As most PC gamers already know, Razer is famous for its own brand of gaming products and peripherals such as keyboards, laptops mice and tablets. After acquiring Nextbit in January 2017, Razer obviously wanted a piece of the smartphone market pie and here we have their first entry into the smartphone race, The Razer Phone.
The question is though, does it hold its own in the uber-competitive smartphone market? Read on to find out in our review of the new Razer Phone.
As expected, the Razer phone offers impressive top of the line specs. Under the hood, you’ll find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, Adreno 540 GPU, 8GB LPDDR4X RAM, 64GB storage with expandable microSD slot and a 4000 mAh battery. Up front, there’s a 5.7-inch IPS LCD 2560×1440 pixel with a fantastic 120 Hz refresh rate, a first for a smartphone. The dual rear cameras are both 12MP with one normal f/1.75 lens and 2X zoom telephoto f/2.6 lens, while the front camera is 8MP.
Aesthetically, The handset looks quite similar to Nextbit’s Robin phone with similarly placed power and volume buttons and the camera module located in the same area but it’s definitely a lot more menacing looking thanks to its gunmetal grey finish. It’s definitely not a sleek phone either with extremely angular corners and larger than normal, 16:9 ratio screen as opposed to the growing trend for narrower 18:9 aspect ratio screens.
The aluminium body feels premium and weighty. Coincidentally, you could even mistake it for Sony’s own Xperia range, especially given the fact the power and fingerprint buttons are implemented the same way as Xperia’s own handsets.
Around the back, you’ve got Razer’s famous triple headed serpent logo with our particular unit’s logo in bright green seeing as it was on of the 1337 limited edition models. The normal edition handset’s logo will be grey like the rest of the phone.
Buttery smooth gaming
I tested out a number of Razer approved games that allegedly support the Razer Phone’s superfast 120hz frame rate, including Real Racing 3 and the newly launched Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition and they all played and looked noticeably better than other high-end smartphones. Running Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition on both the Razer Phone and HTC U11 side by side, the Razer Phone was considerably smoother in terms of framerate and the loading times were quicker also.
Another important thing to note is that the large bezels which house the phone’s stereo speakers offer a comfortable place to hold the phone whilst gaming or watching videos, just be sure not to block the speakers when holding the phone in landscape mode.
Another feather in Razer’s hat when it comes to the capabilities of this phone are its Dolby audio features. The phone recently received an update allowing it to play Netflix in both HDR and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, the first smartphone in the world capable of this. Having tested this particular feature out, this phone, by far, has the best speakers on any handset I’ve ever used, they’re almost obnoxiously loud when turned up all the way and the virtual 5.1 speaker set up generated by the large stereo speakers on the front of the device really is amazing.
Utilizing Dobly’s Atmos audio engine, games and videos sound fantastic on this device and, even though there isn’t a headphone jack on-board (it’s 2018 after all) Razer has included a THX certified USB-C audio adapter for those of you who want to use their 3.5mm headphones. Again, having tested this, the sound quality achieved when using the Dolby Atmos software really packs power and clarity over the normal audio settings.
Battery life is also very good, lasting me an entire day comfortably. You can also reduce the eye-watering 120hz frame rate of the display to save some additional battery but that would be taking away from one of the main USPs of this phone.
On paper, the camera specs for the Razer Phone look decent but unfortunately, at this point in time anyway, the resulting images just can’t compete with the likes of Samsung or HTC even after OTA camera software updates from Razer to try and improve things.
The camera app itself is quite basic with no panoramic or manual mode and the HDR mode that is included needs a little work. Colours also appear to be slighted washed out but nothing a little post-editing in Google Photos can’t fix.
Low light capabilities could also do with some work with grainy results and the 2X zoom mode, achievable due to the second telephoto lens, is only okay compared to other dual-lens cameras on other competitor handsets. The front facing 8MP camera is pretty decent in its own right but can’t really match the quality of other similarly priced phones.
In the end, people aren’t going to be buying this phone for its camera and, for the most part, it will get you by. We just hope Razer continues to upgrade the software to improve the overall camera experience and image quality.
Below are a selection of images I captured whilst on a press trip in Mallorca:
As a first generation model and Razer’s first attempt at cracking the smartphone market, their efforts must be commended. Obviously, Razer’s main objective was to get the gaming aspects right and they definitely delivered on this front. With its pioneering 120Hz 2K IGZO display, Dolby Atmos tuned stereo speakers and powerful internal specs, the Razer Phone is the best smartphone out right now when it comes to mobile gaming.
As mentioned above though, the camera capabilities on this headset need a bit more work to make this handset a fantastic all-round package but for you avid mobile gamers, this is definitely the phone for you.
Below are the key specs for the Razer Phone. The device is available exclusively on Three Ireland from €99 on Bill Pay. You can find out more here.
Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile Platform
System Memory: 8GB dual channel (LPDDR4, 1866 MHz)
Storage: Internal: 64GB UFS. External: microSD (class 10, 2TB max.)
Display: 5.7-inch IGZO LCD 1440 x 2560, 120 Hz, Wide Color Gamut (WCG), Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Rear Cameras: 12MP AF f1.75 Wide, 12MP AF f2.6 Zoom, Dual PDAF, Dual tone, dual LED flash
Front Camera: 8MP FF f2.0
Sound: Stereo Front-facing speakers, Dual Amplifiers, Audio Adapter with THX certified DAC
Power: 4000 mAh lithium-ion battery, Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4+
Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC
Size: 158.5 x 77.7 x 8 mm
Weight: 197 g