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Nothing Phone (2a) Review: An Affordable Mid-ranger with Compelling Design & Reliable Cameras

Following the remarkable launch of the Phone (2) in September last year, Landon-based tech firm Nothing recently made its return to the limelight with the launch of an even more affordable Phone (2a) that aims to bring consumer an optimal smartphone experience by doubling down on core user needs, while leveraging all of Nothing’s expertise and innovation.

Nothing Phone (2a) White
Nothing Phone 2a | Credit: Nothing

Thanks to Nothing (Singapore), I had a chance to test out the new Phone (2a) thoroughly for slightly over two weeks and here’s my honest opinion on this exciting handset.

Design From The Future

Like any other Nothing smartphones, the new Phone (2a) is a super-duper cool device that looks just like something out of a Sci-Fi movie. The main highlight lies in it’s unique semi-transparent glass back that not only provides you a glimpse into it’s internal hardware components, but also showcases the company’s trademark “Glyph Interface” consisting of multiple microLEDs stripes that blink in tandem whenever you received a notification or phone call.

Nothing Phone (2a) Colors
Nothing Phone 2a Color Options | Credit: Nothing

Although this might sounds a bit gimmicky at the start, but it do have it’s real life functionalities. For instance, the blinking lights did successful caught my attention on several occasions when I didn’t actually hear the ringtone as I was dining in a noisy food place. Speaking of this, the phone also gives you the ability to customize the way they want these microLEDs stripes to light up within the phone’s setting where you’ll find a number of preset ringtones, each with a dedicated Glyph pattern that lights up in sync with the ringtone.

Nothing Phone (2a) Glyph Interface | Credit: Nothing

Beside notifications and ringtones, the Glyph interface also has an important role to play when it comes to photography. For example, when taking group selfies on timer mode (with the rear cameras), the Glyph interface is able to serve as a visual countdown that helps you to be better prepared. Otherwise, it can also be used as a portable ring light when shooting close-up photos of subjects in poorly-lit environment.

Excellent Build Quality

Despite its inexpensive price tag, the Nothing Phone (2a) feels very much like a premium flagship phone on hand thanks to its excellent build quality which encompasses of an aluminum-based mid-frame that makes the phone feel more robust and rigid as compared to most other budget-centric phones with plastic frame.

The sides of the phone are flat, as usual, but they do offer the right amount of grip to prevent the phone from slippering especially when you’re holding or using it with one hand. Speaking of this, its worth noting that the Nothing Phone (2a) is by no means a compact smartphone but its still comparatively smaller in size compared to other budget phones such as the POCO X6 Pro.

Durability-wise, the Nothing Phone (2a) carries an IP54 rating for water and dust resistance. This basically means the device is able to survive light splashes of water and offers moderate protection against ingress.

Fantastic Display For Entertainment

Over on the front side, the Nothing Phone (2a) features a 6.7” AMOLED display that supports an ultra-sharp FHD+ screen resolution along with a fast 120Hz refresh rate that promises a smooth and immersive viewing experience when watching videos or playing games.

Nothing Phone (2a) Front Design
Nothing Phone (2a) Front Design | Credit: Nothing

To take things even further, the display also has an impressive peak brightness that goes up to 1,300 nits whenever the situation calls for it. This is important as it ensures the screen always remain legible even when you’re using the phone under bright daylight.

Unlike majority of the smartphones in this segment, the Phone (2a)’s display also features an additional layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to provide further protection against accidental drops or scratches.

Class-leading Performance

Under the hood, the Nothing Phone (2a) is helmed by a custom Dimensity 7200 Pro chipset co-developed with MediaTek. In terms of day-to-day usage, the phone certainly feels snappy with rapid app loading and seamless multi-tasking when working across multiple apps. In fact, the phone also holds up remarkably well on resource-demanding workloads like mobile gaming which I hardly encounter any notable signs of slowdown.

To keep its lights on, the Nothing Phone (2a) is also backed by a respectable 5,000mAh battery which can easily last through the day on moderate or even heavy usage. The main selling point however, lies in it’s exceptional 45W fast wired charging support that’s able to deliver a full charge from 0 to 100% in slightly more than an hour despite its large battery capacity.

A Reliable Photography Companion

As far as photography is concerned, the Nothing Phone (2a) features a pair of capable cameras at the back comprising of a 50 megapixels (f/1.88 aperture) main camera as well as a 50 megapixels (f/2.2 aperture) ultra-wide camera for landscape photography.

Nothing Phone (2a) Camera Sample -1
Nothing Phone (2a) Camera Sample -3
Nothing Phone (2a) Camera Sample -4
Nothing Phone (2a) Camera Sample -7
Nothing Phone (2a) Camera Sample -5

Apart from its compelling camera hardware, the Phone (2a) is the first Nothing smartphone to feature the new TrueLens Engine that leverages advanced computational photography to improve color science and details in photos. This impressive hardware and software combination allows the camera system to capture flattering photos with great details and dynamic range regardless of lighting condition.

While photos taken by both the main and ultra-wide camera generally show good consistency in colors and details for most part, you’ll still find the main camera performing better especially in low-light environment with sharper details and lesser image noise. Despite that, I can still safely say that the Phone (2a)’s ultra-wide camera outperforms majority of those from similar price segment.

Verdict

The new Nothing Phone (2a) is no doubt an attractive mid-ranger with plenty to love. Despite its affordable launch price, the Phone (2a) has everything you need for an amazing mobile experience including a lovely display, speedy performance as well as a capable camera system which not only allows it to serve as your one-stop entertainment hub, but also makes it an ideal photography companion.

For those who’re interested, the Nothing Phone (2a) is available in both Black and Milk colorways, and is priced at just S$499 for the 12GB+256GB model. It’ll be available for purchase through Nothing Official Store on both Shopee and Lazada, as well as Challenger stores island-wide.

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