The Good The Razer phone is the smoothest version of Android. It’s built like a tank, and its Dolby twin speakers blew the competition.
The Bad The large speaker-filled bezels create a volumetric handset without waterproofing and a headphone jack. Excessive photo camera makes nice photos in low light, among other camera cranks.
The Bottom Line The Razer Phone is setting a new benchmark for mobile performance (and game flexibility) with its 120Hz screen and hands-free speakers, but it’s not the best phone in any other way.
Look at your phone. Slide your finger across the Home screen. Scroll down the web page. Does it feel fast and smooth?
If you said yes, you probably never tried a Razer phone.
The Razer phone is a look into the future. If you buy today, you can try (and boast) some of the technology that can appear on many phones down: a screen that updates 120 times per second. This makes it better to use the whole phone.
This is the difference between scrolling down a blurry webpage and one that has crystal clear text that you can actually read as you pass through. When I touch the screen to launch an application or interact with the game, it feels faster than any other phone I’ve tried. Not because the processor is faster, but because screen shows results faster than other devices.
The Razer Phone first offered a 120Hz screen – competitors tend to be half the speed – and, like Apple’s Retina Display, before dense pixel screens were the norm, it’s hard to go back once you’ve tried it.
But in most other Thus, the Razer phone is not very similar to a 700 or 700 lb handset. The design, features, battery life and especially the camera are not on par with latest iPhone , Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel . In the US, this GSM-only mobile phone will not work with CDMA media such as Verizon or Sprint, and these days you can get many hundreds of dollars less for phones like the OnePlus 5T ($ 426 on Amazon) .
So, there are several reasons why you may not buy a Razer phone – but there are also some reasons you might be happy to do so.
Razer’s first phone has a gaming edge
So … is this a gaming phone?
Not at all. The Razer Phone is the first Razer gaming handset maker to know about mice, keyboards, headsets and laptops. But like the recent company Stealth Razer Blade , a slim laptop without a powerful graphics card inside, a Razer phone is not necessarily intended for gaming. It plays all the same games you would play on any other flagship Android phone and you won’t see better graphics here.
Still, I prefer to play games on the Razer Phone than on many other phones. The 120 GHz screen in combination with Razer software has created smoother, more responsive gaming sessions in a large number of games I’ve played. I beat my high score in Smash Hit the first time I tried.
In addition, Razer’s Game Booster lets you set maximum speed and screen refresh rate for each application – unlocks smoother gameplay and even locks toothed edges with anti-aliasing desire. You can’t use 120 GHz in every application, but many games work.
I wouldn’t say that best gaming phone simply because iPhones often get the latest and highest quality mobile games in the first place – and because, unlike many competitors with the highest Android level, Razer Phone does not support a competent VR headset, such as Gear VR or Daydream .
Big and stunningly loud
I think we can agree: the speakers of the phone generally sounds awful. Silence, shrill, distorted and muted are the words I can use. Plus, they are terribly easy to accidentally muffle with your hand. For most phone makers, they are obviously an opinion.
Razer is an exception to the rule. The company has designed the entire Razer Phone around a pair of stereo speakers so loud and clear that they are a stunning fit for the phone.
I listened to hours of music on these speakers and am seriously impressed. Until they defy the laws of physics – you won’t find the bass tapping because they just can’t blow so much air – they’re loud enough to fill a small room with surprisingly nice tunes or share a movie with a friend, and clear enough that laptop makers should notice. (It phone sounds better than about 90 percent laptops I’ve used.)
But Razer very much refused to plug these speakers into the phone. They are the reason that the Razer Phone is the size of an iPhone 8 Plus ($ 699 on Amazon) , with huge frames at the top and bottom that accommodate these speakers, and the company says that’s why the Razer Phone is not waterproof and because it also doesn’t have a headphone jack. At a time when virtually every phone manufacturer is installing larger screens on smaller phones, Razer is a large, slippery brick that makes a rather pocket-like bulge.
Design: Hips should be square
In doing so, the design of the Razer Phone Square Phones does not alarm me as much as I thought. The black aluminum body of the monolithic body is striking – in 2001: the Space Odyssey monolith – and the corners of the phone are smoothly rounded and nice to the touch rather than sharp. Each face feels carefully and deliberately crafted, from the beautifully clicking volume buttons before the SIM tray slides into the metal chassis, to the fact that the signed Razer logo with the three-headed snake doubles as a perch for my index finger.
And while it is somewhat strange for me to wear the device so cumbersome, anything that scratches the metal, this phone can be quite beating. For fun, I tried to twist the phone in my hands to see if I could make a bit of a bend – but the anodized aluminum body didn’t bend so much. (The YouTube personality recently revealed by Jerry Rig is anything but a phone can endure a lot of torture.)
Besides the fact that the phone is so big, I have nothing to complain about – it’s basically just that it’s easy to miss the fingerprint sensor / power button with one touch. I like that they are built into the side of the phone, which makes them easy to reach, but maybe one in three times I didn’t hit it properly and I will have to move my finger before I can get in safely. . Maybe I would get used to it in a month or two, but I’m not lucky yet.
The camera needs work
The $ 700 phone from a company that has never made phones comes with an iffy dual-camera array and incredible bare bones software. Sound familiar? This is because I describe not only the Razer Phone but also its Essential Phone from the co-founder of Android Andy Rubin – which continues to see price reductions.
Fortunately, the Razer Phone is not as bad as an important phone. I’ve tried them side by side, and Razer hits it well in good light. From time to time, the Razer phone captured more detail and less grainy noise.
Plus, the second Razer camera is a 2x optical zoom, not a monochrome (black and white) sensor, and the zoom actually works! The Razer Phone telephoto lens clinging to the iPhone 8 certainly offered more detail than trimming a similar section of a smaller iPhone. Look:
That’s the good news. The Razer Phone Camera app responds slowly, its viewfinder is shaky, and my low-light shots look pretty bad. Without optical image stabilization – standard on most high-end phones – and excellent autofocus, there were always trial and error to get the images I liked.
Razer software also makes the blues so blue and green so green that the clear skies and freshly trimmed grass look as if they were shot with a glut of Instagram filter and the HDR camera feature is so broken, I recommend that you not turn it off completely. Each image processing takes a lot longer than a second, each time shutting you off the camera, and HDR results always look worse than without.
And although optical zoom works, it’s not user friendly, as hell: You have to pinch to zoom in just the right place to activate the second camera and the phone will not tell you where it is. I literally had to slide my finger in front of one camera and zoom in until my finger appeared on the image. This is important because there is a huge difference in quality when you get the scale right:
The Apple iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X have a dedicated button to go to the right zoom level, and Razer says it plans to add it (among many other camera enhancements) to the software update.
Other things you may know
- Battery life: It’s… not great for a phone with a giant 4,000mAh pack? We got 11 hours, 32 minutes in our standard drain test, where we run a local looping video in airplane mode. Anecdotally, I always made it to bedtime on a charge, but the battery got dangerously low on days I did a lot of 120Hz gaming. We crossed the 20-hour mark with the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active — which also houses a 4,000mAh battery — and we generally get 12-14 hours from an iPhone or Pixel in the same test.
- You can set the screen’s refresh rate: It’s in settings, under Display. In fact, the phone ships set to 90Hz, not the 120Hz maximum. You might be able to save some battery life by locking it at 60Hz or 90Hz, but we didn’t really notice a difference — maybe because the phone also automatically adjusts refresh rate to match what you’re doing.
- Raw performance isn’t anything special: The Razer Phone is one of the fastest phones we’ve ever tested, but know this: In benchmarks, we found it on par with other bloatware-light phones with the same Snapdragon 835 processor.
- Speaker quality, continued: While the built-in speakers might be the best I’ve ever tried on a phone, they aren’t as good as a dedicated Bluetooth speaker or, say, a snap-on JBL Soundboost speaker for Motorola’s Moto Z modular phones . My JBL Soundboost 2 has way more bass and richer sound at the same volume.
- Camera zoom, continued: Though the Razer Phone’s optical zoom is way better than having no optical zoom at all, the iPhone 8 Plus is far better. See an example at the bottom of this section.
- No fancy portrait mode: Or any other camera modes, really. It shoots photos and video on automatic settings, and that’s it.
- Great for nighttime reading: The Razer Phone screen can get super dim if you want. It’s fantastic for reading in bed without waking up your partner.
- No wireless charging: The Razer Phone would need a radio-transparent (glass or plastic) back to pull that off. It’s aluminum, so no dice.
- No dedicated headset jack, but… Technically, the Razer Phone comes with a headphone jack on the end of a short USB-C cable. It does not come with headphones.
- Speakerphone and Bluetooth call issues: Weirdly, the Razer Phone’s stellar speakers don’t translate into an awesome speakerphone. It’s kind of quiet — and so are calls over Bluetooth. Razer says both will get fixed in a December software update. Regular phone calls are fine.
- Camera bulge: The Razer Phone has one, but only barely. The phone lies almost perfectly flat on a table, so you probably won’t notice unless you’re looking for it.
- Razer three-headed snake logo: It does not light up.
Razer Phone Features Compared to iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, Google Pixel 2 XL and OnePlus 5
|Razer Phone||iPhone X||Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus||Google Pixel 2 XL||OnePlus 5T|
|Display size, resolution||5.72-inch; 2,560×1,440 pixels||5.8-inch; 2,436×1,125 pixels||6.2-inch; 2,960×1,440 pixels||6-inch; 2,880×1,440 pixels||6.01-inch; 2,160×1080 pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.2×3.1×0.31 in||5.7×2.79×0.30 in||6.3×2.9×0.32 in||6.2×3.0x0.3 in||6.15×2.95×0.29 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||158.5×77.7×8 mm||143.6×70.9×7.7 mm||159.5×73.4×8.1 mm||157.9×76.7×7.9 mm||156.1x75x7.3 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||6.95 oz; 197g||6.14 oz; 174g||6.1 oz; 173g||6.17 oz; 175g||5.7 oz; 162g|
|Mobile software||Android 7.1.1 Nougat||iOS 11||Android 7.0 Nougat||Android 8 Oreo||Android 7.1.1 Nougat|
|Camera||Dual 12-megapixel (wide/zoom)||Dual 12-megapixel||12-megapixel||12-megapixel||16-megapixel standard, 20-megapixel low-light|
|Processor||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Apple A11 Bionic||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||2.45GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Storage||64GB||64GB, 256GB||64GB||64GB, 128GB||64GB, 128GB|
|Expandable storage||Up to 2TB||None||Up to 2TB||None||None|
|Fingerprint sensor||Power button||None (Face ID via TrueDepth camera)||Back||Back cover||Home button|
|Special features||120Hz screen, dual front-facing stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos||Water resistant (IP67), wireless Qi charge compatible, TrueDepth front-facing camera adds Face ID for payments and enables front-facing AR effects||Water-resistant (IP68), wireless charging, Gigabit LTE-ready||Google Assistant; unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR-ready||Portrait mode, notifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$699||$999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB)||AT&T: $850; Verizon: $840; T-Mobile: $850; Sprint: $850; U.S. Cellular: $785||$849 (64GB), $949 (128GB)||$499 (64GB), $559 (128GB)|
|Price (GBP)||£699||£999 (64GB), £1,149 (256GB)||£779||£799 (64GB), £899 (128GB)||£449 (64GB), £499 (128GB)|
|Price (AUD)||Converts to AU$910||AU$1,579 (64GB), AU$1,829 (256GB)||AU$1,349||AU$1,399 (64GB), AU$1,549 (128GB)||Converts to AU$660(64GB), AU$740 (128GB)|