We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Nothing Phone (2a) review

Nothing's budget-busting, transparent-backed smartphones have gone from strength to strength, and its latest model, the Nothing Phone (2a), is the best so far.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review with the phone showing its lock screen while stood against a fence

Our Verdict

The Nothing Phone (2a) is a strong contender for budget-Android of the year, delivering good gaming performance along with its eye-catching visual design. Backed up with decent camera performance and all-day battery life, the Phone (2a) is another sure-fire success from Nothing.

Reasons to buy
  • Solid gaming performance
  • Great display
  • Stellar battery life
  • AI integration
Reasons to avoid
  • Fingerprint magnet
  • No wireless charging
  • Some camera issues

I’ve long been a Nothing Phone fan. They occupy a space many big-name Android manufacturers don’t seem to care about much these days—Android devices with great performance that don’t cost a month’s rent.

The Nothing Phone (2a) fills that gap with style, delivering really decent performance for gaming and emulation, a bright OLED screen, and, of course, Nothing’s trademark light-up rear panel. There are some cost-cutting design features, such as the plastic rear cover instead of glass and a reduction in the number of rear LEDs, but it doesn’t detract from the Nothing Phone (2a)’s overall quality. So could this be a new option for our list of the best budget gaming phones? Let’s find out.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At Pocket Tactics, our experts spend days testing games, phones, tech, and services. We always share honest opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review showing the back of the phone and glyph system

Price and Availability

The Nothing Phone (2a) officially launched on 12th March 2024, with availability covering most of the world. However, the Nothing Phone (2a) had a limited launch in the US, where it’s only available through the Nothing Developer Program. Don’t panic; you don’t need to be a developer to sign up for it, it’s just an extra step in the process. Once accepted, you’ll receive a link, then you can buy the phone.

The Nothing Phone (2a) is a true budget Android smartphone, with the 12GB/256GB model retailing for £349/$349 and the 8GB/128GB model retailing for £319—sorry, US folks, this one isn’t available for you. Still, the more powerful (and, let’s face it, more useful) model is still a snip, and given the Nothing Phone (2a)’s specs, camera, and performance, it’s a clear winner.

At launch, there were some issues with the supply of the Nothing Phone (2a), with Nothing CEO Carl Pei noting that due to high demand, the company was running out of stock. Pei posted on X in early May 2024 to confirm that “most SKUs are out of stock” but “product is ramping up in May and June” to provide availability.

So, yes, the Nothing Phone (2a) is available in most countries, but given stock shortages, you might have to pre-order and wait for it to arrive.


Battery 5,000mAh, 45W wired charging, no wireless charging
Display 6.7-inch 120Hz AMOLED (1080 x 2412 pixels)
CPU Custom MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro
RAM 8GB / 12GB
Storage 128GB / 256GB
Front camera 32 MP, f/2.2 wide
Back cameras 50 MP, f/1.9 wide, 50 MP, f/2.2, 114˚ ultrawide
Weight 190g
Dimensions 161.7 x 76.3 x 8.6 mm
Colors Black, White

Features and Software

The Nothing Phone (2a) runs Nothing OS 2.5 out of the box, which has been updated to Nothing OS 2.5.5 at the time of writing. The latest update was a big one, bringing ChatGPT integrations to Nothing OS, including a ChatGPT home screen widget and voice support via Nothing Ear and Ear (a) earbuds.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review with the phone in the reviewers hands

Before OpenAI revealed its enormous Spring Update package with its multi-modal conversation upgrade, I was skeptical about the usefulness of ChatGPT integration. The widget basically just takes you straight to the ChatGPT app, which while marginally faster, isn’t really doing much else. But the ability to start a new voice conversation has become a much more interesting prospect. Nothing OS’ deeper integration (gesture to open a new ChatGPT conversation) sets them apart, especially for those who want to use ChatGPT as the ultimate virtual assistant.

Outside ChatGPT integrations, Nothing OS returns with its strong visual design, featuring dot matrix art, monochrome logos and icons, and colorful backgrounds. Out of the box, Nothing’s design showcases its big folders and widgets, which can be handy if you have a particular set of apps you always head for (group your favorite games together, and so on), but I actually prefer a cleaner home screen with the bare minimum.

The strong sense of style is what makes Nothing so eye-catching, mind, so ignore my minimalist rantings.

Nothing 2.5 also sees the return of the Nothing X app, which is handy for configuring your Nothing earbuds and, for Ear and Ear (a) users, ChatGPT connectivity. The Glyph Composer is also present, as you’d expect, to help manage the rear LED Glyphs. There is also a new RAM Booster feature that takes unused storage memory and turns it into virtual memory, similar to the Windows paging file. It means I can open more apps at once, but I didn’t feel it made a huge difference when gaming.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review with the top of the phone's menu on show

Now, something that eager Android gamers will like is the Adaptive NTFS tech enabled by the Nothing Phone (2a)’s Dimensity 7200 Pro chip. Nothing claims the Adaptive NTFS delivers 100 percent faster file transfers from Windows devices, which is a huge speed increase when it comes to transferring game files, photos, and other data. Given the limitations of the Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) used by Android devices and USB 2.0, an increase in transfer speed is an excellent proposition.

Transferring various large ISOs from an NTFS drive to the Nothing Phone (2a) seemed fast enough. For example, an 8.3GB ISO took 3 minutes and 15 seconds to transfer on the Nothing Phone (2a) – but it also took the exact same amount of time on my Nothing Phone (2), so it’s difficult to judge.

But outside of that, Nothing doesn’t add bloatware to the Android operating system, which more than a few other companies could learn from.

In terms of software support, Nothing offers up to three years of software support and four years of security updates. This is slightly behind the industry leaders like Samsung and Google Pixel but decent enough.


Nothing’s smartphones are nothing if not stylish. The Nothing Phone (2a) is pared back compared to the Nothing Phone (2) and Phone (1). There is no glass or metal; everything is plastic. Still, the Nothing Phone (2a) retains Nothing’s see-through design, with its rear panel transparency allowing its three integrated LED Glyphs to shine through, along with its familiar bendy connectors. Accordingly, it’s lighter than those other devices, which is quite handy when gaming as it reduces fatigue.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review showing the phone's camera section

Its polycarbonate frame comes with nicely rounded edges and is smooth and sleek to the touch, which is nice and feels premium. I also don’t feel like I’m going to drop the Nothing Phone (2a); its construction material means that it’s better at withstanding drops and falls anyway (not that this is something I set out to test).

I always stick my smartphones in a case immediately and the Nothing Phone (2a) was no different, but I can imagine the rear panel being exposed to scratches quite easily just through general wear and tear. It’s also an absolute fingerprint and dust magnet, and you’ll definitely spend time wiping it down.

The central camera housing is an interesting design that sets the Phone (2a) apart. I’ve quite enjoyed the central positioning of the camera module, as it feels like I’m always accurately aligned with what I’m shooting. Realistically, it’s only a tiny departure from the regular camera location in the top-left corner (as with most modern smartphones), but its difference is telling.

And for those who think the Nothing Phone (2a) camera looks like a pair of eyes, you’re absolutely spot on. The Nothing team made a conscious design decision to make it interesting and eye-catching, though I can see why some folks are put off by it.


The Nothing Phone (2a) has a decent 6.7-inch AMOLED display. It’s nicely responsive for scrolling, typing, and gaming, and its adaptive refresh rate of 30-120Hz preserves battery life as needed. It doesn’t feature LTPO, but that’s expected for a more budget-focused model and isn’t really a miss.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review with the phone on a wodden floor

Its 1080 x 2412 (394ppi) resolution with HDR10+ compatibility means games and movies look sharp, and while its peak brightness of 1,300 nits isn’t mindblowing, it’s plenty good for most situations. It’s also more than the Nothing Phone 1, which is nice.

There are two primary screen color settings, Standard and Alive, with the latter boosting saturation and so on to provide a more vivid picture. I stuck with Standard. You can also adjust the screen color within each setting, moving a slider between warm and cold to adjust the color balance.


Camera performance is a big deal for all smartphones, and budget options are no different. The Nothing Phone (2a) features two cameras: a 50MP 1/1.56″ wide with an f/1.9 aperture and OIS and a 50MP 1/2.76″ ultrawide with an f/2.2 aperture and 144-degree viewing angle, which is decent enough for this price range. I was impressed with the overall output of the Nothing Phone (2a) cameras, but they lacked detail at times.

I’m not talking about if you zoom all the way in, where almost every phone struggles. At times, the details of images would become slightly blurred, which was a surprise. For example, this image of two Maybugs on a pink rose is lovely, but the focus blurring is dramatic.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review with a camera quality example of a couple of bugs on a pink rose

Similarly, this shot of the beach is a little overexposed and has been sharpened, but I was taking it directly into the sun. Still, it makes for an edited effect that isn’t ideal.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review with a camera quality example of a beach at sunset

However, most of the time, colors look vibrant and alive, capturing the scene accurately, such as in this shot of the Jubilee Pool Lido in Penzance, Cornwall.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review with a camera quality example of a swimming pool

Photography at night and in more difficult lighting conditions was also good. It captured a good range of lighting but suffered from overexposure in parts, as many nighttime photography modes do.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review with a camera quality example of a car park at night

While there are some issues with the Nothing Phone (2a) cameras, I’m still more than happy with the quality at this price range.


Although the Nothing Phone (2a) is a budget-focused smartphone, its MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chip is powerful enough for a broad range of activities, including gaming.

The Nothing Phone (2a) returned a decent 30FPS while running Final Fantasy 10 in AetherSX2, which made for a good overall experience. I noticed a few more FPS dips here and there with God of War 2, but it was still perfectly playable, especially with an external controller. Emulated PS1 games were no problem at all, nor were emulated Wii games, though not quite as smooth as the PS1 titles.

Custom image for Nothing Phone (2a) review showing a different lock screen for the phone indoors

Elsewhere, Grid Autosport ran decently (again with an external controller), but it did drink the battery life, running it down around 15-20 percent in an hour.

In short, the Nothing Phone (2a) can handle almost anything you throw at it, but you won’t be pulling down 60FPS in the most intensive games. Which, in fairness, is absolutely fine for a budget-focused smartphone. It also means lower-performance games run like an absolute dream.


Completing the Nothing Phone (2a)’s impressive hardware roster is its 5,000mAh battery, which is in line with many flagship devices, and more than most others. It can charge rapidly using a 45W wired connection, but note that your power source must support Power Delivery 3.0, or you’ll receive slower speeds.

The one downside is a lack of wireless charging. I always used wired charging, so it’s no issue for me, but it seems like an oversight when so many other folks do. I’m guessing this was a cost-cutting decision, which is fine, as who doesn’t have a thousand USB-C charging cables these days, but still, it’ll be missed.

I found the Nothing Phone (2a) really power efficient throughout the day, even when hotspotting, video calling, taking photos, gaming, and more. If all-day battery is the goal, the Phone (2a) succeeds.

Should you buy the Nothing Phone (2a)?

If you’re in the market for a budget-priced smartphone with mid-range smartphone features, the Nothing Phone (2a) is absolutely for you. l mean, who doesn’t want more bang for their buck when it comes to buying a new phone?

Nothing’s smartphones always deliver, and I’m impressed with the slight pivot from the Nothing Phone 2 to fill another price point with the Phone (2a). Not just because of the price, but because it packs in a heap of unique features that are actually useful and does it while not costing a fortune.

Its unique design alone is worth a shout, but the battery life, pared-back Nothing OS, great screen, and tidy performance make it worth every penny.


Nothing Phone (2a) not your cup of tea? Try these instead.

Poco X6 Pro

I first saw the Poco X6 Pro at MWC 2024 and immediately loved its bright yellow rear panel—don’t worry, it’s also available in black or grey. Aside from its eye-catching color, it’s also a bit of a performance gem among budget smartphones, packing in MediaTek Dimensity 8300-Ultra chip, 6.67-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen with 1,800 nits brightness, 5,000mAh battery, and a triple-camera setup.

Tecno Pova 6 Pro 5G

Interestingly, another smartphone I played with at MWC 2024, Tecno’s Pova 6 Pro 5G is a great option for those with a limited budget. Priced between £200-300 (price varies considerably). Its MediaTek Dimensity 6080 5G isn’t as powerful as the Nothing Phone (2a), but you get 12GB RAM, 256GB storage, a bright and colorful 6.78-inch 120Hz FHD+ AMOLED display, the shiniest rear panel you’ve seen in your life, and some integrated LED lights around the rear camera housing.