Nothing Phone 2a review: Mid-range marvel

The Nothing Phone 2a punches well above its weight (Image: Nothing)

It’s not perfect, but if you want to spend as little as possible on an Android phone in 2024, the Nothing Phone 2a should be top of your shopping list

What we love

  • Delightful software
  • Very well priced
  • Lightweight build

What we don’t

  • Cameras are just OK
  • Haptics feel cheap
  • Only three years of software updates

UK tech startup Nothing’s third phone is its most compelling yet thanks to a clean, standout design and an aggressively competitive price. At £319 it undercuts Android heavyweights Samsung and Google, while still offering dual cameras, long battery life, and thoughtfully refined software.

If you want a phone that nails all the basics but feels like a breath of fresh air then this could be the phone for you. Sure, it’s a black (or white) Android phone with a big screen and two cameras, but Nothing’s design shines through – sometimes quite literally when the fun Glyph lights are blinking and flashing on the back to show you calls and texts coming through.

At this price you do have to be OK with a plastic back, middling performance and only three years of Android updates, but if you don’t want to spend the earth and want a phone that reminds you they can be fun and playful as well as functional, the Nothing Phone 2a is well worth your consideration.

Nothing Phone 2a review

The Nothing Phone 2a is the cheapest phone yet from the UK tech startup Nothing, but it also feels like its best. While the Phone 1 was under £400 it felt unfinished, and the Phone 2 boosted the price closer to £600 while not adding a whole lot extra.

At £319, the Nothing Phone 2a makes much more sense. It has an attractive transparent design, decent enough specs for most people, a good screen, cameras that get the job done, and – best of all – superb software. Phones at the price often feel slower or less refined than premium handsets, but the Phone 2a’s excellent Android skin makes the device feel more expensive than it is.

It’s not perfect, but if you want to spend as little as possible on an Android phone in 2024, the Nothing Phone 2a should be top of your shopping list.


  • Transparent plastic back
  • Three programmable lights
  • Lightweight

The Phone 2a has a plastic transparent rear casing that feels good under the fingers but does show fingerprints, especially on the black model we reviewed. The plastic coupled with the aluminium frame means this is a refreshingly lightweight phone despite the large screen.

The transparent back shows you some of the phone components, with the dual cameras positioned centrally inside the NFC coil that’s used for mobile payments. The symmetry means the phone doesn’t rock when used on a table, too.

The Nothing Phone 2a has an unusual transparent design (Image: Nothing)

Just like the previous two Nothing phones, there are white LED lights on the back know as Glyph lights. These light up by default when you get calls, texts and notifications, but you can program them to flash for specific apps, contacts and other things. We quite like that there’s only three on the Phone 2a, keeping their use and uniqueness without needing the whole back of the phone covered in them.

… this is a refreshingly lightweight phone despite the large screen

Otherwise, the Phone 2a is quite plain – we prefer the white back and sides of the white version. It’s also only IP54 dust and water resistant, so you don’t want to take it for a dip in the bath or pool. Nothing says it manufactures the phone with a lower carbon footprint than its other phones and uses 100% recycled aluminium in the frame, as well as sourcing more than 50% of plastic parts sustainably.


  • 6.7-inch flat AMOLED
  • Gorilla Glass 5
  • Not very bright

The display is a large 6.7-inch AMOLED with good colour reproduction and touch response. It gets quite bright but using it in direct sunlight can be a little tricky. It’s covered with Gorilla Glass 5, which is protective against scratches and cracks, and Nothing even pre-installs a plastic screen protector – but we found this scratches really easily and makes the phone look scruffy.

Nothing Phone 2a’s screen is sharp but not the brightest (Image: Nothing)

Despite the phone’s price, the screen has an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, meaning things look smooth while saving battery by scaling down the frame rate when not needed. Underneath tje display is a haptic motor for general notifications and keyboard feedback, though it feels a little cheap and hollow (you can hear the motor ping each time you type a letter), but that’s to be expected in a mid-range phone.


  • Dual 50MP sensors
  • Solid main camera in good light
  • Colours can be oversaturated

Something’s got to give for a smartphone to cost £319, and on the Nothing Phone 2a it is mostly the cameras. The company’s Phone 2 costs £579 and has a substantially better shooter (even if it’s still not the best on the market).

We got some perfectly good photos from the Phone 2a, especially outside in good light. If you aren’t too fussed about the camera on your phone, you will be more than happy with this. The best way we can describe it is the camera is fine for casual use, a weekend out or general city snaps, but it’s not a camera we’d want to rely on for precious new baby photos or for a round the world trip of a lifetime.

The cameras on the Phone 2a are fine but not outstanding (Image: Nothing)

Despite capturing good detail the main 50MP sensor struggles to focus sometimes, and results can be blurred in low light despite optical and electronic image stabilisation. The software also tends to up the saturation, artificially boosting blues and greens, though this isn’t unusual in smartphone cameras.

Nothing Phone 2a camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone 2a camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone 2a camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Nothing Phone 2a camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

The 50MP ultra-wide camera is nice to have for group shots or city photography, but there’s no optical zoom lens here – that said, shots from the main camera at 2x are perfectly usable, as is video at up to 4K resolution

Something’s got to give for a smartphone to cost £319, and on the Nothing Phone 2a it is mostly the cameras

Around the front, a centrally placed 32MP front camera is good in a pinch for selfies for social media, with smoothing and lack of detail only obvious when you zoom in.

Overall you won’t be too disappointed with the cameras on the Phone 2a when you remember it costs £319.

Performance and battery life

  • Powerful enough for most people
  • Great battery life
  • At least 8GB RAM and 128GB storage

The Phone 2a has 8GB RAM and 128GB storage as standard, which is good specs for the price. You can also pay £349 and get 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, which is the version we tested – it’ll cope slightly better with multiple apps running or high-end games, and probably will stay working smoother for longer over the next few years.

Both models have the MediaTek 7200 Pro chipset, a mid-range chip that Nothing developed with MediaTek specifically for this phone. The resulting performance is solid as apps load quickly and run well – even high end online games such as Call of Duty: Mobile went without a hitch for us. The phone does skip a beat when you really push it, but you probably won’t notice. You even get Hi-Res audio playback that works nicely with USB-C wired headphones or Nothing’s own Ear 2 wireless buds.

Nothing Phone 2a is lightweight in hand and pocket (Image: Nothing)

There’s no wireless charging but the Phone 2a can charge relatively fast via USB-C at 45W speeds. Nothing includes a USB-C cable in the box but no charging brick, which it will sell to you for £35.

Battery life is very good, as tends to be the case on lower-powered phones such as this one. We easily got a day of use, and you may even get an extra half or whole day out of it if you’re a light user.


  • Android 14
  • Delightful software design
  • Only three years of updates

The software on the Phone 2a encourages you to use your phone less, or at least as a tool rather than a portal to the endless scroll. It’s based on the latest Android 14 software from Google, but Nothing OS is laid over the top. It manages to feel a little retro thanks to the digital clock style of fonts used in places but also looks futuristic and can be minimal in how it tries to help you strip back unneeded distractions.

For example, you can customise your homescreen to just have app icons without the name of the app underneath. Nothing also has its own icon pack to turn apps white or black (depending on if you use light or dark mode), which genuinely takes away the urge to mindlessly tap on apps.

The software makes this phone more enjoyable to use (Image: Nothing)

There are thoughtful additions too such as the media player widget that displays album artwork and pauses music with a single tap, or the pedometer widget with a little stick man that shows how close you are to your step count goal for the day. There are similar features to keep you mindful of how long you’ve been on your phone, and we enjoyed being able to put quick settings such as do not disturb or hotspot on the lock screen or home screen as toggles.

Touches like this are really useful, and a reason to buy the Phone 2a over other Android phones, and it’s great to see an always-on display for the time, weather, notifications, and other customisable information.

… the Nothing Phone 2a proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to get an excellent smartphone

You can also customise how the Glyph lights let you know things – we set the phone to automatically turn on silent mode when placed face down, and then set a light to only come on when our preset favourite contacts text or call, but you can also compose ringtones or use a light to show you a countdown timer as the light strip ebbs away. This can also link to third party apps such as Uber to show when your ride is about to arrive.

As this is a cheaper phone, Nothing is only promising three years of Android updates, but you will get four of security patches. That is about what you’d expect at this price, as though Google and Samsung are now offering up to seven, that’s currently for their more expensive smartphones.

Price and availability

The Nothing Phone 2a costs £319 for the version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. For £349 you can boost that to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, which is worth the spend if you can afford it for the performance and so you don’t run out of storage over the next few years.

This price beats the £449 Google Pixel 7a, which has comparable specs and performance, but does have a considerably better camera than the Phone 2a.

If you like Nothing’s aesthetic but want better cameras and faster performance, the company’s Phone 2 costs £579 – but you don’t get an awful lot more for the extra spend, highlighting what a good deal the Phone 2a is.


The Nothing Phone 2a is a good phone that is so well priced it’s pushed close to great – at £319 it’s one of the best smartphone deals in the UK. It’s a cheap phone with tons of personality and functionality thanks to its unique customisable software.

Performance is more than enough for all but the fussiest phone fans and despite having a plastic back it has the best design chops of any budget or mid-range phone, complete with the flashing Glyph lights found in Nothing’s pricier products.

The cameras are not great, but at this price that’s something you should expect from any phone. On the other hand, they are perfectly serviceable if all you want to do is take a few snaps here and there to post to social media. Unless you really need the best tech available, the Nothing Phone 2a proves you don’t need to spend a fortune to get an excellent smartphone in 2024.

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