Nothing Phone (2a) Review: The Most Beautiful Affordable Smartphone

Nothing has finally launched the Phone (2a), an accessible smartphone that dreams of shaking up the mid-range at the beginning of the year. We spent more than a week with the Nothing Phone (2a), here’s our verdict.

In just a few short years, Nothing has made a name for itself in the smartphone and tech world. The brand founded by Carl Pei only needed two smartphones to make an impression, betting on a strong identity. Influenced by Apple, Carl Pei has advocated “transparency” since the beginning of his young company. This approach applies to both the ecosystem and the innovative transparency-based designs of Nothing’s products.

After moving upmarket last year with the Phone (2), Nothing is back with a much more accessible device. Like the Galaxy A and Pixel a, the manufacturer adds an “a” to its “phone” to give birth to the Phone (2a). This one sounds affordable, with an entry ticket of 349 euros for the 8 + 128 GB model. At 399 euros, there is also a variant with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. We were able to test the latter for a little over a week.

Nothing Phone (2a)

Screen– 6.7″
Flexible AMOLED Display – Full HD+ resolution (1080×2412)
– 394dpi density
– Refresh rate 30-120Hz
– Corning Gorilla Glass 5
– HDR10+
– 20:9 aspect ratio
– Brightness: 1100 nits (Peak: 1300 nits)
– 2160 Hz
PWM – Linear haptic motor
SoC and GPU– MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro
– 4nm etching
Memory– 8GB or 12GB RAM + 8GB RAM Booster
– 128GB or 256GB storage
– No MicroSD memory slot
Colour– Glyph Interface – White
– Black
– Polycarbonate
Back & Surround
– IP54
Camera– Dual rear camera:
– Main camera: 1/1.56″ 50 Megapixels, 24mm, F1.88, OIS and EIS
– Ultra wide-angle camera: 1/2.76″ 50 Megapixel, 114°, F2.2, EIS

– PDAF
autofocus – 2x digital
zoom
– TrueLens Engine
– Ultra XDR
– Motion Capture
Mode – Portrait
Mode – Motion Photo
Mode – Lenticular Filter
– Night Mode
– Panorama Mode
– Night
Panorama Mode – Document
Mode – Expert

Mode – Recording videos up to Ultra HD 2160p at 30fps
– Slow motion mode in 1080p at 120fps or 720p at 480fps

– Wide-angle
front camera – 32-megapixel sensor, F2.2
– Electronic Stabilization (EIS)
– Front video recording in 1080p at 30fps
– Advanced
HDR Mode – Moving
Photo Mode – Night Mode
– Portrait Mode
Audio– Stereo speakers
– No 3.5mm
jack – 2 microphones
Battery– 5000 mAh
battery – HyperEngine 5.0
– 45W wired fast charging (100% in 59 min, 50% in 23 min)
Connectivity– Under-display
optical fingerprint reader – Bluetooth 5.3
– WiFi 6
– 5G
– Dual nano-SIM
– A-GPS+GLONASS, DNLA, Miracast (WiFi Direct), Google Cast
– NFC
USB Type-C
– Barometer, Gyroscope, Accelerometer
– Proximity and brightness sensor
Software– Android 14
– nothing OS 2.5
Size & Weight– 161.74 × 76.32 × 8.55 mm
– 190 grams
Introductory price– 349 euros (8GB / 128GB)
– 399 euros (12GB / 256GB)
Availability Date– March 05, 2024

Glyph Design, Screen & Interface


Nothing likes to do “nothing” like the others, the packaging can testify to that. The Phone (2a) arrives in a slightly different box than we’re used to seeing, but without a charger. The manufacturer makes do with a (very nice) USB-C cable to accompany its smartphone.

The design is one of the highlights of Nothing’s first two smartphones. The Phone (1) has built part of its reputation on this very different design from its Android competitors. The Phone (2) has confirmed and this Phone (2a) still manages to surprise by changing its style. Less premium, it distracts attention by inaugurating a new back highlighting the photo block. The manufacturer refers to “eyes” to describe the two cameras located on the back of its Phone (2a).

We’ve actually gotten used to having smartphones with a circular photo block in our hands. Nothing nevertheless manages to stand out in terms of integration, thanks to the Glyph interface.

A design that is as unique as ever


This set of LEDs, Nothing’s trademark, is still present and remains one of the originalities of the “Phone”. It serves as an indicator light by integrating into the system to display certain actions (calls, notifications, timer, charging, etc.). There are 3 LEDs on the back of the smartphone. Another use of this location is that it hides the NFC zone.

The front of the smartphone is much more conventional. It lets a large screen speak for itself, with thin, uniform borders. There is also a central notch, located on the upper part. The whole thing is homogeneous and offers a good grip, the Phone (2a) being helped by its flat edges and rounded corners. On the left side, there are the buttons dedicated to the volume while the right side houses the power button. The Dual SIM slot and USB-C port are situated on the bottom of the phone. The smartphone is IP54 certified.

On the screen side, the Phone (2a) sports a 6.7-inch OLED panel. It offers a 120Hz refresh rate and displays in Full HD+ (1080 x 2,412 pixels). Since the screen is not LTPO, you have to make do with two options: 60 Hz for “standard” and 120 Hz for “high”. By default, the smartphone offers dynamic adjustment based on the content.

The smartphone’s screen is of good quality, displaying beautiful bright colors with nice brightness. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.

Performance & Software


Nothing is getting a custom chip on its Phone (2a). The smartphone features MediaTek’s Dimensity 7200 Pro, a 4nm SoC. It consists of an 8-core CPU part, with two Cortex-A715s clocked at 2.8 GHz and six Cortex-A510s at 2.0 GHz. It adds a Mali-G610 MC4 GPU.

The switch to a MediaTek chip is a first for the manufacturer. The previous Phone (1) and Phone (2) were equipped with the Snapdragon 778G+ and Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 respectively. The desire to reduce the final price may explain this change, but not only. The progress of the Dimensity is obvious and the Dimensity 7200 Pro of the Phone (2a) confirms that it is to be taken seriously.

In everyday use, you don’t suffer from any slowdown and the navigation is perfectly smooth. Our test model is also helped by its 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Note that it also has a RAM expansion feature that we let set by default most of the time. It adds an additional 2GB of RAM. It is possible to disable this feature, or conversely to switch to an additional 4 or 8 GB of virtual RAM.

The Phone (2a) clearly meets expectations by being versatile, even if it inevitably shows limits in the heaviest uses or in games.

Nothing OS 2.5 and Android 14


On the software front, the Phone (2a) arrives with Android 14 and the Nothing OS overlay in its version 2.5.3. An effective combo with a custom interface that clearly stands out from the crowd, when you take the device out of the box. Android enthusiasts know that Google’s OS is customizable, but it’s rare to see a manufacturer add so much of its own personal touch. We appreciate the care taken by Nothing, even if the style will not necessarily please everyone.

The Nothing Phone (2a) gets three years of Android updates and four years of security updates. A pretty good base for a mid-range smartphone.

Photo & Video


The Nothing Phone (2a) arrives with the following configuration:

  • 50MP main sensor (Samsung ISOCELL S5KGN8, f/1.9, 1/1.56-inch, PDAF)
  • 50MP Ultra Wide (Samsung JN1, f/2.2, 1/2.76″)
  • 32MP selfie camera

The setup is pretty classic for a mid-range smartphone. The Phone (2a) dispenses with the telephoto lens – reserved for high-end smartphones – to focus on a duo of 50MP modules. We appreciate the manufacturer’s choice to avoid a 2MP macro sensor, which would just be used to write “triple camera” on the spec sheet.

The Phone (2a) is an efficient photo client in its segment. In daylight, its main sensor delivers good quality shots with a good level of detail and contrast. It is, however, not capable of producing images as sharp as a premium model. The same goes for the ultra-wide-angle lens, which takes advantage of definition to offer images that are sufficiently rich in detail.

In low-light conditions, things get more complicated and digital smoothing kicks in. Images lack detail and a blurry effect may appear. A bit like the Phone (2) with the Google Pixel 7 in its segment when it was released, the Phone (2a) does not disappoint. It doesn’t have the “magic” of Google’s algorithms to do as well as a Pixel 7a in the exercise, though. Overall, we remain satisfied with the results on a smartphone offered at less than 400 euros as soon as it is released.

In video, the Phone (2a) records up to 4K at 30 fps. Full HD 1080p is also on the menu, at 60 or 120 fps.

Autonomy


Nothing’s smartphone is equipped with a 5,000 mAh battery, which is a common capacity in this price range. It allows you to enjoy good battery life, quite easily exceeding a good day of use. We are more inclined towards a day and a half of use in “normal” conditions, or even two days if you are a little more economical.

The Phone (2a) gets the same fast charging as its big brother, namely 45W wired charging. The technology isn’t the fastest on the market, but it’s efficient enough to get back to full in just under an hour (1 to 100%).

Price


The Nothing Phone (2a) hits the market from 349 euros. This price is for the model with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. A faster version – which we’re testing here – has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for 399 euros.

An aggressive pricing positioning that positions the Phone (2a) against models such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G or the Samsung Galaxy A34. However, Nothing’s targets are the Google Pixel 7a (509 euros) or Samsung Galaxy A54 (launched at 499 euros).

OUR TAKE – 8/10


Nothing successfully enters the mid-range segment with the Phone (2a). As with its previous smartphones, the brand doesn’t particularly impress technically. Its screen is good, it is efficient, efficient in photos and has good battery life.

These good points are reinforced by a design that allows the Phone (2a) to stand out, a rare element in this price range. The Glyph interface, a gadget in appearance, benefits from nice integration that encourages you to get caught up in the game and use it. Nothing adds its touch to the overlay, offering a different Android experience. At less than 400 euros, we are charmed by the Nothing experience.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Unique, eye-catching design with the Glyph interface
  • Good performance from the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 chip
  • Smooth 120Hz OLED display
  • Clean Android software with 3 years of updates
  • Decent main camera in daylight
  • All-day battery life with fast 45W charging
  • Very affordable price for the specs

Cons:

  • Camera struggles in low light
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP68 water/dust resistance
  • Lacks a telephoto camera lens
  • Middling speaker quality

Final Verdict


The Nothing Phone (2a) is an impressive affordable smartphone that brings some flagship flair to the mid-range segment. Its distinct design with the glowing LED lights is genuinely unique and stylish. Performance is solid thanks to the capable MediaTek chip and 120Hz display.

Camera performance is decent for the price, though low light photography could be better. You also miss out on extras like wireless charging, IP68 rating and a telephoto lens that pricier phones offer. But overall, the Phone (2a) gets you a modern Android experience with snappy performance and a large smooth display for under $400.

If you’re looking to save money but still want a phone that stands out from the crowd, the Nothing Phone (2a) is an excellent value pick. It undercuts rivals like the Pixel 7a while offering a premium design and mostly flagship-grade capabilities. For the money, Nothing has delivered one of the most compelling affordable smartphones of the year.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I'm the creator and editor-in-chief of Tech To Geek. Through this little blog, I share with you my passion for technology. I specialize in various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android, focusing on providing practical and valuable guides.

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