Nothing Phone 2 Review: Looking Beyond the Hype
August 2, 2023 Andrew Cheng

Nothing’s marketing has always relied on building hype for its range of products, though for the Nothing Phone 2, it is a bit more subdued – just a bit. But looking beyond the hype, the Phone 2 is a really solid premium mid-range phone with a number of cool tricks under its sleeves, including the eye-catching Glyph Interface.

However, retailing from RM2,999, it is also quite a bit more expensive than last year’s Phone 1; it went for RM2,699 at launch for the same RAM and storage configuration. At this price point, the Phone 2 has to compete with a number of very competent smartphones, some of which are faster, more upmarket flagship-class devices.

So is the Nothing Phone 2 worth it then? Well, in my opinion, yes, especially if you like the aesthetics of the phone and appreciate good software experience.

What It Is

Display6.7-inch LTPO OLED (2412 x 1080), adaptive 120Hz
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 3.0GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 730
Storage256/512GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)50MP f/1.88, OIS
50MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
Camera (front)32MP f/2.45
4,700mAh with 45W fast charging
Dimensions162.1 x 76.4 x 8.6 mm
OSNothing OS 2.0 based on Android 13
Bluetooth 5.3
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
USB Type-C
PriceRM2,999 (256GB), RM3,499 (512GB)

If the Nothing Phone 2 was launched last year, it could’ve easily pass off as a flagship phone. After all, it’s powered by a (still very capable) Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, which can provide a good level of performance. It also has a bright and vibrant OLED panel with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate.

While the Phone 2’s dual camera system doesn’t sound particularly impressive, it’s worth noting that its 50MP primary camera features a Sony IMX890 sensor; the very same one found in the flagship OnePlus 11. Not surprisingly, this translates to very respectable camera performance, as you can see for yourself further down the review.

The Good Stuff

Let’s get to the most eye-catching aspect of the Phone 2 first: its Glyph Interface lighting on the back panel. Compared to its predecessor, the lighting in the main glyph area is now broken up to several parts, with some of them – such as the top right corner – doubling as a progress tracker for delivery services or even a countdown timer.

Ultimately, this is no more than just a novel feature, though I have to admit it is still quite a cool feature. Beyond that, the Glyph Interface will also light up when I receive notifications or a phone call. Obviously, this requires me to put the phone face down on a surface to really make use of the lighting system, which I’m something I’m not particularly comfortable doing. I’ll get back to this further down the review.

In the performance department, the Phone 2’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset is more than powerful enough to provide fast, zippy performance. Granted, it’s still not quite as fast as the latest flagship phones powered by the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and it does struggle (a tad) to run more graphically demanding games such as Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail at 60fps consistently.

That being said, as a whole, I do think the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 can still provide a pleasant gaming experience.

Next, we have the Phone 2’s 6.7-inch 1080p LTPO OLED display with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. Naturally, this being an OLED panel, it has vibrant, punchy colours with deep blacks and wide viewing angles. Rest assured, the screen quality of the Phone 2 is comparable to other phones at this price point.

Battery life of the Phone 2 is worth a mention here too. On average, I can easily get over six hours of screen on time out of the 4,700mAh battery, and this is with a few gaming sessions thrown in throughout the day. Suffice to say I can easily get all-day battery life out of this phone.

Another aspect of the Phone 2 that I’m really fond of is Nothing OS 2.0. Compared to many other versions of Android, Nothing OS feels notably more polished and intuitive to use. Not only does it feel lightweight and responsive, its always-on display (AOD) is very functional too. I can even add widgets to the lock screen that will remain visible on the AOD; how cool is that?

Last but not least is the camera performance of the Phone 2. Sporting a dual camera system made up of a 50MP main shooter and a 50MP ultra-wide angle lens, the former is definitely the highlight. As mentioned, it features the Sony IMX890 sensor, which proved to be quite capable in my testing. Judge for yourself with these sample images:

Whether it’s daytime or nighttime, the Phone 2 can still take great-looking shots with good detail preservation and colour reproduction. While the camera does have a tendency to oversaturate colours, it doesn’t get to the point where images look unnatural.

While I’m quite happy with the image quality of the Phone 2’s camera, I do have one issue with the configuration of the camera – let’s talk about that in the next section.

The Bad Stuff

For a phone that starts from RM2,999, the Phone 2 still lacks several key features, one of which is a dedicated telephoto camera. This, in turn, limits the versatility of the device’s camera system. Given that a number of other phones at this price point feature a more sophisticated camera setup, the Phone 2 doesn’t compare favourably in this regard.

And then there’s the Phone 2’s lack of meaningful water resistance. Sure, it comes with an IP54 splash resistance, but similarly priced phones easily have a superior IP68 water resistance rating for better protection against accidental water damage.

My last qualm with the Phone 2 is also one of its most highlighted features: the Glyph Interface lighting system. Yes, it’s a cool party trick that I played around quite a bit when I first got the phone. But once the novelty wears off, it feels more like a gimmick, a sentiment that I believe will be true for most users.

Plus, I really don’t recommend putting down the Phone 2 – or any phone for that matter – face down on a surface, especially without a dedicated case or screen protector to prevent scratching the display.

Is It Worth It?

If you’re looking for good value for money, the Nothing Phone 2 is not the best option in this regard. But if you want a reasonably fast phone with good battery life – and one of the most polished software experiences around – I highly, highly recommend the Phone 2.

In a market where software experience isn’t prioritised by many phone brands, Nothing OS on the Phone 2 is a breath of fresh air. For a young brand, Nothing is certainly on the right track, and I’m looking forward to future products from the growing company.