Nothing Phone 2 Review: Is it Worth Upgrade?

The Nothing Phone 2 is a high-end smartphone that goes head-to-head with the Google Pixel 7. Now, I’m all set to share my full review and whether it’s a worthwhile upgrade from its predecessor the Nothing Phone 1.

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Design and Durability

Nothing Phone 2 Design

With the Nothing Phone 2 flagship, everything has gotten bigger, especially the phone itself, now boasting a 6.7-inch screen. Surprisingly, it doesn’t feel significantly larger when you hold it, thanks to smaller bezels and a slightly slimmer profile. They maintains the sleek flat edges reminiscent of the iPhone, and the subtle curvature adds a touch of elegance. While they isn’t awkward to hold, it’s not the most ergonomic either. For casual tech enthusiasts distinguishing between the first and second Nothing Phone might pose a challenge.

Colors Options

Like its phone 1, the Nothing Phone 2 comes in only two colors: dark gray and white. While I leaned towards the lighter model in the first Nothing Phone, this time, the dark gray variant has caught my attention. It strikes a balance not too dark to obscure the intriguing design details of Nothing’s creation, but just enough to enhance the brilliance of the glowing glyphs when they light up.

IP54 rating

Despite a minor scuff in one corner of the aluminum frame likely from a slip through a hole in my shorts onto a hard floor phone remains robust. Thanks to the pre-installed screen protector, the display is unharmed, and the glass back looks pristine with no scratches or scuffs. And the Nothing Phone 2 boasts an IP54 dust and water resistance rating for added peace of mind.

Nothing OS 2.0

Nothing OS 2.0

An standout feature for me has been the Nothing OS. Given a fresh look or more accurately completely devoid of color with a monochrome finish. It might sound dull or even gloomy fitting well with the British vibes. Surprisingly, I found it quite refreshing. The concept behind this colorless aesthetic is to minimize distractions and, consequently, reduce unnecessary screen time. Interestingly, it appears to work quite effectively.

Stock Android

You have the option for a stock Android experience if that’s more your style. During the initial setup of the phone, you get to choose between the distinctive Nothing layout or the classic stock Android experience. I’m not entirely certain if you can switch between them without a full device reset, though. Regardless, Nothing OS version 2 brings numerous enhancements to the lock screen, folders, and various other features.

You may like this: Samsung Galaxy A54 5G Review

Glyph Features and Storage Options

Glyph Features

The glyph lighting on the Phone 2 has seen improvements, now split into more sections with exclusive bonus functions. One unique feature is the Glyph Timer, a cool way to track time without distractions on the lock screen. While it provides only an approximate measure, resembling a glowing fuse dwindling down to nothing, it adds a funky touch. I haven’t tested the similar feature for Uber users, providing a glyph countdown until your ride arrives, but I can imagine it being handy for just-in-time deliveries. Especially when immersed in a game or movie, constantly picking up your phone to check when your KFC bargain bucket will arrive isn’t something you’d want to do.

Glyph Light

Unfortunately, the flip-to-glyph feature proved a bit unreliable for me, especially during train travel. There were instances where it took a while to activate or didn’t work at all, possibly due to vibrations. Placing the phone on a surface that wasn’t perfectly flat, like a sofa, also posed challenges. Hopefully, these are just early issues that will be addressed in a future Nothing software update.

Additionally, in the past week, the Do Not Disturb mode seemed to activate on its own at times. This might be linked to a lock screen widget that could be getting nudged. On the bright side, I appreciate the new Essential Notifications feature, which you can set for any app or your favorite contacts. For example, if activated for your sweetheart, the glyph lighting will constantly notify you until you read their message. It’s handy if you’ve wandered off and missed the initial notification. Despite a couple of minor bugs, I really enjoyed Nothing OS 2.

Nothing has big plans for the Nothing Phone 2 with three OS updates and four years of regular security updates, ensuring it stays relevant for a long time. In my experience over the past week, I encountered subtle issues with the optical fingerprint sensor. It worked so seamlessly that I actually forgot to set up face recognition for the first few days because the fingerprint sensor met all my needs. Compared to the previous generation Phone 2 also provides more storage options, allowing you to choose between 128 or 512 gigs of storage. However, keep in mind that it’s not expandable via micro SD memory cards.

Display and Audio

Display and Picture Quality

The Nothing Phone 2 boasts a generous 6.7-inch OLED screen. While it might not match the sharpness of some mid-range competitors like the Honor 90 and OnePlus Nord 3, it’s undoubtedly a visual delight. Although my sample doesn’t yet support HDR streaming on Netflix, the contrast is still impressive, making cinematic experiences, like that Avatar movie, appear vibrant. The Phone 2’s display is exceptionally bright, making it easy to see even under direct sunlight while wearing sunglasses. Additionally, it features a bit of LTP Auto Tech, dynamically adjusting from one Hertz up to 120 Hertz as needed.

Watching Animated Movies on Nothing Phone 2

The audio on the Phone 2 is truly impressive, offering a bold and clear sound through its stereo speakers. It’s perfect for enjoying YouTube videos, especially when you’re in the kitchen or on the go. While there’s no headphone jack, Bluetooth streaming worked flawlessly for me, except for one brief connection loss, the only hiccup I encountered throughout the entire week. If you have Nothing’s own true wireless earbuds, you’ll benefit from full custom controls seamlessly integrated into the Bluetooth menu.

Performance and Gaming

It wasn’t surprising when Nothing revealed that the Nothing Phone 2 would be powered by the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, a piece of information that was already common knowledge back in February. While it might not be the absolute latest Qualcomm chipset, it’s more than sufficient to ensure smooth performance in whatever you’re doing whether it’s navigating the intricacies of Genshin Impact or realizing you have no idea what you’re supposed to be doing in the game.

The phone maintains a stable frame rate, even on higher graphic settings, providing a generally smooth gaming experience. I did encounter one or two stutters during intense gaming moments, and there was one instance of a complete meltdown with a mid-game crash. Nevertheless, overall, it delivered a solid gaming performance. Nothing’s gaming mode, essentially the stock Android effort, might be somewhat limited compared to competitors, but the notifications blocking works like a charm. Additionally, the Phone 2 manages to stay cool as the precious hours of your finite existence slip away.

Battery Life

The battery on the Nothing Phone 2 is another aspect that won’t let you down. With a slightly larger 4700 milliamp-hour capacity, it typically takes at least six hours of screen-on time to drain, even with active camera use and background streaming of music and podcasts while the phone is in hibernation. The 45-watt fast charging is among the quickest available, fully refilling the Nothing Phone 2 in under an hour, even when completely drained. This feature outpaces the charging speed of Pixel phones. Wireless charging is also included in the Phone 2, adding to the overall convenience. And let’s not forget to mention the nice touch of transparent tips on the charging cable.

Cameras Test

The Phone 2 features a fresh camera sensor, the Sim 50 Mega IMAX 890, similar to the OnePlus Nord 3 and even the OnePlus 11 flagship, with the added bonus of optical image stabilization. For this 2023 model, Nothing has also upgraded the ISP. The good news is that this combination of new hardware and software seems to have improved photo quality, especially in certain circumstances. In my tests, the images looked natural and less processed compared to other mid-range phones I’ve recently tried, like the Honor 90. Much like Google’s Pixel 7A, the Phone 2 accurately reproduces colors captured in the wild, resulting in vivid and vibrant shots that look beautiful on the screen.

The Nothing Phone 2 steps up its camera game with more advanced HDR photo capture, offering 8 levels of exposure, a notable improvement over the previous model’s 3 levels. While the difference might not be immediately noticeable outdoors, this handset shines in handling challenging shots with bright backdrops or tricky lighting conditions, producing fine results without overprocessing scenes, in contrast to the iPhone’s tendency. Low-light shots also impress, with minimal graininess. Although the focus speed is fast and responsive, an occasional issue with blown-out light sources can detract from an otherwise decent photo. The phone features a portrait mode that applies a stylish bokeh effect without compromising the subject.

The second lens on the Phone 2 is an ultra-wide sensor, the 50-megapixel Samsung GN1. Despite using a different sensor from a different manufacturer, the switch between the primary shooter and the ultra-wide lens is seamless, with colors appearing just as natural. It’s worth noting the absence of a telephoto lens, limiting zoom capabilities. Cropping into photos may reveal pixelation if done too enthusiastically. The phone offers a 50-megapixel high-resolution mode, but the increase in detail is minimal and not particularly worth using.

For video enthusiasts, Nothing has upgraded the video recording capabilities, allowing 4K footage at a smooth 60 frames per second. The performance is impressive, with stabilization preventing shaky footage during movement, and commendable picture quality even in ambient light conditions. On the audio side, the Phone 2 captures clear sound, undisturbed by strong gusts of wind.

The upgraded selfie camera features a 32-megapixel IMX 715 shooter. It performs well in ambient conditions, though it can get a bit murky and grainy in challenging lighting. Nevertheless, the camera handles strong backlighting reasonably well, and the portrait mode tends to be quite effective.

Final Thought

The nothing phone 2 offers a range of new features and upgrades, justifying its price point. While some minor software quirks may be present, they are expected to be addressed in future updates. The sleek design, powerful performance, impressive camera capabilities, and long-lasting battery make the nothing phone 2 a compelling choice for those seeking a premium smartphone experience.

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