Nothing Phone 2a Review: Is it really Something?

The Nothing Phone 2a after using as my primary smartphone for a few days reviewing the gaming performance, camera technology, battery life, and other features. Is it the best mid-range phones at about $349.


Nothing Phone 2a unboxing

The Nothing Phone 2a comes in two colors black or white. Inside the box, you’ll find the phone itself, along with one of Nothing’s trademark USB cables, which has a see-through end, and a transparent sim ejector pin. That’s pretty much it. It’s the same situation for the white model.

Design and Build

So I’ve been using the Nothing Phone 2a from the 5 days, and let me tell you, it’s pretty neat. The base model starts at £319, but if you want to add more storage and RAM, you’ll have to pay a bit extra. It’s got a 6.7-inch display with thin bezels, making it a bit tricky for one-handed use, but there’s a one-handed mode to help out. And You can pull down the notifications bar from anywhere on the screen.

Nothing Phone 2a Design and Build Quality

The design has changed quite a bit, especially around the rear. The cameras have moved to the center and they look like little minion eyes, which is kinda cool. The camera bump is subtle and the back is transparent, so you can see all the little details inside, like screws and stuff. The white model shows these details better than the black one, but both models get smudgy easily.

Slimmer design of Nothing Phone 2a from previous phone 2

The phone still has iPhone-style edges, but they’re a bit slimmer now. The volume and power buttons stand out more on the white model, which is nice. Unfortunately, you can’t really use the camera bump as a finger rest because it’s too small and rounded. The back is made of polycarbonate instead of glass, which makes the phone lighter but not completely scratch-resistant.

You might want to consider slapping on a cover to keep it looking good. The edges have a textured matte finish, and the front has Gorilla Glass 5 with a pre-installed screen protector. It’s also IP54 rated for water and dust resistance. Overall, it’s a solid 2 and a half out of 5 on the STM scale.

Nothing OS 2.5 and features

Nothing Phone 2a Software OS launcher

The Nothing Phone 2a comes with the latest Android 14 and Nothing OS 2.5.3. You get three OS updates and four years of security patches, which is great for a mid-range smartphone.

When you first turn it on, you have a choice between stock Android or the Nothing OS. I went with the Nothing OS, and it’s pretty similar to the Nothing Phone 2. Most icons are black and white, but some still have color options. I like this because it makes you less tempted to waste time scrolling through apps.

Nothing Home Screen icons Pack and Widgets

There are 22 widgets to choose from, including ones for the camera and clock, and if you have Nothing earbuds, you can check their battery life. The design is consistent and unique, with a cool dot matrix style.

Nothing AI Wallpaper Generator

The phone is smooth and responsive, and I haven’t had any issues with lag. There aren’t many new features in this version of NothingOS, but there’s a wallpaper studio that uses AI to generate wallpapers. Overall, it’s a solid experience with some neat customization options.

Glyph Lights features

Nothing Phone 2a Glyph Light

The glyph lighting on the Nothing Phone 2a has been reduced to just three lights now, but they still do the job well. You can fully customize them in the phone’s settings, adjusting the brightness to your liking. There are ten ringtones available, making good use of the trio of lights for notifications.

Nothing glyph light Essential Notification

One handy feature is the essential notification setting, which keeps one of the glyph lights on for certain notifications, like WhatsApp messages. There’s also a flip-to-glyph feature, where placing the phone face down silences it but keeps the glyph flashing.

Previously, the glyph lights wouldn’t turn on if the phone wasn’t on a completely flat surface, but this seems to have been improved in the Phone 2a model. The scheduling options and glyph progress are still there, but support is limited. You can sync it with Google Calendar, although it’s not very helpful.

The glyph timer is a useful addition, allowing you to set a timer between 15 seconds and 1 hour. When activated, the top left LED slowly drains, giving you a quick glance at how much time is left without being too distracting.

Lastly, there’s the glyph composer for those who fancy themselves as a bit of a Daft Punk or any other dance band enthusiast.

Display and Audio

Nothing Phone 2a Display quality

The display size remains the same as the Nothing Phone 2 and most phones in 2024. The Nothing Phone 2a boasts a 6.7-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2412 x 1084 pixels resolutions, delivering crisp visuals despite its spacious size. It supports 10-bit color, although HDR playback isn’t available in Netflix yet. The contrast is sharp and colors pop, with the option to switch to standard if needed. The screen is bright, peaking at 1,300 nits or 1,100 nits outdoors, ensuring good visibility. Auto-brightness can be a bit slow at times but it’s not a major issue.

The centrally positioned selfie camera doesn’t intrude much on the viewing experience. While it doesn’t use LTPO technology, it can adjust between 30 Hz and 120 Hz refresh rates, with the option for dynamic or constant 120 Hz.

The stereo speaker setup provides clear audio suitable for enjoying YouTube videos even in noisy environments. Bluetooth streaming works flawlessly, with no interruptions experienced while wandering around London on a sunny weekend. Overall, the display and audio performance are impressive delivering an enjoyable multimedia experience.

Performance and Gaming

For performance, Nothing chose the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chipset, custom-made for the Nothing Phone 2a. It ensures efficiency and solid performance. Everyday use is smooth, thanks to the lightweight and efficient NothingOS launcher.

Playing Genshian Impact on Nothing Phone 2a Performance

Gaming performance intrigued me the most. I tested it with Genshin Impact at the highest detail settings and 60 frames per second. I expected some stutters, but to my surprise, the Nothing Phone 2a handled it admirably. Gameplay remained fluid even during extended sessions.

The phone features a vapor chamber and graphite frame to dissipate heat efficiently. Even after gaming for over an hour at the highest settings, the phone only felt slightly warm to the touch. Overall, the Nothing Phone 2a delivers reliable performance for both everyday tasks and demanding gaming sessions.

Battery life

The Nothing Phone 2a comes with a 5,000mAh battery, larger than its predecessors, and it performs well. During my five-day test period, there was only one day where I almost drained the battery before bedtime. This included over an hour of gaming, an hour of Skype calls, and extensive camera usage.

On more typical days, with 5 to 6 hours of screen-on time and a mix of activities like video and audio streaming, I usually had around 25 to 30% battery left by the end of the day. When it’s time to recharge, the 45-watt charger is reasonably quick, although not the fastest in this price range. There’s no wireless charging support, but Nothing claims that battery longevity has been improved, with only minor degradation expected over three years of daily charging.


Nothing Phone 2a Camera Setup

The camera setup of the Nothing Phone 2a features a dual-lens setup, with the primary shooter boasting a Samsung GN9 sensor and Optical Image Stabilization. By default it captures photos at 12 megapixels, but you can bump it up to 50 megapixels if needed. Overall, I was quite pleased with the test shots.

In brighter light, there’s some saturation, but colors generally look natural. For tricky contrast situations Nothing’s new Ultra XDR mode delivers impressive HDR shots by combining eight picks at different dynamic levels.

Nothing Phone 2a ambient light image example

Shooting moving subjects in ambient light can be challenging, resulting in blurred images. However, in better lighting conditions, the performs admirably. The portrait mode adds a pleasing bokeh effect, while in low light, the phone extends exposure to brighten up the scene, capturing crispy details.

The second lens on the back is an ultra-wide-angle affair, utilizing Samsung’s GN1 sensor. While it tends to produce warmer tones, it performs decently for the price.

For video recording you can shoot at 1080p Full HD or 4K at 30 frames per second with the option up to 60 frames per second at Ultra HD. The focus is responsive and the visuals are detailed although stabilization could be better at times, especially in noisy environments.

For selfies the Nothing Phone 2a boasts a 32-megapixel front-facing camera delivering natural-looking snaps with good detail especially in brighter light. The portrait mode effectively blurs the background, and while video recording maxes out at Full HD, it’s suitable for video calls with decent microphone performance.

Final Thought

After using the Nothing Phone 2a as my main phone for five days, I have to say I really like it. It’s a solid overall package especially if you’re into the Nothing ethos, with its OS launcher and glyph light features. Gamers will appreciate the performance it offers. However, if photography is your top priority, the Google Pixel 7a might be a better choice. Overall, it gets my seal of approval

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