The Nothing Phone 2a is thoughtfully designed and well-priced

Budget phones tend to be forgettable, but the Nothing Phone 2A isn't your average budget phone – and that's clear to see.

The 2A is Nothing's third phone, and its first attempt at a truly affordable device. And its Very much Budget-friendly: The Phone 2A starts at £319 (€329) today for the model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The 12GB/256GB version costs £349 (€379). Pre-orders open today, and the phone will ship on March 12. The 256GB variant will sell for $349 in the US, but there's a catch – it's only available through A developer project And the phone only works on T-Mobile. That's our loss, because neither makes a device that stands out from the crowd.

The minimalist aesthetic goes through the home screen treatment.

We've seen a few renders of the Phone 2A over the past few weeks, so its specs aren't entirely surprising, but here's the rundown: It comes with a 6.7-inch, 120Hz OLED screen with Gorilla Glass 5 and 1080p. Resolution – 1084 x 2412, to be exact. While there is no wireless charging here, there is a large 5,000mAh battery that supports 45W wired charging. The Phone 2A uses the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chipset, which we already know, and comes with an IP54 rating, which we didn't.

From the transparent back panel to the stylish monochrome UI, the design is second to none. The centralized camera module has a 50-megapixel main with f/1.8 lens and optical stabilization, which is quite rare in phones under $500. There is a 50-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide and a 32-megapixel front-facing camera. Three light strips around the rear cameras make up the Phone 2A's Glyph interface, with familiar features from the Phone 2 like “flip to Glyph” to quickly silence the phone and instead be notified by its flashing lights.

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Flashing lights are cool and all, but this scene is forever.

Considering all of the above, $349 is a very reasonable price. Of course, the outer frame and back panel are plastic, which is only splash-resistant, and the Glyph interface is still mostly curious, but That's only $349. It's easy to understand why some features like an even stronger IP-rating aren't here than the $599 Phone 2.

That price tag makes it easy to appreciate There is Here: The glyph interface feels like a fun addition, and the informative always-on display is one of my favorites on any phone. There's NFC for contactless payments, which isn't always on budget phones, and if you don't know where to tap the device, you can see – it's on the back of the phone. Likewise, Nothing's minimalist UI feels almost like a luxury in this category, where you'll rarely find nasty bloatware.

It's too good to be true – if you live in the US, it is. The Phone 2A is only available through Nothing's developer program, which is open to anyone, but the device will only work on T-Mobile's network. It supports the carrier's n41 band, which is actually the backbone of its 5G network, but Verizon's and AT&T's 5G networks aren't supported. Even if you're on T-Mobile, without full support for LTE and low-band 5G, relying on the Phone 2A as a daily driver seems a little dicey. Disappointing, but hey — do cool phones skip America? It is nothing new.

Photo by Alison Johnson/The Verge

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