Nothing Phone (2a) review


Introduction

Nothing took a full year to work on the Nothing Phone (2) as the follow-up to the intriguing original Nothing Phone (1). Both of these phones stirred up quite a bit of attention in their own right. The original device was meant to be kind of a midrange market disruptor, while the second model was positioned as much more of a flagship offering, aiming for good value inside an avant-garde package.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

It has only been eight months or so since the Nothing Phone (2) and Carl Pei and his Nothing venture have a new device – the Nothing Phone (2a). It’s certainly an interesting device – that much of the original formula has stayed the same. The design follows one of the earlier Nothing Phone concepts from back in 2020. Consequently, while the original Nothing Phone (1) and the Nothing Phone (2) share a lot of overarching design traits, the new Nothing Phone (2a) stands out. If nothing else, at least the horizontal dual camera arrangement on the back is not something you see often in 2024.

Nothing Phone (2a) specs at a glance:

  • Body: 161.7×76.3×8.6mm, 190g; plastic body; IP54 – splash, water and dust resistant, 3 LED lights on the back (notifications, camera fill light).
  • Display: 6.70″ AMOLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10+, 700 nits (typ), 1100 nits (HBM), 1300 nits (peak), 1080x2412px resolution, 20.1:9 aspect ratio, 394ppi; Always On Display.
  • Chipset: Mediatek Dimensity 7200 Pro (4 nm): Octa-core (2×2.8 GHz Cortex-A715 & 6x 2.0 Cortex-A510); Mali-G610 MC4.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, UFS 2.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 14, Nothing OS 2.5.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.9, 1/1.56″, PDAF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 50 MP, f/2.2, 114-degree, 1/2.76″, 0.64µm.
  • Front camera: 32 MP, f/2.2, (wide), 1/2.74″.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30fps, 1080p@60/120fps, gyro-EIS; Front camera: 1080p@60fps.
  • Battery: 5000mAh; 45W wired, 50% in 23 min, 100% in 1 hour (advertised).
  • Connectivity: 5G; Dual SIM; Wi-Fi 6; BT 5.3; NFC.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); stereo speakers.

In terms of features and specs, the new Nothing Phone (2a) sits between the original Nothing Phone (1) and the Nothing Phone (2). This is true price-wise as well. We would say that it is sort of a slightly dialed-back version of the Nothing Phone (2), just like its name suggests.

You get the same size 6.7-inch, 120Hz, HD10+, 10-bit AMOLED display on both phones. However, you don’t get LTPO on the 2a and the advertised max brightness of 1300 nits is slightly lower. The 2a gets a customized variation of the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 chipset, called the 7200 Pro, which should be a bit less powerful than the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 inside the Nothing Phone (2), but at the same time, a decent step up from the Snapdragon 778G+ inside the original Nothing Phone (1). The camera setup on the 2a looks nearly identical to that of the Nothing Phone (2), at least on paper and that includes both 50MP rear snappers and the 32MP selfie. One area in which the Nothing Phone (2a) offers a notable improvement over its predecessors is the battery. Despite offering a very similar form factor to the Nothing Phone (2), the Nothing Phone (2a) has a 5,000 mAh battery on board with 45W fast charging, just like the Nothing Phone (2), but missing wireless charging.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

That clearly visible circular coil on the transparent back of the phone, surrounding the horizontal camera duo, which Nothing calls “the eyes,” is actually an NFC antenna. Speaking of the back of the Nothing Phone (2a), the signature Nothing Glyph interface is alive and well. It includes 26 individually addressable zones. The three lights support the Glyph Timer, notifications, the Glyph Torch and Glyph Progress.

Unboxing

Nothing has always had a certain aesthetic touch and vision when it comes to its products, and that has extended to packaging and accessories. The Nothing Phone (2a) comes in an eye-catching cardboard box embossed with the phone’s design elements on the top. Underneath the covering black sleeve, that is. Even said sleeve is aesthetically pleasing, complete with the signature Nothing dot matrix font. The box itself is sturdy and seems to be made entirely of cardboard, including the inside cradle that securely holds the phone.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

It’s not just the packaging that is all pretty though. This attention to detail extends to the accessories. They are quite limited. But both the SIM ejector tool and the USB Type-C to Type-C cable have a special design inspired by the phone itself.

>We like the transparent connectors on the cable, but unfortunately, the cable itself is a simple non-eMarked cable, which means that it is limited to 3A of power throughput and 5Gbps of data transfer. Still, neither is hampering the respective capabilities of the Nothing Phone (2a), so we can’t complain. We wish there was a charger in the box, but it is what it is.

Design, build quality, handling

The Nothing Phone (2a) is quite the looker. Horizontal camera arrangements are no longer common in the industry, but here is Nothing. It is basically resurrecting one of its early design concepts and making it into an actual product.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Of course, the main visual attraction of the Nothing Phone (2a) is undoubtedly its backside. The two camera sensors are neatly horizontally aligned and are nicely segmented away from the rest of the design by the circular coil of what is said to be the NFC antenna. Mind you, we can’t exactly say how much of the “electronics” that show through the back of the phone are actually real functional parts or are just there for show and aesthetics.

Anyway, the back of the Nothing Phone (2a) is see-through, which has become sort of a signature touch for Nothing. Unfortunately, Nothing doesn’t outright say what the rear panel is made of. It just calls it a “90-degree infinity back cover” and says that a special “dual compression and injection” process is used in its construction to achieve a 2.2:0.8 thickness ratio from the thickest to the thinnest part of the surface.

As per the reset of the marketing materials, this new curved panel design not only lives up to the “iconic” transparent look but does so “whilst enforcing the structural rigidity and overall durability of the phone”.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

You can choose between three colors for the back side of the Nothing Phone (2a) – Black, like our review unit, White and also “Milk”, which is a slightly different “white” inching on grey. There might be some regional limitations when it comes to color options, though.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

In practical terms, we can say that the back panel looks and feels a bit plasticky to us, but not in a bad way. We like the slightly grippier feel that it offers. What we don’t appreciate, however, are all of the fingerprints that it gathers as well as dust. Lots and lots of dust. For some reason, this surface gets incredibly electrostatically charged and will always inevitably be dusty unless you cover it up with a case.

But what a shame that would be since you will also be covering up the signature Glyph interface. It consists of three light strips, all flanking the rear camera. There are a total of 26 individually addressable zones within the Glyph Interface, which enables all sorts of functionality, such as Glyph Timer and Glyph Progress. The latter is pretty cool since it allows you to track the progress of certain third-party apps like delivery or ride-sharing services.

Of course, you can also use the Glyph lights for notifications. The lights are also big enough to be useful as a soft “ring light” of sorts for the rear camera. You can also use the lights as a countdown indicator for the camera timer. Things like volume and battery percentage can also be visualized. Nothing markets the Glyph Interface as an innovative way to interact with the phone instead of just an aesthetic feature with 15 advertised functions.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Speaking of the Glyph Interface, it is worth noting that while both the Nothing Phone (1) and Nothing Phone (2) have a blinking red light on the back in addition to the Glyph Interface to indicate video capture, it is absent from the Nothing Phone (2a). That red square on the back side is just part of the design.

The rest of the Nothing Phone (2a) design is pretty unassuming. You get a nice rounded frame, which is probably plastic, judging from the look and feel and the lack of antenna lines. It has a nice matte finish.

The buttons are well laid out and comfortable to use. But it is worth noting that this is one of those phones that have the volume rockers on the left and the power button on the right separated.

Nothing Phone (2a) - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a) - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a) - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a) - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a)

The front of the Nothing Phone (2a) is a flat piece of Gorilla Glass 5. It also comes with a pre-applied thin screen protector, which is a nice little touch. It is made of plastic, though, so you might want to swap it out for a nicer glass protector if you are into that sort of thing. Speaking of protection, the Nothing Phone (2a) has an IP54 ingress rating, just like the Nothing Phone (2). Nothing too fancy, but it’s still better than no rating.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

The bezels around the display are quite sizeable. So much so that, in fact, there was enough room to fit the proximity and light sensors above the display alongside the earpiece. In many modern phones, these sensors tend to be tucked away underneath the actual panel. Still, we don’t think the Nothing Phone (2a) looks cheap or retro or anything of the sort. The bezels are symmetrical, which does give off a nice vibe.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

There is an under-display optical fingerprint reader on the Nothing Phone (2a). It is both snappy and reliable. We have no complaints about it.

Finally, a few words on handling. As we mentioned, the rear surface on the Nothing Phone (2a) offers a surprising amount of friction and grip. Its sides are nice and rounded for a comfortable in-hand feel. Some might find the volume controls to be a bit too low on the frame, but that will be highly subjective and not a major deal in our book.

Besides that, despite having a bit of hollowness to the back, the phone itself feels solid, with pretty much no flex in the chassis. Despite packing a pretty large 6.7-inch display and a larger 5,000 mAh battery, it also manages to be notably lighter than the Nothing Phone (2).

Display

The Nothing Phone (2a) has a very similar display to the Nothing Phone (2), at least as far as its basic specs go. The size is the same at 6.7 inches with a 20:9 aspect ratio. The resolution is also shared between the two and is set at 1080 x 2412 pixels. That works out to around 394 ppi, which looks perfectly sharp. You also get the same 120Hz refresh rate, as well as identical 10-bit colors and accompanying HDR10+ support.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Even so, the panels are not exactly the same. For one, the Nothing Phone (2a) lacks LTPO, which means that its refresh rate switching is a lot less dynamic than that on the Nothing Phone (2). Nothing claims the screen can achieve 1100 nits of full-screen brightness and 1300 nits peak. We ran our standardized testing and didn’t manage to quite match these claims, but we still got a very respectable 981 nits out of our Nothing Phone (2a) unit. That’s perfectly usable outdoors.

The minimum brightness at point white is just 1.9 nits.

Let’s talk about the refresh rate for a bit. The Nothing Phone (2a) supports a total of three refresh rate modes as reported by the OS – 60hz, 90Hz and 120Hz. In terms of settings, there are three modes to choose from – Standard, which locks the refresh rate at 60Hz and High and Dynamic, both of which go up to 120Hz and have slightly different automatic switching behavior.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Both high and Dynamic modes increase the refresh rate to 120Hz when interacting with the screen. After a few seconds of inactivity, it automatically drops down to 60Hz. Both modes also recognize full-screen video playback in most apps and toggle a 60Hz refresh rate to save power. The one major difference between the two is that Dynamic mode tends to toggle 90Hz instead of 120Hz for many apps. That way, you still get a bit of extra smoothness in scrolling and animations but also save on more power.

As for high refresh rate gaming, we unfortunately didn’t have much luck getting games to push past the 60fps mark regardless of which profile we used.

As we mentioned, the display on the Nothing Phone (2a) supports HDR10+. In terms of hardware decoding, the phone can handle HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG. Just no Dolby Vision. The phone also has the highest possible Widevine L1 DRM certification, allowing streaming apps like Netflix to offer up FullHD streams.

Battery life

Our new Active Use Score is an estimate of how long the battery will last if you use the device with a mix of all four test activities. You can adjust the calculation based on your usage pattern using the sliders below. You can read about our current battery life testing procedure here. For a comprehensive list of all tested devices so far, head this way.

One area of clear improvement for the Nothing Phone (2a) coming from the regular Nothing Phone (2) is the battery. The capacity has been upped notably to 5,000 mAh.

Past Nothing phones already have a track record of delivering solid battery life. The Nothing Phone (2a) did even better than these, with an excellent score of 15:53 hours. It scored excellent across the board, with no one test scenario lagging behind the rest.

Charging speed

The Nothing Phone (2a) charges at a maximum rate of 45W via Power Delivery 3.0. It also offers some Quick Charge support, but not at full speed. There is no charger in the retail box, but Nothing has never included one in its retail boxes, so this is no surprise.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

We got ourselves a good brand-name 65W PD charger and a 5A Type-C to Type-C cable for testing. Using that setup, we managed to get from zero to 29% in fifteen minutes, which is not ideal, but then speeds picked up a bit, and we got to 59% in thirty minutes. A full charge took us just over an hour. These speeds are far from the best available in this price bracket but are quite solid overall.

Speakers – loudness and quality

Just like the Nothing Phone (2), the Nothing Phone (2a) has a stereo speaker setup. It is a hybrid setup with the amplified earpiece acting like the second channel. The other speaker is positioned on the bottom frame. This inherently brings about some imbalance in the sound output since the two speakers aren’t facing symmetrically.

Still, the overall quality of the sound output is pretty decent. It is comparable to the Nothing Phone (2), perhaps with a bit less bass. Not that the Nothing Phone (2) has an abundance of bass. At least you get nice and clean mids and undistorted highs.

In terms of loudness, the phone managed a GOOD rating in our testing.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Nothing OS 2.5 on top of Android 14

The Nothing Phone (2a) runs on Android 14 with the latest version of Nothing’s custom OS skin on top. That would be Nothing OS 2.5.3 at the time of writing.

The Nothing Phone (2a) gets the same level of software support as the regular Nothing Phone (2). That is to say – three years of software updates and four years of security patches.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing OS continues to be very “clean” in terms of feature customization and thus near to AOSP. However, at the same time, it is heavily visually customized with a very distinct look and feel. Nothing’s signature dot matrix font and overall aesthetic surrounding it permeate the UI. You get a whole slew of custom widgets (24 in total) from everything from clocks and calendars to contacts and weather, so you can retain that consistent Nothing look.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

The notification shade and quick toggles are also as much AOSP as they are Nothing. With Nothing OS 2.5, the two big quick toggle areas at the top have now been changed from circles to squares with rounded corners.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Another relatively new addition to Nothing OS is the custom icon pack that, expectedly, is monochrome and has a consistent look.

There is an Always-on Display available, and it, expectedly, sticks to the general aesthetic as well. There are a slew of lockscreen widgets to choose from as well.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing OS has a Monochrome UI option for those wanting an even more exclusive, unique experience. It is part of the Do Not Disturb and Bedtime routines, but you can set it up for you however you prefer. The monochrome UI is a display option, and it doesn’t affect the UI exactly, so if you take a screenshot or a picture, it will still be colorful.

In a bid to innovate and be a part of the “trendy crowd,” Nothing is constantly trying its hand at some advanced and experimental features. Our review unit is missing the “Connect to Tesla” menu that the Nothing Phone (2) had, so perhaps that didn’t pan out. However, the experimental AirPods support is still present. So is the “Glyph Progres” feature that integrates with third-party apps and allows you to track your Uber’s progress from the back of your phone.

There are some less experimental hardware OS-level integrations available as well, like through the Nothing X app, which supports a number of headphones like the Ear (1), Ear (stick), Ear (2) and CMF Buds, Neckband Pro and Buds Pro.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

The most custom aspect of the Nothing OS is the inclusion of the Glyph Interface, which controls the LEDs on the back of the phone. First, the feature is optional, so you can just turn it off or schedule it if it bothers you at night. You can also adjust the brightness of the LEDs, which can get seriously bright, even at the default medium brightness.

At present, the Glyph Interface can be used primarily for notifications and alerts. The Glyph Menu contains Brightness, Ringtones, Notifications, Flip to Glyph, Glyph Timer, Composer shortcut for custom Glyph ringtones, and Visual Feedback for Volume control, Charging meter, Google Assistance, Music Visualizer and third-party apps (Uber, Zomato and Google Calendar for now).

You can check out a more in-depth explanation of all of the neat Glyph options in our Nothing Phone (2) review. These haven’t really changed that much.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

As far as bloatware is concerned, the Phone (2a) has none of it to speak of, assuming you don’t count the ever-increasing mandatory Google apps as bloatware. The only custom apps on the phone are the Camera app, the Composer app, the Weather app and a Recorder app. These expectedly share a cohesive design. The Nothing X app was pre-installed on our unit as well, but if yours is missing, it is available on the Google Play store.

Benchmarks and performance

The Nothing Phone (2a) uses a Dimensity 7200 chipset that Nothing says has been co-engineered and customized with the help of MediaTek for “the best performance and optimal power consumption”. MediaTek does already have a history of “customizing” the Dimensity 7200, notably with the Dimensity 7200 Ultra inside the Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro+. Nothing says the chip should be better tuned for power draw from the display IC and modem and offer up to 10% better efficiency. To be perfectly honest, we don’t see any apparent customization beyond that since it reports the expected stock clocks on the Nothing Phone (2a).

Nothing Phone (2a) review

That is not to say that the Dimensity 7200 is a bad chip. On the contrary, it is a solid midranger made on a modern TSMC 4nm N4P process. The CPU is rocking two Cortex-A715 cores, clocked at up to 2.8 GHz and six Cortex-A510 ones, working at up to 2.0 GHz. The onboard GPU is a Mali-G610 MC4.

In most markets, the Nothing Phone (2a) has two memory and storage tiers. There is a base 8GB/128GB model and a 12GB/256GB one. India will also get an exclusive 8GB/256GB variant.

Our review unit is the top-tier 12GB/256GB model which seems to be using UFS 2.1 chips. The Nothing Phone (2a) also offers up to 8GB of virtual RAM on top of that.

On to some benchmarks, starting with CPU and GeekBench. First, let’s address the whole “Pro” situation. Any customization that might have taken place was not in the CPU department since the Dimensity 7200, 7200 Pro, and 7200 Ultra perform pretty much the same. In more general terms, you get about as much relative performance as from a Dimensity 7030 or Dimensity 1080, which is not overly impressive but still enough to offer a perfectly decent modern experience. The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 and 7s Gen 2 aren’t too far ahead in terms of CPU performance either, and neither is the Samsung Exynos 1380.

That being said, the Snapdragon 778G+ in the original Nothing Phone (1) offers notably better multi-core performance than the Dimensity 7200 Pro inside the Nothing Phone (2a). And the Nothing Phone (2) with its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is further ahead still. If you shop around, you can get much more powerful hardware within the same price bracket as the Nothing Phone (2a). On a more positive note, as far as single-core performance goes, the Dimensity 7200 holds its own really well, which is great news for general app and OS responsiveness.

AnTuTu is a much more compound benchmark that also includes GPU and memory tests. Looking at the older v9 results, we can see the Nothing Phone (2a) and the original Nothing Phone (1) neck to neck. Of course, the Nothing Phone (2) posts substantially better scores. Still, the Nothing Phone (2a) holds its own very well in this compound benchmark.

Finally, we have graphics performance and 3DMark, where the Dimensity 7200 Pro and its Mali-G610 MC4 GPU prove to be a perfectly adequate “middle-of-the-road” performer in this relative price bracket. While you can get more frames for your buck, you can’t realistically do much better than what the Nothing Phone (2a) offers.

We remind you that 3DMark does off-screen rendering, which means that the display resolution of each device is not taken into account, making the scores more of a ranking between chipsets as opposed to devices. Though with most devices in the category having the same resolution, the ranking would apply to the devices as well.

We’ve discontinued GFXBench graphics benchmarking as the app is often banned/blacklisted on the phones we receive for review. The graphics performance ranking in 3D Mark is just as meaningful, so we suggest you refer to that one instead.

In more practical terms, the Nothing Phone (2a) runs its Nothing OS environment perfectly smoothly with no obvious hiccups, stutters or slowdowns. It also handles daily tasks with ease and is good for some casual gaming.

Thermal throttling

The Dimensity 7200 Pro is clearly a very power-efficient chip, as evidenced by the excellent battery life. It also doesn’t run particularly hot. Either that or Nothing is managing whatever heat there is quite masterfully through the use of its 3200 mm2 vapor chamber and 12,000 mm2 overall cooling area with a 0.11m thick graphite layer.

Thermal-throttling - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Thermal-throttling - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Thermal-throttling - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Thermal-throttling

It all comes together nicely, and the Nothing Phone (2a) offers great sustained performance with very few losses, even after a full hour of torture testing.

Connectivity

The Nothing Phone (2a) is a 5G device with SA/NSA Sub-6 support on both Nano-SIM slots simultaneously. For positioning, there is support for GPS (no L5), GALILEO, GLONASS, BDS and QZSS.

Local connectivity is covered by dual-band Wi-Fi 6 ax as well as Bluetooth 5.3 with LE support. There is NFC on board as well. No FM radio or 3.5mm audio jack, though.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

The USB Type-C port is backed up by a basic USB 2.0 data connection, with a maximum transfer rate of 480 Mbps. There is USB Host/OTG support but nothing else fancy, like video output over Alt mode.

In terms of sensors, you get an lsm6dso accelerometer and gyroscope combo, a stk3acx light and proximity sensor. It is a proper hardware proximity sensor, which is great to see. Finally, there is a memsic mmc5603 magnetometer and compass combo. No barometer on board.

Dual rear camera setup

The Nothing Phone (2a) has a similar camera setup to the Nothing Phone (2), but not identical. There are two 50MP snappers on the back of the 2a – a main and an ultrawide. However, the ultrawide on the 2a lacks autofocus and hence macro capturing capabilities, which is a thing on the regular Nothing Phone (2). There are some differences in sensors as well.

The Nothing Phone (2a) uses a Samsung ISOCELL GN9 (S5KGN9) for its main camera instead of the ISOCELL GN9 (S5KGN9) that the Nothing Phone (2) has. The ultrawide sensor seems to be shared between the two – a Samsung ISOCELL JN1 (S5KJN1).

On the front of the Nothing Phone (2a) is a 32MP selfie, which seems to be borrowed straight from the Nothing Phone (2) as well. It is based on the Sony IMX615 sensor.

  • Wide (main): 50 MP Samsung ISOCELL GN9 (S5KGN9) f/1.9, 1/1.56″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS; 2160p@30fps
  • Ultra wide angle: 50 MP Samsung ISOCELL JN1 (S5KJN1), f/2.2, 1/2.76″, 0.64µm; 2160p@30fps
  • Front camera: 32 MP Sony IMX615, f/2.2, 1/2.74″, 0.8µm; 1080p@30fps

The default Camera app is close to what you’d find across the latest Realme and OnePlus smartphones use. Swiping on the viewfinder or the scroller below switches between modes, while the additional ones can be found under the “More” sub-menu. Flash and timer are available on the opposite of the viewfinder side, but you can expand more settings like resolution (12MP/50MP), aspect, Ratio, Live Photo, and advanced settings.

Expert mode is available. It only works on the main camera, though. The shutter speed can go as low as 32 seconds. RAW capturing is available, too. Night Mode can work on videos, too, but it’s only for the main camera and drops the resolution down to 1080p at 30fps.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

You can use either the LED flash or the Glyph LEDs across a variety of occasions, such as video capturing, portraits, and photos.

Daylight photo quality

Main camera

The main camera on the Nothing Phone (2a) captures 12.5MP binned photos by default. Quality is solid but not perfect. There is a good amount of fine detail in the frame and quite a bit of rather aggressive sharpening. We wouldn’t go as far as to call the photos overprocessed, but the processing is still heavy-handed. Colors look good but are a bit more saturated than what we would call true-to-life.

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 102, 1/769s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 101, 1/3176s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 100, 1/2984s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 101, 1/3077s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 102, 1/2188s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 100, 1/575s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 507, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 866, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 100, 1/579s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera samples

Dynamic range is good, but contrast could honestly be a bit better. As things stand, the photos look a bit flat. There is the slightest bit of graininess on uniform surfaces, but it is only noticeable when pixel-peeping.

You can force the main camera to capture in its full 50MP resolution, but we don’t really see much of a point. You don’t really get more detail in the frame. The overall quality is essentially the same, and you must deal with bigger file sizes.

Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 101, 1/769s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 103, 1/2984s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 102, 1/2290s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP main camera samples - f/1.9, ISO 100, 1/575s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP main camera samples

Having so much resolution available is still beneficial in other ways like digital zooming. Even though the Nothing Phone (2a) lacks a dedicated telephoto camera, it still captures some pretty clean and detailed 2x zoomed photos. Quality is nearly identical to 1x shots.

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 101, 1/560s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 101, 1/2735s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 100, 1/2735s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 101, 1/2661s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 102, 1/2188s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 100, 1/575s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera 2x zoom samples

The main camera does pretty well with people and faces. Skin tones come out looking nice and natural. There is some skin texture coming through as well. You can capture portraits with the main camera at both 1x and 2x zoom. Both look pretty great.

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples - f/1.9, ISO 441, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples - f/1.9, ISO 441, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples - f/1.9, ISO 522, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples - f/1.9, ISO 522, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples - f/1.9, ISO 936, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples - f/1.9, ISO 816, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples - f/1.9, ISO 100, 1/541s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples - f/1.9, ISO 100, 1/541s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main camera portrait 1x and 2x samples

Subject detection and separation rarely trip up, and the background blur is quite convincing overall.

Ultrawide camera

The 50MP ultrawide camera captures 12.5MP stills as well due to pixel binning. These are decent overall but mostly unimpressive. The detail is okay, and so are colors. However, the ultrawide has notably warmer color reproduction than the main camera. The two aren’t particularly well-matched.

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/208s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/960s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/939s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1148s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/789s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/172s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide camera samples

There is some noise and softness, especially on uniform surfaces, but nothing too excessive. The dynamic range is okay, but the contrast could be a bit better.

Just like the main camera, you can force the ultrawide to capture in its full 50MP resolution. Once again, we don’t believe there is any real reason to do so, however, since there is no clear benefit to detail.

Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/214s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/919s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/835s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/967s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/666s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP ultrawide camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/165s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 50MP ultrawide camera samples

Selfie camera

Selfies come out in full 32MP from the Nothing Phone (2a). These look great overall. There is plenty of detail, with a very natural-looking skin texture and features. Colors are also very true to life.

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/2702s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/3636s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 104, 1/3789s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/636s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/1010s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/583s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/1894s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/1333s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 102, 1/1612s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/239s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 303, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 325, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 299, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples - f/2.2, ISO 305, 1/50s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera samples

Contrast is solid – much better than on the rear cameras. Dynamic range is okay, but could be better. Overall, it’s a pretty great selfie, even in the absence of autofocus. The focal plane is wide and very forgiving.

Selfie portraits look great as well.

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 102, 1/2816s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 103, 1/3773s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 104, 1/3789s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/636s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 102, 1/1117s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/574s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 101, 1/1894s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1428s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 102, 1/1612s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/239s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 303, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 325, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 324, 1/49s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples - f/2.2, ISO 291, 1/50s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie camera portrait samples

Low-light camera quality

The main camera on the Nothing Phone (2a) holds up well in lowlight conditions. There is plenty of detail in the frame and pretty low noise. Shadows are well-developed, and so are highlights. Light sources are reasonably well-contained but could be better.

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 3850, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 2492, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 3135, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode samples - f/1.9, ISO 3320, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode samples

Colors look quite natural and true to life.

The Nothing Phone (2a) enables night mode procession automatically. There is no dedicated night mode; it is just a toggle on the main camera interface. You can toggle night mode off, but we honestly can’t say for sure that the Nothing Phone (2a) still isn’t doing some night mode processing even with the toggle turned off. The capture times aren’t drastically different between the two modes, and the results are pretty similar. However, we think that the Nothing Phone (2a) occasionally captures sharper lowlight photos when the night mode is turned off. Here are some samples.

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 3928, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 2307, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 3234, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam low-light samples - f/1.9, ISO 3031, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam low-light samples

Like in good light, low light 2x photos are similar to 1x ones in overall quality.

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 4512, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 2220, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 2112, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode 2x zoom samples - f/1.9, ISO 3096, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP main cam night mode 2x zoom samples

The ultrawide camera captures decent lowlight photos but doesn’t particularly excel in these conditions. Detail is good, but the frame also has plenty of noise. Dynamic range is surprisingly good, with well-developed shadows and highlights. Colors are, once again, a bit warmer than on the main camera.

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide cam night mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 5657, 1/10s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide cam night mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 6100, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide cam night mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 6000, 1/10s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide cam night mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 6845, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 12.5MP ultrawide cam night mode samples

The selfie cam remains very competent in low light. Skin tones look great, and some skin texture is coming through. Detail is solid overall.

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie cam night mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 2955, 1/14s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie cam night mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 3546, 1/12s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie cam night mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 3467, 1/11s - Nothing Phone (2a) review
Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie cam night mode samples - f/2.2, ISO 4617, 1/11s - Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing Phone (2a): 32MP selfie cam night mode samples

In case you were wondering, we tried shooting with the ultrawide and selfie with night mode forced off as well, and the results ended up being very similar.

Video capture quality

The Nothing Phone (2a) can capture 4K@30fps video with both its main and ultrawide cameras. By default, it records in a standard AVC/h.264 video stream at around 50 Mbps with stereo 48 kHz AAC audio inside an MP4 container. You can opt for HEVC/h.265 instead to save on some space.

The 4K video from the main camera looks pretty great overall. Detail is good, though it could be better. There is practically no noise. Colors are a bit on the saturated side, but nothing too severe, just a bit of extra “pop”. Dynamic range and contrast are good. At 2x zoom, videos look decidedly softer.

The ultrawide camera also does surprisingly well with video capture. Detail is great for an ultrawide. The colors are, again, a bit warmer than in the main camera, but still look good. The selfie camera is limited to 1080p resolution, which shows in fine detail and skin texture. Still, its videos are solid.

Video sample playlist

All of the cameras have some form of EIS enabled by default. It works pretty well, but unfortunately, it does introduce noticeable focus hunting on the main camera. There is an action mode for even more dynamic shots.

The main camera captures solid lowlight videos with plenty of detail, well-developed shadows, and highlights. Some surfaces are a bit grainy but nothing too severe.

The ultrawide holds up surprisingly well in low light as well. Sure, it is grainier and noisier still with less detail, but it is perfectly usable with surprisingly well-done shadows.

The competition

At the time of writing, a base 8GB/128GB Nothing Phone (2a) will set you back around € 330, and you can expect to pay around € 380 for the 12GB/256GB model. Honestly, that sounds quite reasonable and competitive for a phone that arguably offers most of the same experience as its much more expensive Nothing Phone (2) sibling, currently retailing at around € 580.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Let’s look at some of the viable alternatives you have out there in this price bracket, starting with camp Xiaomi. The Redmi Note 12 Pro+ instantly springs to mind. Its base model retails for about as much as the base Nothing Phone (2a) but does come with 256GB of storage. Some other advantages of the Redmi include IP68 ingress protection and Gorilla Glass Victus, a 12-bit, Dolby Vision certified, and notably brighter AMOLED display, as well as much faster 120W wired charging. The camera setup on the Redmi is notably different, and it is hard to say which phone is more versatile in this regard. Performance is also a wash between the two since both phones are rocking “customized” versions of the Dimensity 7200.

If you would rather go for a Qualcomm chip instead and don’t mind sacrificing a few of the aforementioned niceties while saving a few bucks in the process, the Redmi Note 13 Pro is a perfectly viable choice. Or you could even drop down to the Redmi Note 13. Xiaomi has you well covered.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

And when we say well covered, we mean it since you could easily go with the Poco X6 Pro instead. It’s only IP54 on this one and Gorilla Glass 5, plus an arguably less potent main camera and slower 67W charging. However, you are getting a more powerful Dimensity 8300 chipset, which might be a priority for, say getting the most performance for your buck.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro+
Xiaomi Poco X6 Pro
Samsung Galaxy A35
Realme 12 Pro+

Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro+ • Xiaomi Poco X6 Pro • Samsung Galaxy A35 • Realme 12 Pro+

Over in camp Samsung, the ever-popular Galaxy A54 instantly comes to mind. However, now that the shiny new Galaxy A55 and A35 are official, we can’t quite bring ourselves to recommend last year’s model with priority. Despite technically being a lower “tier” device, the Galaxy A35 now delivers most of the same features as the A54. This includes things like IP67 ingress protection, Gorilla Glass Victus+ and stereo speakers, a versatile rear camera setup with a 50MP main cam, an ultrawide and a macro. The two phones share the same Exynos 1380 chipset, stereo speakers, 5,000 mAh battery and 25W charging. The Galaxy A35 does have a bigger 6.6-inch, 120Hz AMOLED, but one that lacks HDR support. You have to go with the A54 to get that or up your budget quite a bit and spring for the Galaxy A55 with its aluminum frame and more powerful chipset.

Finally, if you are in the right market, the Realme 12 Pro+ is a pretty strong competitor to the Nothing Phone (2a). Some of its highlights include IP65 ingress protection and faster 67W charging on its 5,000 mAh battery. Most notably, however, the Redmi has a dedicated 3x periscope telephoto as part of its camera setup in case that could entice you.

Our verdict

Nothing remains a relatively small operation with a limited portfolio of devices. It is clear that the company is still doing a lot of soul-searching, and if the number of produced device models doesn’t increase, it might take some time to get the “formula” just right. Still, even with a small sample size of only three phones we can safely say that Nothing is seemingly attempting to return to its original roots with the Nothing Phone (2a) and make a more budget or rather midrange device, like the original Nothing Phone (1). That being said, we have to commend the company on preserving much of the experience of the flagship Nothing Phone (2) and carrying it over into the much cheaper Nothing Phone (2a).

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Ignoring hardware specs for a bit here, we have to admire the consistency and dedication to the overall design and UX that Nothing is displaying. These are truly the unique parts of the Nothing formula, and they seem to be not going anywhere.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

As for the Nothing Phone (2a), we really liked our time with it. As we said, all of the unique Nothing design and aesthetics are there. If it happens to be your particular cup of tea, we can safely say that the Nothing Phone (2a) hardware platform that is powering the experience does not disappoint. There is enough power under the hood to keep everything running smoothly. The display, while not industry-leading, is colorful, vibrant and smooth. The camera setup is also perfectly satisfactory. In general, we found no glaring faults. And sure, you can probably get better value for money in this price bracket, but nothing quite as unique as the Nothing Phone (2a).

Pros

  • Unique, eye-catching design with a surprising amount of added functionality from the Glyph Interface.
  • Decently bright OLED with 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit colors and HDR support.
  • Great battery life and solid charging speed.
  • Unique and cohesive software design and aesthetic with plenty of custom bits yet pretty much zero bloat.
  • Great performance with zero thermal throttling.
  • Solid all-around camera performance. Good video stabilization and dedicated night mode for video.

Cons

  • No charger in the box.
  • Incredibly hard to clean back surface that gathers both grease and dust like crazy.
  • High refresh rate gaming is not properly supported.
  • Night mode for photos has slightly confusing behavior.

SOURCE

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