I’ve used the Nothing Phone 2. Here’s why you’ll love it


A person holding the Nothing Phone 2, with the lights lit up.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Nothing Phone 2 is here, and we think it may be one of the most important smartphones to launch in 2023. It’s the sequel to the Nothing Phone 1, which didn’t really make it to the U.S., but this time it’s getting a full, proper, and highly anticipated launch. The Glyph lights that flash away on the back make a return, but it’s the design, software, and ergonomic alterations that are crucial to the new phone’s appeal. And believe me, there’s a lot of appeal here.

We can’t go into full detail about the Nothing Phone 2 yet, but we’ve got enough to illustrate why you should be paying this flashy shiny, and downright cool new phone plenty of attention.

The Nothing Phone 2 specs

The Nothing Phone 2's home screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Here are the main specification details for the Nothing Phone 2 you need to know before we get into what it’s like to hold. The phone is 8.6mm thick and 201 grams, with an aluminum chassis and a see-through glass back panel that exposes the inner workings. On the front is a 6.7-inch OLED display with HDR10+ certification, a 2412 x 1080 pixel resolution, and a dynamic 1Hz to 120Hz refresh rate. Inside is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage space.

There are two cameras on the back, a 50MP Sony IMX890 main camera with optical and electronic image stabilization (OIS and EIS), plus the ability to record video at up to 4K resolution and 60 frames-per-second. The second camera is a 50MP Samsung JN1 wide-angle camera with a 114-degree field-of-view and EIS, while on the front is a 32MP selfie camera with HDR.

The Nothing Phone 2's camera module.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Also on the back is Nothing’s trademark Glyph lighting system, updated here over the version on the Nothing Phone 1, with a new layout, a way to compose your own system of lights and sounds for notifications and call alerts, third-party app integration, and extra functions too. These include visual representations of the device’s audio volume and charging status. It’s also brighter than before and can be reduced to a dimmer level too, making it more versatile.

Yes, it’s a bit of a gimmick, but I don’t care. It’s awesome, and I love switching it on for no good reason at all, just to see how great it looks. The new features do make it more useful, too, helping to move it away from pure gimmick status. What else? There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor, a 4,700mAh battery, 45W wired charging, wireless charging at 15W, 5W reverse charging, stereo speakers, and an IP54 water and dust resistance rating. Nothing promises three years of major Android updates and four years of security updates delivered every other month.

A similar design, but better in every way

A person holding the Nothing Phone 2, with the lights lit up.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We already hinted about it above, but the Nothing Phone 2’s design is even better than the Phone 1’s, and although the lights are still a big part of its visual appeal, it’s the ergonomics that have been given the biggest and most welcome upgrade. The key word is  “pillowed,” as this is how the company describes the exquisite curved shape of the rear glass.

The Nothing Phone 1 was all flat and angular, much like the iPhone 14, but Nothing has gently shaped each side of the glass on the rear, making the Nothing Phone 2 much more comfortable to hold — and lessening the impact of the flat sides on your palm. It’s a brilliant, much-needed design alteration. I also love the way the curves catch the light and the incredible transparency of the glass itself. From a short distance away, it’s like it’s not there at all.

Nothing has made a new grey color for the Nothing Phone 2, in addition to a white finish. The grey amplifies the sci-fi look of the phone and still lets the Glyph lights really shine too. I think it looks fantastic. The build quality also feels top-notch, right down to the pleasing motion of the volume and power keys. I’m also surprised at how well it disguises the 201-gram weight, as it hasn’t felt ungainly or awkward to hold.

What it’s like using Nothing OS 2.0

A person holding the Nothing Phone 2, with the lights lit up.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Nothing OS 2.0 comes installed on the Phone 2, and it’s fairly similar to the software installed on the Phone 1, in that it’s a clean, fuss-free version of Android and close to the user experience offered by Google on its Pixel phones. However, there’s a very big alteration that may prove controversial when the phone gets out into the world.

You can choose the normal Android icon pack, colors, and widget design — or go with Nothing’s custom approach to the OS’s design. It’s a comprehensive alteration, with changes to the size and shape of widgets, the color and design of icons, whether you have text under them, and even the chance to put Quick Settings shortcuts onto the lock screen. The icons adhere to Nothing’s pixel-art-like design language and its obvious love of monochrome, while the widgets have an iOS-style swipe function to see additional detail.

The result is a sometimes jarring, ultra-modern looking, often incredibly busy interpretation of Android that some will love and others will really dislike. Regardless of how you feel just looking at the images, your opinion will likely change the more you mess around with the settings and design options. Add in the chance to customize the Glyph lights and compose your own light and sound sequences, and the Nothing Phone 2 can be made uniquely yours in a way that’s impossible with other Android phones.

It’s clear a lot of time and effort has gone into making Nothing OS look unique, right down to being able to change all the app icons on a global scale to the Nothing style. I’m not sure the monochrome life is the one for me yet, but there’s no denying Nothing has taken the usual, often garish Android theme customizations found on other devices and turned it into something quite subtle and cool, which also manages to encapsulate the brand’s vision.

The Nothing Phone 2 starts at $599

The Nothing Phone 2's home screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Nothing Phone 2 starts at $599 for the 8GB/128GB version, then costs $699 for the 12GB/256GB model and $799 for the top 12GB/512GB version. Preorders begin on July 11, and the phone will be released on July 17. On July 13, Nothing will open several pop-up stores, including one in New York, where you’ll be able to buy the phone before it gets its full public launch.

In the U.K., the release dates are the same, and there will be a pop-up store in London on July 13. The phone costs 579 British pounds for the 8GB/128GB, 629 pounds for the 12GB/256GB, and 699 for the 12GB/512GB model.

The most important phone of 2023?

The back of the Nothing Phone 2.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Nothing’s arrival in the U.S. is a very big deal, and the best news is it has come with a genuinely exciting, properly good-looking, absolutely unique smartphone. It’s filled with ideas, some of which may not turn out to be for you, but it’s also simple to reverse a lot of the Nothingness in the software if you don’t like it. I’ll take some mad ideas and plenty of creativity over a phone that’s barely any different from another every time.

Our full review of the Nothing Phone 2 is coming very soon, but based on the time I’ve spent with it so far, it seems to have everything needed to shake up the U.S. phone market in the best way possible. It’s different, it looks great, it’s priced reasonably, and provided it continues to impress when we test the camera, battery, and software on a daily basis, it deserves to be a huge success. Trust us, we think you’re really going to like this one.

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