Used to do classical finger picking, and I prefer nails on the dominant hand and the fretting hand no nails.
However, if you want that usual bright sound but no nails invest in a set of finger picks (and a thumb pick) instead. Give you similar sound and it's probably the tone you're trying to acquire. Of course it won't sound exactly the same since picks and nails are different textures but hey helps a bit.
The awesome thing about finger picking (and timbre in general) is that it's all up to you!!
First off, you are right! Having slightly grown out nails will have a different texture to the sound than cut nails.
One way to think about it would be that using nails will have a more pick-like attack (punchy, twangy), while no nails will have a much softer, rolled back tone (like jazz)
It's not as much about which is easier, but more about the quality and texture of the sound you want to make. Both ways are equally valid, and with practice are equal in difficulty.
I practiced classical for a while and one approach can be to start with growing out your nails regularly and play. Then, once you’ve got the muscle memory and your fingers get stronger, then you’ll easily manage fingerpicking without grown out nails. By saying “regularly” earlier, i meant that one session with short nails wont ruin everything, but try and practice with long nails at the beginning because it helps build strength much faster.
While it 100% will help you get a brighter sound, for me personally, it becomes an unwanted constant bright tone.
For when I need my notes to sound brighter, I hit the string slightly with my nail (like you would do for a pinch harmonic). I know it sounds weird, but sorta flicking it with your nail produces a bright tone.
Yes, you don't need very large nails but you should see 1,5 mm (approximately) of nail above the tip of your finger, and they need to have a curvature, i will attach a photo of my hand so you can see how i keep my nails.
And a tip, you should not hit the string only with flesh or only with nail, it should be a little of both
I think is very subjective! In my case, I really can't play with nails, on both right and left hands. In fact I have to cut them every 2-3 days lol because they really botter me
I heard once that nails are good for bass players, but I don't play bass so I can't tell if this is true or not
That being said, I think is really up to you whether you use your nails or not