Nothing Phone 2a Review: Definitely turns heads but does it live up to the hype? | Mobile Reviews

Nothing Phone 2a Review: Definitely turns heads but does it live up to the hype?

Is the Nothing Phone 2a worth spending Rs. 23999 in a highly competitive segment? Find out in our Nothing Phone 2a review.

By: SHAURYA TOMER
| Updated on: Mar 21 2024, 18:17 IST
Nothing Phone 2a
Nothing Phone 2a is priced at Rs. 23999 in India. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
Nothing Phone 2a
Nothing Phone 2a is priced at Rs. 23999 in India. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

Nothing has been in the smartphone industry for a little over 3 years now and it has already launched two smartphones and a sub-brand that offers smartwatches, earbuds and neckbands. That's a lot, right? In its expansion, the company mostly focused on the upper mid-range segment with its two offerings - the Phone 1 and Phone 2. That was until now. The Nothing Phone 2a was unveiled by Carl Pei on March 5 in the mid-range segment and it takes on the likes of seasoned competitors like Redmi, Samsung, Realme, Motorola and Poco. But in its attempt to appeal to a wider audience, Nothing has sacrificed a handful of features that its more expensive sibling, the Phone 2, has, especially when it comes to the unique design. So, is the Nothing Phone 2a worth spending Rs. 23999 in a highly competitive segment? Let's find out.

Nothing Phone 2a design and display

Nothing Phone 2a
The Nothing Phone 2a has a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
image caption
The Nothing Phone 2a has a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

The Nothing Phone 2a is definitely a looker! One of the standout changes this year is the placement of the camera module, which finds its home at the centre of the upper back panel. The Phone 2a has a decent weight to it and it is comfortable to hold. It has an iPhone-esque design with a flat display and sides. The bezels are uniform throughout which is nice to see, and it has the narrowest bezels of any Nothing Phone yet, even less than the flagship Phone 2. Maybe other brands in its price range could learn a thing or two from the design aesthetics of the Nothing Phone 2a. The display itself is a 6.7-inch AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. The colour tones and viewing angles on the Phone 2a are great, and the content does not look washed out at all. It supports up to 1300 nits of peak brightness and I think this could have been better as the visibility under direct sunlight is just decent. The experience is fluid and scrolling through content is a pleasing experience.

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Continuing the trend set by its predecessors, the Nothing Phone 2a features the Glyph Interface at the back which has become synonymous with the company. But this time around, Nothing has sacrificed several of the LED strips at the back, and the Phone 2a comes with just 3 strips that make up the Glyph Interface. Talking about the same, there's nothing new here as it can still provide visual cues for notifications for apps including timer, music playback and even Zomato deliveries. However, one of the weirdest parts about the Phone 2a is that the Gylph still lights up even when you're watching YouTube videos, which doesn't make sense at all and only adds to the battery drain. There are less number of parts to see on the Phone 2a although a battery cable is visible.

Nothing Phone 2a
The back panel of the Nothing Phone 2a is somewhat transparent, something which has become synonymous with the brand. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
image caption
The back panel of the Nothing Phone 2a is somewhat transparent, something which has become synonymous with the brand. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

The back itself is plastic this time around, perhaps in an attempt to keep costs down. It is a big fingerprint magnet and you'll have to wipe it regularly if you don't intend on using a case. The volume rocker is on the left whereas the power button is placed on the right, and both have a decent clicky feel. All in all, the Nothing Phone 2a is one of the best-looking smartphones not only in its price range but also perhaps a segment above as well.

The unboxing experience of the Nothing Phone 2a deserves special mention, with a great-looking box, a (somewhat) transparent data cable and the most attractive SIM ejector tool I've seen yet. Kudos!

Nothing Phone 2a performance

Nothing Phone 2a
The Nothing Phone 2a runs on NothingOS 2.5.4. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
image caption
The Nothing Phone 2a runs on NothingOS 2.5.4. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

This is where smartphones have the chance to show their mettle and the Nothing Phone 2a achieves that…almost. It runs on Nothing OS 2.5.3 out of the box. Now, this is my first Nothing device and the experience has been great in certain aspects. One of the best things about the Phone 2a is the absence of bloatware. Apart from Google's suite of apps, you'll not find any bloatware. While this is the bare minimum expected of any smartphone, it should be praised especially when you see smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy A55, which costs nearly Rs. 40000, have third-party bloatware apps. The Nothing OS also gets the aesthetics right on point with custom icon packs and themes.

The smartphone is powered by a custom MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro SoC with 8GB RAM. The initial experience of the Phone 2a was jittery, to say the least. Even first-party apps such as Camera took considerable time to load and the user experience wasn't fluid. Fortunately, the latest Nothing OS 2.5.4 patch has solved most of the problems, although a handful still persist. Oh, and talking about the update, it adds an AI-powered Wallpaper Studio, meaning you can create your own wallpaper with the help of several preset prompts.

Coming back to the experience, I was able to extract a better performance from the Nothing Phone 2a by turning off the extended RAM feature. Although this feature can be a bonus on most smartphones, it should be noted that the Phone 2a has UFS 2.1 storage, which isn't the latest and greatest. If you're a gamer, then you'll be pleased to know that there are no noticeable heating issues on the Phone 2a. Games such as Asphalt 9 and BGMI will run smoothly, although not at the highest graphical settings. So, if you're solely buying the Phone 2a for gaming, then you must keep this in mind.

One of the most surprising things about the Phone 2a is the bundled Perplexity subscription. However, only those who purchase the smartphone from Flipkart can redeem it by entering their order number, so I didn't really get a chance to test it out.

Nothing Phone 2a camera performance

Nothing Phone 2a
The Nothing Phone 2a has a dual camera setup at the back. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
image caption
The Nothing Phone 2a has a dual camera setup at the back. (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)

The Nothing Phone 2a packs two 50MP cameras - a 50MP OIS main camera and a 50MP ultra-wide camera, both of which are decent. The primary sensor captures great pictures in daylight and even gets the colour tones right, something which iPhones are known for. It even manages to capture a surprising amount of detail in low-light conditions without making the image look overprocessed from a distance. That said, zooming in tells the real tale as details suddenly vanish. Since it does not have a telephoto sensor, zoomed-in shots look okay at best, but if detail is what you're going for, then this might not be the greatest smartphone to go for. The front camera is an upgrade over the Phone 1 and snaps decent selfies, although most of them aren't Instagram-worthy without needing a few touchups.

While the camera performance is acceptable, the app optimization isn't. It takes a good few seconds for the app to load if you open it repeatedly. Moreover, the images take at least 2-3 seconds to process, meaning you have to wait if you want to see the results of the moment you've just captured. There's a lot of room for improvement here.

Nothing Phone 2a battery life

This is where the Nothing Phone 2a absolutely knocks it out of the park. The smartphone easily lasts a day and a half on moderate usage which includes listening to music, checking emails, attending a few calls and even a few meetings on Google Meet. Oh, and if you wish to charge it quickly, it supports up to 45W fast charging, although you'll have to get a separate charger as Nothing doesn't provide one in the box.

Nothing Phone 2a verdict

Nothing Phone 2a
Should you buy the Nothing Phone 2a? (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
image caption
Should you buy the Nothing Phone 2a? (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
Rating
4 out of 5
Price
INR 23,999/-
Product Name
Nothing Phone 2a
Brand Name
Nothing
Pros
  • Great display
  • No bloatware
  • Long battery life
  • Unique design
  • Solid buikd quality
Cons
  • Jittery usage experience
  • Slow UFS 2.1 storage
Specifications
  • Display
    6.7-inch, AMOLED
  • Refresh rate
    120Hz
  • Processor
    MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro
  • RAM
    12GB
  • Battery
    5000mAh, 45W

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First Published Date: 21 Mar, 18:17 IST
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