Nothings Phone (2) is available for pre-order, starting at $599

Image credits: Brian Heater

Nothing was founded on a simple premise: phones are boring. It wasn’t always like this, of course. There was a time before the smartphone became a commodity when the tech world was waiting with bated breath for the latest device from Apple and Samsung.

Eventually, however, these companies cornered. Phones have gotten too good. For years, new devices have felt incremental, people have started holding onto their phones longer, and sales have started to level off and eventually decline.

In late 2020, Carl Pei announced his departure from OnePlus, the phone company he co-founded in late 2013. He promised the world something new: a tall order in a field that has seemed too saturated for so a long time.

Image credits: Brian Heater

Nothing’s first product launched in the summer of 2021. The Ear (1) was simple, just as you might expect from an early hardware release. There were some changes to iron out, but they were solid and well priced at $99, while their see-through design with industrial elements established the company’s signature aesthetic.

The Phone 1 followed in March of last year with good reviews, including us. They didn’t definitively answer why the world needed another phone company in 2022, but in a category that seems to be controlled by an increasingly few players, Nothings’ entry onto the scene was quite a tug in the arm. Sure, the company may be focusing on building its own sneaker-style hype cycles around its products, but at the end of the day, it’s the devices themselves that matter the most.

Image credits: Nothing

It’s true that the company has a strong team and solid funding (including a healthy $96 million round announced late last month), but it’s still impressive how quickly Nothing has gotten to market with strong products. . Last year Phone (1) was a flag in the sand, a sign of a company trying to breathe some life into the market. That’s a tall order, of course especially when most smartphones are built with the same components with the same supplies.

So far in this area you can only color outside the lines, but Nothing has found some success as an exciting newcomer. The company doesn’t provide specific figures, saying only that it has sold a combined 1,500,000 units across its different lines so far. We’re not talking anywhere near the Samsung or Apple numbers here, but it’s a promising start in a space where the first several products are really the deciding factor.

Nothings Phone (2) aims to outdo its predecessor, in part, by cutting fewer corners. Chief among these is the inclusion of a more premium processor. The phone (1) was famously powered by a mid-range Snapdragon 778. Nothing wrong with a mid-range processor, obviously not everyone has to pay high prices for the latest and greatest, but the component belied positioning the product as something of a flagship killer.

In February, Pei told TechCrunch, “We will be using the [Snapdragon] 8 series. Previously, I said it would be a premium device. But we have never officially recognized whether it is Qualcomm or MediaTek. Today it was revealed that the device runs on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which Qualcomm introduced last May. In December, the chipmaker announced the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. It appears the lineup is also headed for another refresh, with rumors pointing to a potential reveal at Samsung’s next event.

Image credits: Brian Heater

It seems that nothing is taking a page from OnePlus’ book here. It’s not the latest, but the 8+ Gen 1 is still an excellent chip. In fact, the vast majority of potential users will almost certainly not notice any difference even among those well versed in such things. Being a generation or half behind gives the company the ability to set aggressive prices. With a starting point of $599, the device is priced well below other companies’ flagships.

In the past Pei has apparently avoided positioning Nothing as a maker of budget devices. After all, the company clearly sees its products as a fashion statement, a sort of luxury item worthy of limited-edition drops. But price has been a major factor in declining smartphone sales, with flagships regularly exceeding $1,000. If you’re looking to stand out in a tough economy, price is a good place to start.

Here $599 will get you 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you want to spec it at 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, that’ll set you back an extra $200, still well below the flagship prices and closer to the Pixel 7 Pro’s starting price of $899.

The other top-of-the-line upgrade here is the camera. Once again, Pei couldn’t help himself, encouraging testers to upload their images to social media ahead of today’s official unveiling. The system sports a powerful 32-megapixel front camera and a pair of 50-megapixel sensors on the back. The main sensor is Sony’s Sony IMX890, which is also found in the OnePlus 11 and various other phones from Chinese handset maker Oppo and Realme.

You don’t always see device manufacturers advertising the sensor number, but it’s clearly important that Nothing lets you know it doesn’t skimp there.

Image credits: Nothing

Equipped with an advanced 18-bit Image Signal Processor (ISP), Phone (2) has the ability to process up to 4,000 times more camera data than its predecessor, Phone (1), Nothing writes in a version. This allows Phone (2) to take advantage of cutting-edge algorithms, achieving incredible levels of accuracy for both photos and videos. Capturing three times more data than before, the new Advanced HDR algorithm captures eight frames with varying exposure levels within the RAW domain of the sensor.

The system can also shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second with the rear camera and 1080p at the same rate using the front camera.

The 6.7-inch display is a bit larger than the 6.5-inch (1)s. Like its predecessor, it supports refresh rates up to 120Hz. The battery, meanwhile, has been bumped up from 4500mAh to 4700.

Like the phone (1), the new model bears more than a passing resemblance to the iPhone from the front. True story: I thought I’d misplaced my phone (2) for a while, but it turned out I was mistaking it for an Apple phone as it sat on my desk the whole time. Things, of course, get much clearer on the other side.

The glyph interface was the one thing everyone was talking about in the latest release. It’s even inspired some quick imitations. It’s back here, with some improvements. There are multiple LED segments, allowing for further customization. Design remains the place where nothing can stand out more clearly from the competition and the company leans into it. There’s also a subtle curve to the rear glass now, adding to a more premium feel.

Image credits: Nothing

The Glyph interface can now serve as a visual countdown and progress tracker for ride or delivery services, notes Nothing. It also offers additional features like a volume control and a timer. With Essential Glyph Notifications, users can stay focused without missing out on what matters most. When you receive a notification from selected contacts or apps, the top right LED segment stays on until you fix it.

The phone’s midframe, buttons and SIM slot are made from 100% recycled aluminum, while 80% of its plastic parts are recycled/bio-based. Nothing adds, despite incorporating more advanced features and components than its predecessor, Phone (2) achieves a reduction of 5 kg of CO2exemplifying Nothing’s ongoing commitment to sustainability over the years.

Image credits: Nothing

The aesthetic touches now go beyond the design of the hardware, with the addition of Nothing OS 2.0, which is on top of Android 13. The skin adopts a dark, monochrometongue with hints of red and text spelled out in printed circuit board style. Think of it as something like a brand-specific material, with a few added flourishes. NoNothing reinvented the home and lock screen utility with widgets so users can access key features without even having to open their apps, the company writes. Nothing OS 2.0 allows users to customize grid design, widget sizes and color themes, introducing new folder layouts and illustrated covers.

The phone comes in both the standard white color and a dark gray instead of last years black. It’s available for pre-order today in the US, UK and the rest of Europe, with general availability on the 17th. Folks of New York City can get their hands on the phone early via a pop-up at 69 Gansevoort St. in Manhattan.

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