Nothing Phone Test (2): Alice That Glyph

Following the success of its first smartphone, Nothing is trying again with a Phone (2) just unveiled.

Nothing Phone Test (2): Alice That Glyph

Following the success of its first smartphone, Nothing is trying again with a Phone (2) just unveiled. We were able to try it exclusively before its release, and we reveal our Nothing Phone test (2).

For those who are not yet familiar with Nothing, let's do a little recap. This very young company, created in 2020 by Carl Pei, former CEO of OnePlus, Nothing aims to "make tech fun again" with different products that stand out from the current tech landscape. After the release of its first product, the Ear (1) (which we tested at the editorial office), Nothing unveiled and released its very first smartphone: the Phone (1). A device as surprising as it is convincing, and which we generally appreciated at Linternaute.

It was at the end of a major Keynote conference that Nothing unveiled its brand new smartphone for the year 2023: the Phone (2). The latter comes with improved performance, but also a significant price increase compared to the first model which surprised us last year. An astonishing decision when we know that the Phone (1) had precisely the big advantage of being both efficient and inexpensive. Check out our full review of Nothing's new Phone (2).

How to approach a product from Nothing without mentioning the question of design. Although this concept is specific to everyone (taste and color ...), we must recognize without detours that the design of the Phone (2) is completely out of received ideas compared to a classic Android smartphone that we could test from These days.

And yet, the design of the Phone (2) has only subtle references to its predecessor. First of all, the transparent back of the device is now curved, which makes it easier to hold the phone in everyday life. Some small elements have also been changed from the Phone (1), but nothing that really catches the eye.

The layout of the Glyph system (set of small LEDs placed on the back of the phone) has also been revised. The Glyph system of the Phone (2) thus has more specific locations than its predecessor, which is very interesting for certain uses (battery, timer, grocery delivery, etc.) that we will discuss in a few lines

The edges of the Phone (2) still have an aluminum frame that looks great and is very pleasant to the touch. The power and volume buttons are distributed on either side of the smartphone, which can unfortunately hinder one-handed use.

On the front side, we have a 6.7-inch panel with a fingerprint sensor placed at the bottom of the screen and a selfie camera now placed in the center (when that of the Phone (1) was housed at the top left ). Little evolution on this side therefore, and you should always have the impression of dealing with an iPhone by looking at the front of the Phone (2).

Let's talk about the Phone screen (2). The panel of the first model had been a nice little surprise with an OLED screen with a refresh rate of 120 Hz (non-adaptive).

This last data is already modified on the Phone (2) since it is possible to choose between a rate of 60 Hz or 120 Hz locked or to leave a display which adapts automatically. What gain in fluidity, but especially in autonomy by lowering the refresh rate when you do not need a high value (reading a text does not really require the constant use of a rate of 120 Hz).

The Phone screen (2) is in line with its predecessor: bright for everyday use and easily readable even when in direct sunlight. A sometimes complicated exercise as we saw in our test of the latest Motorola Razr Ultra. The colors of the Phone screen (2) are also very well transcribed with controlled contrast and deep blacks.

Note that the Phone (2) offers two display modes for its colors, as is often the case on Android devices: "natural" and "vivid". It is this last configuration which is chosen by default when the device is first switched on and which will significantly increase the contrast of the colors displayed. It's up to you to see if you prefer a duller rendering (but also more realistic) by choosing the "natural" mode.

When Nothing announced that its next smartphone would feature a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, we were pretty worried. This choice implies in particular an increase in the price of the components (and therefore of the telephone), but also raised some questions following the problems of overheating of this chip.

Let's put an end to the worries right away: the Nothing Phone (2) does not suffer from any heating problem. Used for more than a week with various resource-intensive applications (Genshin Impact, Tower of Fantasy, Call of Duty Mobile...), we never felt any significant heating within the smartphone. This is what reassures us about the optimization of this chip and the life of the components.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor is also excellent for displaying your favorite games with good image quality and smoothness. If the Phone (2) from Nothing is not the best Android smartphone for gaming, it is definitely a good choice to enjoy many games with good graphics. However, do not expect to push the settings to the maximum under penalty of observing many slowdowns.

Like the firm's first smartphone, the Phone (2) has an in-house overlay called Nothing OS. For the release of this new product, the company notably unveiled version 2.0 of this operating system which adds several small improvements.

When you first turn on the Phone (2), you have the option of choosing between a classic launcher or the one from Nothing. The latter is clearly distinguished by its resolutely "geeky" display with its pixelated icons and widgets. The animations are fluid and browsing our applications with the Phone (2) is a real pleasure. In particular, it is possible to group together several applications within the same icon, the logo of which can be chosen. The firm has also pushed the experience to include small animations when the phone is locked with the screen gradually fading towards the power button. The kind of little details that we appreciate.

Introduced with Nothing's first phone, the Glyph system is based on a set of LEDs integrated into the back of the device and able to light up according to your notifications or applications. The Phone (2) revises this layout a bit by integrating many more slots dedicated to the Glyph system. The good news is that these changes are not only aesthetic since they allow the Phone (2) to have some small new features regarding its Glyph system.

First of all, let's specify the return of our favorite tools from the Glyph system: it is always possible to use it as a "Ring Light" to brighten up your photo subjects. The slot at the bottom of the phone also lights up when you charge the device to measure the percentage of battery currently available. Finally, it's always possible to set notifications to play a pre-selected set of lights to suit your tastes. Enough to leave your Phone (2) on your desk while keeping an eye on your notifications.

These now have an improvement with locked notifications. By selecting the most important applications to monitor, your Phone (2) will leave the LED in the upper right corner permanently lit until you have consulted the notifications of said applications. The hoop-shaped LED in the upper right corner now supports the Uber app to gradually light up based on your driver's remaining journey to your location. A very gimmicky addition (which clearly lacks precision), but we appreciate this effort by Nothing to open up to other third-party editors.

Original design, improved Glyph system, good quality screen, excellent performance... Reading these lines, we would be tempted to believe that the Nothing Phone (2) is approaching flawlessness. This is unfortunately not the case when we approach its photography part.

The photos of the Phone (1) were quite correct, a phone sold around 500 euros. After a big move upmarket with a price axing around 600-700 euros, the Phone (2) is expected at the turn on its photo component... And is a little disappointing.

In broad daylight and when the ideal conditions are met, the Phone's camera (2) manages to deliver nice results, but which clearly lack "spiciness". The shots lack detail, especially when you zoom in on the photo. Colors are also faint at times and lack contrast depending on the available light and your subject. If the result is not disastrous for all that, the comparison with the competition (in particular the Google Pixel 7 sold at the same price) is quite bad overall.

We still welcome the portrait mode which automatically applies a Bokeh (blur) effect around your subject to bring out the latter. The results are generally satisfactory with a rather well-managed management of elements that are often complicated to locate and trim (such as hair, body hair or fine grass).

At night, the defects of the main sensor are even more felt. The digital processing of the Phone (2) strongly accentuates the smoothing of the photos to make them more readable, but to the detriment of the details. The result is a lot of vagueness on certain subjects (in particular texts and inscriptions). The Phone (2) will also force its digital processing to lighten the scenes too much, giving the impression that some photos are taken in broad daylight. Note also that the night mode takes a long time to trigger (between 2 and 4 seconds depending on the ambient light), which can quickly make you miss a good photo.

The Nothing Phone (2) has a dual stereo speaker to manage the sound that emanates from the device. Tested with different streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Netflix, Twitch...), we must admit that the Nothing smartphone is fun to use to listen to music or enjoy our favorite videos. The sound quality is at the rendezvous with fairly decent bass and well transcribed mids and highs. The Nothing Phone (2) will unfortunately not be well suited to set the mood in the evening since its dual loudspeaker tends to saturate when the audio is pushed too far.

Nothing has equipped its Phone (2) with three microphones for its communications. Although we will come back to these in more detail in a few lines, they are of rather good quality for transcribing your conversations and recording audio. Note that the Phone (2) does not have a Jack socket. You will therefore need to bring a wireless device to take full advantage of the phone's audio or record yourself with an external microphone.

The Phone (2) is equipped with a 4700 mAh battery, ie 200 mAh more than for the previous generation which already showed honorable results on autonomy. The result does not disappoint: we were pleasantly surprised for the autonomy of the Phone (2). Unplugged in the morning around 9am, the phone still had a little more than 50% battery in the evening around 6pm. We had then used it all day with reading emails, messages, a few phone calls, videos on YouTube and a little game on Genshin impact. The Phone (2) should therefore allow you to easily last a day and a half, or even two if you limit its use.

The good news about the Phone (2) is that the charging cable is still included in the box! The latter is also adorned with a small transparent coating in the image of the visual identity of Nothing. However, you will always have to find a charging block (knowing that the Phone (2) is compatible with fast charging up to 45 W). Allow just under an hour to fully charge the Phone (2), which is average for phones on the market.

Tested for a little over a week as the main smartphone, the Nothing Phone (2) didn't cause us any problems with communications and connections. We used the phone with a 4G plan as well as local (and corporate) Wi-Fi and had no problems with connections.

Communications made with the Phone (2) are clear and all our conversations were perfectly audible, whether for us or our listeners. The smartphone manages ambient noise well in order to keep your conversations audible although it also fails to do wonders if your environment is particularly hectic.

What can we say except that our feelings with Nothing's Phone (2) remain mixed. Let's be clear: this is a very good smartphone, especially if you adhere to the design of the device and its in-house software overlay. Nothing has done a great job on its flagship's design, screen and battery life while adding a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip that helps the smartphone establish itself as a good gaming device.

Unfortunately, this addition also means a substantial price hike over the first generation. Displayed at the price of 679 euros (in its basic configuration), the Phone (2) rubs shoulders with competitors like the Google Pixel, which is all about photography. It is precisely this part which will have left us on our hunger with clichés, certainly usable, but which lack details.

At a price of 679 euros, we would therefore recommend a Google Pixel (with the best photos but too little autonomy) or a Nothing Phone (2) (or an older Samsung Galaxy) which will be a little more balanced overall of its characteristics.