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The new Razer Phone as reviewed by a gamer

By Julio Franco ยท 19 replies
Dec 7, 2017
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  1. Previous attempts at creating a gaming-centric smartphone include phones with slide-out game controllers, a cross between a Sony PlayStation Portable and a phone and the Nokia N-Gage. For its first gaming phone, Razer went with a powerful black rectangle with a stunning display and outstanding speakers. Smart move.

    Rather than creating a frankensteinian hybrid of a portable gaming console and cell phone, Razer built a more traditional phone and outfitted it with the best possible hardware for Android gaming. It’s built off the popular Robin phone from Nextbit, a company Razer purchased in January of this year. The Razer Phone is packed more processing power and RAM (a whopping 8GB) than any Android game could possibly need.

    On the outside is a pair of very loud speakers and the world’s first 120 Hz “UltraMotion” display, a variable refresh-rate screen capable of running at up to 120 frames per second.

    Loaded with a vanilla version of Android 7.1.1. (with an upgrade to Android Oreo due early next year), it’s not bogged down by bloatware. There is a Razer Theme store featuring special game-themes to be used on the device, but most if not all of the themes are free to download. The only substantial preloaded piece of software is Nova Launcher Prime, a popular third-party personalization app that’s a lovely inclusion.

    It all adds up to a $700 Android phone that plays games better than other Android phones—faster, smoother. It’s sort of like the Xbox One X of Android phones. Maybe that’s a bad comparison.

    Razer Phone Specs

    Android 7.1.1 • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor • 8GB of RAM • 64GB of storage • microSD card slot • 5.7-inch QHD IGZO LCD display with 120 Hz refresh rate • dual 12-MP rear cameras • 8-MP front camera • dual stereo speakers • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wi-fi • Bluetooth 4.2 • Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 • 4,000 mAh battery • 6.24 x 3.06 x 0.31-inches • 6.94 ounces • U.S. Carriers (GSM) T-Mobile, AT&T

    The Upside

    A Ridiculously Speedy Display: It might not have the pop and brightness of an AMOLED display, but the Razer Phone’s 1440p IPS LCD display is the smoothest thing going. Swiping through email and Twitter feeds at 120 frames per second is a delight. According to the frame rate display in the phone’s advanced settings, the FPS hovers in the teens while sitting on the home screen, but jumps to 120 when swiping and scrolling (it can be capped off at 30 or 60 for a little extra battery life). It’s by far the most enjoyable experience I’ve had navigating an Android phone.

    Gaming Performance: Between the fast display, the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and an extravagant 8GB of RAM, the Razer Phone excels at doing what it was designed to do—playing games. It’s readily capable of handling any game Google Play throws at it, but where it really excels is games specifically enhanced to take advantage of its unique specs.

    Most Android games and apps are capped at 60 frames per second. Razer has partnered with several popular mobile game developers to modify their existing and upcoming games to go beyond that. Gear Club’s car races run at around 75 frames per second, depending on settings. One of my favorite mobile games, endless snowboarder Alto’s Adventure, runs consistently at 120 FPS.

    Upcoming games including support for the Razer Phone include Tencent’s wildly popular MOBA Arena of Valor and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition. I can’t wait to see how they play.

    Those Speakers: The front-facing speakers on the Razer Phone take up a lot of real estate, but they’re totally worth it. This is the loudest mobile phone I’ve ever used, beating out my old HTC One with its Beats speakers.

    Razer calls this a gaming phone, but I’d say it’s equally impressive as a media consumption device. I’ve watched a whole lot of Crunchyroll on this thing, and nothing beats it for showing friends a video in a crowded bar.

    Battery Life: Razer put the biggest battery it could into this phone, so big they couldn’t include a headphone jack (see below). The 4,000 mAh battery is a beast, lasting more than a day and a half during normal use with the odd gaming session thrown in. It’s even more impressive if you aren’t gaming. During my first week with the review unit I didn’t get in much play time, using it for basic calling, texting, email and such. I charged the phone to full on Saturday and didn’t have to plug it in until Tuesday morning.

    Not only does it last long, it charges fast as well, going from drained to full over the course of an hour and change.

    Design And Build: It’s a black rectangle. I like black rectangles. Others don’t. I’m sure many would prefer some soft curves around the edges. I am not one of those many.

    It’s a black rectangle made of aluminium, the same material and finish as Razer’s Blade line of laptops. Only where my Blade has a couple of nicks in it from bumping into things, revealing silver metal beneath (they drive me inside), the phone is unscuffed despite several drops, sitting on a desk filled with dangerous implements and riding in a pocket filled with loose change.

    The Downside

    The Camera: The Razer Phone’s camera isn’t bad. The included camera app could use more features (I.e., any features), but there are plenty of third-party apps out there to make up for that oversight. The issue is it seems to have problems focusing and staying focused.

    Most of the pictures I’ve taken with the phone are passable but a tiny bit on the blurry side. Razer recently released a software update improving camera performance, so there’s a chance it could get better down the line. For now, if one of the primary uses for your phone is pictures, you could do better (like a real camera).

    The Speaker Grills: The speakers are great, but in an environment prone to dust, little holes the perfect size to trap floating white particles is less than ideal.

    I have no idea what that white line trapped in my bottom speaker is. I don’t think I have anything small enough to get it out without damaging the phone. Send help.

    No Headphone Jack: While Razer had good reason for leaving out the headphone jack and included a THX-certified USB-C audio adapter with 24-bit digital audio converter (DAC) in its place, it’s still a feature I miss a great deal, especially in a phone built for gaming. There are Bluetooth headsets, sure, but I have a ton of wired headsets already. Audio through the USB-C adapter is excellent, but I can’t charge the phone with it plugged in. Perhaps they can fashion some sort of splitter. That would be nice.

    Final Thoughts

    This is how you make a gaming phone. No gimmicky controllers or ridiculous shapes—just a sleek piece of hardware with the power to render graphics, pump out sound and basically run games better than anything else out there. A gaming PC can be a black box with powerful insides. So can a gaming phone.

    Razer’s first attempt isn’t perfect, but it’s a damn good start.

    Permalink to story.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2017
  2. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,934   +1,097

    This phone is a knockout success, I've watched a few preview videos and full on review videos and its becoming the best hardcore smartphone available. People love it.

    Most reviewers actually like the speaker grills because it gives you a place to grip the phone while playing. Most other phones are solely concerned with aesthetics and while they look good/feel good, they suck for actual gaming. Combine that superior grip with unmatched sound and a 120Hz display and there is no rival, even LG's new phone.

    This is not the same but just to mention how nice the higher refresh rate it, my GTX 670 is running my 27" OMEN @ 120Hz (I need a newer GPU to run it at its full 165Hz) and everything you do is smoother looking, even browsing. Gaming is worlds better. Even if your PC can't run a game at 120/144/165Hz with G-sync/higher Hz it's still much smoother. Same with this phone. Scrolling, reading, panning, moving, gaming, ext, its all smoother and feels much higher quality. Say what you want about Razer, they got a hot one here whether you like them or not. And its built well.
     
    Reehahs, Matt12345170 and ghostf1re like this.
  3. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Booster Posts: 164   +63

    I agree, but if there's anything technology as shown me, it's stay away from first iterations. I'll wait until their second or even third phone. Cameras are still important to me on a phone even though I have a DSLR. I mean you can't just bust out the DSLR when you see that old beater with a sick license plate rolling through traffic.
     
  4. Matt12345170

    Matt12345170 TS Booster Posts: 106   +31

    My phone is only like a year old -- I'd get it otherwise. Oh well, maybe v2 or v3.

    Edit: Not that I have any love for mobile games - at best I'd emulate some older titles, but it has dat nice screen doe.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  5. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 933   +499

    As a gamer, I keep things to my PC, and consoles occasionally.

    I'm the opposite when it comes to my phone, I go for keyboard and battery life (and gaming on my phone would not have it lasting more than a day or 2).
    Oh, and also go for the 3.5mm jack. That's a must lol
     
  6. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,300   +798

    What makes this phone a gaming phone? It has the same CPU every other flagship has. The biggest upside of it is the 120Hz display but other than that it's all the same shiet. Also mobile games are such cash grabs it puts EA to shame.
     
  7. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,934   +1,097

    It shoots out balloons when you make a purchase.
    Seriously, are you new to technology?

    Thats a HUGE upside.

    Not really.
     
  8. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,300   +798

    I just got into it yesterday. So what makes this phone a gaming phone more than others with same CPU? And other than that how is it not pretty much the same phone like others?
     
  9. amghwk

    amghwk TS Addict Posts: 204   +81

    Razer will do anything to tack on that extra price tag.

    Anyway, I think a 3.5mm audio jack is important. At least for me.

    I'm not sure how long that battery will last with that demanding screen, even if it's a generous 4000mAh. When talking about in the context of gaming.

    And gripping a speaker grill...won't it muffle the sound?
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  10. AMN3S1AC

    AMN3S1AC TS Member

    Lol...a gaming phone. For what? Free to play, pay to win trash on the Play Store?
     
  11. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,934   +1,097

    Cool.
    How many phones on the market have huge speaker bezels to grip (with as loud volume), 8GB RAM, a 4000MAh battery and a 120Hz display. Since this is like every phone out there, list every phone you know of with all four of those features. Not 3 out of 4, or 2 out of 4, all 4.
    Can't wait to see your list.
     
  12. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,279   +900

    Dude chill... you are taking it too personal while not really saying anything and sounding like a total where-the-back-meets-the-legs-orifice.

    Nobina asked a perfectly good question, it's supposed to be a "gaming" phone and the only thing that really shines versus another phone is the screen, sure it can do worlds of wonder (Like getting a really nice pillow, you won't know until you do), but besides that what makes it pop versus another phone with the same proc? You say 8gb ram, isn't it overkill? I have a phone with 3gb and another with 2gb and it works perfectly fine.

    I have a Samsung S6 and it can handle everything I throw at it while looking beautiful. I can't say I'm a heavy phone gamer though :p But let's say I'm in the market for a new phone and I'm interested in paying a premium, why would I choose this?

    Best phone speaker is not something that catches my eye, unless you are one of those guys, you will probably use headphones.

    Sorry man but I can't see it either.
     
  13. Shinjitsu

    Shinjitsu TS Rookie

    No 3.5mm headphone jack, that is no go. Not water proof/resist IP58 etc. That is also a no go.
     
  14. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,934   +1,097

    List every phone you know of with all four of those features I mentioned.
    Still waiting on the answer from you and the other guy. From someone saying I haven't said anything I sure haven't got much of a reply.

    Not really.
    The answer is very obvious, that's why your 'so whats the difference' comments are silly, (and annoying) at best.


    Thats a HUGE upside. How many phones on the market have huge speaker bezels to grip (with as loud volume), 8GB RAM, a 4000MAh battery and a 120Hz display. Since this is like every phone out there, list every phone you know of with all four of those features. Not 3 out of 4, or 2 out of 4, all 4.


    As do I.

    Mine can't.
    It's not the fastest thing loading webpages and the 3GB RAM can hurt VR performance, demanding gaming performance and limit chrome tabs/multitasking abilities. Also my phone overheats constantly running my Samsung VR 2016 headset. The audio is average as well.

    Your like me.
    I do basic browsing and clash, an S4 would still suit my needs, but I like my S6 for VR/Wireless charging,
    Compared to this Razer though, it's a far inferior phone. And I making sure any hater gets that, loud and clear.

    Yes, for everyday use its a waste of money and obviously some internals are similar to other phones, that does nothing to bolster the statement its like every other phone.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  15. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,300   +798

    How the **** is that question relevant? When I say it's like any other phone I don't mean it has exact specs as them. Every phone has slightly different specs and you can make the same argument for any of them. They advertise it as a "gaming" phone but it's performance can't be better than other "non gaming" phones when it has the same CPU/GPU. All it has is 120Hz, which is great, but unless it can run games at 120FPS consistently, which it probably can't, it's mostly noticable while doing stuff other than gaming. So when you look at the whole picture it's basically a Pixel 2 phone with 120Hz.
     
  16. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,934   +1,097

    A 3rd person who can't answer it?
    Ohh just you again.

    But none of that does anything to counter my statement.

    How many phones on the market have huge speaker bezels to grip (with as loud volume), 8GB RAM, a 4000MAh battery and a 120Hz display. Since this is like every phone out there, list every phone you know of with all four of those features. Not 3 out of 4, or 2 out of 4, all 4.
    Can't wait to see your list.

    This is not the same but just to mention how nice the higher refresh rate it, my GTX 670 is running my 27" OMEN @ 120Hz (I need a newer GPU to run it at its full 165Hz) and everything you do is smoother looking, even browsing. Gaming is worlds better. Even if your PC can't run a game at 120/144/165Hz with G-sync/higher Hz it's still much smoother. Same with this phone. Scrolling, reading, panning, moving, gaming, ext, its all smoother and feels much higher quality. Say what you want about Razer, they got a hot one here whether you like them or not. And its built well.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  17. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,279   +900

    I'm not a hater, and you can read that throughout all of my posts, your replies are almost as if you were personally invested in it and keep on repeating to give you a list of phones with those 4 things... it's like me asking how many phones have Siri, or how many comes with Alexa or what not, something that is very characteristic yet nothing that differentiates one from the other. Who the hell cares about a phone speaker or that it has 8gb of ram? Those are overkill. I'm done though as that's all I wanted to say.
     
  18. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,300   +798

    I answered the question. I can't name any other phone with same specs because every phone has different, but still very similar specs, including this phone. It makes little to no difference when CPU/GPU is the same. So to conclude, this phone doesn't have almost any performance advantage over other phones, which is what I've been saying. You asked if I'm new to technology but you don't know this your self.

    All that's left is to discuss whether 120Hz makes a big difference or not. You say it does on your monitor, but this is a small screen and I don't think it's gonna make a huge difference in gaming which will always be low quality because mobile games are low quality.
     
  19. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,934   +1,097

    Exactly.

    Probably someone who wants the best gaming smartphone available.

    This doesn't make sense or apply to anything in our conversation or discussion.

    No, that's not all that's left.

    Sounds like your just slamming this phone because you looked at the specs sheet and didn't actually watch and listen to reviewers use the screen, test the speakers and try demanding games.

     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  20. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,300   +798

    So you just ignored half of the stuff I said to make you look right, like every time. Do you own this phone?
     
    Kibaruk likes this.

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