Nothing Phone (2) vs Nothing Phone (1): is the massive price jump justified?

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Nothing Phone (2) vs Nothing Phone (1): is it really worth the price jump?

Intro


Nothing announced its second-generation phone, the Nothing Phone (2), so the big question is how the company has improved on its first attempt at making it into the sea of competition that the phone market is.

The change that probably stands out the most is the jump in price. The first Nothing phone launched at €469 in Europe, going for $299 during its U.S. release via a beta program. The Nothing Phone (2), however, entered the States immediately and in full swing with double the price at $599.

Of course, it would be difficult to sell the phone if it didn't have anything to show in return for that higher price. Thankfully, we have new main and selfie cameras, faster charging, some slight improvements to the display, but most notably of all — a much more powerful flagship-level chipset.

Other than that, the two phones are very similar. Despite the new primary camera, image quality seems to be only slightly better. The design has also remained mostly the same, albeit with some slight changes and enhancements related to the signature Glyph lighting system on the back.

Nothing Phone (2) vs Nothing Phone (2) in a nutshell:
  • Much faster chip
  • Brighter, larger, and more power-efficient display
  • Faster charging
  • Improved main camera
  • Glyph system gets more uses

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

Slight but meaningful improvements

At first glance, you probably won't notice anything that sets the Phone (2) from the Phone (1) too much apart, but several impactful design changes affect the user experience to some extent.

Now, the Phone (2) is ever so slightly larger and heavier, but Nothing has improved the ergonomics to make it more comfortable to hold. In particular, we are talking about the slight curves of the glass panel on the back as it reaches the edges of the frame.

One thing we noticed on the Phone (2) during our review was that it is highly slippery, something that wasn't as apparent with its predecessor from last year.

The Glyph interface that makes the two Nothing Phones stand out from the crowd has also been improved with the Phone (2), which now has more LED lights and therefore a higher level of customization. Now you can track things like a timer or delivery with one of the lights functioning as a progress bar, or assign a very specific notification to be presented via one of the Glyph LEDs on the back.


The color options remain only black and white, although the black is now more of a dark gray than anything else.

When it comes to the displays, the Phone (2) gets a slightly larger 6.7-inch one, compared to the 6.5-inch screen on the Phone (1). But there is more! The new Nothing phone's display is also LTPO, meaning it can reduce its refresh rate down to just 1Hz, making it much more power efficient. The brightness has also increased on the new model, so it is easier to read in bright light.

Display Measurements:



The fingerprint scanner on both phones is an optical one, and while it does seem to be accurate, we think that it is just a bit too slow for the price at this point.

Performance and Software

Flagship-level of performance

Performance is without a doubt the one front on which the Nothing Phone (2) has the Nothing Phone (1) beat by a landslide! The jump to the high-end flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor from Qualcomm has brought the new generation much closer to competing with other flagship phones currently on the market. Of course, there's a much higher price to consider too.

Now, for those of you who are more enthusiastic about mobile phones and hardware, you are probably already thinking to yourself that the new chipset is an outdated one, given that it came out in 2022, and you would be right. However, that doesn't make it a bad option.

In fact, it seems like the perfect choice if the company is aiming to create a flagship killer and compete with the big boys! That's because it offers very similar top-notch performance while still keeping the cost lower than it would have been had Nothing gone for the latest and greatest of Android silicon.

Now, the Nothing Phone (1) was a pleasant daily driver. Throughout our time with the phone, it mostly performed quite well during everyday use, including navigating the UI, browsing the web, and playing games. There were some hiccups here and there, but we couldn't complain.

With the Nothing Phone (2), everything is simply much quicker and snappier. That means less time needed for installing apps, carrying out processes like editing photos and videos, faster loading for games, and more. You also have the ease of mind that the chip would remain viable for longer compared to the mid-range Snapdragon 778G+ in the first generation.

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Nothing Phone(2)1658
Nothing Phone(1)1035
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Nothing Phone(2)4358
Nothing Phone(1)2933
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)2674
Nothing Phone(1)769
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)1654
Nothing Phone(1)761

Nothing released its second phone with the latest Nothing OS 2.0 update that's based on Android 13, which is also coming to the Phone (1) by the end of August. Some of the more notable changes with this update include making all apps monochrome by default, or improved homescreen folders that function as small app drawers, and what we found most useful — quick toggles on the lockscreen for settings that you usually have to access via the notifications shade.

Nothing has promised 3 years of major software updates and 4 years of security patches for its phones, which means that the Phone (1) should continue to be updated until Android 15 in 2024, while the Phone (2) until Android 16 in 2025.

Camera

Zooming in is actually good now

Both the Phone (1) and Phone (2) come with a 50MP main camera, but the latter actually is upgraded with a new Sony IMX890 image sensor. The ultra-wide camera is the same 50MP one.

What truly makes a difference is the addition of Qualcomm's high-end Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor. Having that powerful chipset in the equation allows the Nothing Phone (2), unlike its predecessor, to crop in on the main camera sensor to achieve a 2x Super-Res zoom, which retains image quality. The Phone (1) on the other hand can only digitally zoom in on the image, quickly losing detail.

The one issue that seems to persist is the rather bad HDR performance. Shooting with any of the three cameras (including the front-facing one) in HDR mode seems to be a total gamble. In fact, most of the time the results are unsatisfactory. From flatly exposed shots to white bloom around subjects, there are plenty of examples showing that Nothing still has some work to do with its image processing software.

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The selfie camera has also been upgraded with a new 32MP sensor, compared to the 16MP one on the Phone (1).

Main Camera - Day




One difference we can spot that has changed with the Nothing Phone (2) is that there is less sharpening being applied to the image, making it look more natural.

Main Camera - Low-light




The images from the Phone (2) definitely muster up more light from the scene, so it seems the new Sony sensor powering the main camera comes with the ability to capture more light. Details and colors also seem to be better.

Zoom Quality




That new lossless 2x crop in on the main image sensor is definitely visible, even beyond the 2x zoom range. Going as far as 8x zoom on the Nothing Phone (2) seems to still provide an okay image as long as there is good light.

Portrait Mode




The portrait mode on the Phone (2) is much improved compared to the Phone (1), again, probably thanks to the new chipset. Initially, Nothing had made it possible to shoot in Portrait mode only via the ultra-wide camera, but you can now also use this feature while shooting with the 2x zoom, making for a much better portrait.

Ultra-wide Camera




There might not be any hardware changes for the ultra-wide camera, but it seems that Nothing has altered some settings and optimized the one on the Phone (2) compared to the Phone (1).

Selfies




The new 32MP selfie camera on the Phone (2) definitely shows its there, with images appearing with much more detail.


Audio Quality and Haptics


Both Nothing phones come with dual speakers. If you were expecting some improvements here though, you might be a bit disappointed. Just like with the previous model, the Nothing Phone (2) can produce very clear-sounding audio, but it lacks richness and depth. In other words, you would probably find it easy to enjoy some podcasts or YouTube videos, but listening to music could leave you wanting more.

Haptics, on the other hand, continue to be superb with Nothing's latest phone. They are sharp, precise, and strong, pairing up perfectly with the iconic Glyph system on the back panel.

Battery Life and Charging

Noticeably faster charging

The second generation Nothing Phone comes with a slightly larger battery with a capacity of 4700 mAh compared to the 4,500 mAh inside the Nothing Phone (1). However, we did not see that much of a difference when it came to battery life, except in one area that was a bit problematic with the first generation.

At the end of the day, the Nothing Phone (2) will probably last most users a little more than a day, which is more than enough by today's standards.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)10h 14 min
Nothing Phone(1)10h 13 min
Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)15h 59 min
Nothing Phone(1)12h 28 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)5h 27 min
Nothing Phone(1)3h 58 min

During our web browsing and video streaming tests, the two phones performed as equals, but it was in our 3D Gaming battery life test that we noticed a significant jump. This is likely a result of the new Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset inside the Nothing Phone (2), which is much better at power efficiency than the Snapdragon 778G+ that's featured with last year's model.

The charging speed has increased with the Nothing Phone (2), going up from 33W to 45W. Wireless charging remains at 15W, and the phone still supports reverse wireless charging too. Unfortunately, while the new model comes with a cool transparent USB-C cable, it still does not have a charger.

Specs Comparison


For a more detailed look, check out our Nothing Phone (2) vs Nothing Phone (1) specs comparison page.


Mostly, the differences you can spot between the Nothing Phone (2) and Nothing Phone (1) if you look at their spec sheets are quite small with one very obvious exception, the processor. Likely the most responsible upgrade for the increase in price, the new Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Qualcomm chipset included in Nothing's latest phone should offer a much higher level of performance and better power efficiency.

Of course, there are other notable improvements like the jump to 45W charging speeds, a slightly larger display and battery, and a third option with 512GB of internal storage (neither phone has expandable storage).

Summary and Final Verdict


The Nothing Phone (1) was already a great mid-range device, especially given the fact that it came with a price tag which perfectly matched what it offered. The Nothing Phone (2), however, is a bit of a tougher sell when you factor in its starting price, which is double that of last year's model.

Truth be told, most of what has improved with the Phone (2) has to do with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. Now, yes, it is a far superior chipset that is capable of much more than the Snapdragon 778G+ in the Phone (1), but it acts more as a futureproofing. The Nothing Phone (1), apart from a few hiccups here and there, was still perfectly capable of most tasks and scenarios.

So, it all boils down to how much you need that extra horsepower. There is a feel for diminishing returns when it comes to the price-to-performance ratio. That being said, there is also the fact that the Phone (2) is newer, which means an extra year of software support.

Yeah, besides the faster processor, you also get some other minor upgrades, but that's just what they are — minor. Nothing has promised 3 years of OS updates, so you can at least wait and see what the company comes up with next year if you want to stick to Nothing phones. Hopefully, the price remains the same as this year, but with even more meaningful changes to justify it.

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