Don't get too excited about this Nothing Phone (2a) hands-on - the best is still to come

The next-gen Nothing Phone (2a) is coming, but there's something critical we don't yet know

Nothing Phone (2)
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

Hands-on images of an alleged Nothing Phone (2a) have leaked online, although we still can't see the exact design as the handset is hidden in an engineering case.

It's hard to know, therefore, whether it will sport the brand's trademark Glyph on the rear, or not. Either way, it'll launch later this month during MWC 2024.

Nothing - the smartphone startup from the OnePlus founder Carl Pei - has confirmed that the Nothing Phone (2a) is preparing to launch and we know that we're going to see the reveal at Mobile World Congress at the end of February.

The Nothing Phone (2a) is going to see the brand step into a new smartphone category, offering an affordable device to complement, but sit under, the excellent Nothing Phone (2)

The positioning of the new device was confirmed by Akis Evangelidis, who said that it will present an upgrade on the Nothing Phone (1) on every single front. That could see the Nothing Phone (2a) as one of the best cheap phones for 2024.

I'm taking the "every single front" comment with a pinch of salt, because I think the upgrade will mostly be in the core hardware of the phone: the Nothing phone (1) launched with the mid-range Snapdragon 778+ and we're now several generations beyond that hardware. The rumoured MediaTek Dimensity 7200 hardware powering the Nothing phone (2a) is brand new, so should easily provide a performance boost.

Nothing Phone (2a) design remains a mystery

But Nothing has also pulled off something of a trick here. A new device is about to be launched, and so far the design hasn't been comprehensively leaked. This is something that phone manufacturers like Samsung always struggle with and the latest leaks aren't anything to get excited about. The images shared via 91Mobiles show the Nothing Phone (2a), but it's in an engineering case.

Nothing Phone (2a) leak

(Image credit: 91Mobiles)

An engineering case is used to disguise the design of the device, while still allowing the phone to run, the display to be used, and the cameras tested. It's common practice in phone development.

What it means is that the Glyph Interface is still slightly unknown on the Nothing phone (2a). I think it's highly unlikely that Nothing would omit the Glyph Interface from its new device because it's what makes the company's phones stand out. I expect it will look something more like this (via Weibo), reduced, but still there.

The Nothing phone (2a) is likely to offer great value for money and be a natural rival to devices like the Pixel 7a or Samsung Galaxy S23 FE. More will be revealed at MWC later in February.

Chris Hall

Chris has been writing about consumer tech for over 15 years. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Pocket-lint, he's covered just about every product launched, witnessed the birth of Android, the evolution of 5G, and the drive towards electric cars. You name it and Chris has written about it, driven it or reviewed it. Now working as a freelance technology expert, Chris' experience sees him covering all aspects of smartphones, smart homes and anything else connected. Chris has been published in titles as diverse as Computer Active and Autocar, and regularly appears on BBC News, BBC Radio, Sky, Monocle and Times Radio. He was once even on The Apprentice... but we don't talk about that.