Nothing Phone 2
Budget phone, flagship features
Nothing’s Phone 2 brings a few under-the-hood improvements to the company’s flashy transparent design. The smartphone now features a flagship-level Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip and an improved camera system. At a significantly lower price point, can it compete with the iPhone 14 Pro?Pros
- Thoughtful transparent design
- Impressive 6.7-inch display
- Improved 50MP main camera
- Limited changes from Phone 1
- Subpar video performance
- No zoom lens in camera system
Perfect for iOS ecosystem
Despite looking fairly similar to last year’s model, the new iPhone 14 Pro packs a slew of improvements, including the Dynamic Island at the top of the screen. It also features a new Apple Silicon chip and an upgraded camera system. But, when compared to Nothing’s Phone 2, is there something missing from the iPhone 14 Pro?Pros
- OLED display features new Dynamic Island
- Latest Apple chip and iOS 16
- Great compatibility with Apple products and services
- Heavy and uncomfortable form factor
- Large camera bump
- Features vary when used with non-Apple products
- The Nothing Phone 2 offers a unique design that is comfortable to hold and features a transparent casing with LED lights, giving it a distinct character.
- The iPhone 14 Pro has a superior display with a higher peak brightness rating, as well as an always-on display that shows the lock screen wallpaper and customizable widgets.
- While the iPhone 14 Pro has a powerful A16 Bionic chip and optimized iOS software, the Nothing Phone 2 offers a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip and an extremely light skin that feels like stock Android, providing a smooth performance. Both phones have good camera hardware, but the iPhone 14 Pro offers better low-light performance.
It’s hard to put any Android phone up against Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro, partly because many iOS users value different features than Android ones. However, in recent years, even some of the most loyal iPhone fans have become frustrated with various product line upgrades. As such, iPhone users looking for something new might turn to Nothing Phone 2, which seeks to bring flavor to a smartphone category that can seem stale at times. With its flagship chip and other improvements, the second version of the Nothing Phone gets closer to competing with top-of-the-line smartphones. But are the upgrades enough to beat one of Apple’s best smartphones in 2023?
Price, specs, and availability
The Nothing Phone 2 was teased throughout the summer and launched on July 17 in North America, the U.K., Ireland, India, and Hong Kong. It’s the second smartphone from Nothing Technology, a startup headed by Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus. Unlike the Nothing Phone 1, the new Nothing Phone 2 is available in the U.S. but can’t find it in U.S. retail stores just yet. On the other hand, if you happen to be near the Nothing retail store in London, you can buy the company’s newest smartphone in person.
For everybody else, the Nothing Phone 2 is available only from Nothing’s website. This smartphone starts at $599 for the base model, which includes 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you need more memory and space, the 12GB/256GB and 12GB/512GB models can be had for $699 and $799, respectively. Color-wise, the latest Nothing phone can be configured in white or gray, but both feature Nothing’s transparent design language.
The iPhone 14 Pro has been out since September 2022. It’s the smaller of the two Pro models, meaning it has some premium features over the base iPhone 14 but doesn’t carry over the larger screen of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The base model features 128GB of storage, but it can be upgraded up to 1TB. It retails for $999 and rarely sees significant discounts directly through Apple, though you may be able to snag a deal by completing a trade-in or agreeing to a carrier promotion. You can get the iPhone 14 Pro directly from Apple, third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, and through major cellular carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
Nothing Phone 2 Apple iPhone 14 Pro Brand Nothing Apple SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Apple A16 Bionic Display 6.7-inch OLED 120Hz 6.1-inch OLED, 120Hz, HDR 10 RAM 8GB, 12GB 6GB Storage 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB Battery 4,700mAh 3,200mAh Ports USB-C Lightning Operating System Android 13 iOS 16 Front camera 32MP 12MP, TrueDepth, AF Rear cameras 50MP Sony IMX890 (main), 50MP JN1 (ultra-wide) 48MP Main, 12MP Ultra Wide, 12MP Telephoto Dimensions 6.38 x 3 x 0.33 inches (162.1 x 76.4 x 8.6mm) 5.81×2.81×0.31 inches (147.5×71.5×7.85mm)inches Colors White, Gray Space Black, Silver, Gold, Deep Purple Weight 7.09 ounces (201.2g) 7.27 ounces (206g) Charging 45W MagSafe (15W), Qi (7.5W), up to 50% in 30 minutes (20W wired) IP Rating IP54 IP68
Ignoring the transparent design and inbuilt LEDs for just a second, you might think that the Nothing Phone 2 looks a bit like an iPhone from the outside. While it does share a similar overall build, the Phone 2 has a drastically different design from the iPhone 14 Pro. The latter is heavy, with sharp edges and hard corners.
In comparison, the Nothing Phone 2 feels light in the hand, with rounded edges that make it much more comfortable to hold. Of the flagships I’ve tested this year from Apple, Samsung, Google, and Nothing, the iPhone 14 Pro is one of the most uncomfortable phones to hold. Meanwhile, the Phone 2 is one of the most comfortable, perhaps only losing out to the Pixel 7 series for the top spot.
The camera bump on the Nothing Phone 2 is raised just slightly from the rest of the back casing and thus doesn’t have much of an impact on daily use. By contrast, the iPhone 14 Pro has the biggest camera bump of all the major flagships, protruding from the back of the rear casing by a massive 4.1mm. Considering that the entire iPhone 14 Pro has a thickness of 7.85mm, this is something you’ll notice.
Looking at the Phone 2 from the back, you get a glimpse of its internal components due to the clear glass casing. Everything is polished and clearly intentional, so you won’t see things like sloppy cabling or exposed PCBs. Instead, the transparent back shows off the wireless charging coils and a few ribbon cables. All told, the design is cool and might invoke some nostalgia for the transparent tech of old. The iPhone 14 Pro doesn’t have quite as much character going for it, featuring a frosted glass back and polished aluminum on the edges. Although both phones look premium, the iPhone 14 Pro’s premium build comes at the expense of weight and comfort.
With the Phone 2, you can’t talk about design without mentioning the Glyph Interface. This is a series of 11 LED strips that light up the back of the phone through the transparent glass casing. (The Glyph Interface was introduced with the Phone 1, but now the lights are disconnected to allow for more tweaks to the types of notification patterns it can show.) Aside from looking neat and serving as a cool party trick, the Glyph Interface can also display notifications when the phone is face down. And thanks to the separated LED strips, you can use Glyph Composer on Phone 2 to customize how the lights flash.
The iPhone 14 Pro’s design only featured iterative changes from the iPhone 13 Pro, which only featured iterative changes from the iPhone 12 Pro. As such, the Nothing Phone 2 might do enough in terms of design to shake things up. If you find the iPhone 14 Pro’s design a bit stale, you might find some much-needed character in Phone 2.
Featuring an all-new Dynamic Island, the iPhone 14 Pro’s display is one of the most identifiable changes you’ll find on Apple’s latest flagship. It uses a 6.1-inch OLED display with LTPO technology, which enables the panel to vary between 1Hz and 120Hz refresh rates. In turn, an always-on display is possible. And unlike most Android phones, the iPhone 14 Pro’s always-on display shows the lock screen wallpaper even when the phone is not in use. Plus, you can customize the entire lock screen and add widgets, many of which work with the always-on functionality.
Apple finally replaced the notch with the Dynamic Island, a software feature that blends the hole-punch camera cutout and the pill-shaped Face ID sensor cutout into a singular “island.” The company uses the small space between the two cutouts to display status indicators, like an orange dot when the microphone is being used and a green one when the camera is being used. The Dynamic Island will also show information, like songs currently playing and navigation updates via Maps. This feature has a wow factor when you first use it, but that wears off over time. I’d say the Dynamic Island is more useful than the Glyph Interface, but right now, both are closer to gimmicks than game-changers.
The Nothing Phone 2 has a larger 6.7-inch display that actually puts it more in line with Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max. The display on Phone 2 uses an OLED panel with a 2412×1080 resolution and supports a 120Hz variable refresh rate. The screen looks great and is very bright, featuring a 1,600-nit peak brightness rating. However, it can’t compete with the panel on the iPhone 14 Pro, which supports a peak brightness rating of 2,000 nits. Both phones offer equally great displays for their price points.
Performance and software
Apple iPhone 14 Pro with widgets on screen
The iPhone 14 Pro is powered by Apple’s A16 Bionic chip and 6GB of unified memory, and it’s one of the most powerful smartphones on the market. Although it has less memory than the 8GB or 12GB on the Nothing Phone 2, the experience will likely be better on an iPhone. Apple has created great optimization between its A-series chips and iOS, so the experience is very polished. On the downside, the phone gets hot after extended use, and the battery life isn’t great. I frequently need to charge my iPhone 14 Pro twice a day, which isn’t ideal.
Nothing improved the processor in Phone 2, which might be the biggest year-over-year change from Phone 1. It now includes a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip from Qualcomm, firmly placing it in flagship territory. That processor is more than fine for running Android 13 in daily use, but it doesn’t stack up against the A16 Bionic. In fact, Qualcomm already has a Gen 2 version of the Snapdragon 8 platform available on other phones. But, considering what most people typically use their smartphones for, the processor and performance you’ll get from Phone 2 should be just fine for $600. Plus, battery life is great, lasting a full day with ease.
We could talk about the differences between Android and iOS to no end and debate which operating system is best. However, the important thing is that both phones run the latest versions of their respective operating systems, and they run them excellently. The iPhone 14 Pro runs iOS 16 and is set to benefit from Apple’s robust software support, likely receiving OS and security updates for years down the road, including to iOS 17 this year. You’ll also get the benefit of connecting seamlessly with other Apple devices, like iPads and Macs. By comparison, the Nothing Phone 2 runs Nothing OS, an extremely light skin that feels a lot like stock Android. Whether your preference is iOS or Android, the iPhone 14 Pro and the Nothing Phone 2 will run their operating systems well.
We’ve already mentioned the difference in camera bumps, but now let’s get to the actual camera hardware. Another area where Phone 2 got an upgrade is in the camera system, which uses a 50MP Sony IMX890 sensor. This main camera features a 1/1.56-inch image sensor size with f/1.9 aperture, and Nothing has some quality optimization that makes the most out of this lens. That’s where the upgrades end, though, because the ultra-wide camera is unchanged from Phone 1. You’ll find the same 50MP Samsung JN1 sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and a 1/2.76-inch image sensor on Phone 2. In daily use, Phone 2 generally performs well in good lighting conditions but struggles in low-light situations, succumbing to issues like overexposure.
Apple also upgraded its camera hardware on the iPhone 14 Pro this year, tossing aside the old 12MP main camera for a new 48MP quad-pixel sensor. This primary sensor has an f/1.78 aperture and works by combining every four pixels into one larger pixel. This allows the sensor to capture more information and detail, resulting in better quality shots. There’s also a 12MP ultra-wide and 12MP telephoto lens that can provide up to 3x optical zoom. Plus, the A16 Bionic chip brings new computational photography features that improve the final look of the raw images captured by these sensors.
Which is right for you?
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing between the iPhone 14 Pro and the Nothing Phone 2. If money is no object, and you prefer iOS as your operating system, the iPhone 14 Pro has a feature set and specs that easily beat the Phone 2. It has a fantastic display, a speedy A16 Bionic chip, and improved camera hardware. If you have a lot of other Apple devices, you’ll also find great integration with those products on the iPhone 14 Pro. At $1,000, the iPhone 14 Pro can hold up with the top Android smartphones and clearly outshines the Nothing Phone 2 on paper.
The iPhone 14 Pro brings a new front design, upgraded cameras, and a new all-powerful Apple Silicon for the most premium iPhone yet.
Nothing’s Phone 2 gets many intangibles right, like an original design and the fun Glyph Interface. At $600, the Phone 2 gets closer to the thousand-dollar iPhone 14 Pro than you might expect. Plus, it outright beats Apple’s flagship phone in a few areas, including comfort and weight. If you’re intrigued by the Nothing Phone 2 and wonder whether it has the chops to be your daily driver in 2023, the answer is a resounding yes.
Nothing Phone 2
The Nothing Phone 2 brings back the transparent design the brand is known for, with a new flagship-level Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip and improved cameras.