If there is one device you use more than anything else, it’s your smartphone. Consumers are spoiled silly these days with so many choices, where even mid-range handsets are capable of delivering a near-perfect user experience.
Nothing, the UK brand spearheaded by OnePlus founder Carl Pei, is back with a sequel to its uniquely designed Nothing Phone (1), with the handset aptly known as the Nothing Phone (2).
It is nigh impossible to tell the difference between this newbie and its predecessor at first glance. The attention-grabbing Glyph UI is still there, albeit with customisable ringtones and light display for a more personal touch.
The Nothing Phone (2) has shed a few millimetres in thickness but has gained a wee bit of height. Still, tipping the scales at just 201.2g, it fits easily into the pocket.
The button layout is familiar for those who are flirting with the idea of making the jump from iOS, and each button executes a different function based on the amount of pressure applied.
At the back lies additional LEDs that power the Glyph UI, which is composed of a series of shapes and components. With its transparent glass back and rounded edges, you won’t be faulted for spending time admiring the craftsmanship.
There is a paradigm shift in the Nothing Phone (2) since the back can communicate with the user via the unique Glyph UI. While there is a learning curve to figure out which patterns depict incoming messages, incoming calls, and other notifications, it should be second nature in no time at all.
Heck, you just might find yourself placing the phone face down more thanks to the Glyph UI.
The Nothing Phone (2) clearly resides in the upper band of the mid-range smartphone category, powered by the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 system-on-chip that debuted late last year.
This SoC is by no means outdated, never mind that 2023’s flagships are powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. Everything runs fast without any hiccups, and it should last you well over the next three years before you start to yearn for something newer and faster.
The front features a 6.7-inch (17cm) LTPO Oled display that offers excellent performance. With a 2,412 x 1,080 pixel resolution and 1,000 nits of brightness, your eyes are in for a treat.
Power users will appreciate the LTPO technology used since the refresh rate can be adjusted dynamically for optimal battery life.
There are two configurations to choose from: 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage space, or the same amount of RAM with double the storage space. Since there is no microSD memory card slot, you might want to get the larger capacity model from the get-go.
The power button lies on the right side of the handset, with volume buttons on the opposite side. The under-display fingerprint sensor works fast, in case you prefer that over a PIN or face unlock. Connectivity features include NFC, Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6, and GPS.
While you should take special care to not drop the Phone (2) into a swimming pool, it is IP54 rated for water and dust resistance. A spell under a light drizzle should not faze it, so be at peace bringing this on your outdoor runs.
Powered by its OS 2.0 which is based on Android 13, Nothing promises three major Android updates and four years of security patches. In other words, when Android 16 rolls out in 2025, your Phone (2) will still be able to purr along with the latest Android version.
You can stick to the monochrome look of the Nothing OS or return to colour icons if you wish. That said, the monochrome interface featuring Nothing’s very own font – which brings you back to the era of dot-matrix printers – is very cool and eye-catching.
The degree of customisation lets you remove all app names, arrange them in a grid, or easily access the most frequently used apps by enlarging the icons.
As for the Glyph UI, the LED strips behind will pulse and glow in tandem with vibration to visually inform you of an event, such as the person calling or messaging, the type of app used, and much more.
Nothing has included six more LED lights in the Phone (2) compared with its predecessor, increasing its flexibility. For instance, you can use these LEDs to depict a really cool timer countdown.
Apart from the multiple presets, there is also a Glyph composer that you can download beforehand. This unleashes the inner maestro in you to create your very own ringtones and LED patterns.
Interestingly enough, experimental features have been baked into Nothing OS 2.0, including connectivity to your Tesla to control your car from your phone, support for AirPods, and integration of the Glyph interface with third-party apps, among others.
Since they’re experimental, they might not be that stable, but Nothing promises to release them as full-fledged features in the future.
This year’s version still carries two 50MP cameras, albeit with a newer Sony IMX890 sensor for the main camera that claims to offer improved autofocus and optical image stabilisation.
The other 50MP ultra-wide camera is powered by Samsung’s JN1 sensor, just like the predecessor. Both rear cameras can handle 4K recording at 60 fps to keep up with the times. In front, the selfie camera has received an upgrade to a 32MP shooter.
Virtually all smartphone cameras are capable of taking great photos under bright light, even on entry-level handsets. The test of a good phone camera is how well it captures images in low-light conditions, and just how far it can zoom in before losing too much detail.
Nothing has worked hard to improve the camera software, which offers a wide array of options for more versatile shots, including standard photos, macros, panoramic scenes, and portraits. A grid system helps you compose more artistic photos, while tapping on the screen will let you focus on the desired subject/area.
There seems to be an issue with the dynamic range at times, but it is something that can be fixed via a future software update if Nothing works on it. The low-light performance is decent but not great, as it has trouble achieving the right white balance without losing too much detail.
Overall, the Nothing Phone (2)’s cameras have improved over its predecessor’s, but are still a step behind the flagship devices from other brands.
The 4,700 mAh battery bodes well for the Nothing Phone (2). It takes close to an hour for a full charge from empty and is more than capable of lasting the entire day even if you are browsing the web, streaming music over a Bluetooth connection, and playing videos.
It will take a real power user to fully drain the battery in one work day’s worth, which is not something that can be said about other devices in the same class.
Charging is achieved at 45W via a wired connection, while those taking the wireless route will have to settle for 15W. If you happen to have earbuds that support wireless charging, the Phone (2) is also more than happy to juice them up thanks to its 5W reverse wireless charging capability.
The Glyph UI even comes with a charging meter at the bottom LED near the USB-C port, providing a visual indicator of how much time remains before the handset is fully charged.
All in all, with prices starting at RM2,999 for 256GB of storage and an additional RM500 for twice this amount of storage space, the Nothing Phone (2) is much steeper than what its predecessor cost, although it is justified based on the current economic climate and components.
If you already own the Nothing Phone (1), then the minimal improvements might not warrant an upgrade. For everybody else, the Phone (2) comes highly recommended as a flagship alternative, and is definitely one of the top picks for a stylish, premium mid-range handset that will turn heads.
Find out more about the Nothing Phone (2) here.
Edwin Kee dreamt of being a pro-gamer only to have circumstances mould him into a programmer in a past life. He has since moved on to write about consumer electronics and other topics.