The Nothing phone (2) is here, but if you have photosensitive epilepsy, I’d think twice about clicking that pre-order button.
After testing the phone (spoiler alert: it’s pretty great), I showed it to my friends — one of which has this condition, and warned me that it could be a big problem.
This is not the first time she’s said this to me, as the same concerns were raised about the Nothing phone (1). But in an exclusive for Laptop Mag, an epilepsy charity has weighed in too, and expressed its fears over the phone (2) possibly being a trigger.
What the experts say
We reached out to Epilepsy Action — a charity in the UK that is committed to supporting people affected by epilepsy, and provide support to anyone with this condition. While I have my own anecdotal evidence from friends with photosensitive epilepsy, I wanted to get an official opinion.
“It’s possible that the flashing lights could be a trigger for someone with photosensitive epilepsy,” a representative from the Advice and Information team said to Laptop Mag. “This is because people who have photosensitive epilepsy triggered by flashing lights may find that anywhere between 3 and 60 flashes per second affects them.”
During my briefings with Nothing, I did bring up these epilepsy concerns with the phone (2), to which we were told that turning down the brightness could help with the problem. According to the charity, that’s half true.
“Reducing the brightness wouldn’t eliminate the above risk. But it may reduce it. Generally, lowering the brightness and contrast of something that could be a trigger may reduce risks, but won’t eliminate the risk if it still flashes between 3 and 60 times per second.”
So it’s clear where the potential problem lies. It’s not with the brightness of the flashing lights, it’s with how rapidly they flash in a strobe fashion. Epilepsy Action says as much — recommending that Nothing works on an update to customize the Glyph interface, so it “doesn’t flash anywhere between 3 and 60 times per second.”
This could mean what I’ve been asking for since phone (1), which would be a means to turn down the flashing strobe effect and offer the lighting in simple pulsating patterns. It’s a shame because I really like the Nothing phone (2).
But if I know one thing about Nothing from last year’s phone, the company is quick to address any bugs or issues. I have reached out to Nothing for comment, but hopefully the team is quick to remedy this.
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Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.