The Nothing Phone 2a is thoughtfully designed and comes with a hefty price tag

Budget phones tend to be largely forgotten, but the Nothing Phone 2A is no mid-range budget phone – that's obvious just by looking at it.

The 2A is Nothing's third phone, and its first attempt at a truly inexpensive device. indeed very Budget-friendly: The Phone 2A goes on sale today from £319 (€329) for a model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The 12GB/256GB version will cost £349 (€379). Pre-orders open today, and the phone will ship on March 12. The 256GB version will sell in the US for $349, but there's a catch – it's only available through Developer program The phone will only work on T-Mobile. This is our loss, because a device has not been created that really stands out among the others.

The simple aesthetic carries the home screen treatment.

We've caught a few glimpses of the 2A in the past few weeks, so its specs aren't a total surprise, but here's the rundown: It comes with a 6.7-inch OLED display, a 120Hz refresh rate with Gorilla Glass 5, and a 1080p resolution. Resolution – well, 1084 x 2412, to be exact. There's a massive 5,000mAh battery that supports 45W wired charging, though there's no wireless charging here. The 2A uses the MediaTek Dimensity 7200 Pro chipset, which we already know, and comes with an IP54 rating, which we didn't.

The design is unmistakable, from the transparent back panel to the sleek, monochrome user interface. The central camera module includes a 50-megapixel main camera with an f/1.8 lens and optical stabilizer, which is quite rare in phones under $500. There is a 50MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera and a 32MP front camera. Three strips of light around the rear cameras form the front of the Phone 2A's avatar, bringing familiar features from the Phone 2 such as “flip to glyph” to quickly silence the phone and instead be notified via flashing lights.

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Flashing lights are totally cool, but this always-on display is where it's at.

Considering all of the above, $349 is a very reasonable price. Sure, the bezel and back panel are made of plastic and are only splash-resistant, and the glyph interface is still mostly intriguing, but It's only $349. It's easier to understand why it doesn't have certain features, like a more robust IP rating, than it does with the $599 Phone 2.

This price also makes it easy to appreciate what's what He is Here: The glyphs interface looks like an extra treat, and the informative always-on display is one of my favorites on any phone. There's NFC for contactless payments, which isn't always the case on budget phones, and if you're not sure exactly where to tap the device, you can just look – it's on the back of the phone. Likewise, the minimalist UI in almost nothing feels like a luxury in this category, where you'll sometimes find the worst kind of bloatware.

It's too good to be true — and if you live in the United States, it kind of is. The 2A is only available through Nothing's developer program, which is open to anyone, but the device only works on the T-Mobile network. It supports the carrier's n41 band, which is actually the backbone of its 5G network, but Verizon and AT&T's 5G networks are not supported. Even if you're using T-Mobile, it seems a bit difficult to rely on the Phone 2A as a daily driver without full support for LTE and low-band 5G. Disappointing, but hey – great phones are skipping the US? This is nothing new.

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Photography by Alison Johnson/The Verge

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