Nothing Phone (2a) vs. Phone (2): these are the differences

Nothing’s first smartphone, the Phone (1), cost at its launch two years ago 469 euro. For that money you got a mid-range chipset, a metal frame and the unique Glyph design, which later also appeared on the Phone (2). returned. However, that phone was a lot more expensive than the (1) with a suggested retail price of 699 euros for the basic model. It was therefore more of a flagship phone than a mid-range phone. With the Phone (2a) Nothing now returns back to the middle class. The price tag is even a lot lower, at 329 euros.

At the same time, the price of the Phone (2) has fallen considerably. You now often pay only 580 euros for the Nothing Phone (2). The price difference between the devices is therefore ‘only’ 250 euros. That’s slightly less than the difference between the Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24 Ultra. Which smartphone should you buy if you can afford both? Obviously the Phone (2) is the better smartphone, but is it also ‘250 euros better’? We will answer that question for you.

Specification lists

We can find answers to these questions in the specification lists of the Nothing Phone models. Below you will find the specifications of both the Nothing Phone (2a) and the Phone (2).

Nothing Phone (2a) Nothing Phone (2)
Screen 6,7 inch, AMOLED, 120 Hz, 1.300 nits, Full HD+ 6,7 inch, AMOLED, LTPO (1-120Hz), 1.600 nits, Full HD+
Frame material Plastic Aluminium
Tempered Glass (Gorilla Glass) Gorilla Glass 5 Gorilla Glass 5
Processor MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
Battery/fast charging 5.000 mAh/45 watt 4.700 mAh/45 watt
Wireless charging N.v.t. 15 watt (Qi)
Primary camera’s 50 MP (main), 50 MP (wide angle) 50 MP (main), 50 MP (wide angle)
Selfie camera 32 MP 32 MP
Random access memory 8 GB of 12 GB 8 GB of 12 GB
Bulletin 128 GB (base model) or 256 GB 256 GB (base model) or 512 GB
Extra’s 4 years OS support (3 OS upgrades) 4 years OS support (3 OS upgrades)
Dust and water resistant IP54 IP54

Nothing Phone (2a) versus Phone (2)

You can expect flagship phones to devour mid-range devices. However, the differences here are not that strong. Both the Phone (2a) and the Phone (2) are strong smartphones.

1. Plastic versus aluminium

The lower price tag of the Phone (2a) is reflected in, among other things, the materials used. While the Phone (2) has an aluminum housing, the (2a) is made of plastic. The back of that smartphone is also made of plastic. This can cause the material to scratch a little more quickly, but you won’t actually notice that if you use a case. This also applies to the plastic frame: unless the device is used ‘naked’, the difference is barely noticeable.

On the front of the Phone (2a) we still find a glass panel. Just like on the Phone (2), the OLED panel of the smartphone is covered with Gorilla Glass 5. This makes the screens just as scratch-resistant.

They are also just as water resistant. Both smartphones carry the IP54 rating for dust and water resistance. This means that they are not easily damaged by splashing water, but they are not immersion-resistant. If they fall into the toilet bowl, it can still be the end of the story.

2. Variable image refresh

Nothing used for both the Phone (2a) and Phone (2) AMOLED screens. In the case of the (2a), these are even the OLED screens with the thinnest screen bezels on a Nothing smartphone ever: 2.1 mm, versus 2.3 mm on the (2).

The screen size is the same for both devices: 6.7 inches. This also applies to the Full HD resolution and the maximum image refresh of 120 Hz. The flagship has variable refresh from 1 to 120 Hz, while the refresh rate of the (2a) is a constant 120 Hz. Furthermore, the HDR brightness of the (2) is higher, at 1,600 nits versus 1,300 nits on the (2a). In practice, however, you won’t notice much of this: 1,300 nits is more than bright enough for outdoor use.

The biggest difference is in the variable image refresh. In theory, this makes the Phone (2) slightly more economical, especially if you’re just viewing a simple web page or streaming a video.

Nothing Phone (2a)
© Nothing

3. Dimensity 7200 Pro versus Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1

After years of using Qualcomm chips exclusively, Nothing is switching to MediaTek chips for the Phone (2a). This specifically concerns the Dimensity 7200 Pro. This chip will compete against Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. Both chips were built on 4nm by TSMC: so much for the similarities.

Dimensity 7200 Pro Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
Fastest computing core N.v.t. Cortex-X2 (3,0 GHz)
Fast computing cores Cortex-A715 (2x 2,8 GHz) Cortex-A710 (3x @ 2,5 GHz)
Efficient computing cores Cortex-A510 (6x @ 2,0 GHz) Cortex-A510 (4x @ 1,8 GHz)
GPU Mali-G610 MC4 Adreno 730
Manufacturing process 4nm (TSMC) 4nm (TSMC)

MediaTek’s chipset is clearly a lot less powerful. The chipset does not have a Cortex-X core. These cores are the strongest of all Cortex compute units. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 also has an additional Cortex-A7XX core. The MediaTek cores are slightly faster – the clock speed is 300 MHz higher. At the same time, this results in slightly higher energy consumption than an additional core.

With two additional Cortex-A510 cores, this energy consumption is somewhat limited. In practice, the flagship will feel clearly faster. This applies to both the interface and demanding apps such as video editing and games. Those games also benefit from the faster Adreno GPU in the Qualcomm SoC.

Depending on your usage, the MediaTek or the Qualcomm is the winner. For basic use such as emails, photography, web browsing and some older games, the MediaTek is fast enough. If you run more demanding apps, choose Qualcomm.

4. Bigger battery or wireless charging

Even if the Qualcomm chipset is slightly more efficient, that does not necessarily mean that the Phone (2) will last longer on its battery. The Phone (2a) will have a larger 5,000 mAh battery, compared to 4,700 mAh on the flagship. Charging is done at 45 watts in both cases. The devices are fully charged after about an hour.

If you want to charge wirelessly, the Phone (2) is the only option. You can charge that smartphone wirelessly with 15 W. The flagship can also charge other devices such as wireless earphones via its reverse wireless charging feature. However, this is relatively slow, with a maximum of 5 W.

5. Almost the same cameras?

If you compare the camera specifications of the Phone (2a) and Phone (2), the differences are not immediately clear. Are there any differences at all?

Phone (2a) Phone (2)
Main camera 50 MP, f/1,9, 1/1,56″, 1,0µm, OIS 50 MP, f/1.9, 1/1,56″, 1.0µm, OIS
Wide angle camera 50 MP, f/2.2, 114 degrees, 1/2.76′′, 0.64μm 50 MP, f/2.2, 114 degrees, 1/2.76′′, 0.64μm
Selfie camera 32 MP, f/2,2, 1/2,74″ 32 MP, f/2,5, 1/2,74″

The short answer to that is ‘almost none’. If you look purely at the sensor details, the cameras are the same in almost every respect. Only the selfie camera on the Phone (2) has a slightly smaller aperture. This works in favor of the selfie camera on the (2a), which can let in a little more light.

However, that does not immediately mean that you will get better (or even equal) photos from the Phone (2a). Nothing’s choice for a MediaTek chipset also means that the images are processed by a different ‘algorithm’. A high-end chip usually contributes a lot to the image quality. It is certain that you will enjoy sturdy 50MP sensors on both devices. They have already proven themselves on the (2).

6. Same update policy

In terms of update policy, the devices are certainly not inferior to each other. According to the British brand, the Phone (2a) will receive three OS upgrades and four years of security patches. The flagship device can also expect three OS upgrades and four years of patches.

So it doesn’t really matter which smartphone you buy. The advantage of the (2a) is that it has not yet received an OS upgrade, while the (2) is already on its second in 2024.

Nothing Phone (2a) or Phone (2): which one should you buy?

Actually, the answer to the question ‘which one should you buy’ rests on one aspect: speed. Are you a gamer? Then the Phone (2a) is not the right smartphone. The MediaTek chipset offers just a little too little computing power. In addition, the basic model of that smartphone has slightly less storage. However, you can also buy the (2a) with 256 GB of storage, but that is also the limit.

Do you tend to use your smartphone for emails, web browsing and games like Candy Crush? Then the Dimensity 7200 Pro is sufficient for you. There are also many similarities in terms of battery, screen and cameras. Of course, the performance is not entirely identical, but you don’t have to expect that for 329 euros.

Read our Nothing reviews here

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