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Nothing Phone 2a review: A more wallet-friendly package

The Nothing Phone 2a shines thanks to its good design, software and battery performance – all packed into an affordable smartphone

The Nothing Phone (2a) arrives to shake up the budget-premium segment with a starting price of  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>23,999.
The Nothing Phone (2a) arrives to shake up the budget-premium segment with a starting price of 23,999. (Nothing)

Nothing upped its game with the Nothing Phone (2) -- an upgrade in almost every sense over the Phone (1), yet one that had the inevitable but somewhat unfortunate side-effect of driving up the base price north into the mid-forty thousand territory.

Inspired by Google’s Pixel ‘a’ series and other pared-down budget variants of premium smartphone series, the Nothing Phone (2a) arrives to shake up the budget-premium segment with a phone that’s clearly got the design and novelty that made the higher-end models stand out, but with scaled-back components that allow Nothing to hit the 23,999-price point.


Once you get past the theater of unboxing the Phone (2a), including (sadly) ripping off one edge of the eye-catching cardboard box to reveal the inner box with the phone and transparent accessories, the Phone (2a) reveals itself to be quite a looker.

The 2a sticks with the transparent, see-through rear panel design that Nothing has made its own – to reveal the micro-screws, NFC module and some internal circuitry - only this time the phone’s made of plastic instead of the metal-and-glass on the Phone (2). Even so, it still looks premium and while it’s not insignificant in the hand, it’s rather light at 190g. You pick one up in Black or White, depending on how much of a fan you are of seeing your greasy fingerprints (the black variant loves smudges!)

Pinning the (2a) down to a budget doesn’t mean you miss out on the signature Glyph light strips around the rear camera setup. It’s not the full 11-light package you’d have seen on the Phone (2), but a somewhat ‘lite’ version with 3 strips and 26 individually addressable zones that enable some of the Phone (2)’s marquee glyph timer and progress indicator capabilities. Much of what I said about the Phone 2’s Glyph capabilities (including Essential Glyph and Glyph Composer, notifications, fill light) hold good for the (2a) as well.

An IP54 rating is par for the price, as is Corning Gorilla Glass 5 screen protection. Oddly enough, the 2a skips on the blinking red light to signal video capture for some reason.


Nothing has stuck to a very similar screen to the Phone (2) – a 6.7-inch AMOLED, 1080 x 2412-pixel resolution display with 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support, one that’s framed by small and evenly-sized bezels on all sides. There’s no LTPO tech on this display, which means the refresh rate switching is far less dynamic (only 30, 60, 90 and 120Hz) and energy efficient as compared to the Phone (2). At a claimed 1100 nits of full-screen brightness (1300 nits peak), it’s bright enough for outdoor use. The under-display optical fingerprint sensor is snappy and reliable, and for audio, there are stereo speakers that pack a decent punch.

Software and processor

One of the big draws of Nothing phones has been its distinctive dot-matrix themed Nothing OS running on top of Android 14, which continues to be clean in terms of feature customization and an absolute lack of bloatware whatsoever. Not unless you count the surfeit of Google apps.

The whole monochrome look with consistent looking widgets and custom icons for most common apps has a nice vibe to it, but you can switch to a more colorful theme if you like.

Now, while Nothing’s phones so far have fun on Qualcomm silicon, the company has turned to MediaTek and its Dimensity 7200 Pro chipset for its most affordable handset. This chip is a solid mid-ranger for this price segment, and the 4nm chip design means it should run efficiently and cool as well. It is coupled with 8 or 12 GB of memory and 128 or 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage, which seems to be leveraged rather well since in use, the phone feels snappy to use and jumps between apps rather responsively. Performance does seem to throttle a bit under heavy load, which means that this is meant more for everyday use – social media, messaging, music – than for heavy mobile gaming. That said, if you’re intent on doing so, you can run BGMI and Call of Duty with moderate settings for 30-minute sessions and the phone will only get the slightest bit warmer.

With moderate to heavy usage (no games, though), the phone lasts a little more than a day between charges, and the 5000mAh cell charges fully in about an hour if you use a compatible 45W charger – one isn’t included in the box. No wireless charging either, which is a given for its price.


On cameras, Nothing has resurrected the horizontal camera arrangement that gives the (2a) its distinctive eye-like look, and the design some symmetry and steadiness when placed on a flat surface.

The dual camera setup has a 50MP Samsung GN9 primary with OIS and a 50MP ultrawide (no autofocus) Samsung JN1 with a 114-degree field of view, plus there’s a 32MP selfie-shooter up front. The primary camera performed well in daylight, with good details, decent dynamic range, and the initial issues I saw in HDR photos were solved by an update post launch. Images are slightly oversaturated, though. The ultrawide too performed well in well-lit conditions, although colors were warmer than the main camera. The main camera does reasonably well in lowlight conditions as well, capturing good details with low noise levels, but the ultrawide falters in similar conditions with grainier images. Video performance is good if you’re shooting at 4K 30fps, with decent stabilization.

Final verdict

Much like its pricier siblings, the Nothing Phone (2a) lands with two and half aces up its sleeve – good design and software, and those fancy lights – and .. How much you value these over the pure performance of the Poco X6 Pro, or the versatile cameras on the Realme 12 Pro+ or even the better display, charging and durability of the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ is up to you. The good bit about the Nothing Phone (2a) is that it distills the core experience of the Nothing Phone (2) and presents it in a far more wallet-friendly package. It doesn;t feel like Nothing has significantly cut corners to meet the price point and that’s a win for the Nothing (2a).

Tushar Kanwar, a tech columnist and commentator, posts @2shar.

Also read: How Nothing CEO Carl Pei is breaking barriers

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