London-based Nothing prides on being different, something smartphones sorely lack today. Nothing has wanted to both stand out in a sea of sameness and make tech fun again. Led by Carl Pei who is famous for co-founding OnePlus, has done this by designing distinctively and by making sure its products are talked about.

Following a cascade of leaks and social media teasers, Nothing launched its second rather peculiarly named Nothing Phone (2) smartphone. The Android phone is in the 'premium mid-range' category and costs ₹44,999 for a 12GB with 256GB storage variant and ₹54,999 for a 12GB with 512GB storage variant. The phones are available in white and dark grey and look, to put it mildly, very interesting.

Whichever colour one opts for, the phone arrives in a slim, square box, inside which there’s another stark white textured box. The box is too slim to house a charger, so add that to the cost of buying this device. The same goes for a case. But you do have a neat cable and even neater transparent capsule-like SIM card tool that you will probably want to keep.

Stand out look

Your very first look at the Nothing Phone (2) reveals why it looks different. Like the Phone (1), the back panel has a unique transparent look - something shared with all Nothing products. Through the glass back you can see the LED lights that give this phone a different look. This time around the 'Glyph' lights have some additional functions compared with the previous phone, so that it starts to move away from being a mere gimmick. More on the Glyph Interface shortly.

There's Gorilla Glass protection both back and front but the smooth glass is really exceptionally slippery. If you set the phone down on a smooth surface, you could find it travelling some distance all on its own. The device has IP54 splash and dust proof. The glossy back can show smudges but somehow not as much as one would expect.

Phone (2), like its predecessor (and like the iPhone) is very boxy and broad. There's some curving of edges this time so that it's a little more comfortable to hold, but it's truly a large, wide phone. Adding a case is only going to make it more so but it's so smooth that it can really slide out of one's hand. This is no one-handed device. Given that Nothing's philosophy is to ensure technology feels intuitive and like nothing, the company should definitely work on ergonomics for the next phone.

Top-end specs

The Phone (2) has gone up sharply in price. But then so have the specs that the device comes with. The display is surrounded by slim, even bezels, encased in a metal frame - again, iPhone style - and all buttons are neatly where they should be. The fingerprint sensor is in-display. The screen is a 6.7in 120Hz FHD+ OLED with a 394ppi density. It has a 120Hz refresh rate. It gets bright if you need it to and is generally a perfectly good display.

The big change from last year is the CPU, which is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, just a notch behind current flagships like the S23 Ultra. With that you get either 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB storage. That's plenty and navigation and tasks on the phone are as fast as many flagship devices.

The cameras have seen an upgrade over the previous version. Phone (2) has a 50MP main camera and a 50MP ultra-wide lens. These perform well in daylight and provide good colours and sharpness. But there is some colour fringing if you zoom in. The cameras are good as long as one is not looking for involved top-of-the-line phone photography. The front camera too is quite good.

Nothing OS 2.0

Taking up where the hardware leaves off, Phone (2)'s software is a nice breath of fresh air. No pesky bloatware, no silly cartoonish elements, no over-stuffing. Based on Android 13, Nothing OS 2.0 is growing up from last year's version and including more customisations while getting more minimalistic. There's even a monochrome skin with all the icons themed in a black and white scheme. The special digital font used by Nothing also adds to the look. 'Techies' have immediately taken to it. Widgets on the Home Screen also fit into the theme, looking every bit designed with thought as they have been. The Weather app is a great example of what has been done to stay minimalistic but give so much more detail. Overall, the Nothing interface is intuitive, with things being easy to find and seemingly in a logical place. Being an Android phone, one can, of course, customise the look as one likes and stick with something more familiar.

The Glyph lights

The most stand-out feature of the Nothing phone is the arrangement of lights on the back panel. This time around these lights have been segmented so that it's easier for them to respond to different tasks. The features associated with these lights have been enhanced. Where one may have called these lights a party trick or gimmick on Phone (1), they have moved on to being potentially useful on Phone (2).

For the Glyph lights to be used, the device actually has to lie on its face. This may not suit everyone, but if a user wants to experience these, the phone will have to be flipped. Settings for Glyph lights are to be found in their own section in the main Settings. The most obvious thing that the lights will do is to flash for an incoming call. There are interesting proprietary ringtones that make the lights pulse and flash in different sections. Nothing has just released a Glyph Composer which lets you create your own ringtones and assign them to specific contacts.

The Glyph lights can be a bit bright so some adjustment has been brought in and you can schedule them to turn off so they don't wake you up. They flash in one spot for notifications and in another for battery charging. But best of all, their use has been opened up to third parties to act as a timer or countdown indicator. If you book an Uber ride, a strip of light will show you the progress of your car as it arrives. Zomato is also to come on board for this so you can glance and see how long your food will take to arrive.

Nothing's new phone has a lot of competition and is considered quite expensive by many. But it does happen to be altogether unique in its look and LED lights and a rarity because of its relatively clean minimalistic software.

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