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(Pocket-lint) - Nothing announced its phone (1) at an event on 12 July, following what can only be described as the most overreaching hype campaign of any smartphone launch.

Aiming to make the mid-range market a little more exciting and less stale, the Nothing phone (1) goes up against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy A53, OnePlus Nord 2T and Google Pixel 6a

Want to know how it might compare to the OnePlus Nord 2T, from Carl Pei's former company? You're in the right place.

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Price and availability

  • Nothing phone (1): From £399
  • OnePlus Nord 2T: From £369

The Nothing phone (1) starts at £399 for the base 8/128GB model. Open sales started on 21 July 2022, but it's expected to be in limited supplies.

The OnePlus Nord 2T starts at £369 in the UK and €399 in Europe, also for the 8/128GB model.

Design

  • Nothing phone (1): 159.2 x 75.8 x 8.3mm, 193.5g
  • Nord 2T: 159.1 x 73.2 x 8.2mm, 190g

If there’s one area these two are drastically different, it’s in design. But then again, there’s not much out there on the market like the Nothing Phone (1). At least not when it comes to the transparent elements of the phone’s rear. 

In order to make that happen, Nothing had to consider how it designed all the internals, so that they’d look good from the outside, and then decorated it with led lights, called Glyphs, which can be programmed to flash in patterns that match a ring tone, or used as fill lights for photography and video. 

That purposeful and very deliberate approach to design is seen in the individually ringed cameras, and the display on the front with its completely uniform bezel all the way around it. It stands in stark contrast to the OnePlus, which a bafflingly large camera unit, and bezel around the display which isn't even on all sides. The chin - for instance - is very much chunkier than the other three sides. 

What's more, with its aluminium, straight edged frame, the Nothing phone has a much more sturdy feel to it than the OnePlus, with its plastic frame sandwiched between glass on front and back. 

Even the buttons are nicer to click on the Nothing phone. It's also IP53 rated against water and dust, OnePlus isn't. 

If there's any downside to the Nothing approach, it's that being completely flat means it's not as comfy to hold as the OnePlus, with its curved glass on the back. OnePlus is narrower too, which again, makes it a little easier to hold one-handed. 

Display

  • Nothing phone (1): 6.55in, Full HD+, OLED, 60-120Hz
  • OnePlus Nord 2T: 6.43in, Full HD+, OLED, 90Hz

What's interesting when looking at the displays is that the approach to calibration is similar to that on the cameras. That's to say, that even with both set to their natural or standard modes, the Nothing phone has a much nicer, more natural and warm approach to it. 

And when we say warm, we mean that the white light has that golden, real look to it, which means colours within scenes just looks more real. OnePlus by comparison seems to make this cooler, ups the contrast and over-saturates colours too, making reds and oranges seem too red and overblown. 

That means, for live action movies and tv shows, and for photos, the Nothing Phone is a much nicer panel to our eyes. 

There's some calibration you can tweak on both though. They both give you a more vivid/saturated option, and a slider to adjust the warmth and coolness. 

The other benefit of the Nothing display is that it is also a little larger, so definitely gives you a bit more of an expansive feel to your content. It's also got faster refresh rates, and seems slightly brighter, and supports HDR10+, so is the more dynamic of the two displays. 

Hardware and specs

  • Nothing Phone 1: Snapdragon 778+, 8/12GB RAM, 128/256GB, 4500mAh, 33W
  • OnePlus Nord 2T: Dimensity 1300, 8/12GB RAM, 128/256GB,  4500mAh, 80W

On to performance, and which suits you here the best likely depends on what you're planning to do with it. If you're likely to be spending your time with graphically intense games, the more powerful cores in the MediaTek 1300-powered OnePlus should mean you get more performance than you will from the Snapdragon 778 powered Nothing phone.

It seems more capable of sustaining higher frame rates during gaming. OnePlus software also has the ability to clear background tasks, and focus all its available RAM and processing to the game. If you benchmark using 3D Mark, the OnePlus will outperform the Nothing phone, but in Geekbench, they're remarkably similar. 

Here's the thing though: in every day usage, you're going to struggle to see any benefit from the Nord. Loading apps side by side, they seem to load things with virtually identical speed. So if your phone is there primarily for social media, web browsing, video watching, and the odd spot of casual gaming, there's really nothing in it. 

For the casual user then, you'll do no worse with one or the other in terms of speed and fluidity. Of course, the Nothing Phone's 120Hz display can reach higher refresh rates, so that can help everything feel super smooth, but the 90Hz on the OnePlus is still very good, and with the naked eye, we struggle to see much difference. 

You're more likely to see a significant difference in battery, or more accurately, charging speeds. Both phones have the same 4500mAh battery capacity. And - for the most part - we didn't experience much difference in how long they'd last. Both will comfortably last a full day, and with 2-3 hours of casual use, we'd find most days we finished with somewhere between 35-45 per cent left on both. 

However, in a pinch, if you need to refill quickly, it's the OnePlus Nord that's going to do that for you. With its 80W fast-charger - which comes in the box - it can completely refill in under half an hour. It takes over an hour to refill the Nothing Phone at its maximum 33W speeds. And the phone doesn't ship with a charger, just the cable. 

However, there is one added convenience of the Nothing Phone (1). It has wireless charging. OnePlus doesn't. It's nowhere near as fast as wired charging, but it is handy if you're a night time charger to be able to just place it down on a charging stand or mat.

Camera

  • Nothing phone (1): Dual rear (50MP main + 50MP ultrawide), 16MP front
  • OnePlus Nord 2T: Triple rear (50MP main + 8MP ultrawide + 2MP mono), 32MP front

Here's an interesting thing about the cameras: both use the same 50-megapixel IMX766 sensor from Sony in their primary lenses. They also both have a secondary ultrawide - Nothing has a 50-megapixel, OnePlus an 8MP. 

If you thought that having the same sensor in the main camera would mean the same results, that's understandable, but the reality isn't that. Not all the time. 

Sometimes, the two cameras will produce photos remarkably close to each other in terms of colour at least, but we'd often see a difference in contrast. OnePlus' phone seems to crank up the contrast higher, so the end result is that Nothing has images that look a little more like the real object you're looking at. Nord 2T makes the darker elements darker, crushing some areas to make it 'pop' more. 

As for ultrawides, there's not much competition here. It may not be perfect, but the Nothing's ultrawide delivers much better images than the OnePlus. OnePlus' ultrawide seems so struggle with highlights and shadows, and end results just aren't as crisp and sharp. It's not a very good ultrawide camera. 

Neither is particularly good in low light. When shooting indoors away from bright sources of light, you'll see noise creeping in in the shadows on both phones. However, in the dedicated night mode, the OnePlus does a better job of bringing in more light. In the really low light scenes that's really noticeable in night mode. 

Software

  • Nothing phone (1): Android 12, Nothing OS, Glyph Interface
  • OnePlus Nord 2T: Android 12, Oxygen OS

The Nothing phone (1) runs on Android 12 and it is fairly close to stock. Nothing OS has a unique dot-matrix interface and there is also the Glyph Interface that takes advantage of the LEDs on the back to offer some differentiation. Nothing is promising three Android OS updates and 4 years of security updates.

It's a nice clean interface with some interesting tweaks to make connectivity a little more seamless.

The OnePlus Nord 2T runs on Android 12 with OxygenOS over the top, or ColorOS for those in China. It's quite a departure from stock Android in terms of the menus and settings design, though it is clean with minimal bloatware. The OnePlus Nord is expected to get two Android OS updates.

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Conclusion

The Nothing phone (1) has the edge when it comes to design thanks to that translucent back and the uniqueness that it brings. We think that the Nothing phone (1) is the better looking phone, whereas the Nord 2T looks like a whole range of OnePlus or Oppo phones.

The Nothing phone (1) will offer a slightly larger display than the Nord 2T, with a faster refresh rate, along with extra features like wireless charging and the Glyph Interface - as well as offering Snapdragon power, which is always popular.

The Nord 2T is a little cheaper though, and it has much faster wired charging support, which is the biggest advantage that it has over its rival.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle and Cam Bunton.