Razer Phone 2 is a gaming phone, and if you don’t know what that is, I will explain; a gaming phone s a mobile smartphone that is designed with hardware aimed to provide a gaming advantage for HD graphics, fast streaming, and excellent sound. Basically, its meant to be the gaming version of a PC in mobile form.
Now, to be honest, most mobile gaming platforms are not as intense as PC based platforms, and they do not demand the same level of concentrated hardware to perform, this is because the gaming producers understand the issues with mobile gaming. Now, this did not stop Razer from making a “gaming” phone, that delivers in part, and misses in most.
The Razer Phone 2 is a $799 phone that contends with the “best” gaming phone title, and with its Dolby Stereo speakers, a fast refresh 120Hz screen with HDR content support, Chroma lighting, a plethora or Razer upgrades and a special “game boost” mode that delivers added power when you need it.
Before we head off into the wordy review, here are the pros about the Razer:
- Smoothest Android display on the market
- Best speakers on any Android phone
The cons are:
- Bad Camera
- Ungainly Brick design
- Overheats when playing
A Brief History
The first Razer Phone was presented to the public in 2017, and now, 2018 we are witness to the amazing Razer Phone 2, which is a chunky, clunky rectangular Borg communication machine. Yup, this is the official Borg machine used in Star Trek, well it would be if the producers had seen it.
This device comes with a rear glass panel for wireless charging, and a solid chunky build, all black, and well, when you look at the competition, you see that the Razer Phone 2 is different, but is it better different?
Well, the design is identical to the first version, this is an all glass and aluminum slate with lots of sharp angles, even with its sharp angles, it’s a slippery phone. This is due to the all-glass construction, so I suggest you buy a phone case for both protection as well as grip.
The back also has a pulsing logo which is great when you need to find it in the dark, and also useful as a notification light.
Razer Phone 2 specs
- Display: 5.72-inch IGZO 120Hz screen at 2560 x 1440 and wide color gamut
- Processor: Snapdragon 845 (2.8GHz) with vapor chamber cooling
- Camera: f/1.75 12MP and f/2.6 12MP rear-facing cameras
- Storage: 64GB, microSD expandable to 1TB
- RAM: 8GB
- 24-bit DAC audio adapter
- Wi-Fi / Bluetooth 5.0/ NFC
- Android 8.1 with Nova Launcher
- Battery: 4,000mAh with wireless and fast charging
- IP67 water and dust resistance
- Dimensions: 6.24 x 3.11 x 0.33 inches
- Weight: 220 grams
The Razer Phone 2 comes with 3 power modes, these include:
- Low (notifications only)
- Medium (works only when the screen is on)
- High (always on).
The high-power mode doesn’t actually drain the battery as much as I expected it to, so I left that mode on for a while just to make sure it was really as good as I thought.
The logo light effect is really a non-issue, but for some, like me, where flashing lights can be a distraction, set my logo light to a minimum.
Chroma app is Non-IoT
You would expect the Chroma app to be able to interface with other Chrome app devices, not so, and that is a bummer.
The volume buttons and power with fingerprint button are left and right off the center of the screen. This does take time to accustom to, especially since they are not designed to be close to your fingers. However, I found that in some instances it was a benefit since I tend to frequently press the on/off button with a volume control button on my other android devices.
The fingerprint button is more accurate and sensitive, so you don’t get as many retry requests as you did before.
So, this model comes with a 5.7-inch 120Hz QHD screen, and this is supported by the excellent wide color gamut for viewing HDR content. Add to this the high refresh rate, and you get a similar and familiar feel to a PC screen response. As such, the screen is a winner and provides you with PC quality gaming displays.
Since it is a smartphone, the screen performance works perfect, and beyond expectations when using it for social media and streaming apps.
Another great feature that upgraded this high refresh rate screen from the previous model is the brightness control, and now you get an extremely vivid and clear bright resolution that delivers power even under the sun.
This is where the Razer Phone 2 wins again, and this beast comes with exceptional Dolby Atmos performance. What you get is a clear, balanced sound, slightly light on the bass (but its smartphone not a woofer) and delivers stereo separation which is truly magnificent when playing games or watching HD quality movies.
The speaker grills are larger, and they flank the screen which to some is an issue, but when compared to standard phones, where the speaker is tiny little thing hidden away at the edge of infinity, this speaker configuration is perfect. Its even perfect for those Skype calls that require good loudspeaker sound. It doesn’t get better than this.
The Razer Phone 2 camera is not much to write about. It’s a rather standard 12MP Sony with the usual array of sensors with f/1.75 and f/2.6 lenses. The Razer app also supports 4K recording (up to 30 fps), HDR, portrait modes for all three cameras, and comes with the now popular “beauty shots.” However, the camera is still not to par with the iPhone, Pixel, or top Huawei models.
The rear camera has issues with low light, the contrast can be more grey than black and white, and the beauty mode is just a gimmick, it only does skin smoothing effects and nothing more. You even get a weird jawline accentuation effect when the beauty mode is set to max.
Battery life is an important checkbox for any flagship smartphone, but it’s especially important on a gaming phone. Theoretically, you’d be using the Razer Phone 2 for a lot of the same things you do on your current phone, with a couple more games in the mix.
Batteries, smartphones and the missing link. It’s inevitable that Razer Phone 2 would feature a strong battery otherwise how can it contend for the best gaming phone title? The 4,000mAh battery delivers identical capacity as a Galaxy Note 9. This is key to a successful experience and gives any serious hooked gamer, hours and hours of uncharged fun.
However, the real winner in this power battle is the QuickCharge 4 Plus compatibility that the Razer Phone 2 provides. This beastie can charge your 4,000mAh battery from 0 to 60% in 30 minutes using the USB-C fast charger. This is an exceptionally cool and important function, and perfect for the Uber rides that give you a quick charge as you dash around town. It is also perfect for the wireless charge stations at home, at work or in airports.
You can buy a Razer wireless charger of $99, their model has a Chroma RGB lit base and comes with their 18W USB-C charger component.
The Categorical Phone
This is the Razer flagship model, its meant to compete with the best of the best, to stand out where others fade, and it’s a bit of a letdown, with its bipolar features.
Here are its categorical performances
As a conference device, its perfect, the speakers with the screen, and even with the 12MP cameras, to deliver an excellent multimedia conference experience using Skype, Whatsapp, Messenger and other social media streaming messaging service.
As a gaming device, its great, the CPU combined with the screen and audio functions delivers the best handheld gaming device around.
As a smartphone for social media streaming, its lacking in performance due to the camera.
As a model of design beauty, if you are a cyborg, you will love it.
As an IoT, the Chroma app has to connect first, so its more of a solo act than a fully fledged IoT device.
Ease of Use (the filling)
The internal design is great, Razer Phone 2 did not stuff it with unnecessary apps, this is an Android 8.1 device with the usual array of apps that are essentials, such as the Clock, Files, Calculator, and Camera apps, as well as the Game Booster, Dolby Atmos, Theme Store, Razer Cortex (the gaming app store), and Chroma apps. This model uses the default NovaLauncher screen, rather than the Android 8.1 Oreo.
Keeping it Cool
The issue with overheating is always going to be a high powered devices sore spot, to counter overheating, but not so effectively, the Razer Phone 2 uses a smaller version of the Blade laptops’ vapor chamber cooling technology. This is great, but remember, glass is not a great thermal conductor, as such, it retains the heat, and that’s the Achilles tendon of the design.
This is not a game-changing device; you will not get many users buying into the Razer Phone 2 for the design and heat issues, as well as the camera performance. However, they will attract users that do want power, sound and screen performance. In fact, if Razer were to concentrate on the speaker issues and spruce up the design, they could be the next generation ghetto blasters of the 80’s. Imagine a world where everyone plays their tunes really loud…Oh, heck they already do, but there is no bass…so imagine a world where everyone plays their deep bass resonating tunes and games. I need to call Musk, get a place on the next flight to Mars, I hear that sound doesn’t travel in space.