Nothing Tech

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Tech that stops you in your tracks

₹ 27,999

Taking a great idea and running with it, Nothing has made an envious product portfolio of products that put design and functionality above everything. Nothing else matters. Alright, without any further puns, let’s get right into it. The Phone (2a) is a watered-down version of the Phone 2 but manages to keep a similar screen size with symmetrical bezels all around, the much-loved transparent design and the distinctive Glyph interface LEDs at the back.

Nothing Phone (2a) review: Design

What has changed though are the not-so-obvious things. The LED that is used to denote the charge level has been omitted, along with some LED zones too, making it a simpler form of the Glyph interface. Lesser LED elements haven’t blunted most of their ability though. The timer that shows you the arrival time for Uber and Zomato is still available, flip to Glyph, composer to make your own sounds and patterns, flash fill for Portrait shots and volume visualizer…all have been retained. Even the LED that used to light up during video recording gets an axe and glass for the back. Replaced by clear plastic, albeit of very high quality, it still looks as cool, but attracts a lot more fingerprints, especially if you opt for the black version. What gets our vote though are the side rails which get an anti-slip coating that really helps you grip the slim device better but even heightens the perceived feel-good factor. Overall, the fit and finish is of a very high order and is built impeccably.

It’s the white version that truly allows you to appreciate the lengths that Nothing has gone to to fabricate this mould and enable the whole manufacturing process that it entails. The twin cameras mounted like eyes in the centre are the same 50MP units from the Phone 2, but now get placed in the middle of the NFC antenna. Wireless charging gets a miss, as does the higher-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, replaced with a custom Mediatek Dimensity 7200 SoC.

Nothing Phone (2a) review: Performance

Nothing’s own Nothing OS2.5 tries to be an all-inclusive reimagining of the Android 14. While it does have its moments, beyond the typography and B&W theme, it’s fairly basic in its customisation options. The Nothing theme likes to keep app icons in a monotone theme, but not all apps play nice with it. Jio, Gpay and many others pop up as full-colour oddballs. The 6.7in display though is great and at 1300nits peak brightness, not the segment standard, but plenty detailed and bright for outdoor use. It also supports HDR10+ and HLG and even the HDR calibration for photos and videos is very well calibrated. It fixes almost everything that would be overexposed or burnt out on other phones in the same range. There’s Ultra HDR too if you dig into the camera settings, but even with it off, it processes light and shadows impressively. There is a tendency to oversharpen the entire frame though and it also casts a warm tinge on the image that isn’t offensive but noticeable. Video too suffers from sharpening but manages to dig out a lot of low-light information and detail in brightly lit scenes. 4K/30fps is the max resolution you can get but 1080p does offer the smoothness of 60fps. For stills, 2x zoom is available in the 12MP mode, but switch to 50MP resolution and you lose that right. The difference in detail between the two resolutions is non-discernable, on the phone’s display itself. Best to stick to the 12MP mode and save precious storage. But in either mode, the saturation is bumped up and the colours are almost always more vivid than real life.  There also isn’t any macro mode available so the closest you can get to any subject would be a short arm’s length away.

Processing is more of a concern and although you can take a snap a second, immediately previewing them takes a few seconds to process and open. Quite unlikely for a phone in 2024 but it’s probably the plethora of post-processing being applied to each shot to get the HDR right. We switched off HDR, but there wasn’t a difference to processing times, so, it could also be down to the Mediatek processor. Gaming performance is healthy though and as long as you don’t push the controls to 120fps, you’ll be able to get acceptable graphics performance. 

Charging speeds of 45W are supported and while that’s not blazing fast, the battery life and size both seem extended enough for more than a day’s worth of use. 5000mAh is enough for most phones and if managed well via software optimisation, they all last a day but the 2a does a bit better than most.

Nothing Phone (2a) review: Conclusion

Going up against some stiff competition from OnePlus, Poco, RealMe, Samsung, Oppo and Honor, the Nothing Phone (2a) manages to hold its own with its unique characteristics. Design being the biggest strength and the notoriety of standing out from the crowd gives it a personality that resonates with many consumers. Performance-wise, it’s middle-of-the-road for the basics but it does win over the rest in terms of software. It’s virtually free of any bloatware and instead, relies heavily on the Google ecosystem of bundled apps. If you’re experimental and love attention to detail, you won’t regret this decision. Just make sure you get it in white.

Stuff Says

Solid mid-range phone that does well on all the basic parameters, but shines on the design and build front.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Design details and build quality

  1. Software is clean and quirky

  1. Battery life

  1. Exaggerated sharpening and colours in photos

  1. Some app icon design not self-explanatory

  1. Black colour is a fingerprint magnet

Display: 6.7in AMOLED (30Hz-120Hz VRR)
Processor: Mediatek Dimensity 7200 Pro
Camera: 50MP+50MP rear, 32MP selfie
Memory: 12GB+8GB Storage: 256GB
Battery: 5000mAh
Charging: 45W fast charging