Home Tech Nothing Phone 2a review: a standout budget Android

Nothing Phone 2a review: a standout budget Android

by Elijah
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Nothing Phone 2a review: a standout budget Android

The latest Android from London-based tech company Nothing attempts to shake up the budget phone market with something a little more interesting.

Costing from £319 (€329 / A$529), the Phone 2a aims to take the cool design and intrigue that made its high-end models stand out and package it into something cheaper but still new , alongside the full Phone 2. costing £579.

The new model stays true to Nothing’s cool, semi-transparent design. It has a large, smooth and bright OLED display on the front with a semi-transparent back allowing you to see its interesting design elements, including Nothing’s trademark ‘glyph’ LEDs.

The three LED strips on the back light up in complex patterns based on tones, alerts or timers, and charging. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

This time the phone is made of plastic, rather than the metal and glass of the Phone 2, and the LEDs are only found at the top of the phone, around the central camera module. But they can still run complex patterns for ringtones and notifications, display volume, charge percentage, timers and other fun things, like a music visualizer.

The phone is smooth and well-made, but the back plastic attracts dust like a magnet and picks up scratches quite easily.


  • Screen: 6.7-inch FHD+ OLED display, 120 Hz (394 ppi)

  • Processor: MediaTek Dimensions 7200 Pro

  • RAM: 8 or 12 GB

  • Storage: 128 or 256 GB

  • Operating system: Nothing OS 2.5 (Android 14)

  • Camera: 50MP main and ultra-wide, 32MP selfie

  • Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, wifi 6, NFC, Bluetooth 5.3 and GNSS

  • Water resistance: IP54 (splash-proof)

  • Dimensions: 162 x 76.3 x 8.9mm

  • Weight: 190g

Mid-range power with long battery life

The Phone 2a charges to 80% in 39 minutes and reaches full capacity in just under an hour with a 45W power adapter (not included). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Inside the 2a phone is a mid-range MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chip, which performs pretty well for the price. The software is fast and smooth, apps load quickly, and games run smoothly. It can’t match the performance of a high-end phone and gets quite hot when gaming, but handles most tasks with aplomb.

The Nothing also has solid battery life. The phone lasted a good 52 hours, or two days between charges in general use, including several hours spent on 5G per day. Games damage the battery more than their high-end competitors, consuming around 18% per hour of play Diablo Immortal For example.


The ribbons and patterns visible through the plastic back add a bit of interest, as do the LEDs. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

There is no guarantee that the battery retains at least 90% of its original capacity for at least 1,000 full charge cycles. The Phone 2a is generally repairable in the UK. Screen replacements cost £70 or batteries cost £36 plus around £35 labor and shipping by Nothing.

The device is made of aluminum, copper, plastic, steel, tin and other recycled materials that make up 20% of the phone’s weight. Its carbon footprint is 52 kg CO2 equivalent. The company publishes sustainability reports and runs an exchange program.

Nothing OS 2.5

Nothing’s dot matrix-inspired software has lots of cool little touches and can look very different from a typical Android home screen. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The phone runs Nothing OS 2.5, based on Android 14 matching the company’s other phones. The software offers a clutter-free experience but with an interesting visual design based on raster art, widgets and icons.

It may be designed to look like classic Android, but it encourages you to fill your home screen with monochrome icons, big folders, and widgets for a much more interesting experience. Like the fun glyph lights on the back, none of these customizations bog down the phone or interfere with everyday tasks.

Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of software support, offering only three years of software updates and four years of bi-weekly security updates. While the best in the business now offer at least seven years, four years simply isn’t enough for your wallet or the planet, even in the economy market.

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The camera app is simple to use with enough features without being cluttered, but the level function was a little too sensitive. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Phone 2a has two 50-megapixel cameras on the back and a 32-megapixel selfie camera that is very similar in performance to the more expensive Phone 2.

The main camera generally takes good photos, handling high-contrast scenes well. But it tends to over-emphasize fine details in bright light while struggling to preserve details in medium to dim light. The ultra-wide camera also produces decent photos, but images look soft when viewed at full size. The phone doesn’t have a telephoto lens, and images captured beyond 2x digital zoom are poor.

Still, the camera is good value for money, although largely beaten by Google’s Pixel 6A or 7A, which are often found at this price.


The Nothing Phone 2a costs from £319 (€329/A$529).

For comparison, the Nothing Phone 2 costs £499the Google Pixel 7a costs £449 and the Samsung Galaxy A54 costs £349.


The Nothing Phone 2a is a solid entry into the budget phone market that manages to stand out from an otherwise often boring crowd with an interesting design and fun software.

You get a lot of phone for your money, with a big, sharp screen, long battery life, solid performance, and a design that doesn’t look cheap. The plastic body may put off some, but it feels sturdy and well-made, and is splash-resistant, which is not guaranteed in this segment of the market.

The camera is good although it can’t compete with Google’s budget phones, available for a little more. The worst part is the short lifespan of software support, which will make the phone unsafe to use long before its hardware fails.

Benefits: Interesting design with glyph lights, good screen, decent performance, long battery life, nifty Android 14 software, premium look at budget price, good fingerprint scanner, splash resistant.

The inconvenients: no optical zoom camera, only four years of security updates, camera not best in class, plastic back scratches easily.

The optical fingerprint reader located at the bottom of the screen is fast and responsive. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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