Aspera Nitro 2 Review: Can A Budget Phone Be Too Expensive?

Aspera Nitro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Aspera Nitro 2 performs pretty much as you’d expect an inexpensive phone to perform. Oddly, that is it’s biggest problem.

Pros Cons
Includes NFC for contactless payments Slow processor
Charger in the box Battery life isn’t what it should be, even for a budget phone
Rear fingerprint sensor is a rarity these days No evident OS upgrades and old security update patches

Score: 2.5/5


Aspera Nitro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman) Buy The Aspera Nitro 2! Buy On Amazon

In this review

Aspera Nitro 2 Specifications
Aspera Nitro 2 Design
Aspera Nitro 2 Performance
Aspera Nitro 2 Battery
Aspera Nitro 2 Conclusion



Aspera Nitro 2 Design (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Aspera Nitro 2 is built around a 6.6 inch 1612x720 LCD display, which is reasonably generous in size terms, but not the sharpest you'll see. It's still broadly in line with what you might expect in terms of a budget phone, however.

Many budget phones are still single colour options -- typically black -- but the Aspera Nitro 2 ships in two different tones, with either the Pearl (as reviewed) or Black options to pick from. Pleasingly, Aspera provides a slender hard case in the box; I'm always going to be a big fan of manufacturers including cases with phones.

You do get support for fingerprint unlocking, and at first glance you might even think that there's an in-display fingerprint reader, because if it's enabled, you get the classic fingerprint icon on the Lock Screen.

It's not, however, and it's also not to be found in the power button, as seems to be the case for many of its contemporaries. Instead Aspera's gone full old-school, opting for a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor sitting rather close to the camera lenses. There's definitely phone users who like back plate fingerprint sensors, but having them that close to the cameras is a slightly annoying design decision.

Still, while the Aspera Nitro 2 isn't amazing in design terms, it's broadly in line with what I'd expect right now for a budget Android phone.


Aspera Nitro 2 Camera (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Budget phones so very frequently stay inexpensive by only offering simple camera modules, and that's 100% the route that Aspera's taken with the Nitro 2. At the back you'll find a single 13MP sensor, while in a teardrop notch at the front there's an 8MP sensor for selfie taking.

Aspera Nitro 2 Sample Selfie Shot (Photo: Alex Kidman)
Selfies work, but they tend on the dark side -- which is true for most photos taken on the Aspera Nitro 2

Both are on the ordinary side, even for a budget phone, quickly falling into all the predictable traps for basic budget phone cameras. The camera app isn't quick to start or to focus, and getting lighting right even in optimal conditions can be a real challenge.

Aspera Nitro 2 Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Any mix of light and dark areas will quickly impact photo quality on the Nitro 2

Some of this is absolutely par for the course for a budget phone, because anyone expecting flagship quality at $179 is deluding themselves.

Still, within the kingdom of budget phone cameras, the Aspera Nitro 2 is more of a lowly serf than any member of the high table.

Aspera Nitro 2 Sample Photos

Aspera Nitro 2 Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Aspera Nitro 2 Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Aspera Nitro 2 Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Aspera Nitro 2 Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Aspera Nitro 2 Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)


Aspera Nitro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Aspera Nitro 2 opts for one of Unisoc's processors, specifically the UNISOC SC9863A, which isn’t a shock.

Unisoc’s processors are the absolute kings of the budget market, built to a low price first and foremost. That’s paired up with just 3GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage, though you can thankfully boost that with microSD card storage if you wish.

With specifications that heavily leaning into the low end, it’s a somewhat smart move for Aspera to ship it with Android Go, the lightweight version of Android specifically built for low-end phones.

It’s a tad irksome, however, that it’s Android 13 Go, so it’s a version “behind” where it should be.

OK, maybe the budget market isn’t so much fussed about Android versions, but buyers in this space should still have some level of concern around security updates, because that’s becoming ever more critical when we’re talking about devices that run much of our lives these days.

I was disappointed to note that the handset sent in for review last saw a security update in October 2023. There’s no word on the schedule for future OS or security updates, but that kind of gap does suggest that the answer there might be “never”.

Not too surprising again, because Aspera doesn’t make its own phones; it’s just rebadging an OEM design with Aspera logos and selling it locally.

Budget phones typically aren’t fast, but assessing the Aspera Nitro 2 was a tricky matter.

It sits below the level where Geekbench 6 actually wants to install, though 3DMark will “run”… to an extent. Here it did not fare well when compared to similarly priced handsets:

Some of the phones in that table are a little older, it’s true, but the Motorola Moto G04 isn’t, and while I’d never describe it as a “fast” phone by any stretch of the imagination, the difference in both benchmark performance and real-world observational performance is quite marked.

The Aspera Nitro 2 is not fast, and it will take an age to load more complex Android apps. The performance gap between the Moto G04 and the Nitro 2 isn’t a small one, especially given both phones carry the same recommended retail price.

Also read:
Motorola Moto G04 review

Android Go should give the it a little breathing room, because the Go editions of apps are designed to be lightweight and use fewer system resources. For the preinstalled Go apps that’s true, but when you go searching Google Play for the lighter Go versions of apps… well, you’ve got to go searching and hunting and know upfront that they exist at all!

Google used to make Go phones pitch towards the Go version of apps when launching Google Play, making them very evident, but now it just defaults to a standard interface that supplies full-fat apps as the default.

With only 64GB onboard – in fact less that that, around 57GB once Android Go is taken into account – you don’t have that much wriggle room, or for that matter processing power to run many of them!

Some of this should be expected in a budget phone, and there are silver linings to the Aspera Nitro 2 experience, such as the inclusion of NFC for contactless payments. That’s not super-common in the budget space – but again the Moto G04 has NFC onboard for the same price in a phone that’s better in essentially every respect.


Aspera Nitro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

Like just about every other Android phone right now, the Aspera Nitro 2 packs in a 5,000mAh battery. That’s fine without being exceptional again at this price, but can the inclusion of that slower UNISOC SC9863A processor lead to a big boost in battery life?

Sadly, no, it can’t. Using my standard YouTube one hour battery test was informative here:

That 90% mark is typically where I find phones that may struggle to last a full day’s usage under moderate usage.

That’s not the same as saying the Aspera Nitro 2 can’t last a full day under some circumstances – but it does mean you’ve got to be a bit careful with your usage if you’re not within range of a power point.

Aspera does include a simple 10W wall charger in the box along with the Aspera Nitro 2, so it’s feasible to top it up, but charging is quite slow.

Aspera Nitro 2: Alex’s Verdict

Aspera Nitro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman)

At $179, it sits comfortably within Aspera's usual wheelhouse of being a highly affordable phone, and the pitch that Aspera has for it -- replacing your old 3G handset before Telstra and Optus close those networks entirely in 2024 -- is reasonably solid.

However, I find myself in the unusual position (for a budget phone) of thinking that the Aspera Nitro 2 is just a tad too expensive for what it is.

That's not something I'd typically think about a sub-$200 phone.

The same money could score you the Motorola Moto G04, a phone that's simply better in just about every respect than the Nitro 2 is in terms of recently reviewed models, but it's not alone in that space in offering something that's a little better for the same money.

If it were cheaper -- which is to say if you can get one at a discount price -- then it's a much more compelling option.

Aspera Nitro 2: Pricing and availability

The Aspera Nitro 2 retails in Australia for $179 outright.


Aspera Nitro 2 (Photo: Alex Kidman) Buy The Aspera Nitro 2! Buy On Amazon

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