Nothing, the company that has made waves since its inception in 2021, has now released its first smartphone in the United States: the Nothing Phone 2.
As a newcomer in a market dominated by iPhone and Samsung Galaxy users, Nothing faces the challenge of convincing consumers to switch. After a week of testing, I can confidently say that the Phone 2 shows promise, but there is still room for improvement.
While there is little to no noticeable differences between the newly released Phone (2) and the previous Phone (1), the brand is definitely trying to maintain its identity by sticking to the same aesthetics in a sea of indistinguishable smartphones.
Even at that, there are some few tweaks and adjustments here and there on the Nothing Phone (2)’s hardware and design such as slightly curving the edges, bringing the selfie camera from the top-left-corner to the top center, and enhancing the display to be much better than the previous.
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Other changes includes an additional color option for those who’d prefer a darker shade and a faster and premium processor, the previous Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
Did I also mention that this phone retains its 3mm headphone jack despite Nothing literally selling their own TWS earbuds, something that would have simply justified their decision for removing the port.
The Nothing Phone (2) also has upgraded camera system which is comprise of two 50MP sensors with enhanced capabilities that allows you to take professional-looking images.
Other interesting things I cam to love about this device includes its 4700mAh Li-Ion battery that can be charged via a 45W charger. The device also has support for reverse wireless charging which is a big plus for those who would love to share their battery power with their friends.
What Sets the Phone 2 Apart?
1. Enhanced Glyph Interface
The standout feature of the Nothing Phone is its Glyph Interface, which sets it apart from any other phone on the market.
With the Phone 2, Nothing has upgraded the Glyph Interface by incorporating 33 LEDs, compared to last year’s 12.
The additional isolated strips on the back create a visually striking effect. The Glyph Interface serves as an LED indicator, pulsating to notify you of various events such as phone calls and text messages. It also acts as a charging status indicator and fill light for photos and videos.
The latest version of the Glyph Interface offers even more functionality. Through the Glyph Composer, you can now customize your own Glyph patterns, thanks to Teenage Engineering’s influence.
The increased number of LEDs allows for a longer strand of light to serve as a progress bar for timers and volume levels. Additionally, Nothing has opened up the Glyph system to app developers, enabling the progress bar effect to represent incoming Uber rides and other services.
This level of customization is impressive, even if not everyone will find it essential.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about the Glyph Interface. On one hand, it provides a quick glance at what’s happening without the need to check the phone screen. On the other hand, it requires constant attention to interpret the pulsating patterns on the back, which I often find myself missing.
However, Nothing has addressed this issue with the introduction of an “Essential notifications” option that designates a specific LED strip for particular apps.
This feature allows you to easily identify important notifications without flipping the device over.
2. Exciting Software Experience with Nothing OS 2.0
With Nothing OS 2.0 layered over Android 13, Nothing strikes a perfect balance between customizability and simplicity. While many Android manufacturers have moved away from heavily-skinned interfaces, Nothing OS 2.0 offers a refreshing take on Android.
The software elements such as settings menus and quick panel toggles remind me of Google’s Pixel phones, providing a clean and intuitive user experience. Notably, bloatware is kept to a minimum.
The lock screen and home screen customizations are particularly impressive. Native widgets for weather, clock, and quick settings are well-designed, and app folders are easily distinguishable.
The Nothing Icon Pack ties everything together with its monochromatic look and feel.
One standout feature is the ability to place widgets within a 2 x 4 grid on the lock screen, similar to the interactive lock screen on iOS 16.
This implementation surpasses what I have experienced on other Android phones and will be missed once the review period ends.
3. Significant Improvements in Performance
The Nothing Phone 2 has made substantial improvements in various aspects compared to its predecessor.
From the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset to the larger 4,700mAh battery and the brighter display, Nothing has upgraded the internals to create a well-rounded phone that caters to both iOS and Android users.
Rather than relying on synthetic performance benchmarks, I focus on real-life use cases such as web browsing, messaging, calling, photography, videos, and gaming to evaluate a phone’s capabilities.
In my testing, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset performed admirably, handling quick app changes and multitasking without any noticeable lag. The same can be said about the Nothing Phone 2, providing a smooth user experience.
The display is another area where the Phone 2 shines. With a peak brightness of 1,600 nits, the OLED panel is reliably visible outdoors and in various lighting conditions.
The 120Hz refresh rate ensures a smooth and responsive display, and the adaptive brightness settings strike the right balance, making it one of the best displays on the market.
Impressively, the 4,700mAh battery offers excellent endurance, allowing for a day and a half of usage on a single charge.
This battery life exceeds expectations, considering the device’s slim profile and the fact that many flagship Android phones with higher battery capacities struggle to match this level of longevity.
Areas for Improvement
While the Nothing Phone 2 showcases many positive aspects, there are a few areas that could be improved upon for the next model.
1. Camera System Enhancements
The Phone 2’s camera system has received two notable upgrades: the inclusion of the Sony IMX890 sensor on the main 50MP lens and improved software processing.
The resulting images are sharp, true-to-life, and suitable for sharing on social media. Night-time photography is also satisfactory, although some overexposure of light sources can occur.
However, the absence of a true telephoto lens is a significant drawback. For portrait photos and distant shots, the phone relies on AI processing to blur the background, which can result in less natural-looking bokeh effects.
Additionally, there were occasional instances of shutter lag, especially when quickly switching from the gallery app back to the camera viewfinder.
2. Improved Grip and Handling
The design of the Nothing Phone 2 remains similar to its predecessor, maintaining the sleek aesthetic with rounded corners, flat edges, a flat display, and LED strips beneath the transparent back cover.
While this design choice aligns with Nothing’s brand identity, it also means that the Phone 2 is not the most compact or easy-to-handle device. The smooth sides make it slippery, and the curvier back frame requires caution when placing the phone on glossy surfaces.
Enhanced grip and handling would significantly improve the overall user experience.
3. Wider Carrier Support
Nothing’s success in the U.S. market may be hindered by the limited carrier support currently available.
Many consumers rely on carrier stores to stay informed about the latest phones and make purchase decisions. For Nothing to gain broader adoption, it will need to navigate the complex process of distribution through carrier channels.
Until then, the company must rely on word-of-mouth marketing and captivating product features to generate public interest.
The Nothing Phone 2 will be available for purchase starting at $599 for the 8GB of RAM and 128GB variant, with the highest configuration reaching $799 for 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
Positioned competitively against offerings from OnePlus, Google, Samsung, and Apple, the Phone 2 aims to capture the attention of early adopters and those seeking an alternative brand experience.
If you value unique features and cutting-edge design, the Nothing Phone 2 is worth considering. The Glyph Interface sets it apart from other slab-style phones, offering a distinct and practical notification system.
The Nothing OS 2.0 provides a delightful software experience with its customization options and clean interface. Performance improvements, including the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and the bright OLED display, make for a pleasant user experience.
However, if the camera system is a priority, Google’s Pixel phones may provide a better option in this price range.
Nonetheless, as Nothing continues to establish its presence in the U.S. market, it will be interesting to observe the company’s progress and the impact it has on the smartphone industry.