Nothing Phone 2
The first Nothing Phone impressed us with its strong all-round efficiency, its low worth and naturally its flashing lights. But it by no means formally made it to the US, apart from an uncommon beta program. This second-generation telephone is right here to alter that.
When it goes on sale within the United States and the broader world from July 16, the Nothing Phone 2 could have a spread of upgrades, from the processor to the design. But at $599 and £579 (with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage) it is $100 greater than the primary technology, and the competitors at this worth level has by no means been extra fierce. Especially as my take a look at mannequin with 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage really prices $699.
Google’s Pixel 7A particularly has a barely higher twin digital camera, and its pure Android 13 software program is slick to make use of. The Pixel 7A’s processor is not as highly effective because the Nothing Phone 2’s, however the Google telephone’s way more reasonably priced $449 price ticket greater than makes up for that. Then there’s the Pixel 7 Pro — Google’s flagship — which has among the best cameras it is potential to search out on a telephone and is presently on sale (with 128GB of storage) for less than $649 at Best Buy. If images is vital to you, I’d advocate spending the small quantity additional.
There’s additionally the OnePlus 10T, which boasts the identical highly effective Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor because the Nothing Phone 2, has an identical digital camera setup, and might presently be picked up instantly from OnePlus for less than $400. Even the OnePlus 10 Pro with its excellent digital camera system is simply $480.
The Nothing Phone 2’s flashing LED lights are the principle factor that separates it from the competitors, and whereas they’re actually an attention-grabbing quirk, they’re arguably one thing of a gimmick and never a function I can see myself genuinely utilizing over time. The telephone’s giant display screen, highly effective processor and respectable battery life are higher causes to think about shopping for this machine, however at $599, it is troublesome to justify the Nothing Phone 2 over the more and more robust competitors.
A well-recognized, flashy design
Visually, there hasn’t been a giant departure from the primary technology. The again continues to be clear, letting you see somewhat of what is contained in the telephone, together with the uncovered screw heads and varied connecting segments. The glass is gently curved on the edges now to provide it a barely extra premium really feel once you maintain it.
But it is the flashing lights — or glyph, as Nothing calls it — that is the massive household resemblance right here. Those LEDs mild up the again of the telephone and might provide you with a warning to incoming notifications. Or you need to use them for alarms, to point out battery cost standing, or just as fundamental fill mild once you’re recording video.
The Phone 2 offers a bit extra customization over the glyph this time round, letting you create customized mild patterns for sure contacts or apps. There’s additionally a glyph timer that’ll steadily tick down because it reaches zero, and it may additionally give a handy visible cue about different time-related issues, resembling when your Uber goes to reach, so you possibly can put it down and give attention to finding out your hair whereas maintaining a tally of its progress. Nothing says it’s going to be working with different app builders to combine this performance.
The glyph lights actually made the unique telephone stand out towards the competitors, and although they’re arguably one thing of a gimmick, it is good to see a little bit of enjoyable and aptitude in telephones. Especially in midrange telephones like this, the place attention-grabbing designs are inclined to take extra of a again seat to maintain costs down. The glyph lights have turned heads when I’ve used the Nothing Phone in entrance of my buddies, however curiosity shortly fades as soon as the preliminary curiosity is glad. Can I genuinely see myself making use of the lights over time? Honestly, no.
But the glyph lights aren’t the one bodily issues to care about. The aluminum body is 100% recycled. There’s a fingerprint scanner hidden beneath the show, which works properly more often than not. And the telephone is IP54 rated to assist preserve it secure when it’s important to take calls within the rain. The 6.7-inch show is large and brilliant sufficient to do justice to vibrant video games or to YouTube movies you are watching whereas on the transfer, and its adaptive refresh charge lets it drop all the way down to solely 1Hz to assist protect battery life or ramp as much as 120Hz for smoother gaming.
Older chip with large potential
Powering the Nothing Phone 2 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor backed up by both 8GB or 12GB of RAM (as reviewed). That’s a barely older technology processor, however it’s nonetheless a potent chip that may absolutely deal with most stuff you’d ever need to throw at it, from video streaming to photograph enhancing to gaming. It chalked up some nice scores on our benchmark assessments, and it dealt with demanding video games like PUBG and Genshin Impact completely properly at max settings.
Nothing says it used an older chip as a result of it needed one thing tried and examined that may provide a extra secure platform at a extra cheap worth, and I feel that is in all probability a good trade-off. Motorola’s foldable Razr Plus is doing the identical factor. It may not be the newest chip Qualcomm makes (that may be the 8 Gen 2), however it’s nonetheless one thing of a powerhouse that’ll deal with nearly something you’d ever need to do with it.
The Phone 2 runs Android 13 at its core, however Nothing has performed quite a bit to customise the interface. It’s a really monochrome expertise, with a heavy reliance on dot-matrix type texts and icons. There are quite a lot of widgets that use these designs, and even the app icons are black and white to maintain with that minimal monochrome aesthetic. That may make it fairly troublesome to search out the apps you need for those who depend on these shade cues, however you possibly can flip this off within the settings in order for you.
A function that I can see being fairly helpful is creating folders of apps in your homescreen and hiding them behind an icon — I’m imagining filling this folder with my work-specific apps like Outlook, Zoom and Slack after which overlaying them up with the briefcase image so I haven’t got to have a look at them on my weekend. Lovely stuff.
I do not usually like UIs that closely customise the look of Android, however there’s one thing fairly trendy concerning the design that Nothing makes use of on its telephones. If you are into that sort of stark minimalism, then you definately’ll little question take pleasure in it.
Nothing guarantees that the Phone 2 will obtain three years of OS updates and an extra fourth 12 months of safety updates. That’s somewhat beneath the 5 years that Samsung provides on its telephones, however it may actually be worse. Still, I’d hope to see all producers extending their help interval as much as and past 5 years to maintain telephones secure to make use of for longer and subsequently preserve extra of them out of landfills.
Same cameras, higher processing
The again of the telephone is dwelling to a 50-megapixel fundamental digital camera and a 50-megapixel ultrawide digital camera. Hardware-wise, that is just about the identical setup we noticed on the Nothing Phone 1. But the improved Snapdragon processor permits for lots higher software program processing, with Nothing promising improved colours, publicity and higher HDR strategies that will help you take nicer-looking pictures.
I’ve spent a while testing the digital camera, and I’m happy to see vibrant, sharp photographs that look higher than those I noticed from the primary technology telephone. Still, it is not good, with some brilliant skies nonetheless being blown out within the highlights and a heavy-handed sharpening that ends in odd picture anomalies. Against the cheaper Pixel 7A, I usually choose the pictures from the Pixel.
The Nothing Phone 2’s colours are OK on this instance, however there are noticeable patches within the white clouds the place it has overexposed the picture, leading to blown-out particulars. And that is regardless of the buildings themselves trying darker. The Pixel 7A’s HDR abilities have resulted in a a lot nicer-looking picture general right here.
Switching to the ultrawide lenses on each telephones, the story is far the identical, with the Nothing Phone 2 managing to once more overexpose sections of the sky whereas underexposing the buildings subsequent to the river. The Pixel 7A’s shot is way more balanced.
Neither telephone has a devoted telephoto zoom lens, however each provide 2x digital zoom modes, utilizing cropping and picture sharpening to get nearer to your topic. I usually choose the general look of the picture from the Nothing Phone 2, however although the high-quality particulars are sharper, the software program sharpening has triggered some points.
Zooming in to 200% on the 2x zoom photographs, it is clear that the Nothing Phone 2’s shot appears to be like usually sharper. However, look the place I’ve circled in pink — on the Pixel 7A the vertical slats are clearly rendered, whereas the Nothing Phone 2’s heavy-handed processing has turned this right into a bizarre spiral mess. So whereas it is artificially added extra element in some areas, it is critically decreased it in others. At full display screen you could by no means discover this, however it’s price maintaining in thoughts, particularly for those who usually digitally crop into photographs later.
Other photographs from the Nothing Phone 2 are usually brilliant and vibrant, albeit with that overexposure downside usually noticeable.
Ignoring the default mirroring on the Nothing Phone 2, each telephones have taken usually well-exposed, sharp pictures right here. I choose the white steadiness and richer yellow of my jacket within the Pixel’s shot, however it’s an in depth name.
Overall, although, I feel the Pixel 7A takes the higher images, which is spectacular contemplating it is fairly a bit cheaper than the Nothing Phone. If images is vital to you, then you need to take into account trying towards Google — both the 7A or splashing a bit extra on the 7 Pro.
Decent battery life
Powering all the pieces is a 4,700-mAh battery that with cheap use ought to get you thru a full day. It put in a good effort on our rundown assessments, dropping to 91% after two hours of YouTube streaming on full brightness. For reference, the Pixel 7A dropped to 90% after two hours, whereas Samsung’s Galaxy A54 dropped to 87%.
As with all telephones, your precise outcomes will come all the way down to how a lot you utilize your machine. Hammer it with video streaming and demanding gaming all morning and you may want to provide it a lift within the afternoon. Most of you’ll in all probability simply get away with giving it a full cost once you fall asleep every evening.
It helps 45-watt quick charging, which Nothing says will take it from empty to full in 55 minutes. That’s respectable sufficient, although it is a methods behind the 80- or 100-watt charging we have seen on different telephones exterior the US. At this worth, although, I can not argue an excessive amount of. It has 15-watt wi-fi charging too, in addition to reverse wi-fi charging if you wish to use your telephone’s battery to energy up your headphones, or one other telephone solely.
Is the Nothing Phone 2 a great telephone to purchase?
The Nothing Phone 2’s flashy LEDs actually make an announcement, and each its processor efficiency and battery life are robust. But the additional $100 Nothing desires over its predecessor has modified the sport. It’s gone from being an reasonably priced price range choice to fairly an expensive midranger, whereas the competitors has been getting stronger.
The Pixel 7A is arguably its greatest rival, and personally, it is the telephone I’d go for over the Nothing Phone 2. Its processor is not as highly effective, however it’ll nonetheless deal with nearly all of your day by day wants, and its digital camera is best. Plus it is quite a bit cheaper. I’d additionally take into account the OnePlus 10T over the Nothing Phone — it did not impress me at its full worth at launch, however its present $400 worth makes it a worthy possibility.
If you’re keen on the thought of these flashing lights making your telephone stand out from the gang, then the Nothing Phone 2 is actually price contemplating. It’s a great telephone, it is nearly $100 too costly proper now. If you possibly can choose it up with a little bit of a reduction after the launch pleasure has dwindled somewhat, then that’d be a great use of your cash. But at full worth, you will actually need to like these lights to justify the spend.
How we take a look at telephones
Every telephone examined by CNET’s opinions staff was really utilized in the actual world. We take a look at a telephone’s options, play video games and take images. We study the show to see if it is brilliant, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and construct to see how it’s to carry and whether or not it has an IP-rating for water resistance. We push the processor’s efficiency to the extremes utilizing standardized benchmark instruments like GeekBench and 3DMark, together with our personal anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution movies and taking part in graphically intense video games at excessive refresh charges.
All the cameras are examined in quite a lot of situations, from brilliant daylight to darkish indoor scenes. We check out particular options like evening mode and portrait mode and examine our findings towards equally priced competing telephones. We additionally try the battery life by utilizing a tool day by day in addition to operating a collection of battery drain assessments.
We consider further options like help for 5G, satellite tv for pc connectivity, fingerprint and face sensors, stylus help, quick charging speeds and foldable shows, amongst others that may be helpful. And we steadiness all of this towards the value, to provide the verdict on whether or not that telephone, no matter its worth is, really represents good worth.
Nothing Phone 2 specs comparability chart
|Nothing Phone 2||Pixel 7A||Galaxy A54 5G|
|Display measurement, decision, refresh charge||6.7-inch OLED; 2,412×1,080 pixels; 1-120Hz||6.1-inch OLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels; 60/90Hz||6.4-inch Super AMOLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels; 120Hz|
|Pixel density||394 ppi||361 ppi||403 ppi|
|Dimensions (inches)||6.38 x 3.00 x 0.33 in||6.00 x 2.87 x 0.35 in||6.23 x 3.02 x 0.32 in|
|Dimensions (millimeters)||162.1 x 76.4 x 8.6 mm||152.4 x 72.9 x 9.0 mm||158.2 x 76.7 x 8.2 mm|
|Weight (grams, ounces)||201g (7.09 oz)||193g (6.81 oz)||202g (7.13 oz)|
|Mobile software program||Android 13||Android 13||Android 13|
|Camera||50-megapixel fundamental. 50-megapixel ultrawide||64-megapixel fundamental, 4K at 6fps. 13-megapixel ultrawide, 4K at 30fps||50-megapixel huge, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 5-megapixel macro|
|Front-facing digital camera||32-megapixel||13-megapixel, 4K@30fps||32-megapixel|
|Video seize||4K at 60fps||4K||4K|
|Processor||Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1||Tensor G2||Exynos 1380|
|RAM, storage||8GB + 128GB. 12GB + 256GB||8GB + 128GB||6GB + 128GB. 8GB + 256GB|
|Expandable storage||No||No||Micro SDXC|
|Battery, charger||4,700 mAh; 45W wired charging||4,385 mAh; 18W quick charging, 7.5W wi-fi charging||5,000 mAh; 25W wired charging|
|Special options||5G-enabled, IP54 water resistance, flashing hind lights||5G (5G sub6 / mmWave ), IP67 ranking||5G (mmw/Sub6), IP67 ranking|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$599||$499 / $549 (mmW)||$449 (6GB/128GB) at launch|
|Price (GBP)||£579||£449||£449 (6GB/128GB) at launch|
|Price (AUD)||AU$1,120 transformed||AU$749||AU$649 (6GB/128GB) at launch|