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Nothing Phone (2a) review: Nothing compares

Our Rating :
£350.52 from
Price when reviewed : £319
inc VAT

Presenting a gorgeous display and terrific stamina in a uniquely stylish package, the Phone (2a) is the Nothing’s best-value handset yet


  • Cheapest Nothing Phone yet
  • Big and bright OLED display
  • Outstanding battery life


  • Weaker performance than Phone (1)
  • Colour accuracy could be better
  • Some rough patches in software

The Nothing Phone (2a) is the third smartphone from the London-based brand, and its cheapest handset to date. Despite the lower price, the Nothing Phone (2a) brings several improvements to the table, making it superior to the Phone (1) in many ways, and even surpassing the pricier Phone (2) in a couple of areas.

There are sacrifices, of course, but Nothing has been surgical in the approach, dropping higher-end features such as wireless charging. Performance dips more than I’d like, and issues remain with the software. Nevertheless, between its gorgeous display and excellent battery life, the Nothing Phone (2a) hits enough highs to stand up to the best smartphones in this price bracket.

Nothing Phone (2a) review: What you need to know

With the Nothing Phone (1) soon to be discontinued, the Phone (2a) is being positioned as Nothing’s entry-level device, offering a more affordable alternative to the higher-end Nothing Phone (2).

However, that’s not to say that the Phone (2a) is a complete downgrade. Multiple features from the Phone (2) have been carried over, including the 6.7in AMOLED panel with identical 1080p resolution and 120Hz refresh rate.

The camera array is near-enough the same as the Phone (2)’s, as well. On the rear is dual-lens setup, with the 50-megapixel (f/1.9) main camera joined by a 50-megapixel (f/2.2) ultrawide shooter; on the front you’ll find a 32-megapixel (f/2.5) selfie camera.

Moving away from the Snapdragon platforms of both previous models, Nothing apparently worked with MediaTek to develop the Dimensity 7200 Pro chipset specifically for the Phone (2a). It can be paired with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage space.

Rounding out the list of internal components is a 5,000mAh battery – the largest on any Nothing Phone to date. This is paired with the same 45W wired charging found on the Nothing Phone (2) – wireless charging isn’t included this time around.

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Nothing Phone (2a) review: Price and competition

There are two models of the Nothing Phone (2a) hitting the shelves: an 8GB of RAM model with 128GB of storage retailing for £319, and the 12/256GB model for £349. Both are a fair bit cheaper than the £399 Nothing Phone (1) at launch (currently, £331), and far below the Nothing Phone (2), which costs £549 at time of writing.

Outside of Nothing’s stable, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G (£339) is a strong competitor, especially in terms of CPU performance. Older models such as the Google Pixel 6a (£299) and the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite (£265) also land in this range. Both are strong contenders, with the Pixel 6a in particular besting the Nothing Phone (2a)’s performance across the board. Neither, however, can compare to the Nothing’s battery life.

Nothing Phone (2a) review: Design and key features

Available widely in Black and Milk, with the White colour exclusive to Nothing’s own website, the Phone (2a) sports the same transparent rear of the other models, exposing the internal components and snaking ribbon cables. However, the layout is slightly different, since there’s no wireless charging pad dominating the central space.

Nothing’s signature Glyph LED lights that sit on the lower two-thirds of the previous phones are also lacking, with only three strips of lighting located further up. In this vicinity, we also see the other big design change: the cameras. Where the Phones (1) and (2) had the lenses stacked vertically in the top corner, the Phone (2a) moves them to a central position and flips them to a horizontal position, so they look like a pair of googly eyes.

It’s a quirky design choice, but not one that I dislike. It fits in well with the rest of the phone’s style, with the small camera bump connecting seamlessly to the polycarbonate rear panel. The edges are coated with polycarbonate, too, but beneath is the same recycled aluminium frame as the Phone (2).

It’s rated IP54 for weather protection, which is identical to the Phone (2) and better than the Phone (1), and features a layer of Gorilla Glass 5 over the display. Beneath that display is an optical fingerprint sensor, and the selfie camera supports face unlocking, too. There’s no 3.5mm port or microSD slot, but neither was present in the previous Nothing handsets, so it would have been unlikely to see them here.

Nothing Phone (2a) review: Display

The 6.7in display is very nearly the best that Nothing has put out yet. Along with the near-perfect black and contrast levels of an AMOLED panel, resolution is a super sharp 2,412 x 1,080, plus the variable refresh rate can go between 30 and 120Hz. It’s also the brightest display on a Nothing Phone so far: I recorded a peak of 671cd/m2 at full brightness (both the Phone (1) and Phone (2) were under 500), while activating adaptive brightness and shining a torch on the light sensor pushed it to an impressive 989cd/m2.

The only fault I can find with the display is colour accuracy. Both the Phone (1) and Phone (2) did well in this area, with average Delta E colour variance scores of 0.81 and 0.87, respectively. The Phone (2a) scored a notably higher (and therefore less accurate) 1.66. For this price it’s acceptable enough – you won’t notice colours looking weird or unnatural in general use. Nevertheless, it’s a technical step down compared to the brand’s previous offerings.

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Nothing Phone (2a) review: Performance and battery life

The MediaTek Dimensity 7200 platform here is an octa-core chipset, clocked to 2.8GHz. Despite having a higher maximum frequency than the Snapdragon chip used by the Phone (1), the Phone (2a) actually turned in the weakest performance of Nothing’s lineup.

Considering it’s also the cheapest Nothing Phone thus far, I don’t see this as much of an issue. What’s trickier to justify, however, is the Phone (2a) scoring around 35% lower than the Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G in the Geekbench 5 multi-core benchmarks.

Geekbench 5 chart comparing CPU performance of the Nothing Phone (2a) and similarly priced rivals

Things look slightly better over on the GPU side of things. The Nothing Phone (2a) managed broadly similar frame rates to the Nothing Phone (1) in both on-screen and off-screen benchmarks, although the Pixel 6a once again topped the table, pushing close to 60fps in the offscreen portion.

GFXBench chart comparing GPU performance of the Nothing Phone (2a) and similarly priced rivals

We’re saving the best for last here, because the Nothing Phone (2a) absolutely smashed our looping video battery life test. Finally clocking off after 27hrs, 31mins, the Phone (2a) outlasted most rivals, only falling short of the similarly spectacular stamina of it’s bigger sibling, the Phone (2).

Battery life chart comparing stamina of the Nothing Phone (2a) and similarly priced rivals

Nothing Phone (2a) review: Software and Glyph interface

The Nothing Phone (2a) runs Android 14 out of the box, with the Nothing OS 2.5 launcher layered on top. Nothing has confirmed that users will get three years of OS updates, bringing the Phone (2a) up to Android 17, and four years of security updates.

Compared to stock Android, the Nothing UI may take some getting used to: the homescreen is very widget-based, so can look cluttered at first glance. It’s also monochrome as standard; but you’re not locked into either of these design choices – you can opt for a more traditional Android launcher style during setup, if you prefer. If you do go monochrome, it’s worth noting that some high-profile apps such as Netflix and Duolingo bizarrely lack stylized icons, so they currently stick out like brightly coloured sore thumbs on the homescreen.

I’m a monochrome defender, so I was already predisposed towards enjoying Nothing OS, but beyond the style, there’s a lot to like about the simplicity and accessibility of the widgets. The whole layout is highly customisable and thoughtfully designed, making it a breeze to navigate once you’re used to it. New widgets such as the pedometer, music player and screen time monitor all feel like useful additions to the pack, and Nothing has promised even more to come soon after launch.

The Glyph interface may be reduced here, but the level of functionality is not. Alongside basics such as notifications and ringtones, the Glyph Timer carries over from the Phone (2), slowly depleting one of the light strips as your timer runs down, and the new Music visualisation illuminates the LEDs rhythmically along with your audio. Some uses feel gimmicky, but the idea that you can see at a glance what’s trying to get your attention, without getting sucked into a black hole of scrolling, is definitely appealing.

Nothing Phone (2a) review: Cameras

We weren’t completely sold on the Nothing Phone (2)’s cameras, as we expect to see more in that kind of price range. Here, however, that same offering of lenses makes a better impression.

The 50-megapixel (f/1.9) main camera captures images that are rich with colour and well detailed, with the intricate carvings along the cathedral’s spires represented clearly. As we saw with the Phone (2), the highlights are still blown out more than I’d like; the wintry skyline here is reduced to a slab of overbright white.

A cathedral viewed from across a small lake, trees to either side and cranes behind the cathedral

The main lens also performs well after dark. There’s more bloom than I’d like to see from the street lights, but the colour reproduction is accurate and there’s plenty of detail in the artificially brightened areas, with decent definition in the higher apartment balconies.

A quiet street at night lit by streetlamps, leafy bush in the foreground, apartment building in the background

I was less impressed with the ultrawide camera. The exposure balance and colouring are decent enough, but the level of detail in the trees left a lot to be desired.

Wide-angle shot of bare trees under a wintry sky, hedgerows growing beneath them

Video is the same as the Phone (1), offering 4K at 30fps or 1080p up to 60fps. The lack of the Phone (2)’s OIS is noticeable in the camera sway, but that definitely falls into the bracket of omissions that are acceptable at this price.

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Nothing Phone (2a) review: Verdict

It’s hard to look at the Nothing Phone (2a) as too much of a concession from the Phone (2). I’d prefer if the full-body Glyph lights had carried over, but what we have here still looks great and offers a multitude of functions. Equally, performance isn’t where I’d like it to be, but general use still feels smooth enough that it isn’t a massive dealbreaker.

The Google Pixel 6a has shown in nearly every area (barring display and battery life) that you can get a better mid-range phone for the same money, but Nothing is banking on the style and unique LED lighting here being a bigger draw. Looking at all the functionality of the Glyphs, when the Pixel 6a lacks a notification light entirely, it’s hard to argue. Add to that the big and bright AMOLED display and truly ridiculous battery life, and the Nothing Phone (2a) is a terrific mid-range handset, and the brand’s best-value phone yet.

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