Transparent devices are having their moment this year, and Nothing Phone 2 takes it to the next level.
The smartphone, whose predecessor was dubbed a potential iPhone killer by many critics when it launched last year, has a “minimalist design,” a frame made of recycled aluminum and clear glass on the back with patterned LED strips and a cable. Transparent USB in the way.
The Nothing Phone (2) is the first Nothing phone to go on sale in the US, but it’s the latest in a line of transparent devices, including headsets and the first Nothing phone, which has sold 1.5 million units Until now.
Is the brainchild of Carl Pei, who founded smartphone startup OnePlus and hopes to upset the giants of the cell phone industry using clear plastic and some wacky ideas. So is Nothing Phone (2) worth buying, or all the fuss over nothing?
There’s no denying that it looks great. you get a good view of the inside of the phone (Image: Rob Waugh)
The LEDs are bright but cool (they’re mostly supposed to work when you have your phone face down, but I’m turning them on to show them off here) (Image: Rob Waugh)
Pei is dead serious about turning the industry upside down.
“We target people who are really interested in technology and design: that’s our tribe,” according to Pei.
Pei is backed by serious investors, including Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive known as the “father of the iPod” who co-founded Nest, the connected thermostat company.
In a world where all smartphones look more and more identical (except for the exact number of cameras on the back), Nothing Phone (2) makes a splash.
Not only can you see through the back to see components, the panel’s built-in LEDs flash in hieroglyphic patterns when you receive calls, receive notifications, or set timers.
It’s a cool and completely unique effect, and if you’re the type of person who lives in the moment, people around you go, ‘Ooh, what’s that?’ this certainly draws attention.
You might be less excited if you’re the kind of person who might feel a little mortified when your phone starts flashing like a mobile disco while you’re in a dimly lit bar.
When you flip it over, Cinderella’s fairy carriage turns back into a pumpkin, and you’re looking at a large, well-made, but pretty average Android phone (albeit with a decent Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and sharp 6.7 display). inches). OLED display).
The good thing is that, like Google’s Pixel phones, it runs a fairly “clean” version of Android, without any unnecessary apps or bloatware, a formula that’s hard to find at this price.
There are some nice extras that extend the look to the boring side of the phone – here’s the Weather app (Image by Rob Waugh)
There are some nice extras, too, including fancy widgets that keep the monochrome aesthetic of the back, with a weather app and sleek, minimalist clocks.
But OnePlus has high hopes that you keep the phone face down.
They describe the lights on the back as the ‘Glyph interface’ (well, it wouldn’t be a smartphone launch without a few buzzwords) and hope you’ll use it to reduce screen time.
I always find it strange when tech companies offer features to reduce screen time because the easiest way to reduce people’s screen time is to stop selling phones altogether.
But there’s no denying that Glyph looks great: you can set alerts so that important notifications illuminate the top-right LED strip on the back of your phone like a constant light.
The idea is that you (in theory) don’t stare at your phone when Clash of Clans is reminding you to buy some crystals or whatever, but instead can quickly respond to work emails or messages from friends (you decide which notifications.
This is what it looks like when it’s ringing (you can switch it to silent and still see the ringtone) (Image by Rob Waugh)
Helpfully lights up for notifications when placed face down (Image: Rob Waugh)
I always have fond memories of an old BlackBerry with an LED that used to change color for different notifications when face down; this picks up a bit of that.
You can also customize “ringtones” (blink patterns) for different contacts, plus add noises from a palette of harsh noises and beeps made by the Swedish House mob.
Flashing lights are fun – you can use them as a countdown timer with the Uber app, showing how long until your driver arrives, or as a kitchen timer.
Are they changing the game? Probably not, but they’re fun, highly recognizable, and at least something new in a market where most phones are boring to death.
Novelty-hungry users can also, for some reason, turn all the app icons on the phone monochrome, which looks great for about four seconds before changing it back.
The hardware here is impressive: the panel offers dynamic 120Hz and an always-on display (naturally, it includes a bit of quirky, pixelated design, just to remind you that yes, this is the “cool” smartphone).
The SnapDragon 8 Gen 1 is responsive and fast, though it’s not quite as fast as the second-generation chipset in high-end phones from Samsung and Sony.
In use, the battery is very solid, at 4,700mAh easily lasting a day of moderate use (and leaving my regular Pixel 7 looking lightweight), and the 45W fast-charging feature is blisteringly fast, making The phone went from nothing to full under an hour.
This camera has had a major upgrade over its predecessor, with a 50-megapixel Sony sensor that offers advanced HDR and AI widgets to track moving objects in real time, plus a 50-megapixel ultra-wide camera.
Even in low light, it’s a serious performer, but it lacks the AI dynamism of the Google Pixel and the endless customizability of Sony, Samsung and Apple cameras.
It has the look and feel to the letter (Image by Rob Waugh). Novelty-hungry users can also, for some reason, turn all the app icons on the phone monochrome, which looks great for about four seconds before changing it back.
The fingerprint reader is integrated under the screen and works fast and well (although it insists a little more on the finger being in the “right” place than rivals).
The only fly in the ointment is that it’s not waterproof, which for me is a problem as I have a young son who is prone to flushing electronics down the toilet.
It’s IP54 rated, which means it’s resistant to dust and splash water, but if you drop it in water, it could lose control.
But at this price, $599, you’re going to be missing out on something when you’re getting so much for your money.
You usually have to shell out the flagship phone money to get even a vaguely interesting feature, and here you’re paying a bit more than average price for a very unique device.
Price-wise, that leaves Nothing (2) in a bit of an odd position: you can get amazing phones like the Pixel 7a for less.
But in a world of phone clones, it plows its own groove, and if you want to get noticed, it’s hard to fault this quirky phone.