Flagships and foldables might demand your attention, but they also demand lots of cash. Nothing has already proved affordable models sitting at the opposite end of the upcoming phone spectrum can be equally appealing, and now there’s a new one to look forward to. The Nothing Phone 2a was confirmed in the company’s February 2024 quarterly community update, with the rumour mill quick to weigh in on what to expect in terms of harwdare.
There’s little official information doing the rounds, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely in the dark. Phone 2a will be more like a successor to the Nothing Phone 1, rather than a mid-life refresh of the more mainstream Nothing Phone 2. Think of it like Nothing’s answer to the Google Pixel A-series, with design and hardware influence taken from the high end but sold for a much more reasonable price.
Here’s everything we know about the upcoming handset so far.
Nothing Phone 2a expected release date
Nothing has yet to officially reveal when Phone 2a will go on sale – but we do know when we’ll get our first look at the device itself. Rumours first suggested a reveal at Mobile World Congress in February, with the firm having sent out invites to an evening event taking place during the show. While we might hear more details then, Nothing revealed that it’s going to unveil the new handset on 5 March at 11:30 GMT/06:30 EST with a live-streamed launch event:
As for when the device will hit the shelves, expect to wait a little longer. A look back at Nothing’s short launch history suggests that would be rather early. The Nothing Phone 1 launched in July 2022, and Nothing Phone 2 arrived a year later in July 2023. That said, Phone 2a is clearly meant to be an affordable alternative to Phone 2, so it makes sense to arrive a little earlier in that handset’s life cycle. It’s exactly what Google does with its mainline Pixel phones and Pixel A-series.
As for pricing? The Nothing Phone 1 arrived at £399 (it was never made officially available in the US), but can now be had for as little as £279. Phone 2 went on sale for $599/£579, with prices holding firm outside of limited-time sales around Black Friday. Phone 2a will surely land somewhere in between; Nothing only has to undercut the $499/£449 Google Pixel 7a to cement its status as an affordability champ. The latest rumours point to $400/£400.
As for availability, it looks like the US may be out of luck again. While Nothing has confirmed that Phone 2a will arrive in the States, it’ll only be available as part of a Developer Program, rather than an official, public release. Details about the Program are unclear, but we imagine it’ll look something like when Phone 1 could be bought in the US for beta members. We assume that the smartphone will be available in Europe as per usual.
Nothing Phone 2a design rumours
Nothing has yet to reveal any images of Phone 2a, which is codenamed Aerodactyl internally. That hasn’t stopped the tech tipsters from sharing renders, illustrations and teasers of what to expect though. According to Android developer Dylan Roussel, Phone 2a will have a simplified Glyph lighting system. It will comprise just three LEDs, but keep the transparent design Nothing’s phones are famed for.
Early mages came via Smartprix and Onleaks, showing a radically redesigned back panel compared to Nothing’s previous efforts. They have no obvious circular element in the middle of the phone. So there won’t be wireless charging in this phone. That tech was quite the coup for Nothing Phone 1, at a time when few rivals featured the tech. The pics also came with whispers Nothing has ditched the lights altogether for this budget model.
However, the two leakers have since backtracked, saying the image was actually a un unused design concept for Phone 2, rather than a preview of a new model.
Data engineer and sometime tech leaker Yogesh Brar showed off what he claims is a production validation test handset. The device is clad in a camouflaged case, but shows a pair of rear cameras. Rumours indicate these will be two 50MP sensors, one main and one ultrawide. Interestingly the placement of the lenses is now central, rather than to one side. This suggests the design has changed significantly from the first two Nothing Phones.
What hardware will be inside?
The accompanying status page shouldn’t be taken as gospel, as it suggests there’s a measly 1000mAh battery inside. The only handsets I’ve seen recently with that sort of capacity are dumbphones designed primarily for the elderly. Expect a minimum of 4500mAh, in line with Nothing Phone 1. There’s no word on wired charging speeds just yet, or if wireless charging will make the cut.
On the hardware front, Nothing is expected to swap from Snapdragon power to a MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chip. But it’ll be a custom version co-engineered with the processor giant. It should be able to clock up speeds up to 2.8Ghz and extra RAM. 8GB of RAM (plus RAM Booster tech) and 128GB of storage are expected, as is a 120Hz OLED display. Signs are pointing to a 6.7in panel. It should arrive running NothingOS 2.5, sat on top of Android 14.
NothingOS 2.5 is already available on Phone 2, so it’s unclear right now if there will be any extra glyph lighting functions or themed widgets making their debut here. It will reportedly have controllable Glyphs, to indicate countdown timers and the like. The has also released a dev kit for other app developers to get in on the action, but again there’s no indication any will be ready in time for Phone 2a’s launch.
Nothing Phone 2a feature wish list
Nothing Phone 1 was a breath of fresh air for affordable phones, with its distinctive styling and funky glyph lighting, but it wasn’t perfect. Phone 2 then massively improved things on the software front, while stepping up on materials quality and performance. If Phone 2a wants to be a blend of the two, here are the areas we’d like to see tackled.
More Glyph lighting use cases
It seems like Nothing is already on the case here, having released a dev kit to help third-party app makers incorporate glyph lighting. The more apps that use it, the more I can see myself leaving my phone screen-side down and simply looking out for flashing LEDs, rather than constantly checking every incoming notification.
Artificial intelligence is a buzzword the tech industry is positively obsessed with right now. From phones to fridges, seemingly everything needs a lashing of AI to stand out. At this point, not including any kind of generative AI assistance in Phone 2a would be a move I can get behind.
Keep the price right
Phone prices have been steadily climbing across the board, with flagships routinely breaching four figures and foldables demanding even more. The mid-range seemingly starts at $500/£500 now, and even ‘budget’ handsets can leave a small dent in your wallet. I’d like to see Phone 2a arrive at a price that won’t make you wince given the hardware. If it could launch day and date worldwide, with sensible pricing in every territory (something Phone 2 struggled to get right), that would be a big bonus.