Nothing Phone 2 Review: For the past three weeks, I’ve embarked on a unique experiment, switching my SIM card from the pricey iPhone 14 Pro Max to the brand new Nothing Phone 2. The experience that followed was far from what I anticipated. Moving to a phone that costs half as much, I expected some compromises, but surprisingly, the initial days with the Nothing Phone 2 were seamless.
Striking Similarities and Stunning Display
The similarities between the Nothing Phone 2 and the iPhone 14 Pro Max are striking. Not only do they share nearly identical dimensions, but their screens are also remarkably similar. Take a guess: can you distinguish between the two? It’s a challenge, right? Not only are the dimensions the same, but the bezels are also evenly distributed around the screen—a level of symmetry rarely seen in Android phones. This attention to detail adds to the overall aesthetic appeal.
Exceptional Display Quality
Moreover, the display on the Nothing Phone 2 is exceptional. The colors are vibrant yet not overly saturated, reminiscent of the iPhone’s quality. With its 120Hz refresh rate, the display can adjust to as low as 1Hz for an always-on screen with minimal battery drain. The screen is impressively bright, even under direct sunlight. Cheaper phones often suffer from washed-out displays, but the Nothing Phone 2 defies this trend.
While the resolution is slightly lower compared to top-end Android phones and the iPhone, the difference is hardly noticeable, even to someone with sharp eyesight. Many manufacturers incorporate high-resolution screens, assuming consumers will appreciate the difference, but they disable the high-res mode by default. I, too, have opted for a lower resolution on my Sony phone, as I don’t require the extra pixels. Thus, the Nothing Phone 2 presents no aesthetic compromise compared to its more expensive counterparts.
Unique and Eye-Catching Design
One notable aspect where the Nothing Phone 2 shines is its design. Unlike the universally acclaimed clean and simple design of the iPhone, Nothing has taken the liberty to go all out with the Phone 2’s aesthetics. Transparent back? Check. 785 individual LEDs divided into 11 segments? Why not? This phone exudes personality and character, appealing to those seeking a distinctive device. It also offers a comfortable grip, as it is lighter than the iPhone. The slightly curved glass on the back adds a touch of elegance while resisting fingerprints. Although the back may pick up prints due to its glossy finish, the vibrant colors and intricate design elements mask any smudges effectively. If fingerprint visibility concerns you, the white variant performs even better than the gray, although both options are quite satisfactory. Nothing Phone 2 Review
The Intriguing Glyph Interface
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room—or should I say, the 785 LEDs on the back. Nothing calls this feature the “glyph interface.” In their previous phone, it felt somewhat gimmicky, with functionalities like checking battery percentage or setting up custom lighting patterns for different callers. However, with the Phone 2, Nothing has significantly improved the glyph system, offering a broader range of options. For instance, you can now choose from a library of pre-made ringtones, create your own using the glyph composer, or even import your favorite track for synchronized rhythm lighting. Nothing Phone 2 Review
The glyphs can also serve as timers, volume level indicators, or visual cues for Google Assistant. You can prioritize certain notifications to light up specific glyphs, making it easier to identify their significance. The most exciting aspect is the integration of the glyph system with third-party apps. For example, when using Uber, the glyphs can display the estimated time until pickup.
Although the glyph system is not yet widely supported by third-party apps, the potential is evident. While I personally don’t find myself using the glyphs extensively, the vision behind it is intriguing, and I can appreciate the possibilities it offers for a more immersive and connected smartphone experience. Nothing Phone 2 Review
Software Experience: Nothing OS 2
As for the software, the Nothing Phone 2 runs on Nothing OS 2, a skin based on Android 13. It is a clean and reliable software experience that prioritizes smooth performance. Every aspect, from system animations to the home screen’s responsiveness, is finely tuned. The monochrome home screen may seem unusual at first, but it actually enhances usability. When you unlock your phone, you are instinctively searching for a specific app, guided by muscle memory.
The black-and-white theme doesn’t hinder app recognition; instead, it complements your natural navigation. It is only when you exit an app and contemplate diving into another that the monochrome aesthetic encourages you to pause and consider if it’s necessary. Nothing recently released an update that automatically applies the monochrome theme to all apps, aligning with their philosophy of promoting presence and a real-world connection.
The software is still in its early stages, and some minor bugs and occasional stutters persist. However, Nothing’s commitment to improvement is evident, as they have already started bringing new features to their first phone. Nothing Phone 2 Review
Impressive Battery Life and Audio Quality
Battery life and audio quality are two areas where the Nothing Phone 2 excels. With a 4,700mAh battery, it offers solid endurance, often surpassing the seven-hour screen-on-time mark. It performs exceptionally well even under heavy usage, thanks to optimizations and features like automatic dark mode for all apps. The speakers on the Phone 2 provide a balanced sound profile, ranking among the best in the market. Though it may not match the audio quality of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the Phone 2 offers a slightly bassier output and impressive loudness, ensuring an enjoyable multimedia experience. Nothing Phone 2 Review
Compromises to Consider
However, the Nothing Phone 2 does have a few compromises compared to flagship devices. The haptics, for example, are not as refined as those on high-end phones. While they are not distractingly poor, they lack the subtlety I prefer for keyboard vibrations. The camera system also falls slightly short in certain aspects. Although the main and ultra-wide cameras capture pleasing shots with good detail, the dynamic range struggles in challenging lighting conditions. Nothing Phone 2 Review
Notably, when dark areas and bright highlights coexist within a frame, the Phone 2’s camera struggles to balance exposure effectively. Additionally, the front camera’s performance leaves room for improvement, particularly in backlit scenarios. Video recording is limited to 1080p resolution, which may disappoint some users looking for higher-quality footage. Nevertheless, the Night mode performs admirably, skillfully preserving details in low-light environments. Nothing Phone 2 Review
Performance and Connectivity Considerations
The inclusion of an older Snapdragon chip in the Phone 2 is a calculated decision by Nothing. While it may not offer the latest and greatest specifications, it delivers a snappy and responsive user experience. The optimization achieved with the older chip ensures smooth performance for everyday tasks. Nevertheless, it lacks the cutting-edge features found in top-of-the-line phones, such as the latest 5G modem or the most advanced Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards. This caveat should be considered, especially by users seeking the utmost in performance and connectivity. Nothing Phone 2 Review
Conclusion: A Compelling Alternative
In conclusion, the Nothing Phone 2 represents a significant improvement over its predecessor, demonstrating Nothing’s growing confidence as a smartphone manufacturer. It is a thoughtful device designed by real people, offering a unique and refreshing experience. Despite its compromises, the Phone 2 remains an easy recommendation.
Priced at $599, it strikes a balance between affordability and flagship-like performance. While it may not have the finesse of high-end devices, it doesn’t leave users feeling shortchanged. Nothing has managed to absorb costs and deliver a compelling product that challenges the notion of smartphone value. Nothing Phone 2 Review
Nothing Phone 2 Review: A Surprising Flagship Experience at Half the Price
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