Nothing Phone (2) Review: Flashy, Grayscale Fun

The only issue is that from the main Glyph settings page it’s not immediately clear how granular you can go in notifications. You can certainly select notifications from, say, Instagram Direct Messages (and not Direct Message Requests), but in apps like Telegram and Facebook Messenger, you can choose specific conversations. These don’t always show up in the Glyph settings, so when a notification comes through, you’ll need to press and hold the down arrow on the notification itself to mark it as an “Essential Glyph” notification.

Glyph lights also work with the Glyph Timer, which you can set to your preferred length and start by turning the phone face down. One of the LED strips will light up and begin fading in correspondence with the timer. No need to look at your phone! The LEDs can now also be integrated with third-party apps, although Nothing only worked with Uber at launch. Right now, if you call an Uber driver, you won’t have to keep checking the app to see how far away they are—just look at the LED strip to see the driver’s progress. It worked perfectly on the few rides I booked last week, though I inevitably had to check my phone to make sure I knew my driver’s name and license plate.

Still, these little features are clever ways to help you stay present and avoid unnecessarily checking your phone. One problem? It’s hard to erase years of muscle memory of putting a smartphone face up. Too often I just … forgot that Glyph lights are a thing. You’ll need time to get used to it. Also, if Nothing wants me to put its phone face down on every surface imaginable, the least it could do is include a clear case that would keep the Gorilla Glass 5 screen contact-free. I don’t see any scratches yet, but they seem inevitable.

Not using the phone is a big part of Nothing’s ethos—the company wants to make its software and hardware more “intentional” so that you’re only using your handset when you need it. Its new monochrome interface is part of that play. It takes a page from Google’s “Bedtime Mode” in Android, which converts the phone’s software to grayscale to discourage you from doomscrolling before bed. There are no app labels either.

However, after using a permanently grayscale interface for a few weeks, I don’t think this works. I’m already using my phone less because my favorite third-party Reddit client shut down (and I will not be downloading Reddit’s official app, thank you very much), but when your whole phone is monochrome all the time, I don’t necessarily get that Pavlovian jolt as I do with Bedtime Mode that I should really go to sleep. Instead, it just feels like a really elegant design.

Looks are where I have to give Nothing props. Nothing OS 2.0 is gorgeous, particularly with many of Nothing’s own widgets. Even more amazingly, you can put these widgets on the lock screen, and it looks far better than anything I’ve ever seen on any other Android phone. The notification and ringtone sounds are also unique. Nothing has also introduced a “Glyph Composer,” and I spent far too long making a few custom ringtones and notification alerts. It reminds me of the good old days of Android, which fostered a “do-whatever-you-want-with-your-phone” mentality.

All or Nothing

The fundamentals of the Nothing Phone (2) are pretty great overall. The 6.7-inch AMOLED screen has a fluid 120-Hz screen refresh rate that looks excellent and gets comfortably bright on sunny days. The 4,700-mAh battery cell easily lasted me a full day—after four hours of screen time, I usually had over 40 percent left in the tank. It can easily last a full day and a half.

It’s now powered by last year’s flagship processor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, with 8 GB of RAM (128 GB of internal storage). It’s snappy and feels like one of the most responsive phones I have ever used, with speedy animations and quick app launches. It’s super smooth.