Here goes Nothing: The do-it-all Phone (2a) is an ‘affordable killer’

Here goes Nothing: The do-it-all Phone (2a) is an ‘affordable killer’

The last time we checked out a Nothing smartphone – its second top-end device – we pointed out it had the makings of a flagship killer, but its famous glyphs were more of a novelty rather than something you would actually use.

Well, sometimes toning things down works.

The UK device manufacturer recently launched the Nothing Phone (2a), aiming to advance the company’s mantra of offering cheaper devices with an interesting design.

Sure, the Phone (2a) is a stripped-down version of the flagship Phone (2) and did not get as much hype.

Nevertheless, there is something we found out while playing with it – which we are sure you will be pleased to know.


Much like its more-hyped, bigger-sibling Nothing Phone (2), the Phone (2a) retains flat sides and curved edges, akin to the latest iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24+.

Nothing much to say (pun not intended) about that, given that smartphone trends spread rather quickly.

Right behind, Nothing continues to double down on its signature transparent rear and glyphs (more on this later).

We have pointed out before that devices maintaining certain levels of identity are good for recognition, which can potentially help them in the long run. Users want to stand out.

Another nod to the previous design is that the buttons and ports stay where they are – the volume buttons on the left, power key on the right and the USB-C port and Sim tray below. No 3.5mm audio jack here, as with modern devices.

Performance … and fewer glyphs

The Nothing Phone (2) impressed us with its overall performance and utility, and the Phone (2a) is no different. Lagging is not really an issue and it operates seamlessly.

Our only complaint when it comes to speed is during set-up, in which there are some animations we feel were unnecessary. Yes, we do understand Nothing is all about spunk but it is cool enough as it is.

Nothing retained a 6.7-inch display, which has the same resolution as the Phone (2). It is protected by a pre-applied screen protector and Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which is about eight years old and generations behind the latest.

The company swapped out the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 2 it used in the Phone (2) for a MediaTek Dimensity 7,200 Pro in the Phone (2a), which is technically a downgrade but still serves its purpose.

Some numbers here: Nothing and MediaTek claim that, compared with the Phone (1), its new device is 18 per cent more powerful and 16 per cent more efficient. Both, however, did not reveal how these were calculated.

Two Ram/storage combo options are available in the UAE – 8GB/128GB and 12GB/256GB – and in some markets there is an additional 8GB/256GB variant, with an additional 8GB Ram booster.

The max 256GB storage may not be enough for users heavy on media, although Google Cloud is an option.

Speaking of Google, the Phone (2a) runs on Android 14 with Nothing OS 2.5. You can opt to use either skin; the latter is unique, and is kind of refreshing in a world wherein stock Android-based skins seem to look the same.

Also, Nothing does not have any bloatware, which are apps that duplicate others or serve no practical purpose at all. This reduces screen clutter and saves up valuable memory space.

And the glyphs are back, albeit fewer this time: the dancing lights have practically been halved, featuring only in the upper portion of the phone’s rear.

It still performs the same functions, such as letting you know who is calling, notifications and how much is left on a timer.

But we still stick by our opinion that it is more of a novelty – although we really admit it adds to the device’s identity and spunk.

Camera is a straight shooter

Nothing has once again used a dual-lens camera system in the Phone (2a), retaining the same resolutions – 50-megapixel for the main camera plus 50MP ultra-wide – and virtually similar apertures.

We tried it out and there really is not any significant difference between this and the Phone (2). Images and videos are as natural as they can get, which we highly appreciate. We are not fans of embellished results; it just hits different with the real thing.

Yes, it has generative AI (sort of)

Samsung Electronics put generative artificial intelligence into the mainstream with its Galaxy AI platform in its latest Galaxy S24 series, and Apple is set to reveal its AI plans later this year.

Glyphs are seen on the back side of the Nothing Phone (2a). Photo: Nothing
Glyphs are seen on the back side of the Nothing Phone (2a). Photo: Nothing

Here’s something under the radar for Nothing: the Phone (2a) has an AI-powered chatbot, backed by Perplexity, the California-based start-up that recently raised $73.6 million from notable technology players and aims to challenge Google’s search dominance.

A one-year subscription to use Perplexity Pro is being dangled for free. The catch: you must register your Phone (2a) by March 19 to get the freebie.

But the most important thing to note: the offer is only available in Europe for now. Nothing told The National that it is working to extend the Perplexity collaboration to other markets, without giving a time frame.

Lovely to see Perplexity’s challenge taken straight into a Google-powered device, isn’t it?


Nothing promises a lot of things when it comes to the Phone (2a)’s battery, a 5,000mAh power source that is the company’s largest by far.

First, it claims that the device can last for up to two days. We can attest to that and by that we mean that from a full charge in the morning, we were able to stretch it out until mid-evening the following day, when it began hobbling at 3 per cent.

That comes with a caveat: you can only do this by limiting battery-intensive apps, such as the camera and gaming. The camera, in particular, saps up power quite fast at varying degrees, depending on how you use it and how long you take.

Also, the device does not heat up, thanks to Nothing’s bumped-up “advanced” cooling system, which it says contributes to performance and longevity.

On the charging front, Nothing says the device can shoot up to 50 per cent in only 23 minutes – a “day’s power” in 20 minutes – and full power in 59 minutes. We got fair results, 45 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively.

We also tested it using the in-the-box USB-C cable and a 30-watt power brick and found out that the phone was only at 18 per cent in 30 minutes and did not even touch 50 per cent in an hour.

Strange, since the Phone (2), using the same hardware, got to about three quarters of the way in an hour.


We have been repeating “flagship killer” a lot with Nothing’s devices, but maybe it is time for a new term – “affordable killer”.

The Nothing Phone (2a) is very attractive – aesthetically and performance-wise. The company made the right decisions when it comes to swapping out certain specs, but not at the cost of sacrificing what it has to offer.

The Phone (2a), dare we say and given all of these, may have set a new standard for how affordable smartphones should be: it doesn’t look cheap, it performs and lasts long, and definitely stands out in the looks department.

An illustration of the layers of the Nothing Phone (2a). Photo: Nothing
An illustration of the layers of the Nothing Phone (2a). Photo: Nothing

Updated: March 15, 2024, 12:40 PM

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