Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7: budget, with character

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Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7: budget, with character

Intro


In 2023, fledgling company Nothing released its second smartphone... uh — the Nothing Phone (2). Truly upgrading over the concept of the Nothing Phone (1) the second edition is closer to the definition of "flagship" — now sporting a powerful processor in the form of Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. Admittedly, that's the best chip from a year before the Phone (2) released, but that doesn't make a slouch, not one bit. And it helps that it keeps the price of the device down.

Yep, the Phone (2) remains competitively priced, starting at $600. This puts it in the same price bracket as Google's own affordable flagship from 2022 — the Pixel 7. The latter is still being sold by Google, also starting at $600.

Both phones have OLED screens with high refresh rates, dual cameras, very distinct and quirky designs, and a snappy Android interface. So, which one is the better choice for you?

Short answer and quick spoiler — if you want the best camera for your money, the Pixel 7 is it here. But if you are willing to do with an "OK" camera while enjoying a slightly different take on the modern smartphone and fresh "out of the box" thinking with software — you may find the Phone (2) appealing. Let's dive in!

Nothing Phone (2)
6.4

Nothing Phone (2)


The Good

  • Unique, quirky, interesting design
  • Good display and performance at great price point
  • Nothing OS offers great homescreen customization

The Bad

  • Speakers are a bit tinny
  • The UI needs more reskinning to keep the feel consistent throughout phone
  • Camera improvements are noted, but it still needs work
Google Pixel 7
5.9

Google Pixel 7


The Good

  • Compact and friendly design
  • Bright display
  • Excellent $599 starting price
  • Overall good image quality with the signature Pixel look
  • Good battery life

The Bad

  • Ultra-wide camera is still not wide enough
  • Some camera quirks and shutter lag
  • Not very inspiring performance-wise

Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7 in a nutshell:
  • Nothing Phone (2) has a bigger screen (6.7 in vs 6.3 in)
  • Nothing Phone (2) has a higher refresh rate (120 Hz vs 90 Hz)
  • Nothing's camera output is not as good as the Pixel's
  • Nothing's battery life is slightly better
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a faster processor than the Google Tensor G2
  • The Nothing OS and design of the Phone (2) put an emphasis on "detaching" from the digital world
  • Google's Pixel phones have exclusive Assistant features, Magic photo editor, new AI features coming (presented at Google I/O)

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

Nothing is this big


So, we have two quirky looking devices that definitely have a lot of character to them. The Nothing Phone (2) comes in black or white, that's it, and it has this array of LED lights on its back. They are there because the company hopes that (and actively entices you to) you will keep the Nothing Phone (2) face-down when not in use, and rely on those LEDs to get your notifications. The point is to "keep tech at bay" so to speak, to not allow notifications and apps distract us from our daily lives.

The Google Pixel 7 takes a slightly different approach. It also has a lot of recognizability and character with its camera bar on the back, but wants to be a colorful and joyful accessory — especially with the off-kilter-but-fresh Lemongrass color (the other two options are, again, black and white).

Both devices are protected by Gorilla Glass — Glass 5 on the Nothing's front and back, Victus on the Pixel 7 (Victus is newer and supposedly tougher). 

The Nothing Phone (2) has some upgrades over its predecessor, with a slightly bigger screen and slimmer bezels. So, it now has a 6.7-inch OLED screen, same size as an iPhone 14 Plus, for example — it's big. But, unlike the iPhone 14 Plus, it also has a 120 Hz refresh rate, so it's smooth and snappy.

The Google Pixel 7 is a bit smaller device, with a 6.3-inch screen — if you enjoy a more compact smartphone, this is pretty much where you should stop reading and order that Pixel. But it's a 90 Hz screen — we don't mind that, as we find that anything above 60 Hz will improve the user experience immensely, while the difference between 90 Hz and 120 Hz is not that huge. But still, bragging rights are bragging rights, and Nothing has them here.

Both are 1080p screens, giving you roughly about 400 PPI on each panel — rest assured they are both plenty sharp. And we've got 1600 nits peak brightness on the Phone (2) and 1400 nits on the Pixel 7 — both are HDR10 compliant.

Display Measurements:



Both of these phones employ in-screen optical fignerprint scanners. The one in the Nothing Phone (2) seems to be a tad slower to react than the Pixel's — it's not unreliable, as it still unlocks the phone every time, but we do find it to take a smidgen of a second longer to scan.

Performance and Software

Snapdragon still beats Tensor in raw performance


Google's Tensor chips are not made for raw performance — they have separate cores that are responsible for AI and image processing. This way, Google puts emphasis on the core experiences of the Pixel phones, and puts its strengths forward.

Thus, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 from 2022 is still the faster chip than the Google Tensor G2.

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Nothing Phone(2)1658
Google Pixel 71452
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Nothing Phone(2)4358
Google Pixel 73318
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)2674
Google Pixel 71854
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)1654
Google Pixel 71521

Is this an issue in real life? We'd say no — the Pixel 7 runs just fine and does what it's supposed to. If we put future proofing into the argument, then sure — we can see how buying the Nothing Phone (2) can give you some extra peace of mind for the upcoming years. And yes, if gaming is your focus here, the Nothing Phone (2) is a better pick — bigger screen and faster performance is exactly what mobile gamers like.

Both phones start at 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage at their base tiers — that's still good in 2024, especially for their price points, but you can still upgrade to higher tier options with both phones.

The software is the fun part — we have very light UIs here. Well, in the Pixel's case — it's basically Google's Android the way the company wants it to be, right? And in Nothing's case — we see more of that "clear apps and brands from your homescreen" type of thing.

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OK, so, both of these ship with Android 13 right now. The Pixel 7 has the enhanced Google Assistant features, where you can have the AI screen calls from unknown numbers, voice message transcriptions, Hold For Me and Direct My Call, and the editor's Face Unblur, Photo Unblur, Magic Eraser, Magic Editor — it's a lot, and it's all cool.


Nothing's take on Android is very simplistic — it wants to be monochrome, it wants to be non-intrusive. If you choose the Nothing pack, any app you download from the Play Store will have a small, monochrome icon. The company's explanation is that it wants to give users the choice to clean up "company branding" from their homescreens. It's a bit weird to get used to at first, but once you arrange your homescreen the way you like and understand it, it gets easier.

Speaking of which, we also enjoy the Nothing UI's extra-large folder sizes for the homescreen — these are widget-sized folders where you can tap on the apps inside without opening the actual folder. They help you hold more apps on a single homescreen, arranging them by use and need.

As for support, the Pixel 7 will be getting Android updates until "at least" October, 2025, and security patches until late 2027. The Nothing Phone (2) will be getting Android updates until July 2026 and security patches until the summer of 2027. So, pretty close in terms of sustained support for both.

Nothing also keeps adding small features and quality-of-life improvements for anyone that's buying into the ecosystem. Most recently, we got a detailed EQ control for the excellent Nothing Ear (2) earbuds, which we happen to like a lot.

Camera

The Pixel simply has the chops


Nothing upgraded its 50 MP main camera with a new Sony IMX890 sensor and worked hard to employ the Snadpragon 8 Gen 1's chops for photo post-processing. Supposedly, the Nothing Phone (2) should have better camera performance than the Phone (1). And it does, but it still doesn't beat the Pixel.

OK, raw stats:



Main Camera - Day




For the most part, we really enjoy the Phone (2)'s camera — the colors are close to reality, even though they have some extra saturation applied for more of a "wow" factor. Also, we really like the balance between sharpening and noise reduction — nothing seems to be over the top here.

Where the Phone (2) really struggles is dynamics — it can burn out and it can crush shadows. And, when it takes an HDR shot, it's not uncommon that you will see very prominent HDR auras — check out the white aura around the tree in Sample 2, it's not present on the Pixel 7.

So yes, the Pixel — as per usual — is much better at taming dynamics. Some might argue that this makes very punchy scenes look "flattened", and that's valid — taste here is king.

As the sun comes down, we can see Google's algorithms reigning supreme. Some dislike the Pixel's ability to "turn night into day" — yes, it's sometimes a bit too much. But in more balanced scenes, where we actuall have light sources, the Pixel is able to pull out more details from the shadows while staying well under control around the highlights.

That said, the Nothing Phone (2) is not trailing far behind and also gave us pretty serviceable shots, considering this is the middle of the night here.

Zoom Quality



The Nothing Phone (2) can actually zoom up to 10x, but the Pixel 7 caps out at 8x, so we compare them up to 8x. Google's SuperRes seems to be doing better here, where the Nothing photos seem a bit soft. In the first zoom sample, we prefer the details from the Pixel for sure. Then, on the second zoom sample — the Pixel photo seems too oversharpened, it's starting to look like a drawing. Unfortunately, on that scene, the Nothing Phone (2) kind of burnt the highlights, so we can't exactly call it a winner.

Ultra-wide Camera




The Nothing Phone (2) does have a slightly wider angle on its ultra-wide camera, allowing you to get more into your epic landscape shots. However, some abberations can be seen the further away you go from the photo's center, and the HDR is again — not perfect.

The Pixel's ultra-wide camera is more of a wide+ camera — at 0.7x zoom it barely increases the scope of the viewfinder. In any case, the photos are well balanced and colorful.

Selfies




The 32 MP selfie camera of the Nothing Phone (2) captures great detail — as unflattering as it may be. It's sharp, and colors are accurate, including skintones.
Google's Pixels also put a lot of weight to getting skintones right, however, the aggressive HDR can still make faces look a bit off-kilter in specific scenarios. However, when the sun goes down — the Pixel 7 wins with a better night mode, pulling more details from faces where the Nothing's selfie camera starts to wash out.

Audio Quality and Haptics


The stereo speakers of the Nothing Phone (2) sound... good — they have a good amount of bass, not a ton of meat and details in the mids, and sparkling high end that doesn't get very harsh. As you raise the volume, you can hear compression come in and crush your tracks, so you probably won't be listening to a lot of music through them, but they do the job just well for YouTube videos, for example.

The Pixel 7's speakers are more honky in the mids, but unfortunately don't provide a lot of detail there. More like a garbled, compressed sound. So... OK, we'd prefer to listen to music through the Nothing's speakers instead of the base Pixel 7's.

As for haptics — both of these phones are absolutely on point, with lovely, clicky, responsive vibration.

Battery Life and Charging

Charger in the box? You get Nothing!


The Nothing Phone (2) has a 4,700 mAh cell, which is slightly lower than the 5,000 mAh that flagships commonly get nowadays (especially at that size). We assume those fancy LEDs do take some room. In any case, we find the phone to last us perfectly well throughout the day. Especially if we use it the way Nothing wants us to — face-down, and in controlled bursts.

The Pixel 7 has a 4,355 mAh battery in its smaller body. This does well with the 90 Hz screen and lower-power Tensor G2, so it too can last you comfortably through the day and into the night. Here are our benchmark results:

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)10h 14 min
Google Pixel 79h 13 min
Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)15h 59 min
Google Pixel 713h 56 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)5h 27 min
Google Pixel 74h 43 min

None of these phones come with a charger in the box. They do, however, support fast chargers — 45 W for the Nothing, 20 W for the Pixel. For wireless charging, the Nothing Phone (2) supports 15 W, the Pixel 7 — 20 W, with select special chargers. And then, both devices have "reverse wireless charging" where they can give off a small amount of power to top up your earphones or smartwatch.

Specs Comparison


Here's an overview of the main specs of the Nothing Phone (2) and Google Pixel 7. Alternatively, you can visit our full Nothing Phone (2) vs Pixel 7 specs sheet comparison.



Summary and Final Verdict



So, which of these phones is... "better"?

We dare say that both of them are amazing deals at $600. The Pixel has that dependable Google support behind it, amazing camera work, and the special Google Assistant. The Nothing Phone (2) comes from a company that is still brand-new to the smartphone... nay, to the tech world... Wait, to the world itself.

But it's a solid new entry — the Phone (2) built and improved upon what the Phone (1) was and it's hard to neglect. It's a pretty solid smartphone with great performance and a very interesting proposition with its homescreen customization and heavy reliance on this "new" type of notifications.

If you want to go with the tried and true, the Pixel is the better choice. If you are feeling a bit adventurous — go ahead and give the Phone (2) a spin, we expect it won't disappoint you.



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