Readers like you help support XDA Developers. When you make a purchase using links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read More.

Quick Links

When I reviewed the Nothing Phone 1 last year, I said the phone was good but fell victim to its own hype machine. For weeks the Carl Pei-founded company teased a mobile experience that was unlike anything else. When you make such bold claims and deliver just a well-rounded solid mid-range phone, people are going to be disappointed.

The Nothing Phone 2 doesn't have such issues. For one, it's a better phone. But there also isn't unrealistic hype around it because we know the Phone 2 is just an evolution, not a revolution. And that's OK! The Nothing Phone 2 has attitude, style, a solid almost-flagship chip, and perhaps more importantly, an official retail presence in the U.S. It's almost certainly going to crack XDA's list of best phones, considering its relatively strong price-to-performance ratio and U.S. availability.

About this review: Nothing sent me a Phone 2 for review. It had no input in this review or any of our coverage.

Nothing Phone 2 render
Nothing Phone 2
Solid and stylish
8 / 10

The Nothing Phone 2 brings back the transparent design the brand is known for, with a new flagship-level Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip and improved cameras. It's a nice improvement over the Phone 1, even if it isn't anything major.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
6.7-inch OLED 120Hz
8GB, 12GB
256GB, 512GB
Operating System
Android 13
Front camera
Rear cameras
50MP Sony IMX890 (main), 50MP JN1 (ultra-wide)
6.38 x 3 x 0.33 inches (162.1 x 76.4 x 8.6mm)
White, Gray
7.09 ounces (201.2g)
IP Rating
  • Unique transparent design
  • Great screen, good main camera
  • Glyph Interface can be useful
  • No zoom lens
  • Below par video performance
  • Not a huge jump from Phone 1

Nothing Phone 2: Pricing and availability

The Nothing Phone 2 is available for preorder now at Nothing's website and will go on sale on July 17. Launch markets include North America, U.K., Ireland, India, and Hong Kong, among others.

The phone comes in three variants in most regions:

  • 8GB/128GB: $599/ £579 GBP/ €679
  • 12GB/256GB: $699/ £629 GBP/ €729
  • 12GB/512GB: $799/ £699 GBP/ €849

What's in the box?

The usual stylish Nothing packaging

Nothing Phone 2 packaging
Sorry, I had opened the box before I snapped the photo.
Sorry, I had opened the box before I snapped the photo.

I usually don't bother dedicating space to unboxings since most modern phones, particularly from the biggest phone brands, ship in bare-bones white boxes. But as always, Nothing's product packaging is worth dedicating a section to.

The white box inside the Nothing packaging sleeve

The Phone 2 ships in a thin square box with a one-time peel tab, just like the first device did. Last year, as soon as you ripped open the gray outer box, you had access to the phone. However, this year. you'll see another white box inside after you remove the thin gray box, one that's made of thicker, sturdier cardboard with textured patterns on the front flap. The white box has a cover flap that opens like a jewelry box, upon which you see the phone and accessories laid out.

Nothing Phone 2 in its retail packaging

Nothing is keen to point out that its packaging is entirely plastic-free, and 60% of the packaging is made of recycled materials. It's great to see brands claim the sustainability card without skimping on the packaging experience.

There is no charger in the box, but you get a really cool USB-C cable and SIM ejector tool, both with transparent elements that fit Nothing's aesthetic.

Hardware and design

Subtle improvements combine for more polish

Nothing Phone 2 with its monochrome interface on a table.

The Nothing Phone 2 brings back the same overall look and design as the first phone but with a few subtle changes. It's marginally bigger, for starters, with a screen size bumped up to 6.7 inches compared to the 6.55 inches of the original. I didn't notice any difference until I checked the spec sheet, as the dimensions have only increased by 0.6mm in width and 0.3mm in thickness.

What I did notice, however, was that the transparent back side — made of recycled plastic — is now subtly curved on all four edges, unlike the Phone 1's entirely flat back. This results in a more comfortable in-hand feel without sacrificing that boxy iPhone-like look. Nothing says the phone is also made of more recycled parts than the first phone, with a certified carbon footprint of 53.45kg.

The Phone 2's back plate now curves subtly at all four sides.

The phone is quite a looker, with symmetrical bezels wrapping around the screen on the front and a cleverly designed semi-transparent backplate that shows off the wireless charging coil and carefully designed modular pieces and screws. I like that the volume rocker and power button are on opposite sides of the phone. Buttons are clicky, and all the ports are protected against water and dust with an IP54 rating.

The Glyph Interface returns, with the LED lighting strips having more separated parts, most notably in the central C-shaped light. Last year, it was just a single piece; this time, it's six different pieces.

Nothing says adding more separation to the lights allows for more light pattern combinations and customization. To that end, Nothing has designed a "Glyph Composer" that allows users to create their own light patterns with a series of sound effects. I'll talk more about this later in the software section, but for the most part, the overall idea of the Glyph Interface remains unchanged. It's designed to give users another way to check their phone without looking at the screen.

The Nothing Phone 2 with the Nothing Ear 2 on a table top.

The 6.7-inch OLED screen, at 2412x1080 resolution, isn't the most pixel-dense display on the market, but I certainly couldn't tell. Everything looked crisp and sharp. The 1,600 nits of maximum brightness and 1-120Hz variable refresh rate are expected features in 2023, but they're still nice to have regardless. Premium phones that cost several hundred dollars more have brighter panels, but unless you're using the Nothing Phone 2 outside in the Las Vegas sun (as I did), you won't notice any shortcomings. Indoors, this screen will shine.

nothing Phone 2 display

Speaking of the Las Vegas sun, the Nothing Phone 2 handled the unbearable beat (110 degrees Fahrenheit over the Fourth of July weekend) much better than my Google Pixel Fold, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip inside. This chip is about a year old now, but still very much a flagship performer with excellent efficiency. The Tensor G2 in my Pixel Fold didn't fare so well, feeling warm to the touch basically all day.

There's a 4,700mAh battery inside that can be charged wired at 45W or 15W wirelessly (no charger is included in the box). I was able to get peak charging speeds with both my Ugreen 90W charger and Oppo 55W charger. It takes about an hour to go from zero to 100. Elsewhere, there are solid stereo speakers and haptics — neither are going to beat the four-digit flagships, but they're more than satisfactory at this price range. Finally, there's an in-display optical fingerprint scanner sourced from Goodix that works fine.


Pretty good, not great

Nothing Phone 2's camera module.

The Nothing Phone 2's main camera got an upgrade to a Sony IMX890 sensor. This sensor hardware is modest on paper by mid-2023 standards — 1/1.56-inch image sensor size with f/1.9 aperture — but software optimizations can help really bring out its prowess. Oppo and OnePlus, which have both used the sensor, were able to customize the hardware to produce excellent cameras, and Nothing's current software team consists of 70% former OnePlus engineers. So yeah, the Nothing Phone 2 also utilizes this sensor very well, producing shots that punch above the mid-tier hardware would suggest.

Nothing is advertising a new advanced HDR algorithm for the Phone 2, and it looks very much like Oppo's processing. That means very bright, punchy photos with slightly exaggerated warm colors, which doesn't go too far as to be unrealistic circa Samsung processing in the mid-2010s. Skies are always perfectly exposed, but shadows can be a bit too bright, making the photos lose contrast. Below are all samples shot with the main camera. Just point and shoot, no setting tweaks.

I think we as consumers take for granted how good smartphone cameras have become. I sometimes go through old photos on Google Photos, and even premium flagship phone cameras from as recently as 2019 would have totally failed half of the above shots, blowing out the sky or leaving shadowed areas in complete darkness.

The ultrawide camera remains unchanged from the first phone, a 50MP Samsung JN1 sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a 1/2.76-inch image sensor. Nothing does a good job of keeping color science uniform with the main camera, but the sensor size is so small here that anything less than ideal lighting conditions makes photos look soft. Nothing also resorts to night mode very easily, so I got a lot of blurry ultrawide shots because I forgot I had to hold still for night mode.

The 32MP front-facing camera is above average, producing shots with proper exposure and accurate skin tones. But it's a fixed-focus lens and can only shoot videos at up to 1080p.

Video performance is fine in terms of color reproduction, audio pickup, and the ability to switch between lenses, but stabilization is below par, even factoring in the Phone 2's price. There are noticeable jitters when I walk, even during the day, and the problem compounds at night. There are other $350-$550 phones from the likes of Honor, Xiaomi, and Realme that can capture smoother videos.

Software and performance

Stylish and customizable

NothignOS with its monochrome UI

The Phone 2 runs Nothing OS 2.0 based on Android 13, and it's a very stylish, minimal software. Right after setup, I was taken aback by the monochrome app icons without labels (meaning you don't see the word "YouTube" under the YouTube icon) and the larger-than-usual widgets and folders. A Nothing rep told me the UI intends to give users back "their homescreen" instead of letting it be a canvas where companies plaster their logos and labels. Whether you buy that or dismiss it as typical Carl Pei too-cool-for-school marketing speak is up to you.

The thing is, if you read the last paragraph and rolled your eyes because you think monochrome app icons without labels are a bad idea, you have the option to turn either them off and revert to a more conventional look. You can keep the monochrome icons but add labels back, or switch to colorized icons with labels. Nothing's software engineering team consists of a lot of former OnePlus staff, and it's clear NothingOS will offer us the granular customization options that OxygenOS did.

For what it's worth, this more-minimal homescreen grew on me after a tough first day when I had trouble finding apps. I also want to mention that the initial wallpaper that shipped with the phone was a dark gray, which, together with the monochrome apps, looked a bit too boring for my liking. I switched to a brighter patterned wallpaper but kept the monochrome icons, and I love how the homescreen looks now.

Nothing's first-party widgets also have a stylish look, and some are even interactive. For example, the analog clock face widget has a second hand that moves continuously. The weather widget can also be swiped, showing you more weather information, such as the temperature or humidity.

NothingOS' interactive widgets

Other NothingOS-specific software touches include an always-on display that can display widgets and, of course, support for the Glyph Interface. As mentioned, this was designed to allow users to see some information from their phones without needing to check the screen. For example, you can set a customized lighting pattern for only your most important contacts, so if an unimportant contact is calling, you'll be able to tell with just a glance of the lighting pattern. This same logic applies to app notifications. You can set specific light patterns or sounds to specific apps, so you can, in theory, know if an incoming notification is worthy of your attention by just glancing at the back of the phone.

The just-mentioned features were already introduced with the Phone 1, but the Glyph lights having more parts allow for more customization of specific patterns. And to that end, Nothing Phone 2 introduces a Glyph Composer that lets the user make their own light patterns with or without sound. These sound effects vary greatly, from a drum kit to robotic voices, to modem hums to synth tones. And yes, I was able to string together a basic drum beat using the composer. You can then save them to use for ringtones, notifications, or alarm clocks. Nothing says it will work with musicians down the line to introduce custom sounds, too.

Another new Glyph Interface feature is the Glyph timer. Essentially, you set a timer, then flip the phone face down, and the long light strip will slowly count down by shrinking. This same light chart can also be used to track the progress of your Uber ride. Right now, Uber is the only third-party app that supports the interface, but Nothing says it's working on getting more.

The Glyph Interface is fun and clever, but at the end of the day, it's up to the person to decide whether it's of any use. I am a very, very heavy phone user, so as a result, I'm probably racking up anywhere from 7–9 hours of screen time in every 24-hour period. I'm not embarrassed about it, and I don't need any person or device to remind or encourage me to use it less. I don't need to put my phone face down when I'm having dinner unless it's a very formal one. So for me, the Glyph Interface is a flashy design feature and not much more. But for somebody who would want to put their phone face down and check it less, the Glyph Interface could potentially help.

Nothing Phone 2

As a phone overall, the software experience adds some much-needed flair and style to Android without getting in the way. Animations are smooth, and with the proven Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, the phone stays fast. I didn't game too much on the Phone 2, but I edited a few videos for Instagram Reels on PowerDirector and encountered no issues. The Phone 2's boxy shape and flat-screen also make it a comfortable around-the-house media consumption device. It's just a bit easier to grab it and move from room to room, and not worry about accidental palm touches on the screen or the phone slipping out of my hands.

Battery life is about standard with any recent Android phone I've tested. I can squeak by a full 13-, 14-hour day with regular use. On heavier usage days like when I attended a launch event in Paris (lots of social media, photos, navigating, texting), the phone went from fully charged to 20% in seven hours.

Should you buy the Nothing Phone 2?

NothingOS with color icons.

You should buy the Nothing Phone 2 if:

  • You want a stylish phone that stands out from the crowd
  • You actually think you'll use the Glyph Interface to filter unwanted notifications or calls
  • You live in the U.S. and want a fresh new phone that's not the usual

You should not buy the Nothing Phone 2 if:

  • You own the Nothing Phone 1 and have no complaints so far
  • You want the best value Android phone, and you live in a region where like Redmi and Realme sell
  • You want an uncompromising camera experience

The Nothing Phone 2 is a polished, well-made phone with a clear attitude and style. If you find Nothing's "hip" branding to be appealing, or you find the transparent back design visually striking, then this phone will give you what you're looking for. However, it's only an iterative upgrade over the first Phone 1, so those who already own that device should not upgrade. If you're also very picky about cameras, I'd recommend paying a bit more and getting the Pixel 7 Pro instead.

However, what's most appealing about the phone is that Nothing is appealing to Americans for the first time, and considering how limited the American phone scene is, any new option is welcomed. However, the American phone scene is also dominated by carriers, with most consumers going through the carrier route, so Nothing selling off its own website will likely keep it a very niche phone. But still, it's a big first step.

Nothing Phone 2 render
Nothing Phone 2
Great style and substance

The Nothing Phone 2 brings back the transparent design the brand is known for, with a new flagship-level Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip and improved cameras. It's a nice improvement over the Phone 1, even if it isn't anything major.