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Nothing phone (2): All about those (Glyph) lights

It’s hard to stand out in the smartphone space, but startup Nothing looks to carve its own way with its devices. And this time, it’s doubling down on the Nothing phone (2)’s Glyph feature, a.k.a. the lights on its semi-transparent back. The company is looking to turn this feature from a shiny gimmick to one that is useful.

Here are the new things you can expect from the Nothing phone (2)’s Glyph system:

Explaining Glyphs

The Nothing phone (2) has a slightly different Glyph on the back than the phone (1). The Glyph is a modern version of the old LED notification lights that used to be on some Android phones. It lights up when you get a notification. And you can customize the colors to what app it comes from. But it doesn’t change color like the RGB lights did. Nothing CEO Carl Pei said that RGB lights are “cringe,” so it sticks to white.

The Glyph on the phone (2) has more LED nodes and features more symmetrical LED strips than the phone (1). It has 33 nodes, compared to 12 on its predecessor. But most of the new Glyph features are not about the hardware but the software. That means the Nothing phone (1) will also get some of these features via an update.

Custom ‘light tones’ and Flip to Glyph

You can make your Nothing phone (1) or phone (2) more personal by choosing custom ringtones and Glyphs/light tones for your contacts. These light and sound patterns appear on the back of your phone when you get a notification. You can assign various Glyph patterns to different contacts, so you can tell who’s contacting you by the light and sound.

You can also use Flip to Glyph, a feature that silences your phone when you put it face down. This way, you can still see your notifications through the Glyphs without hearing any alerts. (Android Authority pointed out it is Nothing’s interpretation of Google’s Flip to Shhh.)

There’s also a new Glyph Composer that lets you create your Glyphs from scratch. You can tap on the screen to make a unique melody and light show. And then save and use it for any contact. If you feel like contributing, you can share your custom Glyphs with others through the Android share sheet.

Getting creative with the Glyph Composer reminds me of the old days when people composed ringtones for Nokia devices. There’s no limit to your creativity. You can make a different Glyph for every contact on your phone if you want.

Nothing phone (2) focuses on the Essential (mode)

You can set some notifications as “essential” on your Nothing phone. This feature leaves the diagonal light on the top right corner of your smartphone enabled until you check or dismiss the alert. You can do this for any app or contact by long-pressing the notification and toggling the Essential Glyph option.

This is very useful because it lets you know when someone important is trying to reach you. It can work in tandem with the Flip to Glyph feature. You won’t hear any sound, but you’ll see the light if you have an important notification.

However, this feature has some limitations and drawbacks. For example, it can drain your battery if the light stays on for a long time. But there’s an urgency to an essential alert, so you’ll probably notice this immediately (unless your phone is tucked away).

Also, you can’t set a contact as essential across different apps. You have to do it for each app separately. And you can’t choose to see essential notifications only when you use Flip to Glyph. You’ll still get alerted about other notifications.

It would be nice if Nothing OS could improve this feature by allowing more flexibility and customization. For example, you could set a contact as essential once, and the phone applies it to all the apps you talk to them on. Or you could have an “Essential Mode,” which only shows those crucial notifications when you flip your phone. That way, you could focus on what matters most and ignore the rest.

Track your progress

You can also use the LED strip on the back of your Nothing phone (2) to see the progress of some app functions. It can track how loud the volume is or the timer’s progress.

Nothing wants third-party apps to support it. For now, Uber and Zomato have signed up. So, if you order an Uber, the LED strip will show you how much time is left before your driver arrives. You can look at the back of your phone and know when to get ready.

Nothing calls this feature Glyph Progress. The company says it will add more partners soon so you can use it with other apps and services.

Glyph Progress won’t be available on the Nothing phone (1) because it needs the 16-zone LED strip that only the phone (2) has. This is one feature we’re hoping Nothing gets more support for because it has many use cases. Locally, I’d want it for Grab delivery.

All the other Nothing phone (2) specs

Now if you’re curious about the phone aspect of the Nothing phone (2), it has a 6.7-inch LTPO OLED screen that can change its refresh rate from 1Hz to 120Hz depending on what you’re doing. This can save battery and make your phone run smoother. The screen has a hole in the middle for the 32-megapixel selfie camera.

The back camera setup has two lenses: one for regular photos and another for wide-angle shots. Both are 50-megapixel sensors, but the primary one is a Sony IMX890 with optical and electronic image stabilization, while the latter is a Samsung JN1 sensor with advanced HDR capabilities.

The Nothing phone (2) runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 + Gen 1 processor, replacing the Snapdragon 778G+ on the phone (1). It now has a 4,700mAh battery with faster 45W wired charging and 15W wireless charging support. The phone comes with Nothing OS 2.0, an Android 13-based software that includes new options for customizing your phone’s look and feel.

This Nothing phone still sits in the midrange segment, so you can’t expect it to operate the same as the flagship phones. However, the Glyph system certainly presents a differentiator for the Nothing phone (2). So, if you’re willing to forego ultra-fast charging, an IP68 rating, or the lack of a telephoto lens, it might be worth checking out.

Nothing phone (2): Price and availability

The Nothing phone (2) comes in white and dark gray colors. You can get it in these configurations:

  • 8GB RAM + 128GB storage – USD 599
  • 12GB RAM + 256GB storage – USD 699
  • 12GB RAM + 512GB storage – USD 799

Pre-orders have kicked off, while open sales are scheduled for July 17 via nothing.tech.


With a more useful glyph system, we dub the Nothing phone (2) the Cool Tech of the Week! What is it you like, and what is it you’re missing on this phone? Let us know!