Nothing Phone (2a) praised in early reviews despite shortcomings like updates

Nothing Phone (2a) praised in early reviews despite shortcomings like updates when the nothing tech company first launched in 2020 their whole big selling point was that they were going to build technology that faded into the background Tech that improves your life and keeps you more connected but without getting in the way of it and I absolutely love that Vision they launched the nothing phone one which sort of did that with this glyph lighting system that meant you could keep your phone face down but still see your notifications from the back then the phone 2 which did the same thing slightly better and now we’ve got our third the most affordable so far the nothing phone 2A which is $349 for the top and 12 GB 

Nothing Phone (2a) praised in early reviews despite shortcomings like updates

Ram model and I think this is a really good opportunity now that this company has had three whole phone releases to decide is what they’re doing actually achieving their goal can using a nothing phone improve your life make you a more present person or are these really just basic phones but with batty designs for people who are happy to sacrifice value to be different let’s figure it out so this is the package I got from nothing okay there’s a white phone 2A and then a black how adventurous that is kind of the intention though so let’s unbox the white one it’s an unfortunately thin package which means no charger but credit wear credits due at the very least it’s got personality unlike the Sea of generic phones you 


have to Wade through at this price point and also funky transparent nothing cable o these peels are looking pretty tasty so the white and now the black it’s nice to see a pre-installed screen protector on these two and immediately the second that you or anyone picks this up you will get a reaction it might not be a good one drisha thinks it looks like a face with some intestines coming out which is fair and I can’t completely erase that image from my mind now and Joseph and my team just burst out laughing the design is clearly not for everyone and you are going to have to be ready to defend your choice to people but there’s a few reasons why I personally do rate it part of it is the screen to achieve even slim screen borders like this at a sub $350 price point is very hard to ignore like when I cycle between my $1,200 s24 Ultra and this yes I prefer the s24 ultra obviously but it doesn’t 


feel like I’m jumping from expensive phone to cheap phone which in itself is an achievement part of it is the sides it’s got a completely fingerprint resistant finish I love these matte black buttons and also how you can kind of see bits of the rear design through it and part of it is of course this bizarre uniqueness that you would call the rear this is a plastic phone by the way which is fairly standard for the price but what I like is that they’ve leaned into that material as opposed to trying to hide it there’s a lot of companies who try and make their cheaper plastic phones feel as similar as possible to their flagships which are Made of Glass and Metal but doing that often just makes them feel like knockoff versions of the real thing that are lighter than a feather and creakier than your grandma’s M whereas with the phone 2A this feels like it has been intentionally designed to feel well basically like a toy but you know a solid premium cool toy you know those fancy robots you’d always see on the store shelves as a kid but you wouldn’t even dare to ask your parents for that’s the vibe that I get from the phone 2A especially 


with this whole glyph lighting interface running through its veins and whether it is or it isn’t it doesn’t feel like yet another mass-produced slab but what about the software cuz you can have Crazy Design but if the goal of nothing is to have Tech that truly does disappear into the background of your life in a way that’s fundamentally different to anything else out there then whether or not that succeeds is going to rest almost entirely on what it’s like to use so one part of it is the UI this black and white completely stripped back aesthetic which I like there’s lots of useful widgets the personalization is great like with your folders for example you can configure exactly how you want the apps to display and even pick from nothing style cover photos if you find that cleaner and the AI wallpaper generator I think is fantastic it’s a hem nothing we haven’t seen before but it feels very much tuned with the nothing minimalist philosophy in mind they’ve made it easy to make wallpapers that naturally suit the software’s aesthetic with the 


ability to make them scrolling wallpapers if you want and to add atmosphere and the nothing glass effect to your Creations now don’t get me wrong the software is not exciting to look at but that’s kind of the point it’s trying to strip back the power of any one individual app to demand your attention and therefore control your life and I’m all for that the Temptation is to say well it’s just a black and white icon pack there are literally thousands of those for free on the Play store but there is more to it than that like the lock screen widgets for example you get to pick basically anything from live widgets to apps that you can quick launch to device controls and it’s right there for you to use without you needing to even unlock your phone and face your distractions so every night before I go to bed I put on airplane mode so that’s there torch cuz you never know when you might need it and that is a compass I’ve been viewing a lot of potential houses recently and so anytime I want to check what way things are facing tap and that is north 


and also yes I have a ton of apps but very little is actually pre-installed on nothing phones it’s clean and it does genuinely feel like the phone is trying to make you use your Tech less as opposed to most affordable phones which feel like a gateway to the company then spamming you with promotions or trying to sell you on their services too at least for now there isn’t any of that here the software could do with a little more consistency like why when I’m using completely stock widgets do I have three different fonts on my home screen it’s meant to be nothing not everything and also polish like the lock screen apps they should animate in in line with this transition as opposed to just popping in but for the most part it does look good and it does effectively make your phone less attention seeking in a good way however I don’t think this on its own would be enough for nothing to claim that they’re doing something particularly different what might though something that you don’t see anywhere else is this glyph interface with their past premium phones they’ve had many glyph lighting zones this being their 


more budget offering it’s got three and that is actually completely fine they still look cool the lighting is high quality and consistent and they have somewhat limited the amount that the light bleeds into the rest of the design which helps improve the perception of precise engineering but most importantly you can absolutely tell that this nothing company has spent a lot of time in boardrooms figuring out every possible thing that you can do with a set of LEDs like they can beep different patterns depending on who’s calling which is cool and well executed as a feature even if most of the notifications themselves do just sound like a fridge door that needs closing or like a smoke alarm that needs its batteries replacing I don’t know it’s very weird they can light up when you play music and syn to that music you know the promise of all those Philips Hue lighting strips except it does actually work fun party trick probably won’t use it since turning it on enables it for literally every single piece of content you consume including your morning news update essential notifications though I think this is such a cool feature you can choose any one of your apps and then specify any type of notification from that app that you’d like to Mark as important so for example with your emails you can choose which inbox counts as high priority or for slack you 


could say well it’s only really vital if there’s an incoming call and once you’ve done that anytime one of those notifications comes in from that point this glyph will stay lit up until you next unlock your phone have you ever heard of the saying there’s two kinds of people those that keep their phone face up and those that keep their phone face down well choosing a nothing phone is basically you declaring that you’re part of the Down Club this is designed so that when you’re out at dinner for example you flip the phone over which can activate Do Not Disturb mode by the way so nothing’s ringing and you can rest easy knowing that anything important you’ll still see it and all the rest of the notifications well you can get to them later that Concept in my mind is beautiful and something introduced in the last generation which takes it a little further is that one of those glyphs is also a timer so if you set a stopwatch for example you can see the progress and if you order an Uber you can see how long to pick up so all of this sounds amazing what’s wrong with it well while I do like the idea of looking at the back of your phone for a notification you’re losing most of the information that accompanies that notification so for example if you’re using this to time your Uber at some point close to pickup you’re going to need to see the number plate of the driver who’s picking you up so you are at some point going to have to turn your phone over and enter the app anyways or like with emails for example even 


though it’s very thoughtful of them that you can set certain inboxes as priority the problem is that within any given inbox there’s still going to be vast amounts of variance between the level of importance of each email that an LED on the back just can’t distinguish between I mean just for an example over the last few months my emails have ranged from would you like to take a flight to the United States to interview the CEO of our big tech company to would you like to test our rotating makeup rush and it’s pretty clear one of those is more important than the other and the same is true for messaging like in theory it makes sense to mark your parents for example as important enough to light up the glyph in case there’s an emergency but then the vast majority of their messages are not going to require immediate attention and so at that point are those really essential notifications after using this for a little bit of time I imagine most people will experience enough false positives messages marked as important that end up 


being not very important when they check them that they start to tune out this essential notification glyph which kind of defeats the purpose of it in the first place and now you just look like the fool who left their torch on now I will admit I have given this whole glyph thing a bit of slack over the last few Generations because it’s felt like the rate of improvement was so quick that the next big gamechanging update always felt just around the corner but this is the first time that I think I felt that progress slowing down yes this is a more affordable phone I have no doubt that the next Flagship nothing phone will push the boat out a little bit more but since their last device like 8 months ago the point where we were promised developers were about to suddenly start having their way with these glyphs we’ve had support for like one major new app Google Calendar and even that’s a bit weird it just gives you like a 5 minute countdown before your meeting starts it does work and I can see the use case but I mean if I was at dinner and I’d flipped my phone over completely forgetting that I’ve got an upcoming meeting I would personally much rather my phone buzz me like 20 minutes before to make sure that I knew as opposed to waiting till 5 minutes before the meeting and starting a silent counter just in case I happen to glance over in time using this phone has made me feel like we might be starting to reach the limit of what you can do with 


LEDs now maybe if in the future there was a secondary tiny display here that could summarize everything that you needed to know in a really intelligent concise way it could become a game changer but as it stands that’s about where the glyph interface’s useful functionality ends and if you’re enjoying this video then a sub to the channel would be te glyphic so before we tie this all together the final thing that I want to crystallize is if we took away all the nothing extras is this actually just overpriced for what you’re getting well for starters you got the screen this is a 120 HZ AMOLED full HD Plus display and for the price it’s bright it’s smooth it’s slick you honestly couldn’t really expect better you get the latest Android 14 which is already more than most phones in this bracket but also you know you’re going to get solid support 3 years of major Android version upgrades and 4 years of security updates it’s got a chunky 5,000 mAh battery which with fast 45 W charging that fully charges in basically an hour on the dot is a nicely rounded battery package it’s not Supreme battery life possibly cut into slightly by the glyph lighting and the extra software that goes into that but it’s good it’s a reliable all day phone and then for performance there’s either 12 gigs of RAM and 256 gigs of storage for 349 and then in some regions you can get an 8 GB Ram option for cheaper but that’s paired with the dimensity 7200 Pro chipset and it’s it’s actually gotten a lot faster as I’ve been using it when I was first setting up the phone and it was downloading 100 apps while messing with the settings and the camera at the same time it was chug City it definitely got overwhelmed but as I’ve settled into more normal usage and the phone’s learned my behaviors it’s fine it’s fast for the most part it’s smooth for the most part it plays the games I want to play for the most part the only reason I’m cave is because every now and again 


you do get reminded that this isn’t a top tier Flagship like sometimes when you exit an app you’ll get a bit of lag sometimes the camera takes a while to load and sometimes the photos when you capture them are while to process but those things only stand out because for 95% of the things you do it will slice through them like butter so then the only remaining question mark is the cameras is that why you’re here all right fine go I’ll take one and the cameras sound good this is two 50 map sensors on the back and then 32 megap camera for selfies which is actually quite refreshing compared to most phones at this price which try to squeeze like four cameras onto their phone one will be some crazy 200 megapixel camera and then the rest will be like five and you have no balance but in the end as far as its actual output I’d say it’s only decent in a way I’m impressed like the video it cranks out is on the upper end of what you’d expect it can take professional photos with that tasty natural background blur and the camera app it feels premium which does make it feel a little bit more like you’re shooting with a proper bit a kit the fundamentals are solid but there’s just little weaknesses all around like often times it will apply too much of the high dynamic range effect which is a common shortcut for cheaper phones because it can make Landscapes 


and City shots look instantly more impressive but often times faces and hair they suffer because of it colors are often exaggerated versus reality kind of for the same reasons but more jarringly they aren’t even close to matching between the phone’s two lenses like look how different the wood paneling looks on the main camera versus the old Ultra wide oh yeah and that Ultra wide even though it is 50 megap it doesn’t feel it in day-to-day use it feels distinctly not very detailed the front camera only shoots in 1080P there is no 4K and while it’s not bad for 1080p you can tell that it’s lacking as far as 2024 standards go and the fact that there is no zoom lens means both that Zoom shots aren’t going to look too hot and also that you’re going to struggle to take any kind of beautifully framed Supernatural looking portraits now I realized that sounds like I’ve had an enormous dunk on these devices but those are the differences I feel coming from a flagship phone 


for this price the cameras are about what you’d expect it’s middle ofth line so where does that leave us do nothing phones and specifically the nothing phone 2A make your life better well I would say it can I’d say someone coming into this with the right attitude could use the tools that nothing presents you with to better balance their phone life and real life but equally I don’t think most of the features have enough depth to make a significant impact for the majority so if this was a 4 $99 phone that was banking on these snazzy nothing touches to lift it above the competition I would say hard pass but it isn’t doing that what saves this phone for me is that even if you stripped all of it even if this was just a blank slate with no glyph lights no monochrome software no fancy design it would still be decent value $349 for a phone with a great screen and even borders 12 GB of RAM and 256 gigs of storage Great software support good battery life and very solid durable construction is I think pretty fair and yeah you can absolutely get a budget phone with a better camera than this or one with a faster chip than this but these guys have curated a package that is overall pretty spot-on for the majority of people

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