The answer to boring budget phones

nothing said its latest device, the Phone 2a, was mid-range telephone. That seems to be true if we look at its specs, which include a 6.5-inch 120Hz OLED display, up to 12GB of RAM, and a massive 5,000mAh battery. But starting at $349, it’s positioned as more of a budget proposal which makes it even more attractive. That’s because in a category where device manufacturers often cut corners to hit a certain price point, the Phone 2a combines solid components with a unique design to deliver a phone that looks good and is a great value. So while there were a few hiccups for potential buyers in the US, the Nothing didn’t make for an attractive option in a sea of ​​boring budget phones.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Featuring a brilliant 120Hz OLED display, excellent battery life and a unique design, the Nothing Phone 2a proves that a good budget phone doesn’t have to be boring.


  • Unique design
  • Great value
  • Light
  • Surprisingly good performance

  • No 5G on AT&T or Verizon
  • No wireless charging
  • The memory capacity is 256 GB

$349 for nothing

Design and display: Definitely different

The aesthetics of nothing is undeniable. It’s inspired by retro 90s gadgets with clear plastic like the old Gameboys, but remixed with a more modern and cohesive finish. This allows you to unobtrusively see a number of its components, such as the NFC antennas (the disk that surrounds the rear cameras). However, the Phone 2a hasn’t changed anything by moving its cameras to the middle, which gives more of a face to the back, while a small red accent provides a pop of color. It’s available in black and white color schemes, the former of which sometimes makes me feel like I’m staring Wall-E emo cousin.

The Nothing Phone 2a model has a 6.5-inch OLED screen with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. The Nothing Phone 2a model has a 6.5-inch OLED screen with a refresh rate of 120 Hz.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Another difference from Nothing’s previous phones is that the Phone 2a has a polycarbonate back instead of glass. Now this may seem like a bad thing, but this device is a reminder of how beautiful plastic can be when it’s done well. Nothing says the phone’s finely rounded edges can’t be done with glass. While I’m not sure this feature is a bona fide selling point, it feels good. Additionally, the choice of material results in something that is lighter than it looks, which is nice compared to traditional glass bricks. The Phone 2a weighs just 6.7 ounces (190 grams), which is less than the 1. Pixel 7a (6.82 oz/193.5 grams) despite the latter boasting a significantly smaller 6.1-inch display.

As for the screen itself, the 6.5-inch OLED panel delivers about 700 nits of vivid colors and surprisingly good brightness, with peaks of up to 1,300 nits during normal use. The only thing I struggled with was the in-display fingerprint reader, which took several registrations to dial before unlocking it each time.

Performance: Good enough for the money

The camera placement on the back of the Phone 2a gives the device a face reminiscent of Wall-E. The camera placement on the back of the Phone 2a gives the device a face reminiscent of Wall-E.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Nothing beats conventional wisdom by choosing a Mediatek Dimensity 7200 Pro chip over something from Qualcomm. Storage starts at 8GB, though the only US configuration has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. And while its Geekbench 6 scores (1,123 single-core and 2,603 ​​multi-core) were a bit behind what I got from the Pixel 7a (1,442 single-core and 3,639 multi-core), it felt snappy and responsive during normal use. The only minor issue is that sometimes browsing websites or social media wasn’t as smooth as compared to more expensive competitors. But if you’re not hoping to do some serious mobile gaming, the Phone 2a has plenty to go around.

Cameras: Better than an average budget phone

The challenge for both budget phone makers and smaller companies like Nothing is keeping up with big names like Samsung and Google. But if you’re not really picky about image quality, the Phone 2a is good enough. Well done on the day you made pictures you wouldn’t be embarrassed to post on social media. Both the main and ultra-wide cameras rely on 50-megapixel sensors that capture warm tones and produce richer color saturation than what I got from the Pixel 7a. However, if you zoom in, you’ll see that Google’s phone delivers slightly sharper photos with more detailed textures. At night, when budget phones struggle a bit more, the Phone 2a’s images were, as expected, slightly darker than similar shots taken with the Pixel 7a, but they still performed. Sometimes Nothing’s images are actually less grainy than Google’s.

Battery life: 5,000 mAh goes a long way

The bottom of the Nothing Phone 2a has a speaker and a USB-C port for charging and data transfer.The bottom of the Nothing Phone 2a has a speaker and a USB-C port for charging and data transfer.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Thanks to its large 5000 mAh battery, the Phone 2a has become one of the best times we’ve seen from a budget phone. In our video review test, it lasted 23 hours and 47 minutes, just shy of the Nothing Phone 2’s 24:25 mark and far better than similarly priced rivals like the Pixel 7a (17:41).

When it comes to charging, while you don’t get support for wireless power (which is understandable on a phone in this price range), the Phone 2a supports up to 45 watts of wired charging, which is faster than some flagship phones. the Pixel 8.

US availability and carrier information

One of the biggest confusions about the Nothing Phone 2a is that while it’s already available online in Europe, people in the US should know that there are a few extra hurdles to jump through. The first is that customers must sign up for the company’s Developer program to purchase one. Thankfully, it’s free to do, and once you do, you’ll get a link to buy the Phone 2a directly from Nothing. Additionally, while the phone supports 5G on T-Mobile via the N41 band, you won’t get any 5G on AT&T or Verizon, which severely limits appeal for people on those networks.


Like many more expensive Android phones, the Phone 2a has an in-display fingerprint sensor. Like many more expensive Android phones, the Phone 2a has an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Engadget

On paper, the Phone 2a has everything I look for in a good budget device. It has a rugged build including IP54 water resistance, a bright display and excellent battery life. While its performance isn’t earth-shattering, it still feels snappy compared to slightly more expensive rivals. But what really elevates the Phone 2a is that it does all this without erasing its personality in the name of cutting costs. No other phone in this price range looks as good. Nothing pays attention to small details like the crisp pseudo-analog sound effects that help combine the phone’s distinctive design with its custom UX and dot-matrix-inspired widgets. I wish the Phone 2a was easier to buy and had better 5G support in the US.

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