Nothing Phone (2) vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus: Which one should you get?

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Nothing Phone (2) vs Galaxy S23+

Intro


Nothing Phone (2), the latest and greatest phone coming out of Carl Pei's new Nothing undertaking, is now official and definitely ready to start taking names. One of those is the superb Galaxy S23 Plus, an Android contender that passes as middle-of-the-range flagship phone these days and embodies the best of Samsung's achievements in the classic phone form factor, barring the Galaxy S23 Ultra cherry on top of it all. 

Both phones are dwelling in the relatively affordable flagship price range. You can get either the Galaxy S23 Plus or the Nothing Phone (2) without breaking the bank, and while there are certainly different target audiences for either phone, potential buyers could definitely happen to wonder in which fresh Android trooper to invest.

In this comparison review, we will be juxtaposing the Nothing Phone (2) versus the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus in various areas with the goal of finding which one's better overall. Essential elements like display, design, camera, battery life and charging will all be scrutinized in this review.

Galaxy S23+ is available at Amazon

The Galaxy S23+ with 256GB of built-in storage arrives at its standard price, but you can trade-in an eligible device for up to $240 off. Limited quantities are available.

Nothing Phone (2) vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus in a nutshell:
  • 6.7-inch vs 6.6-inch display size
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy 
  • 128GB vs 256GB base storage version
  • Adreno 730 vs Adreno 740 GPU
  • Dual (50MP+50MP) vs Triple (50MP+10MP+12MP) rear camera setup
  • 32MP vs 10MP selfie camera
  • 4K@60fps vs 8K@30fps video recording
  • IP54 vs IP68 
  • $599 vs $999 starting price

Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

The big boys on the block


The size difference between the Nothing Phone (2) and the Galaxy S23 Plus isn't that stark. Both phones have mostly similar footprints given that the display size discrepancy is marginal. The Nothing Phone (2) stands at 6.38 x 3.01 x 0.34 inches (162.1 x 76.4 x 8.6 mm), while the Galaxy S23 is marginally more compact at 6.21 x 3.00 x 0.30 inches (157.8x76.2x7.6mm). 

The Samsung phone is thinner, shorter, and narrower by a little, but you probably wouldn't notice that. The Galaxy S23 Plus weighs 6.91 oz (196.0 g), while its contender tips the scales at 7.10 oz (201.2 g). 

Both phones are aluminum/glass sandwiches, though the Nothing Phone (2) is noticeably more slippery than the Galaxy S23 Plus, so you will probably have to be a tad more careful when handling it, especially without a case on. 


That said, Nothing's new phone has a slightly curved back, which makes it ergonomically pleasing and doesn't really cave into your palm like the Nothing Phone (1) did. The same is generally true about the Galaxy S23 Plus as well: although its front and back are completely flat, the slightly curved side frame makes up for that and boosts the ergonomics. 

In terms of durability, the Galaxy S23 Plus is the easy winner, having a very decent IP68 rating, which means it can be submerged underwater for long amounts of time without the risk of damage. Meanwhile, the Nothing Phone (2) "only" has an IP54 rating, making it splash-proof from any angle, but nothing more, so you'd be wise to keep it clear of pools, lakes, and other deep water bodies.

In terms of colors, the Nothing Phone (2) is available in the classic Black and White, while the Galaxy S23 Plus has a lot more variety in store: Phantom Black, Green, Lavender, and Cream, as well as the Samsung.com-exclusive Lime and Graphite. 

However, the Nothing Phone (2) has a signature design aspect that the Galaxy simply can't emulate––the customizable and intriguing Glyph Interface. With significantly more LEDs at the rear of the device, the phone can now display sophisticated patterns and even progress bars, as well as show you custom notifications with intricate visual-taptic sequences. Neat, but possibly gimmicky depending on your unique needs.


When it comes to the display, the two aren't that different. Sure, the Nothing Phone (2) technically sports a larger 6.7-inch OLED display in comparison with the 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen on the Galaxy S23 Plus, but the display technology is mostly the same, so color fidelity, maximum brightness and viewing angles are pretty comparable between the two devices. 

Both phones have LTPO displays. This fancy initialism essentially means these Android phones have very smooth screens with refresh rates that can range between 1Hz and 120Hz depending on the on-screen context. A pretty standard flagship feature these days, so all is good!

In terms of maximum brightness, another vital aspect of a screen, the differences between the Nothing Phone and the Galaxy aren't that big, with both in the ballpark of 1,000 nits. Our display tests give the upper hand to the Galaxy, though. When it comes to minimum brightness, the Samsung phone also has the lead, capable of hitting sub 1-nit levels of brightness.

Display Measurements:


Both the Nothing Phone (2) and the Galaxy S23 Plus have in-display fingerprint sensors, but the underlying tech is a bit different. The Galaxy S23 Plus has a ultrasonic fingerprint, which is faster and more reliable, while Nothing relies on a optical sensor, which takes a little longer to detect your fingertips and might sometimes fail. There's picture-based face unlock on both, but it's not that secure.

Performance and Software

Snapdragons for the win!


This year, Samsung made a first and didn't use the Exynos chips on its flagship phones. Instead, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy was used, a slightly improved version of the regular 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. This Qualcomm chipset is definitely its fastest and most efficient so far, bringing both superb performance and excellent battery life to the mix, a much-needed change of pace for those Galaxy fans that have resided in former Exynos regions. 

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The Nothing Phone (2) houses the 'older' 4nm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 ticking inside. It's still a very fast chipset capable of delivering excellent performance in both tasking and everyday scenarios. While you will be missing on some of the extra performance brought by the newer generation of the chip, we don't feel that this is such an issue. If anything, it's almost impossible to spot any tangible difference between the older and the newer Snapdragon chips in daily use. 

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Nothing Phone(2)1658
Samsung Galaxy S23+1909
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Nothing Phone(2)4358
Samsung Galaxy S23+4997
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)2674
Samsung Galaxy S23+3857
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)1654
Samsung Galaxy S23+2191

The Nothing Phone (2) starts with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while the Galaxy S23 Plus is available with 256GB of on-board storage and 8GB of fast LPDDR5X RAM. While you can have both the Galaxy S23 Plus and the Nothing Phone (2) with 256 and 512GB of storage, the Samsung flagship will never sport more than 8GB of RAM, while its competitor bumps the memory to 12GB as soon as you step up to the 256GB storage option. 

The Nothing Phone (2) will receive major Android versions until the summer of 2026, while the Galaxy S23 Plus should receive major Android versions until early 2027. In terms of security updates, Samsung will be supported until 2028, while the Nothing Phone (2) will cease to receive security patches by July 2027.

Android 13 is running the show on either phone, but each phone's interface is quite different from the other. Samsung's One UI 5.1 is colorful and feature-rich, while Nothing ties to minimize distractions with its decidedly monochrome-heavy appearance. 

Camera

Two versus three: is there even a contest?


A pretty significant difference is immediately visible: the Nothing Phone (2) comes with two cameras at the rear, a 50MP 1/1.56" main camera with an f/1.9 aperture and a 50MP ultra-wide lens with an f/2.2 aperture.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Plus has a triple array at the back, consisting of a 50MP main camera with a 1/1.56" sensor as well, a 12MP ultra-wide, and finally, a 3X optical zoom camera that allows for much further zooming in comparison with the lackluster in this regard Nothing Phone (2).

What about the image quality?

Main Camera - Day




In broad daylight, there certainly are differences between the new Nothing Phone and the Galaxy S23 Plus. The Nothing Phone (2) gives off Pixel-like vibes with its grittier slight under-exposure, which makes for a contrast-y look. The Galaxy S23 Plus gives off a more lively image, with slightly uplifted mid-tones and livelier colors in comparison. Although not that stark, you might start noticing some over-sharpening on the Samsung flagship. 

Main Camera - Low-light




When it comes to low-light image rendition, the Nothing Phone (2) has some issues with nailing the dynamic range. The highlights are blown, which is evident in the light sources themselves, and the retained information in the shadow-y areas of the image is less than what you'd get with the Galaxy S23 Plus. The Samsung phone also has a better dynamic range and overall perceived sharpness. 

Zoom Quality




When it comes to zoom quality, the Nothing Phone (2) can hold its ground against the Galaxy until 3X, but once the telephoto camera of the Galaxy S23 joins the battle, the Nothing Phone (2) is easily outflanked. The slightly excessive oversharpening of the Galaxy is once again visible in these sets of samples. 

Portrait Mode




The Nothing Phone does a fairly good job at isolating the subject from the background, though some artifacts can be seen, not to mention that the overall dynamics and exposure are moodier and grittier, if you will. The Galaxy S23 Plus does a better job at isolating the subject and also delivers much better exposure and dynamics, exposing the lovely dog's body in a much better way in comparison with the Nothing Phone. 

Ultra-wide Camera



Both devices can generally capture the same amount of scene. The most serious difference here are the slightly punchier colors of the Galaxy S23 Plus

Selfies




Both phones take great selfies. The Galaxy S23 Plus delivers better details, but the Nothing Phone (2) doesn't lag too much. In terms of overall realism, it definitely is a toss-up between the two devices. 

Audio Quality and Haptics


The Nothing Phone (2) has some catching up to do with the Galaxy S23 Plus when it comes to audio quality. The phone sounds just fine, with slightly lackluster base and highs, and overall the sound reproduction is not terribly exciting. The Samsung phone delivers 'meatier' sound that is more enjoyable to listen to. 

Haptics on the Nothing Phone (2) are improved in comparison with the Nothing Phone (1). The Galaxy S23 Plus has a slight edge here, with its haptic engine delivering slightly more accurate and precise "clicks".

Battery Life and Charging


Both devices sport 4,700mAh batteries at the back, so the final endurance will be decided by the overall efficiency of the chipset and the optimization of the other power-hungry components. 

Putting the two phones through their paces in PhoneArena's custom battery tests, which emulate different usage scenarios on a Wi-Fi network with the displays manually set at 200 nits on both phones, the battery endurance of the two devices is all over the place.

In our dedicated video streaming battery test, which has us loop a playlist of specific videos, the Nothing Phone (2) triumphs over the Galaxy S23 Plus, with two hours of additional endurance scored. However, the tide turns when it comes to our dedicated 3D gaming test, in which the Galaxy S23 Plus lasts decidedly more than the Nothing Phone (2). Interestingly, the two phones score very similar results in our dedicated web browsing test, which emulates a web browsing session over a Wi-Fi network with the display set at 200 nits of brightness.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)10h 14 min
Samsung Galaxy S23+8h 15 min
Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)15h 59 min
Samsung Galaxy S23+16h 37 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Nothing Phone(2)5h 27 min
Samsung Galaxy S23+6h 47 min

When it comes to charging, the Nothing Phone (2) matches the 45W charging that the Galaxy S23 Plus is capable of. While neither phone has a charger in the box, at least the both of them support wireless and reverse wireless charging. 

Specs Comparison


How do the specs of the Nothing Phone (2) fare against the Galaxy S23 Plus? Refer to the table below for a summarized overview, while the complete Nothing Phone (2) vs Galaxy S23 Plus specs comparison is up on PhoneArena.com. 



Summary and Final Verdict


While the Nothing Phone (2) certainly builds upon the robust foundation established by the first Nothing Phone, it still has some ground to cover before it could truly rival proper flagships like the Galaxy S23 Plus

Don't get us wrong, the Nothing Phone (2) is great value and definitely stands up to the Galaxy, there's some premium polish involved with the Samsung flagship that definitely is missing from the Nothing Phone (2). 

On the other hand, the Nothing Phone (2) might win you over with the plethora of customization options as well as the natural image quality that its cameras deliver. Paired with the novelty of the Glyph Interface, this phone is certainly a conversation starter that stands out among the sea of iPhones and Galaxies. It's also more affordable, so you won't be breaking the bank. 

Even though it lacks a zoom camera and might not be that future-proof due to the older chipset inside, the Nothing Phone (2) is a viable alternative to the Galaxy S23 Plus that you should probably shortlist if you're on the market for a new phone in mid-2023. 


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