Nothing phone (2) vs Nothing phone (1): What’s the difference?

  • Nothing phone (2)

    Nothing phone (2) is bigger, more powerful, more refined and more expensive. It’s a better device, but you’ll pay for it. Is it worth it? Probably.

  • Nothing phone (1) square

    Nothing

    Nothing Phone (1)

    The Nothing phone (1) is probably the coolest-looking mid-range smartphone you’ll find on the market today – and it was unique until the phone (2) came along.

The Nothing phone (1) was arguably the most exciting phone of 2022. Not only was it a brand new player entering the Android market, but it came with a fresh new design approach and an affordable price tag. Now the Nothing phone (2) is here, keeping much of the design but making a few key upgrades to the device it replaces. That poses a real question: should you be buying the original device from 2022, or go all-in on the updated version just launched in 2023.


So, with that in mind, we’ve put the Nothing phone (2) up against its predecessor to help you decide which one is right for you.


Specs, price and availability

The Nothing phone (1) launched in July 2022 and has been available to purchase at a price of around £399 ever since. Unfortunately for our US readers, it didn’t get a stateside release.

The Nothing phone (2) was officially revealed at a special Nothing event on 11 July 2023. The price of the new device has increased, so it will cost from $599 in the US, $929 in Canada, £579 in the UK and €769 in Europe, as it moves into a new position.

  • Nothing phone (2) Nothing Phone (1)
    SoC Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Snapdragon 778G+
    Display 6.7in OLED, 2412 x 1080, 1-120Hz 6.55in OLED, 1080×2400, 60-120Hz
    RAM 8/12GB 8/12GB
    Storage 128/256/512GB 128/256GB
    Battery 4700mAh, 45W wired, 15W wireless 4500mAh, 33W wired, 15W wireless
    Camera (Rear, Front) Main: 50MP IMX890, f/1.88; ultrawide: 50MP JN1, f/2.2; front: 32MP IMX615, f/2.45 Main: 50MP IMX766, f/1.88; ultrawide: 50MP JN1, f/2.2; front: 16MP IMX471, f/2.45
    Dimensions 162.1 x 76.4 x 8.6mm, 201.2g 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3mm, 193.5g
    Colors Black / White Black / White
    IP Rating IP54 IP53

nothingphone22-1

Design

The Nothing phone (1)’s design is a huge part of its appeal. It has a unique transparent glass back and a “Glyph Interface” – which essentially means it has white LED accents across the rear that can react to the phone’s different functions. Both of these design elements make an appearance on the phone (2), as well. But the design is enhanced: while the overall look is similar, the new phone looks and feels like it’s higher quality, with 3D glass on the rear that’s slightly domed, so it looks a lot better than the previous outing.

The Glyph Interface has also been enhanced on the Nothing phone (2). The division of the glyphs is slightly different, but the make is too. That allows more precise control and unlocks some new features, such as the timer or integration with delivery apps.

The red LED recording indicator is now a slit on the new model, rather than a circular dot on the phone (1), which is purely for aesthetics, but the whole vibe around the transparent back remains the same. There’s a slight bump in the IP rating, moving from IP53 to IP54, which is minor, but welcomed.

nothingphone211-1

Display

The Nothing phone (1) has a 6.55-inch 120Hz OLED panel with a 2400 x 1080 resolution, and we were impressed by its performance. It has completely symmetrical bezels, which is almost unheard of in a mid-range phone, and it gives the device a very pleasing look. On the refresh rate, it only offered 60 or 120Hz.

That’s changed in the phone (2). The new phone has a 6.7-inch LTPO OLED, which means it can offer a variable refresh rate like the best flagship phones. That means it can vary between 1 and 120Hz depending on the content, designed to be more efficient with power resources. It’s also now a brighter display – much brighter – moving from 500 nits to 1000 nits typical and now peaking at 1600 nits. That means it’s going to be more impactful and likely offer a better HDR experience when watching content.

Overall, the Nothing phone (2) is more appealing in the display department: it’s more advanced display tech, it’s larger, it’s brighter – but interestingly, one of the things that Nothing is pushing in Nothing OS 2.0 is a monochrome icon pack – so despite the phone’s display prowess, you can cut the colour out an have a really minimalist look.

Nothing phone 1 on a white table

Hardware and performance

The Nothing phone (1) runs on the Snapdragon 778G+, which is a mid-range platform that’s been customised to support wireless charging and reverse wireless charging – two features that are missing from 90 per cent of mid-range handsets. In our testing, we found the performance of this mid-range SoC to be more than good enough for our daily needs, but power users and gamers would certainly be left craving more performance.

The Nothing phone (2) sits on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 platform. A vastly more powerful option, if not quite the latest and greatest that Qualcomm has to offer. It’s an interesting move, choosing a 2022 platform for your 2023 device, but we think we might know why. Nothing has been very clear that it values user experience and battery life over chasing benchmark scores, and it has also been very aggressive with its pricing – and using older hardware allows that to happen.

We’ve had a lot of experience with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, and all of it has been positive. It’s very powerful, which is great if you enjoy graphically intensive mobile games like PUBG and Genshin Impact, but it’s also very efficient, meaning that you can go for a long time between charges. After all, the phone (2) is now using flagship grade hardware, so it’s effectively taking a step up over the Nothing phone (1). That accounts for the price difference, if nothing else.

Elsewhere, the Nothing phone (2) is comes with options for 8/12GB of RAM and 128/256/512GB of storage. That sees tiered pricing for the phone, allowing a lower entry point, but greater storage for those who want it.

There’s also a 200mAh bump in battery, with the Nothing phone (2) sitting on 4700mAh – it’s not a huge update, but it offsets the increase in screen size. It still supports 45W wired and 15W wireless charging.

nothingphone217-1

Software

Both of these phone run Android with Nothing OS over the top. Nothing has gone to town customising Android and it is more of a dramatic effect than you get from some manufacturers. The new device debuts Nothing OS 2.0, which brings some additions – but some of those will also come to Nothing phone (1). The whole aesthetic of these phones is about minimalism – as we mentioned there’s that icon back that strips out all the colour from your app icons. This takes some time to get used to, but it’s actually really nice once you’ve lived with it for a while.

There are great widgets on both devices, including some clever time savers to take you right to your often used settings, as well as the Glyph Interface, which as we said, is a little more sophisticated on the second-gen phone. The original will get most features, however, including the new Glyph Composer to help you create custom ringtones with matching Glyphs.

There will be a couple of differences based around hardware, but you also need to know that both of the Nothing phones will get 3 years of updates.

nothingphone29-1

Cameras

The cameras are a bit of a weak area on the Nothing phone (1). On paper, it sounds like a good configuration, with a 50-megapixel main camera, a 50-megapixel ultrawide and 16-megapixel selfie snapper. But, the reality is that the results aren’t quite up there with the likes of Google and Samsung. That’s not to say they’re awful, but you’re unlikely to find anyone purchasing the phone (1) based on its camera performance alone.

Nothing claims that moving to Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is partly to give more power to the camera, while there’s also the move to a new main sensor. It’s still 50-megapixels, but it’s now a Sony IMX890, which is technically an upgrade over the previous sensor. The ultrawide remains the same, while there’s a move to a 32-megapixel front camera. The new phone is capable of capturing much more image data and has a reconfigured HDR system for better results. The performance, however, remains to be seen.

Verdict

The big change is in the positioning of the Nothing phone (2). It moves from the mid-range and into the sub-flagship category, so it’s a more capable phone, but it’s also more expensive as a result. At the same time, the refreshed design justifies that bump – it looks better and feels better in the hand, even if it’s not quite up there with a flagship in terms of the hardware and cameras. It does, however, better the Nothing phone (1) is just about all areas.

nothingphone2

Nothing

But the Nothing phone (1) still has appeal. It’s still a unique phone, it’s affordable and it still has software support. It’s also now available for discounted prices, so it might be worth picking up if you want something that has the Glyph Interface and runs Nothing OS. The experience is still good, even if the hardware is firmly in the mid range.

Nothing Phone (1) Evan Blass Renders photo 9
Evan Blass

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