You know, breaking into the smartphone game isn’t easy, especially on the Android platform. Mention Android, and what comes to your mind? Samsung, Google Pixel, Xiaomi, and in places like here in Malaysia – even Huawei.
Now, the Nothing Phone (1) was good, but did it beat these big brands? Maybe not. But now, the Nothing Phone (2) is here. It’s not just a sequel – it’s a revolution.
So in this review, we’ll see how this new phone compares to the older one, and other flagship Android smartphones.
Speaking of which, can you guess which photo is from which smartphone camera? The answer will be revealed later.
Alright, let’s dive straight into the Glyph Interface. Now, it was a neat feature on the Nothing Phone (1), but I found myself using it less than I hoped.
On the Nothing Phone (2), though, there is a twist. Not only did it retain the Glyph lights but elevated them to a point where it is hard to ignore. Now, the overall lights are diffused, so it does look nicer. But it’s not just a jump from the 5 to 11 LED strips, but the new software edition to the Glyph interface is what makes it truly shine.
Features like the timer indicator are something that I have been used to more than I thought I would, and I’ve been using it for working out or even cooking eggs in the morning.
Then, the custom light arrays for specific contacts or essential notifications were also great since it remains lit until you check your notifications. And the charging animation is also a nice touch to let you know if your phone is juiced up without even glancing at the screen.
There’s also the Glyph Composer, a fun little feature that lets you create your own custom light show.
Now, while it may not have me blown away with this particular feature, I do appreciate the nod to the nostalgia of reminding me of the good old days for the Nokia days. Remember that phone…?
And the more that I use the phone when I’m out in public when I was using the Phone (1), people give me the look like, “What’s that?” But now, people look at this Nothing Phone (2). Since it’s already established in terms of the Nothing’s name, people go like, “Hey, is that a new Nothing Phone?” So yeah, it is a very good conversation starter.
When it comes to the build quality, it sticks very closely to the Phone (1). Just a few tweaks at the transparent back, like the notification light is a line instead of a dot, and the camera flash has also been redesigned too. The frames on the camera lenses on the new grey variant are fully in black, instead of having a silver frame on the previous Nothing Phone (1).
But a huge positive, which nobody ever asked for, is the ever-so-slightly curved edges. Now, since I’m an iPhone 14 Pro Max user, this kind of form factor did not bug me at all. And heck, I even kind of got used to this form factor.
But when they mentioned it is slightly curved at the edges, my heart dropped. I was like, “Oh no, why change something that is not broken?” But oh, how I was really wrong! Because this curve, although super subtle, made a GIANT of a difference!
It made the phone extra comfortable to the point that I don’t have any anxiety about dropping the phone compared to something curved like the Huawei P60 Pro, although it has the Kunlun Glass, and also something like the Google Pixel 7. And yes, this means that I have been rocking the phone without a case ever since I unboxed it.
Now, switching from the back to the front, let’s talk about the display, since it’s where we always look at in the end of the day. At first, I thought, “Oh, a bigger display? Nice! A brighter screen? Very cool!”
But after spending a month traveling and being outdoors, the significance of using a 1,600 nits brightness screen could not be even brighter, pun intended.
The automatic brightness is easily one of the best that I’ve seen on any smartphone. Usually, it was best on the Samsung devices, and I’m glad to know that the Nothing Phone (2) also has a similar trait.
Compared with those uniform bezels, which use a flexible OLED screen, this feature is also exclusive to this Android phone, whereby watching videos felt like I was holding a top-tier flagship in my hands.
The color presentation is also stellar, with a 6.7” OLED LTPO variable refresh rate screen, once again, a very close experience to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which is the long-standing king of smartphone displays. So yes, all of this just goes to show the powerhouse that the Nothing Phone (2)’s display truly is.
Next, let’s talk about the performance. While this year’s processor sees an improvement, it is important to note that the Nothing Phone (2) has the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, not the latest Gen 2 processor.
But let me tell you, this wasn’t a corner-cutting move to save cost by Nothing. It is a very calculated choice. While it is more wallet-friendly than the Gen 2 counterpart, the real advantage is in the stability and the thermal regulation.
Based on my testing, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra previously (it is not here with me, but yeah), that Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset could fry an egg. Maybe I’m over-exaggerating, but that’s the truth. Well, it is not as warm as the S23 Ultra because of its made-for-Galaxy tuning, but like the Huawei P60 Pro, this phone runs cool since they’re using the same processor. But of course, the price of the P60 Pro is way much on a higher level.
And if you love gaming, I have tested Genshin Impact on the Nothing Phone (2), and I was gladly gliding through the game at the highest settings with 60 frames per second, with motion blur set to low. There’s no visible lag or micro-stutter, even after 30 minutes of gaming. On top of that, there was no overheating or any battery drain issues.
The obvious difference comes in the form of comfort when it comes to gaming, because the slightly curved glass was really better when it comes to long-term gaming. So yes, the Nothing Phone (2) is indeed a very comfortable gaming device if you’re looking to play games for a really long time.
Then the speakers’ performance was quite loud, and it has stereo speakers too, great for listening to music through its speakers and complementing the display when watching videos or movies. And all of the experience of watching videos and movies on the phone was really great, even though it slightly lacks the bass that the more expensive flagship has.
Then battery life has also seen an upgrade too, with a 4,700 mAh of battery, up from 4,500 mAh on the Phone (1).
My screen-on-time on the Nothing Phone (2) and the Nothing Phone 1 was a huge noticeable boost, jumping from 3 hours and 19 minutes to 3 and a half hours of screen-on-time on the previous Nothing Phone (1). And it leaps forward to up to 5 hours and 10 minutes with heavy use in the new Nothing Phone (2).
In terms of responsiveness, the phone is lightning fast, whether you’re launching apps, juggling multiple tasks, firing up the camera app, or snapping a photo with a swift shutter press.
And speaking of the cameras, let’s dive into that next. Now, while software updates can only do so much on the camera’s performance, the leap in hardware here is really significant. With the advanced 4nm processor chip, we see a processor that supercharges the camera image processing. With the 18-bit signal processor, we are talking about a dramatic boost in camera data compared to the Phone (1).
Looking at this picture side by side between the Nothing Phone (1) and the Nothing Phone (2), you can see how much the Nothing Phone (2) has more true-to-life images and even better color accuracy. And the shadows were also represented in a real-life depiction of what exactly I saw when taking this particular shot. Even the details on the clouds were more realistic compared to the slightly over-sharpened image on the Nothing Phone (1). And you can even see better overall details in the cloud area of the Nothing Phone (1), which is a bit softer.
And even though it crops from a 50-megapixel sensor for the 2x digital zoom, the Nothing Phone (2) does it slightly better.
Now, I even decided to compare the phone’s main lens image with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Huawei P60 Pro, since it sits at the number one spot on the DXOMARK score rating. And the differences are indeed not too far apart. Some might argue that the image is the only Nothing Phone (2) was more pleasing to the eye, without being all fancy with the extensive modes or being oversaturated like how it is on this particular phone.
And here’s the answer on the earliest question on guessing which is which. So did you get it right?
Next, portrait mode was also very much improved without sacrificing the background blur area.
And on the Nothing Phone (2), there’s even an option in the portrait mode to go up to 2x mode as well, which the previous Nothing Phone (1) doesn’t have, and it is also really great when it comes to humans too.
Selfie images on the Nothing Phone (2) look great with amazing dynamic range, especially after the image has been processed.
Kinda reminds me of the Google Pixel 7. But if you see side by side right now with the Google Pixel 7, I find that the overall images look better on the Nothing Phone (2) compared to the Google Pixel 7, where it seems a bit over-sharpened and also has some sort of a beauty mode, which, although I turned it off, which most Pixels tend to do.
Then, video recording during the day was nice with great image stabilization for your real lenses for both. So it was similar in performance.
[Sample video footages available in my YouTube video]
Once again, I decided to do a comparison with both the Huawei P60 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
And I was shocked to learn that the video quality on the Nothing Phone (2) was better in terms of the contrast and the overall colors too, compared to the Huawei P60 Pro.
And when compared with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, the video quality was very similar to it, which shows that the cameras are either on par or if not better than the other flagship phones out right now.
Then, taking front videos was a totally different story compared to Nothing Phone (1) and Nothing Phone (2). Because while the quality is limited to 1080p, but the image stabilization on the Nothing Phone (2) was way better, as you guys can clearly see.
Then, nighttime photos on the ultra-wide lenses on the Nothing Phone (2) was way better and sharper too, compared to looking a bit washed out on the Nothing Phone (1).
Then, as for the nighttime photos for the main lenses, the images were very similar. But once again, the Nothing Phone wins on color accuracy on the reflection, as seen in the reflection in the light of the middle floor area in the building.
Then, when taking videos at night, the Nothing Phone (2) does so much better in handling the highlights, where there was less blooming, as seen in this “D’Italiane” signage.
There’s also a dedicated night mode for video too, but it will reduce the resolution down to 1080p instead. But you can punch in while taking a video on the Nothing Phone (2), which you can’t do on the Nothing Phone (1).
So overall, the video quality was really great on the Nothing Phone (2), with barely any issues with noise in darker shadow areas.
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Now, as for the software, at the time of the recording of this video, the Nothing Phone (2) is on software version 2.0.2, and the Nothing Phone (1) is on version 1.5.6. (Update: Nothing OS Version 2 is out on the Nothing Phone 1)
And one thing that is clear is how much Carl Pei and the team really wanted to prioritize on software experience. Even watching Carl Pei’s review on the other smartphone brands was also quite nice, because it’s very evident that he champions not only the hardware performance, but of course, the overall software experience, which, let’s face it, truly differentiates between an iPhone and also Android smartphones, where the mission is to craft an interface that is both user-friendly and tailored to the individual preference. And with that, the Nothing Phone (2) perfectly embodies that philosophy.
So it is very clear where the brand is heading, to a real proper revolution, and comparing with the likes of Huawei or Xiaomi, which has a very thick and big Android skins, we are talking about a much better software experience on the Nothing Phones as of now.
Things like the newly introduced interactive widgets were really nice, and the dot matrix font theme is a breath of fresh air, delivering a very uncluttered aesthetic.
While I do appreciate the UI from Samsung and Google, but with the new Nothing OS 2, I’m leaning more toward this, especially since the phone has 3 years of Android updates and 4 years of security updates.
Speaking of the software side of things, I would like to talk about a very good software that I’ve been using, which is NordPass Business, a password management software that I found super useful for my everyday work, who is also the sponsor of this post.
In case you did not know, Adam Lobo TV is a group effort. We all work tightly together to make sure that we are always pushing out quality content in a timely manner. But being in the tech space, it can be super hectic at times to rely on my team members to do work that requires sensitive information and logins, such as social media accounts or even banking information for invoices.
Imagine trying to remember 10 different passwords… with SHU%&EB!!@# between all of those banking Swift codes, right?
This is where NordPass Business has been a lifesaver because not only can I share different types of sensitive information with different team members fast and very safely, now you can even remove access in case your teammate goes crazy and rogue, and even tell that which account has been used on which login.
So in case there’s any hanky-panky or breaches happening, we can get detailed information for auditing purposes.
Not only this save time, but it gives me the peace of mind, along with lots of features, such as a strong password generator along with a Data Breach Scanner which can tell me if there is any confidential information about the company that has been leaked out in the open.
So yes, if you want to be protected like how me and the team are, do check out NordPass Business using the link down below, using the code “adamlobo” where you can get a free trial for 3 months!
Thank you NordPass Business for sponsoring this post.
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So, in conclusion, after a month and a half of using the Nothing Phone (2), here is my verdict:
While it does not tick every single flagship box, like missing a telephoto lens or even a higher IP68 rating – it shines very brightly in other arenas. It does rival the best flagship smartphones in the category.
So if you’re in the market for an Android smartphone that radiates flagship vibes without paying the flagship price tag, THIS IS IT!