1) suffered. There are subtle changes in the LEDs and components on the back too, but these are unlikely to be evident straight off.
The Phone (2) is also slightly larger than the Phone (1) – it is 162.1 mm tall as against 159.2 mm and 76.4 mm wide as compared to 75.8 mm. It is, however, slimmer at 8.3 mm as against 8.6 mm of the Phone (1) and is only marginally heavier at 201.2 grams as against 193.5 grams. This is not a small phone and is a little heavy to carry, but it has a very solid feel to it. The front and back are protected by Gorilla Glass 5, the frame is aluminum, and the phone comes with IP54 dust and water resistance (up from IP53 on the Phone (1)). The back does not pick up smudges, but we would advocate putting a transparent case on the back (there is none in the box).
The Phone (2) has a more elegant feel to it than the Phone (1), which had definite ‘first phone’ vibes and a few rough edges in the design. That transparent back with the LEDs might look very similar to the Phone (1), but it is still nothing like anything on any other phone and has a more refined look to it now. And heads will turn when those LEDs on the back light up in different patterns. The phone comes in white and dark gray shades. We got the dark gray unit, which looks very eye-catching, thanks to that back. It might not be a radical departure in design terms from the Phone (1), but the Nothing Phone (2) is one of the most distinct phones out there and one of the few that can be easily recognized at a glance. There is no chance of your confusing its gray variant with any other phone out there, even its own predecessor. And that is quite an achievement in a phone design era that seems inspired by the Clone War saga of Star Wars!
Nothing Phone (2) specs: Flagship killing hardware
The differences in their design might be subtle, but there is nothing subtle in the differences in the hardware of the Phone (1) and the Phone (2). The Phone (1) was very much a mid-segment device, while the Phone (2) is looking to breathe down some flagship necks. The 6.77-inch OLED FHD+ display is not only larger than the Phone (1) but supports LTPO. This means it can change refresh rates between 1 Hz and 120 Hz depending on the content being displayed on it, something that its predecessor lacked. This is flagship-level stuff. The Phone (2)’s processor is flagship level too.
The Phone (2) runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor. It is about a year old but is second only to the latest and greatest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and is still being used on many budget flagships, most notably the OnePlus 11R and the recently released iQOO Neo 7 Pro. There are three RAM and storage options – 8 GB/ 128 GB, 12 GB/ 256 GB, and 12 GB/ 512 GB. It is rare to see 512 GB storage at this price point, and while it is good to see Nothing provide users with the option, some would have preferred a 16 GB RAM variant.
In terms of cameras, the Phone (2) might seem to be following the same dual 50-megapixel camera on the back strategy that the Phone (1) did, but this time the main sensor is a flagship-level Sony IMX890 with OIS. The secondary camera remains a 50-megapixel ultrawide sensor, though, and Nothing deserves a round of applause for not burdening the phone with token 2 and 5-megapixel ‘depth,’ ‘macro’ and ‘portrait’ cameras. The selfie camera’s megapixel count has been doubled from 16 to 32. Rounding off the upgrades is a slightly larger 4700 mAh battery, which supports 45W charging as compared to 4500 mAh and 33W charging in the Phone (1). There is still no charger in the box, but there is support for 15W wireless charging and 5W reverse charging, both of which are a rarity in this segment.
Nothing Phone (2) software: Nothing OS turns two, Glyph UI gets a tweak too
Nothing followed a clean Android with zero bloatware approach with the Phone (1), and this approach continues with the Phone (2). The Phone (2) comes with Android 13 out of the box with NothingOS 2.0 on top. On the surface, it might not seem too different from the interface seen on the Phone (1), but there are some subtle changes and new widgets, and a totally monochrome icon pack that gives the Phone (2) a rather different appearance from other devices. It is a clean, elegant look, and while some might have wanted more features, especially in terms of editing images and videos, we liked it a lot.
Of course, there is another interface on the Phone (2) – the one on its back, or the Glyph UI, as Nothing terms it. The LEDs on the back might seem the same as the ones on the Phone (1), but there are changes, with more segments and what seems like a slight greenish tinge. You can see volume levels on the back, and the slightly circular center can also now act as a timer and show the progress of how far a cab is on apps like Uber. You can still set light patterns for different notifications and contacts and can even download the Glyph Composer to make your own tunes and patterns if you want to!
Nothing Phone (2) gaming and multimedia: Smooth performer
With all that hardware on board, it is hardly surprising that the Nothing Phone (2)’s performance is a clear level above that of its predecessor. The processor and RAM combination make it very good for gaming and multitasking. We were able to run Call of Duty and Genshin Impact on it without any problems at very high settings and with no heating issues either. The display is impressively bright and delivers realistic rather than over-the-top poppy colors, and the dual speakers deliver very good sound, making this phone a great option for viewing shows and videos. The extra width of the display actually makes gaming more enjoyable as you get to see a fair bit of the game, even when you have your fingers on on-screen controllers.
We were also able to run multiple apps on the Phone (2) side by side without any trouble. It is very smooth at multi-tasking, and we faced no lags even when we had more than a dozen Chrome tabs open and were switching between Google Docs, Flipboard, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter. It would be awesome if that Glyph UI could flash game themes while playing certain titles – perhaps it is something Nothing could look at in association with game developers. The phone gets a little warm but never worryingly so.
Nothing Phone (2) cameras: Good performers, but the Pixel need not worry
The cameras were the Achilles Heel of the Phone (1), and while they have improved significantly in the Phone (2), we would not call them the phone’s strongest point. We got some very pleasant-looking shots with slightly oversaturated colors in good light conditions (the greens and blues really stand out), with plenty of detail. However, there were times when the camera did not seem to focus properly. The detail was also decent but not as good as we have seen from other devices using the same sensor. And, well, there was a bit of a lag between hitting the shutter and the image being captured. Low light performance was generally good, but we have seen other brands getting more out of the sensor.
Selfies were good enough but not exceptional, and the same can be said for videos. The LEDs on the back can be used as a flash too. A very neat touch is a red LED lighting up on the back to show a video recording in progress. Nothing’s camera interface might strike some as a little too minimal – there is not too much to play around with as compared to what one gets on other brands. Perhaps this is one area where Nothing could forego the utterly minimalist approach – we would certainly love an array of retro filters and effects reflecting the brand’s design language and logo. It would also be good to see some image and video editing software on the device, given the fact that the Phone (2) has the hardware to handle both easily.
As of now, we would say that the Nothing Phone (2)’s cameras are good but not the sort that can challenge the OnePlus 11R, leave alone the Pixel 7a. This is not a phone that you will purchase for photography. Not yet, at least. Things could change with some software updates – just as they did with the Phone (1). So watch this space.
Nothing Phone (2) Battery and general performance: A smooth operator, and the UI is the star
The battery performance of the Nothing Phone (2) is decent. The 4700 mAh battery will get you through close to a full day of normal to heavy use, which is more than adequate for most users. A lot depends on how much you use that Glyph UI, we suspect – using it extensively might drain the battery a little faster. There is no charger in the box, but if you use a 45W charger, you can recharge the phone from 0 to 100 in about an hour, which is not as fast as some of the devices out there, but it should be good enough for most users. Charging the phone wirelessly, however, takes over two hours.
It is in general performance that the Nothing Phone (2) really shines. The UI is clean Android and yet seems more comfortable to use than even the Android we get on the Pixel because of the elegantly laid out interface. And, of course, there is the Gyph UI. The LEDs on the back of the phone are an absolute blessing for those who like to keep their phones face down, allowing them to get notification alerts without having to see the phone’s display. The timer is an excellent option for those into workouts and cooking, as you can get an idea of the time left without looking at the display. The very good hardware on the phone means it sails through routine tasks like web browsing, social networking, mail, and messaging.
The phone’s in-display fingerprint scanner had a few issues initially and sometimes did not recognize our fingers, but a software update has fixed that. We would say that the UI is the real star of the Nothing Phone (2). It is smooth, easy to use, and is definitely a refreshing change from what we get on other phones. We hope Nothing keeps adding more functions to the Glyph UI and adds more widgets and apps to the base UI, even while keeping it relatively clean and elegant. We also wish there was a Glyph UI app – going to Settings or choosing it in the Notification bar is odd!
Nothing Phone (2) Pricing: In the flagship killer zone
The Nothing Phone (2) comes in three RAM and storage variants with the following prices:
- 8 GB/ 128 GB: Rs 44,999 / $599 / £579 / €679
- 12 GB/ 256 GB: Rs 49,999 / $699 / £629 / €729
- 12 GB/ 512 GB: Rs 54,999 / $799 / £679 / €849
This is significantly higher than the Rs 32,999 start price of the Nothing Phone (1). The base price of the Nothing Price (2) puts it in the flagship killer zone alongside the likes of the Pixel 7a (Rs 43,999) and the OnePlus 11R (Rs 39,999) – phones which are not premium flagships but provide a fair number of flagship features and a near flagship experience.
Nothing Phone (2) Review Verdict: Should you buy it?
This brings us to the big question: should you consider purchasing the Nothing Phone (2)? Spec chasers might find it expensive. After all, the OnePlus 11R and the iQOO Neo 7 Pro are offering the same processor and faster charging batteries (with chargers in the box) at lower prices. Phone camera and stock Android fans will also point to the Pixel 7a, which brings Google’s computational photography sorcery as well as a lot of Android smarts at Rs 43,999.
The Nothing Phone (2), however, is not really about specs or specific performance parameters like photography or gaming. It does those well, but where it stands out is in terms of sheer experience. If you are looking for a phone that looks and works differently from others, with near-flagship specs and performance, then the Nothing Phone (2) is a no-brainer. That LED-laden back makes the phone stand out from the crowd, while the tweaks in interface change the entire smartphone experience. It might seem like a stunt initially, but it does grow on you. We have started keeping our phones face down increasingly these days, even when there are no LEDs on the back. And if that does not tell you everything, nothing will. Pun intended.
- Very eye-catching design
- Smooth performance
- Very good display
- Clean interface
- Glyph UI remains unique
- Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging
- Design very similar to Phone (1)
- Charging speed slow as compared to the competition
- No charger in the box
- Cameras not in the class of the competition
- Might be considered expensive
At its starting price of Rs 44,999, the Nothing Phone (2) goes up against the likes of the OnePlus 11R and the Pixel 7a. Can its different design and interface help it carve a niche for itself in a new price zone?