Nothing appears to be launching the Phone (2a) soon. This is a budget version of the regular (2), but without its most distinctive detail. So is it really still worth buying, and what about other budget smartphones?
While the iPhone 15, Samsung Galaxy S24 and the Google Pixel 8 Pro are in the premium segment, below them is a large group of mid-range smartphones. That may include the quirky Nothing. It is now coming out with the Phone (2a). An alternative version of its most recent flagship.
With this, it follows a trend already started by many other brands, a budget phone of the flagship. But is it really worth going for such a model?
Nothing comes out with the Phone (2a)
Let’s get to Nothing first. The company has had two successful releases with the Phone 1 and Phone (2). These are quirky smartphones from OnePlus founder Carl Pei who has started anew. And these models manage to catch on.
So the Nothing Phone (2a) will be a budget version of the Phone (2). What immediately stands out is the phone’s appearance. It has just a slightly different design, reports the platform SmartPrix. Most striking: the glyph, or lights are gone. That means, for example, your phone can no longer flash when you get a call or a notification.
A second rumor makes it even stranger. Pay no attention to the frame surrounding it, as it is supposed to hide the design. What does stand out, however, is that the camera is somewhat different. Which of the two comes closest to the actual design, however, remains to be seen.
A trend started before by Samsung and Google
Yet Nothing is doing something we have seen for years with several smartphone manufacturers. They are coming out with budget versions of their flagships. OK, the price is still not as low as true budget phones like the Samsung A-line and Nokia’s devices, but it is notable.
For example, in addition to the 12, OnePlus has the 12R, Samsung has had an FE, or Fan Edition, for years, Google has the Pixel 7a and Nothing will soon have the (2a). The big question is whether people are really waiting for these.
A 12R is still understandable because the device comes just a bit later than the 12 and it gives the user just a bit more choices.
With an FE and the Nothing (2a), it’s just a different case. Both smartphones get a cheaper version while the original has been out for quite a while.
Pixel 7a (Image: Google)
In fact, they have often already dropped in price, so the difference is not even that great anymore. Even though the budget model may be newer, the original still has better components. So why go for that lower class? And with Nothing Phone 2a, it’s a step worse. This was already a midrange phone, why go for even less.
For comparison, you currently score the Samsung Galaxy S23 for 640 euros on Bol.com, while the S23 FE on the same platform costs 589 euros. OK, you have a slightly larger screen with the FE, but then again the regular one has Amoled instead of OLED. In addition, the regular S23 has a more powerful processor and a better camera.
Is it a success?
It’s hard to figure out if models like the Nothing Phone (2a) really score well. They are not represented in the top lists. Indeed, if we see the list of the best-selling smartphones of 2023, we see a very different extraordinary statistic.
The most recent list is from Q3, but because it may give a somewhat incomplete picture, we look at the first six months of 2023. The Forbes list shows something striking. The first four places are for iPhones, with the 13 even in fourth place. Even more striking, the iPhone 11 is even in place 10. Because the 15 was not out at the time, of course, it is not in the list.
The 10 best-selling smartphones in the first six months of 2023
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max: 26.5 million
Apple iPhone 14 Pro: 21 million
Apple iPhone 14: 16.5 million
Apple iPhone 13: 15.5 million
Samsung Galaxy A14: 12.4 million
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: 9.6 million
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G: 9 million
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G: 8.8 million
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G: 7.1 million
Apple iPhone 11: 6.9 million
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the only other flagship we see in the list with 12.4 million units. For the rest, it only lists Samsung Galaxy A models and thus no FEs.
So what stands out about the list is that it is either very expensive or very cheap smartphones that are popular. However, the mid-range models don’t seem to be that interesting with the general public, which is thus striking. The big question is whether the Nothing Phone (2a) is really going to change that.