Nothing Phone 2: Carl Pei shows Google how to make the best $600 Android phone

The Nothing Phone 2 is now official, and it’s… expensive.

Yes… Everyone seems to be focusing on the price of the Phone 2, and that’s understandable, since the successor to the Phone 1 is now roughly €200 more expensive, starting at $599/£579/€649. And, by the way, as you can tell by the official US pricing, the good news is that the Phone 2 is now available in the United States!Anyway… Of course, 200 bucks is a big price increase in the world of phones – in fact, it’s one we see quite rarely in the industry, but you know what? I think it makes total sense. Why? Well, because of three main reasons…

For one, the Nothing Phone 2 now looks a lot more like a flagship phone – something the Nothing Phone 1 never was. That’s because it’s running on the flagship-grade Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip; it has an upgraded primary and selfie cameras with flagship specs; a new, larger, and much brighter display that refreshes from 1-120Hz to save energy; a bigger battery with faster charging, and even a slight upgrade to the water-resistance, which is now IP54.

This is indeed a big spec upgrade that comes at a cost but there’s so much more going on with the Nothing Phone 2 that the bump in specs might not show you:

  • Although it looks suspiciously similar to the Phone 1, the overall design of the Phone 2 is far more refined – the new model is easier to hold thanks to the subtle curve to the back glass, and this back is now far more useful thanks to the upgraded LEDs, which seem to (finally) justify their existence

  • Nothing OS 2.0 (based on Android 13) gives the Nothing Phone 2 the identity and personality many other Android phones lack, while also giving users the option to turn their Nothing Phone 2 into a Google Pixel

  • Shocking or not, Nothing seems to be paying Apple-level attention to detail – both software and hardware-wise, which is something millions of Android users might come to appreciate; you know – like Apple users do with the iPhone

But in case you’re wondering why this story will focus on how the Nothing Phone 2 would stack up specifically against the Google Pixel, well… As I predicted a while ago, the Nothing Phone 2 now costs basically the same as the Pixel 7 in the US, UK, and Europe. And although Carl Pei might not admit the Phone 2 is meant to be a direct Pixel competitor, I believe Nothing’s pricing speaks for itself.The other reason I look at the Nothing Phone 2 as a potential Pixel-killer is the fact that it can basically give you the Pixel’s clean software experience (if that’s what you want) but in a package (read: design) that stands out above (literally) every other phone on the market. Or if you find the Pixel’s clean Android to be a little too dull and boring, Nothing OS 2 is ready to give you a completely unique, yet tastefully put together Nothing UI that (IMO) only Apple and HTC ever managed to deliver.

Oh, and it probably won’t be as buggy as a Pixel!

Not OK, Google! Nothing Phone 2 easily outshines the Pixel 7 in several key areas: Much faster, with a more modern display, and far better battery experience

For starters, if you look at both spec sheets, and our Nothing Phone 2 review, and Nothing Phone 2 vs Pixel 7 comparison what’s quite interesting to see is that the Nothing Phone 2 beats the Pixel 7 in several important categories of the smartphone experience…

  • Nothing Phone 2 runs on a noticeably faster chip compared to the Pixel 7 – the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 has proven itself as one of smoothest, most reliable processors in recent years, (Carl Pei even said that was the reason he decided to use this particular chip over anything else)

  • Nothing Phone 2 has a more advanced, and outright better display than the Pixel 7, which is stuck at 90Hz, has a lower peak brightness, and doesn’t support LTPO, which makes it less efficient

  • Nothing Phone 2 has a much wider ultra-wide camera than the Pixel 7, which also doubles a macro shooter thanks to having auto-focus, as well as a 32MP selfie cam that can produce a lot more detail than the Pixel’s 11MP snapper – check out our Nothing Phone 2 review to decide if the specs make a difference in actual photo/video quality

  • Nothing Phone 2 has a noticeably larger battery than the Pixel 7, and it charges at 45W as opposed to the 18W on the Pixel; that means you can expect the Nothing Phone 2 to last 1-2 hours longer than the Pixel 7, and charge noticeably faster, taking about an hour to get from 0-100% – the Pixel takes twice as long

As you can see, the higher $599/£579/€649 price of the Nothing Phone 2 makes a lot more sense when put into context. Carl Pei’s affordable flagship easily outclasses Google’s Pixel 7 in several (important) areas.In fact, the Phone 2 pretty much matches the Pixel when it comes to software support too – with 3 years of Android OS updates (same as Pixel) and 4 years of security patches (one less). Of course, where Google wins will be the speed of those updates, especially given Nothing’s pretty much nonexistent track record (as a new phone-maker).

Nothing Phone 2: Nothing’s Apple-grade attention to detail and (possibly) more stable Android experience could make Phone 2 a better alternative to the Pixel 7

Although Carl Pei’s first premium flagship (since leaving OnePlus) seems to be winning against the Pixel 7 in the specs department, specs are indeed Nothing without a good real-world user experience to match, which is why it’s great to see that the London-based company has gone far to make sure you’re getting a reliable, yet special device that’s like no other out there.

For example, as mentioned earlier, Nothing OS 2.0 (based on Android 13) gives the Phone 2 a sense of personality that almost every other Android phone lacks. That’s thanks to the tasteful Nothing theme that takes over (almost) the entire UI with custom widgets, icons, toggles, sliders, typography, and more, while also giving users the option to use the Nothing Phone 2 like a Pixel.

Oh, and let’s not forget all the bugs that some Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 users had to deal with. Considering Google’s history, it won’t be very difficult even for a young company like Nothing to deliver a more stable software experience with the Nothing Phone 2. Of course, only time will show if that’s the case but I’m yet to hear about serious bugs that make the Phone 2 unusable, which was the case with most Pixel 6 and some Pixel 7 units.

On the hardware side of things, Nothing has focused on the little details to create one of the most intriguing phone packages I’ve seen in ages…

  • There’s the LED lights on the back (duh!), but what’s more intriguing is that they do a lot more now; for example, the bottom light can be used to indicate Google Assistant is listening to you, while the strip in the top right can fill up to show how close/far your Uber ride is, and act as a visual cue for timers

  • According to Carl Pei, the more feature rich the back of the phone gets, the less likely you’ll be to use your actual display; Pei says that being able to use the back of your phone could reduce your screen time, which sounds ideal, considering we’re living in a world of phone addiction

  • Nothing has worked with Swedish House Mafia to let users (literally) compose their custom ringtones, which sound off in sync with the lights on the back

Nothing Phone 2 is like a Pixel but (literally) cooler, which might make it a better version of Google’s new Pixel 8

I’ll leave any conclusions for the future as this story is becoming looong, but I have a feeling that if I (as a “tech enthusiast”) were buying a new Android phone right now, I probably would’ve picked the Nothing Phone 2 over any other Android solely based off how different it is than the rest of the slabs. Which means I might pick it over the Pixel 7 too.

Are the Pixel 7 and Pixel 8 going to have better cameras than the Nothing Phone 2, as well as a more comprehensive IP rating? Sure! But considering all the Quality of Life improvements the Phone 2 can give you in virtually every other aspect of the phone, I might be ready to look past Google’s expert photography in order to get the best, most unique package in the $600 price segment.

In my book, and with some camera updates that dial back the saturation and improve HDR in photos and videos, the Nothing Phone 2 could be the one to go for – even over the already excellent Pixel 7, and the upcoming Pixel 8.

Speaking of the Pixel 8, Google’s 2023 vanilla flagship is rumored to bring two major upgrades over its predecessor – a 120Hz screen, and a more powerful SoC. However, rumor has it Google might also make the Pixel 8 a bit more expensive ($650), so I’m looking forward to seeing how this one stacks up against the Nothing Phone 2, which already beats the Pixel 7 in several crucial areas.

Anyway… Do you find the Nothing Phone 2 to be a viable alternative to the Pixel? Would you buy one? Again, don’t forget to check out our full review of the Nothing Phone 2.