A Nothing Phone (2) vs. Google Pixel 7a camera face-off centers around one of the top features people look at when considering what smartphone to buy. And there's plenty at stake for the Nothing Phone (2), given the camera quality of its predecessor.
That would be the Nothing Phone (1), and it would be safe to say we were underwhelmed with its camera quality. The first phone from Nothing performed poorly under low light conditions and with less dynamic range than some of the best camera phones at the time, including the Google Pixel 5a from 2021.
Needless to say, the pressure's on the new Nothing Phone. Just like many other people, I was enchanted by the head turning Glyph Interface in my initial Nothing Phone (2) hands-on, but after spending a full 24 hours with it, I was even more enamored by its fresher custom experience with Nothing OS 2.0. Still, I remained curious about its new dual-camera system, since in the back of my mind, I knew it was the defining feature that could make or break the phone.
Armed with a 50MP f/1.88 main camera paired with a 50-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide lens, the Nothing Phone (2) doesn’t look different on paper than the setup found on its predecessor. But there is a difference — the Nothing Phone (2)'s main camera uses a Sony IMX890 sensor, which supposedly produces wider dynamic range and sharper details with the help of a new advanced 18-bit Image Signal Process (ISP) system.
I don’t look much into the numbers because the Google Pixel 7a has shown us that you don’t need mighty 200MP cameras to produce stunning photos. It’s no wonder that Google's midrange phone made our list of best camera phones, where it shares space with flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Considering how the Pixel 7a sets the bar for what to expect out of a good performing camera phone, I decided to see how the Nothing Phone (2)’s upgraded camera system compares by snapping several photos below under different conditions. Here's how our Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off shook out.
Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off: Camera specs
|Nothing Phone (2)
|Google Pixel 7a
|Ultrawide angle camera
|50MP f/2.2 (114° field of view)
|13MP f/2.2 (120° field of view)
|Up to 1080p 480FPS
|Up to 1080p 240FPS
Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off: Main camera
Looking at the overall photos, it’s almost subjective on which main camera performs better. I will say that under sunny conditions, or when there’s ample lighting, the 50MP camera of the Nothing Phone (2) does a great job of capturing the scene — indicated by the photo above. Aside from how it skews on the warmer side, I think the Nothing Phone's shot holds up nicely against other top phones out there.
However, the 64MP Quad PD Quad Bayer camera of the Pixel 7a really flexes its muscle when I punch into the shots. That’s where I can make out its superior dynamic range, especially when I look at the shadows in the areas inside of the New York Public Library. Additionally, there are more details in the Pixel 7a’s shot when I crop the image and look at the sign on the left side of the library.
Winner: Google Pixel 7a
Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off: Ultrawide camera
On paper, you might not think there is a huge difference between a 114-degree field of view for the Nothing Phone (2) and a 120-degree one as seen on the Pixel 7a. But the extra coverage certainly becomes helpful for certain situations, like taking a group shot with a lot of people in it. Or perhaps, taking a photo of something very close without having to step back to capture everything.
Not only does the 13MP wide-angle camera of the Pixel 7a capture more of the buildings on the left and right sides in the photo above, I also like how it continues to produce better dynamic range than the Nothing Phone (2)’s 50MP ultrawide camera.
Winner: Google Pixel 7a
Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off: Front camera
Shockingly, I like the selfies I captured with the Nothing Phone (2) better than what the Pixel 7a produced. The Nothing Phone (2)'s 32MP front-facing camera captures more detail, while also offering adequate coverage for most of my upper torso. Dynamic range performance continues to be a challenge for it, but overall, I think it took better selfies.
It’s not to say that the 13MP camera on the front of the Pixel 7a is a letdown. Rather, I wish it didn’t have as tight of a crop. You’ll need to really stretch out your arms in order to get sufficient selfie coverage, while details were a tad bit softer.
Winner: Nothing Phone (2)
Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off: Portrait mode
By default, the Nothing Phone (2) has its aperture set to f/5.6, but it can be adjusted anywhere between f/0.95 and f/16 to add that out-of-focus bokeh effect to the background of portrait shots. You don’t get to choose the aperture on the Google Pixel 7a.
Despite this, I think the Pixel 7a produced portrait photos that were more realistic while also showing off its superior dynamic range yet again. Even when I toned the bokeh down on the Nothing Phone (2), it didn’t do as good of a job at identifying the edges around me, resulting in an unrealistic, over processed composition.
Winner: Google Pixel 7a
Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off: Video stabilization
With both phones topping out at 4K 60FPS video recording, I decided to look into how each one handles stabilization. The Nothing Phone (2) achieves this with the help of both optical and electronic stabilization, but the Pixel 7a does it relying on just OIS.
At first, I didn’t notice a tremendous difference between the footage, but I did see some micro jitters with the Nothing Phone (2) when I recorded handheld. Otherwise, Nothing's phone does a decent job at keeping videos stabilized, but those wobbles give Google's device the edge.
Winner: Google Pixel 7a
Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off: Low light photos
If there’s one area where a superior camera can clearly stand out, it’s in the area of low light performance. Given how low light photography was one of the biggest shortcomings of the original Nothing Phone (1), I was desperately hoping that this new Sony IMX890 would make for a substantial improvement with the Nothing Phone (2).
Sadly, it doesn’t. It’s painstakingly noticeable when you look at the shots above. The difference is night and day, with the Nothing Phone (2) poorly exposed and with little detail. Meanwhile, the Pixel 7a’s low light shot draws out the colors in the leaves, along with details that make up the driveway leading into the garage.
Nothing Phone (2) vs Google Pixel 7a camera face-off: Outlook
I’m still putting the Nothing Phone (2) through its paces, like how much longer battery it’ll deliver, but I’ll admit that I’m soured a bit by its low light performance. I was honestly expecting better results considering the new sensor in tow. Of course, it’s only one portion of the pie — so there still may be hope for it!
Knowing that this year’s Nothing model is more expensive ($600 in the U.S.), it makes me scratch my head and wonder if the Nothing Phone (2) has enough merit to convince consumers to choose it over the less expensive Pixel 7a ($500). Google’s midrange phone is the benchmark for all other Android phones in this price range, so the Nothing Phone (2) needs to knock it out of the park in all the other areas to convince everyone it’s a far more valuable phone.
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John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.
There certainly is the clear winner. No competition Pixel 7A gets the W. It crushed it in every angle and I believe including the selfie picture, but even without it. It's wayyyy better and not even the flagship Pixel? Pretty pitiful for Nothing Phone 2, although I like the idea! The more competition the better, the phones get better for the consumer and cheaper 👍Reply