Nothing has launched the third phone in its portfolio. Nothing Phone 1 marked a brilliant start for the company, but things got a little wobbly with the Phone 2, especially because of its pricing. However, with the Nothing Phone 2a, the company has got almost everything right –– especially the price. If you’re in the market for a reliable daily driver priced under Rs 25,000, I recommend considering the Phone 2a. So, is the phone perfect then? Of course not. But despite some flaws, I still recommend the phone, and I’ll explain why.

Nothing Phone 2a experience is unmatched, literally

A big positive for the Nothing Phone 2a is its unique UI experience, unless, of course, you are using some other Nothing device. But feeling the sense of exclusivity while still using a pretty much stock Android experience, is absolutely great. The Nothing OS feels familiar yet so different, and I think that’s a big selling point for Nothing phones.

The iconic Nothing glyph interface

When I initially tested the Nothing Phone 2a, I found myself exploring its UI, settings, and glyph customisations extensively. Typically, when I test an Android device, I quickly personalise the settings within ten minutes and feel comfortable using it. This is because most Android UIs have remained unchanged for years. However, with the Nothing Phone 2a, which runs on Nothing OS 2.5, I found myself experimenting with various settings and features, reminiscent of using smartphones in the early 2000s, where there was always something new to discover.

In the glyph interface, for instance, you can customise patterns and assign them to a particular contact so that you would know just by looking at the glyph lights at the back, who is calling. I have the habit of always keeping phones face down. Which means, when I am in the office, every time the phone rings, I stop what I am doing to turn the phone around to see who is calling. That can be really distracting. With glyphs, however, I can assign a pattern to a few favourite contacts so that I only answer when I want to. The glyph interface helped me be more productive, I believe. Another glyph feature I loved is the timer. I often used it as a pomodoro timer. You can see the glyph lights reduced as per the timer you set. It’s so much fun.

The Nothing Phone 2a has a glass back with the signature Nothing transparent design

Some may argue that the excitement of these customisations will fade over time, and I agree. However, this applies to any smartphone or product you purchase. The initial novelty may diminish, but what matters is that you experience the unique features promised by the device when you first start using it.

The user experience of the phone is, in my opinion, one of its standout features, and I love how this experience is consistent across both the software and hardware. The monochrome aesthetics, pixelated font, and minimalist structure, along with the curved and rounded widgets, blend seamlessly with the phone’s design. The device features rounded corners and soft matte edges that feel comfortable in your hands. On the back, there is a slightly raised and curved glass panel, showcasing the signature transparent design of Nothing. The Nothing Phone 2a’s transparent design, in particular, has more character than its predecessor, thanks to the pair of horizontally aligned cameras positioned at the center of the phone, resembling eyes. It’s adorable. The Nothing branding and other text on the back of the phone use the same font as that we see on the software end.

Having said that, the Nothing OS and the phone’s design do have room for improvement. First, the glass back on the phone looks great, but it’s a magnet for dust and fingerprints, and I think that’s a bigger problem with the black variant of the Nothing Phone 2a. On the software end, Nothing OS’ icon pack does not support some of the most popular apps in India yet, including Blinkit, Amazon India, Google Pay, Nykaa and HDFC Bank app. This ruins the monochrome aesthetics of the device. However, in an exclusive interview, we spoke with the mastermind behind the Nothing OS, Mladen Hoyss, who told us that Nothing is actively working on fixing that and will roll out icon support for more apps very soon.

The Nothing OS 2.5 does not have a complete app icon pack yet

The Nothing Phone 2a is a no-frill, solid daily driver

Another aspect where you see a sync between the phone’s hardware and software is the Nothing Phone 2a’s stock experience and the no-frills hardware. The smartphone uses a MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chipset with up to 12 GB RAM. It has two 50-megapixel cameras at the rear, and a 32-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies. It also comes with a 6.7-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, along with a 5,000mAh battery, and Nothing OS 2.5 based on Android 14.

The Nothing Phone 2a may not have the gimmicky 100/200-megapixel camera, or a 6,000 mAh battery, but it offers a great cocktail of specifications that at the end of the day, is able to offer you a snappy and stable performance. I have been using the Nothing Phone 2a as my primary device for two weeks now and I have had no complaints with the phone. I haven’t been gaming much on this phone, but I did occasionally play Asphalt 9, and the gaming experience was lag free. Although, I did notice some significant battery drain on playing games or watching videos for over 20-30 minutes.

I also used the Phone 2a to multitask between my work apps and social media apps, while taking multiple calls, using a personal hotspot, and having the Spotify app play almost all day. Even with all that activity, I only needed to charge the phone at the end of the day. While the phone does not support wireless charging, the wired charging has support for 40W and is able to fuel up the phone to 50 per cent in about 15-20 minutes. The phone does not come with a charging brick in the box, and Nothing has been very honest about it saying that would just up the cost of the phone.

The phone’s back is a fingerprint and smudge magnet

However, one thing I want to point out on the phone that was really troublesome was call audio issues. During regular calls, WhatsApp audio calls, or even when the phone’s connected via Bluetooth, there seems to be an issue with call audio. Every time I placed a call via the Nothing Phone 2a, I have been told by the person on the other side of the call that they couldn’t hear me clearly. Even after two updates that rolled out during the review period, the issue wasn’t fixed. I also spoke to some of my colleagues who have been reviewing Phone 2a, and they faced the same issue.

When considering a good daily driver, the camera plays a significant role in the smartphone’s overall performance. Nowadays, even if you’re not active on social media, keeping a digital record of big and small moments has become an essential part of many people’s lives. Therefore, most individuals spending between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 would expect their phone to have a decent camera at the very least. Fortunately, the Nothing Phone 2a delivers in this aspect.

The Phone 2a has two cameras at the back that look like eyes.

The Nothing Phone 2a has a pair of 50-megapixel cameras at the back that click some pretty good pictures in both bright and low light settings. The AI processing here has a big role to play. Portrait shots are also pretty decent with distinct background separation. The colours in images aren’t always true to life, and are sometimes a little more saturated than in real life, but the end result you get is usually sharp and bright images that would work really well on social media.

Portrait selfie has decent edge detection

Considering the phone’s entire aesthetic is centred around the monochrome theme, I also wanted to see if the Phone 2a does anything special in the black and white mode. To my surprise, the results were rather underwhelming. The images I clicked were all in daylight, and you can see them all getting burnt and over exposed.

The selfie photo mode on the camera is pretty good, and so are selfie portrait shots. The colours look great, and I loved that the beauty filters on the phone aren’t turned on by default.

Nothing Phone 2a is a great choice at a starting price of Rs 23,999

A few days ago, I wrote a piece on how the Nothing Phone 2a is the perfect recipe for a good smartphone, but whether the phone will be a success entirely depends on how it is priced. The Nothing Phone 2a has been launched in India at Rs 23,999, and I think the pricing is even better than what we expected. The competing smartphones in this segment are the Poco X6 5G, Realme 12 Pro 5G and the Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G, all of which are great phones. All of these phones offer really good performance and good cameras. On their own, all the phones also stand out for their design. So, why should you go for the Nothing Phone 2a then? The Nothing Phone 2a among them makes sense if you are looking for a clean and slightly unique UI experience and design.

Published By:

Nandini Yadav

Published On:

Mar 5, 2024


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