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The $599 Nothing Phone (2) is finally here, forget about the Pixel 7a

Published Jul 12th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
Nothing Phone (2) display.
Image: Nothing

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Amazon’s Prime Day sales event is on its second and final day, and you still have time to find a few exciting deals on mobile devices, including Google’s Pixel 7a, which launched just a few weeks ago. That’s right, you can score the $499 Pixel 7a for an even better price during Prime Day, a discount that won’t be here for long. But you should totally ignore Google’s best-ever mid-range flagship and turn your eyes to the new Nothing Phone (2). It’s a flagship handset that starts at just $599 and is available in the US directly from the British smartphone vendor.

A great price for a 2023 Android flagship

Nothing has been teasing the Phone (2) for a few weeks now, and we knew pretty much everything there was to know about it by the time the company unveiled it on Tuesday. Even the price leaked a few days ago, at least for the European region. CEO Carl Pei seemed to dispel the rumors, suggesting they were inaccurate.

At the time, I speculated that Nothing might charge $699 for the 256GB Phone (2) version. It turns out that’s what Nothing would’ve priced the handset, according to its preorder page. But you get an instant $50 discount if you choose the 12GB+256GB model, or $649. Go for $100 extra, and you’ll get the 12GB+512GB model.

What's the deal with Nothing Phone (2) and octopuses.
What’s the deal with Nothing Phone (2) and octopuses? Image source: Nothing

But the base version, the one with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, costs just $599 in the US. That’s a great place to start for a smartphone that rocks the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip. The same processor that powers the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4, among others. Not the Galaxy S22, which runs on the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.

That’s still a great processor to have in a flagship phone and the kind of compromise that allows Nothing to give US buyers a $599 flagship in mid-2023. Nothing says the new chip will give the handset an 80% performance improvement over its predecessor.

The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is better than Google’s Tensor G2 chip that powers the Pixel 7a. It turns out Google isn’t using exactly the same G2 CPU in the Pixel 7a as the one in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a.

Almost the same design for the Nothing Phone (2)

The Nothing Phone (2) also comes with 3 years of Android updates, so you can hang on to this device for quite a while after that initial $599 purchase. You also get 4 years of security updates.

Aside from the obvious performance improvement over the Phone (1), the 2023 model comes with other upgrades.

We’re looking at a slightly tweaked design for the Phone (2). That includes a centrally positioned selfie camera with a 32-megapixel sensor instead of the previous 16-megapixel one. Also, the rear panel has curved edges, so you’ll handle the handset better.

The LED glyphs are still there, and Nothing placed even more lights and patterns on the back to let you customize your Phone (2) experience. To me, this is the least interesting feature a phone manufacturer could have come up with. But if you love the idea of having glyphs signal certain notifications and measure battery charging and volume, you’ll want to explore the Phone (2).

Nothing Phone (2) glyphs.
Nothing Phone (2) glyphs. Image source: Nothing

More important than the glyphs is the battery upgrade. Phone (2) comes with a larger 4,700 mAh battery that supports 45W wired charging. Both are upgrades over Phone (1) ‘s 4,500 mAh battery and 33W charging speed. But the wireless charging experience remains unchanged. We’re looking at 15W Qi charging and 5W reverse charging.

On the front, there’s a 6.7-inch LTPO Full HD OLED panel that supports adaptive refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz) and an HDR peak brightness of 1600 nits. The screen rocks Corning Gorilla Glass and an in-display fingerprint sensor.

You get much better specs

Since the handset you use is also the most important camera in your life, you should know the Phone (2) comes with camera improvements of its own. First, the 18-bit image signal processor can capture 4,000 times more camera data than the Phone (1), Nothing says.

As for the cameras themselves, the rear camera setup gets a new primary 50-megapixel Sony IMX890 sensor, which joins the 50-megapixel ultra-wide Samsung JN1 sensor from the previous models.

The camera supports several improvements over last year’s model. We’re looking at Advanced HDR, Motion Capture 2.0, Motion Photo, 2x Super-Res Zoom, and AI scene detection. On the video front, Nothing Phone (2) supports 4K recording at 60fps, Night Mode 1080p recording at 30fps, Action mode, and a new 4K Time Lapse mode.

Nothing Phone (2) display and rear design detail
Nothing Phone (2) display and rear design detail Image source: Nothing

I said before some people might perceive Nothing Phone (2)’s design changes and camera upgrades as boring. But that’s the wrong take. The handset is a massive upgrade over the Phone (1) when it comes to performance.

That makes that $599 price so exciting, especially looking at all the other improvements. However, I’d choose the 12GB+256GB model for the extra RAM and storage. After all, the hardware makes the $499 Pixel 7a so exciting in the first place.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.