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Nothing Phone (2): Embracing LED Lights, Despite Mixed Reactions to Glyphs

In just a few days, Phone (2), the highly anticipated flagship device from British startup Nothing, will finally be launched. Fans of the brand have been eagerly awaiting this moment. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait another week to get a glimpse of the Nothing Phone (2)’s design. YouTuber Marques Brownlee had the privilege of an early hands-on preview, giving us a sneak peek at Nothing’s fresh design approach for its Phone series.

While Phone (2) does bear a resemblance to its predecessor, Phone (1), it also possesses distinct differentiators. Additionally, it seems that Nothing is not ready to let go of the unique feature that garnered attention with its initial release. Personally, I fail to grasp the practical value of having LED lights flashing on the back, but it appears that Nothing has decided to embrace this design choice moving forward.

Even without MKBHD’s hands-on video, it was apparent that the Nothing Phone (2) would retain the LED glyphs on the back. Nothing had already teased these rear-facing lights in recent Phone (2) images. It wouldn’t have been expected for Nothing to abandon the LED indicators after just one year. There is nothing inherently wrong with establishing a distinctive identity and maintaining a consistent design for multiple generations.

In fact, this approach is one that most smartphone manufacturers should consider adopting, despite the potential perception of it being monotonous to certain buyers. By sticking to a similar design, companies can effectively reduce manufacturing costs, which is often a more significant concern for many customers.

Indeed, the Nothing Phone (2) introduces notable changes and enhancements compared to its predecessor. While the front of the phone maintains a hole-punch display with symmetrical bezels, the placement of the camera cutout has been shifted to the center, distinguishing it from the Phone (1).

On the back of the device, the transparent case remains, showcasing the LED glyphs. However, Nothing has innovated by dividing the LED strips into separate standalone parts, enabling diverse patterns and customizations. In contrast to the previous 12 lighting zones, the Phone (2) now boasts 33 lighting zones, with 16 zones specifically dedicated to the primary glyph for finer control. Marques Brownlee showcases some of these patterns in his video. For instance, one LED strip can visually indicate volume changes when the phone is placed face-down on a surface. Admittedly, it may not be a behavior commonly employed by iPhone users to control volume.

These updates demonstrate Nothing’s commitment to refining and expanding upon its unique LED design feature, providing users with more options for customization and visual feedback.

Additionally, the LED lights on the Nothing Phone (2) serve various purposes, including displaying a timer’s progress. In this case, it is represented by a simple bar of light. Furthermore, the LED indicator can also provide information about the estimated distance of an ongoing Uber ride. Although it’s worth noting that currently, only two third-party apps have confirmed support for utilizing the new LED indicators on the back of the device. These examples highlight the initial implementation of the LED feature and its potential for providing visual cues and information through compatible applications.

The Nothing Phone (2) also boasts some notable design features on its rear, including a dual-lens camera setup and curved edges. While the specific hardware and software enhancements to the camera system are yet to be confirmed, it’s reasonable to expect improvements over its predecessor. The curved edges add an aesthetic appeal that some users may find desirable, even wishing for similar design elements on their iPhones.

The transparent back of the Nothing Phone (2) undoubtedly adds a distinctive touch and sets it apart from the crowd. It may bear some resemblance to an iPhone, but the transparent design is likely to turn heads and provide the device with its own unique personality. Personal preferences may vary, and if given the opportunity, some users might choose to disable the rear-facing lights from the outset.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that other Nothing customers may appreciate and embrace the LED lighting system. In fact, they will soon have the chance to explore its capabilities, including the ability to create custom LED-based notifications. Different users will have different preferences and find value in the diverse features offered by the Nothing Phone (2).

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