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EXCLUSIVE: Nothing told us some big secrets about the Nothing Phone 2a

Nothing CEO Carl Pei.

Nothing CEO Carl Pei Nothing

“The Nothing Phone 2a targets people less concerned about the latest specs, and more about core functionalities matched with great performance and Nothing’s signature design both inside and out.”

That’s how Carl Pei, CEO of Nothing, described the forthcoming Nothing Phone 2a in an exclusive Q&A with Digital Trends via email ahead of the phone’s launch. While he didn’t give everything away about the Nothing Phone 2a, there’s plenty here to leave us very excited about the brand’s next device.

The first Nothing Phone powered by MediaTek

Image showing the internal structure of the Nothing Phone 2a, provided by Nothing to Digital Trends
EXCLUSIVE: The Nothing Phone 2a internal layout showing the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chip. Nothing

Nothing provided Digital Trends with an exclusive image of the Nothing Phone 2a’s insides, revealing the phone will be powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro processor. This is the first time Nothing has worked with MediaTek, as it chose Qualcomm Snapdragon processors for the Nothing Phone 1 and the Nothing Phone 2. Pei explained the thinking behind the decision:

“In the early stages of Phone 2a’s development, and understanding our desire to introduce it to a new market segment, performance was an area we knew we needed to nail. The question we needed to answer was, how could we ensure a strong balance between power efficiency and speed? Ultimately, working with MediaTek became that answer.”

Pei called MediaTek “the right partner to help us achieve our overall goals,” but it didn’t just choose an off-the-shelf chip for the Nothing Phone 2a. If you’re familiar with MediaTek’s chip range, the Dimensity 7200 Pro may not be one you recognize, and that’s because it has been exclusively designed by the two companies for the 2a.

“Co-engineered with MediaTek, the custom Dimensity 7200 Pro processor elevates Phone 2a by delivering the best performance with optimal power consumption,” Pei said. “Built on TSMC’s latest second-generation 4nm process technology, it effortlessly powers through any task with unparalleled power efficiency and blazing speed. Together, we have brought optimizations such as Smart Clean (+200% UFS read/write speed over prolonged usage) and Adaptive NTFS (+100% file transfer speeds with Windows computers, as our internal research shows this platform is important to our target user base), and have been able to reduce power consumption of specific components by up to 10%.”

Smooth collaborator

Nothing CEO Carl Pei.
Nothing CEO Carl Pei Nothing

MediaTek has a long history of working closely with brands to ensure the chosen processor performs best in the areas most important to the manufacturer, something it has done in the past for Pei’s previous company, OnePlus, and its close relation Oppo, among others. Pei made it clear working with MediaTek has been a great experience.

“From the very beginning, MediaTek understood what we are looking to achieve with Phone 2a, which gave us great confidence in co-engineering a custom chipset with them. Overall, it was a smooth process and true collaboration  — you will see results for yourself when you start using the phone.”

MediaTek echoed Pei’s words, with MediaTek’s Corporate Senior Vice President JC Hsu also telling Digital Trends, “We value the collaboration we have with Nothing, and co-working with their team to bring the advanced MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro to the Nothing Phone 2a has been a fantastic experience — one that we are looking forward to expanding in the near future.”

Great expectations

A person holding the Nothing Phone 2, showing the back panel.
Nothing Phone 2 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

“We knew performance would be a crucial element, and we needed a partner that would work closely with us to achieve our goals,” Pei continued, saying the Nothing Phone 2a will “deliver core functionalities,” with the “unique and innovative hardware and software design” many love about the brand. When asked for more details on the performance, Pei made an interesting comparison:

“The Phone 2a is a clear upgrade from Phone 1, particularly in terms of performance. Phone 2a is 18% more powerful than Phone 1 and 16% more efficient in terms of battery consumption compared to Phone 1.”

With no mention of the Nothing Phone 2 — and the Nothing Phone 1 still available to buy through Nothing’s online store — Pei’s words suggest the Nothing Phone 2a should replace the brand’s first model in its range rather than live alongside it or be considered a lesser Nothing Phone 2. When pressed about the Nothing Phone 2a’s place in the range, Pei said the phone was made for those less interested in the latest specs and more in performance and Nothing’s design.

“This year, we will be widening our product portfolio, leveraging our strong product capabilities we’ve built across the years to enter new product segments and categories in order to increase Nothing’s footprint and further scaling, which is key to exist as a company in this industry and keep driving innovation,” he added.

Will this include an even higher-spec Nothing Phone, perhaps a Pro or an Ultra, to join the new a-series? Pei wasn’t going to be drawn into revealing more company secrets.

“Only time will tell,” he said about other, future Nothing Phone models. “For now, we are focused on our latest device, Phone 2a, and bringing it to market. We are really excited about this device and can’t wait to hear our users’ feedback on it!”

Nothing Phone 2a design secrets

Image showing the internal structure of the Nothing Phone 2a, provided by Nothing to Digital Trends
EXCLUSIVE: The internal layout of the Nothing Phone (2a). Nothing

What else have we learned? Our first image shows the top of the Nothing Phone 2a revealed in all its naked glory, and while our eyes are naturally drawn to the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro, the 12GB of RAM, and the RAM Booster features — Pei confirmed you can pick between two, four, and 8GB of RAM using the Booster, subject to storage capacity — there’s also quite a bit more to the image than what’s visible at first glance.

For example, in another image provided to Digital Trends by Nothing, a single camera lens is clearly visible in the middle of what we assume is the top third of the phone, alongside what appears to be the edge of another camera. The Phone 1 and Phone 2’s cameras are set in the top corner, meaning the Phone 2a has a very different design and is unlikely to match one of the earlier debunked design leaks. There’s also an unusual lens-like component near the top of the phone and no obvious integration of Nothing’s famous Glyph lighting structure.

Some rumors suggested the Glyph lights may not be a part of the Phone 2a, but in a recent Nothing Community update video, Nothing designer Chris Weightman said that “the function [Glyph] provides is really important. We definitely didn’t want to lose that, but with the overall kind of design of the phone being quite different to the Phone 2, we had to work a little bit to figure out exactly where the Glyphs fit in this time.”

Using what we can see in the image of the Nothing Phone 2a’s internal layout, Weightman’s words confirming the Glyph lights will be part of the phone (but in a new way), and even the leaked renders from last year with the “see the world through fresh eyes” tagline for the phone, it seems like the new MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chip is only the start of what will make the Phone 2a worth our attention. What did Pei have to say about all our questions and speculation about the design, what the image of the internals (almost) shows us, and the various leaked renders?

“Don’t believe everything you read!” he told us, adding, “Tune in on March 5 to find out more.”

We’ll be doing exactly that. The Nothing Phone 2a will be announced on March 5, but it won’t see a wide release in the U.S. However, dedicated fans may find a way to still get one.

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