Nothing Phone (2) review

GSMArena Team, 13 July 2023.

Android 13 with Nothing OS 2.0

The Nothing Phone (2) runs on the Nothing OS 2.0, an ever so slightly modified version of 'stock' Android 13. Nothing promises 3 years of Android updates and 4 years of security patches every 2 months.

Nothing Phone (2) review

Using the Phone (2) does feel a lot like using a Google Pixel. Most of the user interface is familiar, with things like the launcher, the Settings app, and most of the pre-installed apps being identical to what you'd find on Google's smartphones.

Nothing OS 2.0 - Nothing Phone (2) review Nothing OS 2.0 - Nothing Phone (2) review Nothing OS 2.0 - Nothing Phone (2) review Nothing OS 2.0 - Nothing Phone (2) review Nothing OS 2.0 - Nothing Phone (2) review Nothing OS 2.0 - Nothing Phone (2) review
Nothing OS 2.0

Nothing OS 2.0 includes a number of custom widgets - clocks, weather, quick settings, calendar, Nothing X widget. They match the overall UI look and are a great addition to the launcher for sure.

Custom widgets - Nothing Phone (2) review Custom widgets - Nothing Phone (2) review Custom widgets - Nothing Phone (2) review Custom widgets - Nothing Phone (2) review
Custom widgets

The launcher also supports large folders and large single icons, if that is your thing.

Large folder - Nothing Phone (2) review Large folder - Nothing Phone (2) review Large app - Nothing Phone (2) review Large app - Nothing Phone (2) review
Large folder • Large folder • Large app • Large app

Oh, and there are quick shortcuts on most of the system apps - you can access them with a tap and hold on the app icon.

Quick actions - Nothing Phone (2) review Quick actions - Nothing Phone (2) review
Quick actions

Other than that, the changes Nothing has made are quite selective and judicious in nature. While the phone mostly uses Roboto for the interface, there is also sparing use of the company's distinctive dot matrix typeface for certain UI elements, such as for the headings inside the Settings app, the lockscreen, the charging UI, and the custom homescreen and lockscreen widgets.

Fingerprints - Nothing Phone (2) review Face unlock - Nothing Phone (2) review Lockscreen widgets - Nothing Phone (2) review Lockscreen widgets - Nothing Phone (2) review
Fingerprints • Face unlock • Lockscreen widgets • Lockscreen widgets

Always-on Display is available, and it works the Apple way, the latest one at least - it dims the wallpaper and leaves the monochrome clock and the lockscreen widgets visible.

Nothing Phone (2) review

Within the experimental features section, there is also a Connect to Tesla option, which is supposed to let you control some features of your Tesla vehicle directly from the phone without requiring the Tesla app.

Also, in Experimental, you will find AirPods support expanded information for the battery settings. There is also Enhanced Touch Response, which should improve the touch response speed in some games. And Glyph progress feature, where you can track the progress of your Uber at the back of your phone.

Notifications - Nothing Phone (2) review Quick settings - Nothing Phone (2) review Experimental features - Nothing Phone (2) review Experimental features - Nothing Phone (2) review Experimental features - Nothing Phone (2) review
Notifications • Quick settings • Experimental features

Nothing OS has also introduced a new Monochrome UI option for those wanting an even more exclusive, unique experience. It is part of the Do Not Disturb and Bedtime routines, but you can set it up for you however you prefer.

Nothing Phone (2) review

The monochrome UI is a display option, and it doesn't affect exactly the UI - so if you take a screenshot or a picture, it would still be colorful.

There is also a game mode, but it's less elaborate than on other phones. You have to add games for this mode to kick in manually, and when it does, it can just enable Do Not Disturb mode and enable mistouch prevention around the edges of the screen. If you have a Nothing Ear paired, it will also enable low latency mode on them.

There are two new features for the Game Mode as part of Nothing OS 2.0 - Game Color Plus (enhanced color rendition) and Game Dashboard.

Game Mode - Nothing Phone (2) review Game Mode - Nothing Phone (2) review Game Mode - Nothing Phone (2) review
Game Mode

The Nothing X app should be available - it will handle the Nothing headphones. It supports Ear (1), Ear (Stick) and Ear (2).

Nothing X - Nothing Phone (2) review Nothing X - Nothing Phone (2) review
Nothing X

The most custom aspect of the Nothing OS is the inclusion of the Glyph Interface, which controls the LEDs on the back of the phone. First, the feature is optional, so you can just turn it off or schedule it if it bothers you. You can also adjust the brightness of the LEDs, which can get seriously bright, even at the default medium brightness.

Glyph - Nothing Phone (2) review Settings - Nothing Phone (2) review Flip to Glyph - Nothing Phone (2) review Ringtones and messages - Nothing Phone (2) review Ringtones and messages - Nothing Phone (2) review
Glyph • Settings • Flip to Glyph • Ringtones and messages

At present, the Glyph Interface can be used primarily for notifications and alerts. The Glyph Menu contains Brightness, Ringtones, Notifications, Flip to Glyph, Glyph Timer, Composer shortcut for custom Glyph ringtones, and Visual Feedback for Volume control, Charging meter, Google Assistance and Third Party apps (Uber for now).

The Phone (2) comes with ten custom ringtones for calls and ten notification sounds. Each of these has a pre-programmed pattern assigned to them that plays out on the LEDs whenever they are playing.

Nothing Phone (2) review

You can add your own ringtones to the phone, and it will try to map them to the different lights. You can also compose a ringtone via the integrated Composer, which is quite neat - you can choose the type of tune and push a few buttons like a DJ.

Composer - Nothing Phone (2) review Composer - Nothing Phone (2) review Composer - Nothing Phone (2) review Composer - Nothing Phone (2) review
Composer

For calls, you can assign a ringtone to each of your contacts. This way, not only do you get audible confirmation of who's calling, but if the phone is placed face down, then the unique light pattern on the back can also inform you of the caller id. Of course, there are only ten custom ringtones, so there's only so many unique callers you can assign them to, but any more would likely be too much to remember.

This can also be done for app notifications, provided the app allows setting a custom notification. Some messaging apps will also allow setting a custom ringtone for each contact, but again you are limited to just ten + custom.

Nothing Phone (2) review

Other things you can do with the lights at present is have the LED bars light up incrementally with the phone's charging status. The lights can also be made to flash when you say the Google Assistant hotword. And it's quite neat to see the volume level when adjusting the control with the screen facing down.

Charging Meter - Nothing Phone (2) review Glyph Timer - Nothing Phone (2) review Google Assistant - Nothing Phone (2) review Volume Indicator - Nothing Phone (2) review Glyph progress - Nothing Phone (2) review Battery Share - Nothing Phone (2) review
Charging Meter • Glyph Timer • Google Assistant • Volume Indicator • Glyph progress • Battery Share

The Glyph Lights work really well when Battery Share is active - that's the reverse wireless charging option.

Glyph progress is also available, but as we said, it works only with Uber for now. More apps are expected to adopt it soon after launch.

The Glyph LEDs can also be activated to act as a fill light when shooting videos or taking portraits.

Finally, the feature Flip to Glyph is really cool - it's like an expanded silencer. See, once you flip the phone, the Glyph interface will be active (and you will get a glyph prompt for that), while sounds will be silenced.

Flip to Glyph - Nothing Phone (2) review
Flip to Glyph

As far as bloatware is concerned, the Phone (2) really has none to speak of, assuming you don't count the ever-increasing mandatory Google apps as bloatware. The only custom apps on the phone are the Camera app, the Composer app, the Weather app and a Recorder app.

The Recorder and Weather apps have the same dot matrix UI and look pretty cool aside from offering useful functionality.

Recorder - Nothing Phone (2) review Weather - Nothing Phone (2) review Weather - Nothing Phone (2) review
Recorder • Weather

The Nothing X app may or may not come pre-installed, but it's available for download in the Play Store.

In terms of stability, the Nothing Phone (2) was surprisingly well-behaved. And the whole UI is incredibly fast and fluid, a real treat on that fast Fluid AMOLED. Sticking to near-stock Android ensures a clean and consistent visual experience. The company's own design choices are measured and tasteful.

Performance and benchmarks

The Nothing Phone (2) brings the one thing many Phone (1) fans wished for last year - a flagship chipset. It's the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, a huge upgrade over the Snapdragon 778G in Phone (1) and the second-best SoC on the market today.

The Snapdragon 8 + Gen 1 on the Nothing Phone (2) is a toned-down version of the original chipset with lower clock speeds on all three core clusters. The main Cortex-X2 core is clocked at 3.0 GHz (instead of 3.2 GHz), the 3x Cortex-A710 cluster runs at 2.5 GHz (instead of 2.75 GHz), and the energy-efficient 4x Cortex-A510 cores are ticking at 1.8 GHz (instead of 2.0 GHz). This should bring down the overall energy demand.

The chipset is still based on TSMC's 4nm manufacturing node and relies on the Adreno 730 GPU for graphically intensive tasks.

The Nothing Phone (2) is available in three memory configurations (UFS 3.1 + LPDDR5X) - 8GB RAM + 128GB storage, 12GB RAM + 256GB storage (ours), and 12GB RAM + 512GB storage.

Nothing Phone (2) review

Let's see some test results now.

The Nothing Phone (2) CPU scores are on par with other SD8+ Gen 1-featuring smartphones and, quite expectedly, below the Zenfone 10 and its SD 8 Gen 2 chip.

Geekbench 5

  • Multi-core
  • Single-core
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
5149
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 512GB, 16GB RAM
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
4338
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 16GB RAM
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
4001
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 8GB RAM
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
3957
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 12GB RAM
Poco F5 Poco F5
3939
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 256GB, 8GB RAM
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
3320
Dimensity 8020 256GB, 8GB RAM
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
3136
Dimensity 9000 256GB, 16GB RAM
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
3024
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G 256GB, 12GB RAM
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
2703
Exynos 1380 128GB, 8GB RAM
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
1483
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 512GB, 16GB RAM
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
1313
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 16GB RAM
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
1275
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 8GB RAM
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
1240
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 12GB RAM
Poco F5 Poco F5
1216
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 256GB, 8GB RAM
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
852
Dimensity 9000 256GB, 16GB RAM
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
820
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G 256GB, 12GB RAM
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
799
Dimensity 8020 256GB, 8GB RAM
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
770
Exynos 1380 128GB, 8GB RAM

The offscreen GPU scores show that Nothing Phone (2) is well-equipped to offer flagship-grade gaming experience on the go.

GFXBench (offscreen)

  • Manhattan ES 3.1 1080p
  • Manhattan ES 3.0 1080p
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
224
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adreno 740 1080 x 2400 px
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
187
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2400 px
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
181
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 3200 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
167
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2412 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
150
Dimensity 9000 Mali-G710 MC10 1240 x 2772 px
Poco F5 Poco F5
136
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 Adreno 725 1080 x 2400 px
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
87
Dimensity 8020 Mali-G77 MC9 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
65
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G Adreno 642L 1080 x 2400 px
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
52
Exynos 1380 Mali-G68 MP5 1080 x 2340 px
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
329
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adreno 740 1080 x 2400 px
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
277
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2400 px
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
271
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 3200 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
232
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2412 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
218
Dimensity 9000 Mali-G710 MC10 1240 x 2772 px
Poco F5 Poco F5
214
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 Adreno 725 1080 x 2400 px
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
133
Dimensity 8020 Mali-G77 MC9 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
93
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G Adreno 642L 1080 x 2400 px
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
79
Exynos 1380 Mali-G68 MP5 1080 x 2340 px

3DMark (offscreen 1440p)

  • Wild Life Vulkan 1.1
  • Wild Life Extreme
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
13507
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adreno 740 1080 x 2400 px
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
10469
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
8809
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2412 px
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
8098
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 3200 px
Poco F5 Poco F5
7524
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 Adreno 725 1080 x 2400 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
7377
Dimensity 9000 Mali-G710 MC10 1240 x 2772 px
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
4476
Dimensity 8020 Mali-G77 MC9 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
2921
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G Adreno 642L 1080 x 2400 px
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
2818
Exynos 1380 Mali-G68 MP5 1080 x 2340 px
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
3682
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adreno 740 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
2449
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2412 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
2360
Dimensity 9000 Mali-G710 MC10 1240 x 2772 px
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
2111
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 3200 px
Poco F5 Poco F5
1961
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 Adreno 725 1080 x 2400 px
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
1261
Dimensity 8020 Mali-G77 MC9 1080 x 2400 px
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
808
Exynos 1380 Mali-G68 MP5 1080 x 2340 px

Unfortunately, the Nothing Phone (2) does not support High Frame Rate gaming, at least not at launch. Maybe it's a BBK thing, but then we should believe that BBK has Nothing to do with Nothing. Right? Right.

GFXBench (onscreen)

  • Aztek ES 3.1 High
  • Aztek Vulkan High
  • Car Chase ES 3.1
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
90
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adreno 740 1080 x 2400 px
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
67
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
59
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2412 px
Poco F5 Poco F5
48
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 Adreno 725 1080 x 2400 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
44
Dimensity 9000 Mali-G710 MC10 1240 x 2772 px
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
39
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 3200 px
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
33
Dimensity 8020 Mali-G77 MC9 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
23
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G Adreno 642L 1080 x 2400 px
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
19
Exynos 1380 Mali-G68 MP5 1080 x 2340 px
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
98
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adreno 740 1080 x 2400 px
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
69
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
55
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2412 px
Poco F5 Poco F5
48
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 Adreno 725 1080 x 2400 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
45
Dimensity 9000 Mali-G710 MC10 1240 x 2772 px
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
41
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 3200 px
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
31
Dimensity 8020 Mali-G77 MC9 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
23
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G Adreno 642L 1080 x 2400 px
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
19
Exynos 1380 Mali-G68 MP5 1080 x 2340 px
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
112
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adreno 740 1080 x 2400 px
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
89
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2400 px
Poco F5 Poco F5
66
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 Adreno 725 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
60
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 2412 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
54
Dimensity 9000 Mali-G710 MC10 1240 x 2772 px
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
50
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Adreno 730 1080 x 3200 px
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
43
Dimensity 8020 Mali-G77 MC9 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
33
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G Adreno 642L 1080 x 2400 px
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
25
Exynos 1380 Mali-G68 MP5 1080 x 2340 px

Finally, the AnTuTu scores are great, but not chart-topping. We guess the 60fps cap may have something to do with lower-than-expected numbers.

AnTuTu

  • v9
  • v10
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
1314458
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 512GB, 16GB RAM 1080 x 2400 px
Asus Zenfone 9 Asus Zenfone 9
1083092
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 16GB RAM 1080 x 2400 px
Poco F5 Pro Poco F5 Pro
1057977
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 8GB RAM 1080 x 3200 px
Poco F5 Poco F5
931174
Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 256GB, 8GB RAM 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
895434
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 12GB RAM 1080 x 2412 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
844865
Dimensity 9000 256GB, 16GB RAM 1240 x 2772 px
Motorola Edge 40 Motorola Edge 40
688347
Dimensity 8020 256GB, 8GB RAM 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (1) Nothing Phone (1)
592789
Snapdragon 778G+ 5G 256GB, 12GB RAM 1080 x 2400 px
Galaxy A54 Galaxy A54
506678
Exynos 1380 128GB, 8GB RAM 1080 x 2340 px
Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 10
1583804
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 512GB, 16GB RAM 1080 x 2400 px
Nothing Phone (2) Nothing Phone (2)
972126
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 256GB, 12GB RAM 1080 x 2412 px
OnePlus Nord 3 OnePlus Nord 3
916086
Dimensity 9000 256GB, 16GB RAM 1240 x 2772 px

And before we wrap this section, let's run some stress tests. The CPU Throttle returned 70% stability, which for a flagship chipset with a passive cooling solution is up to par and not bad at all.

The GPU Stress Test gave us 55%, which is in line with most flagship chipsets that rely on passive cooling systems.

CPU test - Nothing Phone (2) review GPU tests - Nothing Phone (2) review GPU tests - Nothing Phone (2) review
CPU test • GPU tests

The Nothing Phone (2) gets noticeably warm when running at peak performance, but it never got hot. We think the thermals and heat dissipation are done very well here, and we have no complaints.

As far as performance is concerned - the Nothing Phone (2) has the hardware to give you excellence. For some reason, high frame rate gaming is a no-go at launch. Meanwhile, we'd consider the stability is good and the phone reliable, as we saw no issues when running a game for more than 60 minutes.

And one more thing, the Nothing Phone (2) feels incredibly smooth and fast no matter the app or game at hand, the UI is incredibly fluid. Having reviewed a ton of phones, we can safely say the Phone (2) feels like one of the fastest to date.

Reader comments

  • Ravi
  • 19 Feb 2024
  • CbE

Gray looks good

  • V
  • 18 Feb 2024
  • nUv

+ Very nice looking design. - Screen is like scratch magnet - Terrible UI

  • Rabbani
  • 14 Feb 2024
  • X$p

Which colour looks gorgeous? White or Grey? Please answer me