Tech reviews

Nothing Phone 2 Long-term Review: The complete package…well, almost

– Great design
– Superb build quality
– Bright and vibrant display
– Tons of customisation option
– Solid performance
– Great battery life
– Very capable cameras
– Glyph interface that now comes with a ton of functionality

– Glass back is very slippery
– Only has IP54 water resistance
– Low-light photography can be a hit or a miss

Rating: 4.5/5
Price: Rs 54,999 for the tested 512GB+12GB variant. Starts at Rs 44,999

The Nothing Phone 1 was a massive hit among tech enthusiasts, mainly for its design. However, it had one massive issue. As solid as the phone was, it lacked the horsepower that it truly deserved. And, as impressive as the Glyph lights were, they were severely limited by any practical functionality. If we’re being brutally honest, the entire USP of the Nothing Phone 1 was its Glyph interface.

Cut to 2023, and Nothing has really stepped up their game. Although the Nothing Phone 2 looks a lot like its predecessor, it feels and performs like a completely different device. A beastly device, might we add.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

With the Phone 2, Nothing has managed to take away the biggest complaint that tech enthusiasts had with the Phone 1 — it finally gave the device the grunt to go with the trendsetting industrial design and made it a wholesome package. It wouldn’t be farfetched to say this, but the Nothing Phone 2, is one of the best overall packages in the market today, albeit with some issues.

Nothing Phone 2 Review: Design
Straight off the bat, the Nothing Phone looks very premium, and feels in the hand, exactly how it looks. You’ve Gorilla Glass covering the front screen, which is a nice touch. Flip it over, and you again see a ‘pillowed’ transparent Gorilla Glass back, which gives you a peek at a harmonious arrangement of components – magnetic charging coil, flat power cables, and more, all arranged beautifully. BTW, Pillowed is just another fancy term that Nothing is using for 2.5D glass.

The Nothing Phone 2 is a bit on the chunkier side, measuring in at 8.6mm in thickness and weighing 201 grams. However, what’s surprising though is how it manages to maintain a light and easy-to-handle feel. The frame at the sides is nice and flat and made using aluminium.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

The build quality is seriously impressive, providing a strong and sturdy sensation. Just a bit unfortunate that it only holds an IP54 water and dust resistance rating.

When you hold the phone, the smooth glass texture feels genuinely exceptional in your hand. However, once you place it on any surface, whether flat or not, be prepared for it to gradually and inevitably, slide slowly. It is prone to slipping if, for some reason, you love to hold it using the glass panels.

Going back to the rear panel, I absolutely adore the way it looks – all elements of the phone arranged neatly, as well as the Glyph lights. I particularly am a fan of the way the phone has very minimal branding at the corner, and instead lets its industrial design do all the talking. It’s not as industrial-looking as the first Nothing smartphone, but it indeed is a pretty apt follow-up to that device.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

Nothing has also been consistent with the port placement – meaning you’ll find the discreet volume buttons on the left and the power button on the right. At the bottom, you’ve got the SIM tray, Type-C port, and speaker all neatly arranged.

As for colour, you get two simple options – White and Black, which, realistically is more grey than black. And although there are some minor tweaks to the glyph lights, they are mainly because of the software – hardware-wise, not a lot has changed in the glyph interface, except for the ambient light sensor at the back.

Nothing Phone 2 Review: Display
At the front, we’re met with a 6.7-inch display (up from the previous 6.55 inches), rocking a 10-bit AMOLED panel with a resolution of 2412X1080 pixels. The display uses LTPO tech and allows the refresh rate to switch between 1Hz and 120Hz, dynamically.

Plus, the screen’s brightness can hit an impressive 1600 nits, and it’s fully compatible with HDR10+. They’ve also thrown in Widevine L1 support for streaming HD content.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

It’s a pretty great display that packs vibrant colours and eye-catching visuals – no complaints on that front. There’s also a fingerprint scanner tucked underneath the display which is quick and very responsive.

By default, the HDR mode is activated, and the display settings have the colours set to “Alive,” resulting in one of the most vibrant screens you’ll come across. The colours are super-saturated, making videos really pop off the screen.

I’m actually a fan of how the display looks, although using it for too long in Alive mood does become a little uncomfortable sometimes.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

The good news is that even if you switch over to “Standard” mode, the colours still retain a rich vibrancy. Brightness hasn’t been an issue for me, even in bright sunlight, and the ambient light sensor deserves a pat on the back for consistently keeping the screen visible.

As for bezels or a chin, they are pretty thin, almost non-existent.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

Nothing Phone 2 Review: Camera
As far as the cameras are concerned, especially the hardware, not a lot has been changed. The Phone 2 comes with a pair of 50MP cameras – one is a 50MP Sony IMX890 equipped with both optical and electronic stabilization, and the other is a 50MP Samsung JN1 wide-angle camera with EIS. You also get a 32MP selfie camera.

What Nothing has done for the Phone 2, is bring a ton of improvements to the software, and it shows.

I’ve genuinely taken a liking to the photos captured by the Nothing Phone 2. They are vibrant, lively and have great, and stunning, all without going overboard with HDR and saturation.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

If your goal is to share your shots on social media, you might find that they require little to no editing before they’re ready for the world to see. The consistency between the main camera and the wide-angle one is impressive, and though there’s no dedicated telephoto zoom, the 2x zoom manages to hold its own.

Low-light conditions, however, are the Nothing Phone 2’s Achilles Heel. In such situations, there’s a noticeable lack of detail, and the images tend to have a significant amount of noise, even in partial lighting. When it gets really dark, the photo quality takes a nosedive.

It’s disappointing to see that all of the Nothing Phone 2’s competitors manage to capture better photos at night or in low-light settings. This is a bit unfortunate because the camera performs admirably during the day.

So, while the Nothing Phone 2’s camera isn’t the absolute best you can find in this price range, it does represent an improvement over the Phone 1. As long as you’re not planning on taking photos at night, you’ll likely be pleased with the results it delivers in well-lit conditions.

You can check some unedited photos samples from the Nothing Phone 2’s cameras here.

Nothing Phone 2 Review: Performance, software experience and UI
Unlike the Nothing Phone 1, which fell into the mid-range category when it came to processing power, the Phone 2 has stepped up its game. It’s now equipped with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, and although it isn’t exactly the topmost SoC in 2023, it still is one beast of a chip, especially when you consider real-life performance.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

Thanks to the SoC the Nothing Phone 2 can handle practically anything that a power user might throw at it – this means hardcore games, video and photo editing, tons and tons of multitasking apps etc. No matter what we did, the UI was smooth and the performance was pretty impressive. That’s because the Nothing Phone 2 that we tested came with 12 gigabytes of RAM, which, it was managing superbly.

As for storage, you can choose from 128GB, 256GB or even a beefy 512GB variant this time. However, do keep in mind that the 128GB variant, comes with only 8GB of RAM.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

Nothing’s take on Android for their first device got a lot of love for keeping things neat and tidy, ditching any unnecessary bloatware, and keeping things largely clean. The Nothing Phone 2 gets the same treatment, albeit with a few newer touches of its own. It comes with Android 13 and an upgraded Nothing Skin out of the box. They are calling this combination, Nothing OS 2.0.

However, there are some issues with the Nothing OS 2.0, mainly the UI. Nothing’s icon pack could have been a nifty feature, and for some, they surely are. These icons maintain their original design, but they lose their colours and might be arranged in circular or square folders.

Nothing’s widgets follow suit with their pixelated black-and-white style, providing info on time, and weather, a selection of Quick Settings shortcuts, and controls for Nothing earbuds. Even most of their default wallpapers stick to abstract black-and-white, monochromatic images.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

However, when you fully commit to Nothing OS’s icon pack and theme it can feel pretty monotonous. It takes a bit of time to get used to the new look of app icons, which can slow down your navigation at first.

While it works well on the lock screen where colour isn’t a big deal, it might border on being a bit too drab for the home screen.

Having said that, Nothing OS 2.0 really lets you make things your own, with resizable folders, snazzy colour themes, and even the option to ghost those app labels. They’ve thrown in a slick monochrome icon pack and cool widgets decked out in Nothing’s signature dot-matrix style. You can even slap those widgets on your lock screen for some extra flair. Plus, they’ve packed in some handy features like app cloning and app lock.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

As for updates, Nothing is making a solid commitment here. They’re pledging to provide users with not just one, not two, but three major Android version updates. On top of that, you can expect a reassuring four years of security updates, delivered every two months. They’re really stepping up their game as far as software is concerned.

Nothing Phone 2 Review: Battery
The Nothing Phone 2 packs a 4,700mAh battery, which might seem a bit modest for today’s larger smartphones, but it’s not something that’s very unusual. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 pairs really well with the battery here and is very power efficient, offering some top-notch performance while effectively managing to save battery life. I’ve been quite satisfied with how long the battery lasts during my use.

With a mix of casual gaming, calls, camera usage, and a ton of video content consumption, both on OTT platforms and YouTube, you can expect the battery to drop by about 40 per cent to 50 per cent after three to four hours of screen time, at about 60 per cent screen brightness.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

The Nothing Phone 2 supports a super quick 45W PPS wired charging. Additionally, it’s compatible with 15W Qi wireless charging and offers 5W reverse charging, so, you’ve got some convenient charging options at your disposal.

While it’s possible to drain the Nothing Phone 2’s battery in a single day, you’d really have to push and make an effort to do so. For casual users, the device should easily last you a full day. Even if you manage to deplete it completely, it only takes about 55 minutes to an hour to fully recharge it.

Nothing Phone 2 Review: Verdict
It’s really difficult not to recommend the Nothing Phone 2 to anyone who is looking for a smartphone at the Rs 45,000 price point. I will go as far as to say that if you can spare the cash, and can move your budget up by Rs 5,000, then do it, you won’t regret it.

You get near flagship-level performance, especially in real-life use case scenarios, a pretty solid set of cameras, a design that still manages to turn heads and catch eyeballs, and a pretty solid battery life. And the pretty lights at the back, actually have a ton of functionality now.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Mehul Reuben Das

The only negative that I can think of about the Nothing Phone 2, is that the rear glass surface is a little too slippery and that it only has IP54 water resistance. And, if you’re really looking for a negative, you might add that the Nothing Phone 2 looks a lot like the Phone 1 and that not a lot has changed.

As of August 2023, the Nothing Phone 2 is one of the best packages out there. It is almost neck and neck with the OnePlus 11R, the most complete phone at this price point, but then, the OnePlus does not have the cool factor that Nothing does.


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