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Razer Phone 2 Review

The gaming smartphone is growing up

Razer-2

Gaming smartphones are becoming more and more a trend and for this, we have to thank Razer for the most part. Last year Razer Phone started a fashion and, with the sequel, Razer has to respond to the competition and face criticism about his first smartphone. In this review, we will verify if the specialist company has made up for the shortcomings with Razer Phone 2.

A slight increase in prices

With its first smartphone, Razer was able to fight South Korean and Chinese competitors in terms of price. Not much, but while the established smartphone manufacturers have opted for a tag around 1000 euros, the first generation Razer Phone cost 749. The Razer Phone 2 does not offer the same price as its predecessor. To buy it you will have to spend 849 euros, what do we get for those one hundred euros more?

Old-fashioned design and modern vibration

At first glance, the Razer Phone 2 looks a lot like the original model. A black block with an industrial aluminum frame and a 16: 9 display delimited by thick speaker grilles. With its dimensions of 158 x 79 x 8.5 mm and weighing 220g, it is only slightly heavier than the previous model. At least in the front, it seems that Razer sticks to his style when it comes to design.

Razer Phone

Can you distinguish the first and second generation Razer Phone? Small suggestion: look at the home screen.

It is not necessarily a bad thing. I appreciated the first Razer Phone for its functions and form integration. The sharp design, the front speakers, the larger screen size: all this made sense for a gamer smartphone and therefore makes sense that it has found a place in the sequel. At the same time, it is profoundly out of fashion, in contrast to many industry trends. It is on the back that Razer has paid more attention to aesthetics.

The first Razer Phone has aroused some criticism for its rather anonymous appearance: a matte black finish and the lack of the Chroma RGB brand (the illuminated logo is the trademark of all Razer products). As a result, Razer took a few steps forward in making his second smartphone more attractive and superior in the back.

Razer-2

The logo lights up and can be customized

The Razer Phone 2, from a certain point of view, has adapted to the current market with a back in Gorilla Glass so shiny that you can mirror it. This change was not just for the look, it also means that the Razer Phone 2 supports wireless charging according to the Qi standard and of course Razer will soon sell its wireless charging station with RGB lighting to accompany the smartphone.

Even the dual rear camera has been moved to a more pleasant middle-up position and, more importantly, the Razer logo on the back lights up. Razer Chroma RGB lighting is used on a wide range of products, from laptops to speakers, to cup holders. Now the second Razer Phone feels like a real member of the family. All the lighting modes of the logo can be freely configured using the dedicated Chroma application.

Razer-2

The volume buttons are separate.

On the left side, we find the volume buttons and the cart for the SIM that has changed sides. The right side is the power button with a fingerprint sensor and at the bottom, there is a USB-C port for charging and other connections. Although Razer listened to our criticisms of his first smartphone in many ways, the demands of a headphone jack were ignored. I do not blame them, even if I would appreciate it would seem a step backward.

Although the Razer Phone 2 is still a black block, the edges are slightly more rounded than the previous generation. The difference is subtle but makes the phone more comfortable to hold.

The speakers are sealed to protect the ingress of water and dust according to IP67 certification. This corrects one of the most annoying vulnerabilities of the first Razer Phone and now you feel more comfortable while walking in the rain or in a dusty area.

All in all, the Razer Phone 2 has improved aesthetically. Now it is more attractive without giving up its cyberpunk style. The coupling of the black color with the RGB LEDs certainly does not like it at all but Razer is trying to keep in mind its main clientele in the creation of the smartphone.

The Razer Phone 2 may seem like a real flagship now, but that does not mean it’s as handy. In my long-term use of the first Razer Phone, I appreciated the way in which its size and its out-of-fashion shape had advantages during gaming. The 16: 9 aspect of the display is more fun for games and multimedia content when you hold your smartphone in landscape mode and powerful speakers slam the sound directly in your face. Is fantastic.

For non-gamers who for some reason are considering the Razer Phone 2, keep in mind that this form is not the most comfortable. Compared to a thin modern 18: 9 device with smooth, rounded corners that slides easily in and out of the pocket, the Razer Phone 2 is still quite bulky to carry with you and feels tight in your pocket. For a hardcore gamer, the compromise might be worth it. If you use the smartphone only for social media and photos, this form is difficult to justify.

Still the fastest display ever

The original Razer Phone had a killer feature, the LCD display at 120Hz, and the Razer Phone 2 boasts the same strength. There are also some improvements: the 5.72-inch display with 2560×1440 resolution keeps the maximum refresh rate (a 144Hz display remains a fantasy for the future, for now), but has improved the maximum brightness compared to its predecessor. This is especially evident when using the smartphone in daylight or when wearing sunglasses. The original Razer Phone is difficult to read under certain lighting conditions but I have never had trouble using Razer Phone 2 in the sun.

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We have tested the Razer Phone display and we do not seem to approach 98% of the promised DCI-P3 range.

The ultra-fast refresh rate of the display (twice as fast as the typical 60Hz frequency found on most smartphones) will naturally attract the attention of the players. This technology ensures a clearer and smoother image, reducing tearing problems and enjoying the highest possible range of games.

It is not just about enjoying a beautiful image. Competitive games and exports are becoming more and more important, attracting investments and gaining a wider audience. Mobile gaming, once considered by players as a low-end secondary show, is also coming to the fore in action. Games like PUBG and Fortnite are now very popular on mobile alongside niche titles such as the MOBA Arena of Valor (huge in China under the name Honor of Kings).

Razer-2

A solid structure, powerful speakers and smooth graphics make this game device exceptional.

Players are currently looking for smartphones that can not only run these challenging games smoothly but also for anything that can give them a competitive advantage. As your screen refreshes faster than your opponent, it updates itself with more information and gives you the ability to react to the situation before your rival does.

Razer calls this UltraMotion, and it’s been unrivaled. Here we come to another of the compromises that are typical of the Razer Phone. To have the fastest display, you have to forego the benefits (eg, deep blacks and more vivid colors) of an OLED panel. Razers main competitor in the high-end market for gaming smartphones, the Asus ROG Phone, has an OLED panel, but only 90 Hz brings.

However, a fast refresh rate on the display does not always guarantee an advantage. Many games have an “upper limit” of 60 frames per second or even lower. Fortnite, for example, keeps this rate at 30. Games that support the 120 Hz display of the Razer Phone are still a minority but are becoming more numerous as Razer partners with game makers to work towards it. The new Cortex app helps to alert the user to compatible games.

Even if you’re not playing, the 120 Hz refresh rate is still a dream. The smartphone slides so smoothly through busy feeds in social media applications. Every process on the Razer Phone 2 feels lightning fast, not only because of the power, but the display simply brings information to the screen faster. And of course, the combination of killer display and powerful speakers that makes the Razer Phone 2 a great gaming device is also great for multimedia in general.

Players are now looking for smartphones that can not only perform these challenging games without problems but also give them a competitive edge. If your screen updates at a faster rate than your opponent’s, it brings more information with you and gives you the chance to react to unpleasant situations first.

Razer calls all this UltraMotion and so far has no equal. Here we are to another of those compromises that are characteristic of the Razer Phone. To get the fastest display, you need to do without the advantages (like deep blacks and bright colors) of an OLED. Razer’s main competitor in the high-end gaming smartphone market, the Asus ROG Phone, has an OLED panel that is still lagging behind at 90Hz.

A faster update rate on the device display does not always guarantee an advantage. Many games that seek mass participation or want to level the playing field will have a limit of 60 frames per second or even less. Fortnite, for example, keeps this limit around 30. The games that support the Razer Phone’s 120Hz are still a minority but are on the rise, especially as Razer is strengthening its partnerships with developers with this goal. The new Cortex app, which I will discuss later, helps to direct the user to compatible games.

Even when not played, the 120Hz display is still a dream to use. Slips absolutely fluid through the most crowded feeds, such as those types of social media applications. Every operation on the Razer Phone 2 is incredibly fast, not only because of the hardware but also because the display brings the information on the screen faster. Of course, the killer display and the combination of speakers that make the Razer Phone 2 a great gaming device are also good for multimedia in general. The HDR on Netflix is supported so if you want something less interactive, you can always watch a good movie.

You have the option of setting the update rate of the phone in the settings menu, eg 90 Hz or 60 Hz. 90 Hz is actually the default setting, but once you get used to 120 Hz, you can not do without it. Once I got used to the original Razer Phone, even top-range rivals like the LG G7 or the Galaxy S9 seemed sluggish in comparison. Picking up the Razer Phone 2 and raising the refresh rate felt like an invigorating breath of fresh air.

Welcome to the Chroma family

The Chroma lighting of the Razer Phone 2 can be configured through a special app. The logo can only light to show notifications, or whenever the screen is on, or just all the time. Brightness and frequency can also be controlled.

Razer-Phone-2

The logo can also light up when notifications are received.

Razer claims that 16.8 million color options are available. Frankly, I have lost the patience to count them, but there is enough choice to satisfy even the toughest fans. In theory, LEDs could be useful for notifications (though you can not choose colors for different types of notifications), but how often do you leave a smartphone on the front for a long time?

No, it’s just nice to look at. Especially if you have equipped your PC with LEDs, as I have, it is a real pleasure to see the colors playing side by side in a darkened room. But the fascination with new things also disappears quite quickly.

Similar to Android stock with some extras for gamers

The Razer Phone 2 runs an almost stock Android system with predominant green accents. Unfortunately, it is not delivered with the latest Android 9.0 Pie version, but rather with Android 8.1 Oreo. The update to the new version is expected via OTA, we hope that Razer will not disappoint us.

Even Nova Launcher as a default home screen is a welcome return. This makes it easy to customize your smartphone and Android stock coupled with Nova Launcher allows incredible freedom. Fortunately, Razer does not charge the smartphone with unnecessary applications and bloatware.

This does not mean that there is no special software made by Razer, on the contrary. The Game Booster application, which allows you to allocate resources to your games (all in general or based on the game) is here again and is essential for anyone who wants to balance game and battery life. Clock speed, frame rate, resolution, and anti-aliasing can be set according to your preferences. A non-bother mode makes it possible to block notifications during game sessions. Game Booster will also give you an estimate of battery life so that you can optimize everything for your needs.

Razer-2

Usually, I reduce the settings only when I have to face a long journey.

This time Game Booster is integrated into the new Razer Cortex application, essentially a unique application for all your mobile gaming needs. Cortex keeps a library of your games in one easily accessible place and I enjoyed the organization. There is also a Recommended section that recommends games to download and indicates titles that support the 120Hz refresh rate.

Razer-2

The “Recommended” section is a nice idea that needs a bit of work.

This section could be improved, it would be nice to dive deeper into the offers. For example, only four 120Hz games on the front page are recommended. There are others but it is not possible to expand the list and continues to recommend games that I have already installed.

Razer Phone 2 – Performance

Naturally, the Razer Phone 2 is well equipped to easily manage the most demanding and modern mobile games. The new Razer Phone uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC (GPU Adreno 630) with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory (expandable via microSD). The battery is 4000mAh.

The data sheet of the Razer Phone 2 is very similar to that of the previous model, with only the processor that received a significant update. Razer claims that this brings a 40% increase in performance compared to the previous generation, but it made little difference even when it came to challenging games like PUBG and Shadowgun Legends, for example. There is also security for the future to consider. High-end mobile gaming is gaining momentum and as a result, the hardware requirements for future games may be higher.

Razer Phone 2 in the benchmark tests

 SMARTPHONE 3D MARK SLING SHOT EXTREME ES 3.1 3D MARK SLING SHOTS 3.0 3D MARK ICE STORM UNLIMITED ES 2.0 GEEKBENCH 4 – SINGLE CORE GEEKBENCH 4 – MULTI CORE
Razer Phone 2 4001 5084 63325 2352 7953
Razer Phone 3563 5009 41867 1939 6744
OnePlus 6 4073 5583 62113 2448 8970
Samsung Galaxy S9 + 3257 3910 38302 3771 8923

The benchmarks of the Razer Phone 2 show the expected improvements compared to the first model, but it does not always manage to overpower the contemporary high-end competitors such as OnePlus 6 and Galaxy S9 +. In everyday use, whether it’s games or just web browsing and light applications, it’s hard to notice differences in performance with the naked eye.

Pure performance is not the only factor to consider when it comes to gaming. Flagships easily meet the level of performance needed even for the most challenging games. It has additional features such as speakers, display refresh rate and specialized software that Razer shows what pasta is made of.

This phone will not burn your fingers

Razer Phone 2

The Razer Phone 2 does not get too hot

Razer renounces the typical tubes used for cooling the SoC in favor of a custom steam cooling chamber system. The intention is to provide a larger surface for heat dissipation. The device still heats up considerably during a long session of play, but I never reached a point where I felt uncomfortable or I had to put it to cool. Although the device has warmed up, I have not noticed any appreciable decline in the quality of the games.

Internal memory not sufficient

While 8GB of RAM is more than enough for anything a smartphone can ever do, 64GB of storage space can run out surprisingly fast if you download high-end mobile games. For example, PUBG Mobile occupies 1.65GB, Fortnite 2.55GB, Samorost 3 1.09GB, Street Fighter IV 2.3GB, XCOM: Enemy Within 3.5GB.

You can manage everything by uninstalling applications when you no longer need them and using microSD cards for photos and videos, but at least 128GB of memory on the Razer Phone 2 would have been useful especially because of the competitors also variants from 512GB. There is a 128GB variant of the Razer Phone 2 but this version will probably miss the back glass and consequently the wireless charging that this window allows.

Strong loudspeakers made safer

The Razer Phone 2 is equipped with large frames for one purpose. Just like with the first Razer Phone, these frames house the powerful front stereo speakers that guarantee an unparalleled sound at the moment. The Razer Phone 2 supports Dolby Atmos for Mobile for engaging and realistic sound. Also supported 5.1 surround sound for Netflix. All in all a fantastic device to listen to music, radio and other multimedia content without having to resort to external speakers.

The speakers of the first Razer Phone were great but they had a tendency to attract dust, sand, and dirt that was very difficult to extract. This time, Razer covered the speaker grill and tested the IP67 resistance device against water and dust. Does the quality suffer?

Raising the Razer Phone 1 and 2 up to the maximum volume and alternating it seems that the Razer Phone 2 is only slightly less noisy at maximum volume than its predecessor. However, this is a volume level that you rarely use or need, so I would say that it is a welcome compromise for extra security obtained in return.

A difficult choice for users who love headphones

Modern smartphones often sacrifice sound quality in exchange for reduced frames and subtle designs. This is not the case, but fans of the good old 3.5mm audio jack still need to connect to a dongle if they want to use wired headphones. Fortunately, Razer includes a high-fidelity Type-C USB DAC that supports up to 24-bit audio quality.

Razer-2

A high-quality dongle as a consolation for headphone jack enthusiasts.

This is certainly not the most elegant solution, but I respect Razer for including a dongle in the box rather than trying to milk consumers by forcing them to pay as Apple does. If you are playing on the road or on public transport, you will not necessarily want to blow up the speakers and the Bluetooth headsets still have some audio latency. If you are playing a game where you have to listen carefully to the footsteps of the enemies, blows or other audio signals and the Bluetooth delay is bothering you, the dongle is there for you.

New camera sensors and improved software

The Razer Phone 2017 did not meet our expectations in the photographic industry, but the Razer Phone 2 has updated its sensors. The rear camera configuration is now composed of a Sony IMX363 wide-angle sensor (12MP AFf / 1.75 with OIS) and a telephoto lens with an IMX351 sensor (12MP AFf / 2.6). 4K video recording is possible. The front camera is 8MP without autofocus with f / 2.0 and is able to record video at 1080p, useful for live streaming.

On paper, this means that the Razer Phone 2 has the same main sensor as the Xiaomi Mi 8, for example, which did really well in our tests. But the sensors do not tell the whole story. The quality of photos and videos on a smartphone depends heavily on the software.

Razer-2

The position of the cameras has also moved to the center.

The fact that Razer is still working on the software was evident during the review period. My unit received two major updates in a week, both with camera software updates and one just before the publication of this review. Although it may still be in production, the Razer Phone 2 improves the weakest point of its predecessor, but it has not miraculously become the best cameraphone. The photos are better, but it is not yet a phone for photography enthusiasts. Google Pixels or iPhones have nothing to worry about. You can take a personal look at the photos in our gallery.

Highly customizable battery life

Razer Phone 2 inherits the same 4000 mAh battery from its ancestor. This great battery will help you get through a day of regular use with a few hours of play. What is certain is that I have never had any way to worry about a low percentage of the battery using the phone and more than a day and a half away from the charger was not a problem.

The duration of the course may vary depending on use. The settings of Game Booster, Chroma, and the display refresh rate affect the battery consumption. When I ran the PCMark battery test, I did it with the maximum refresh rate, average Chroma settings (even if the screen is on for the entire test) and Game Booster at peak performance: I got a score of 5h 53min. This is significantly lower than competitors such as OnePlus 6 and Galaxy S9 which in itself do not shine, but due to the different settings that can be changed there is a lot of difference that the user can make according to their needs.

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In the near future, a wireless charger with fast-charge technology from Razer will be available.

Charging via the charger and the braided cable included in the package is very fast, thanks to Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0+ technology. For example, it took me about an hour and a half to recharge almost 75% of the battery. Fast wireless charging is possible via compatible Qi bases and the Razer charging station (with Chroma RGB lighting, of course) coming soon. While I can not wait to try the Razer station for a comparison, for the moment loading with the cable is very satisfying.

Razer Phone 2 – Technical specifications

DIMENSIONS: 158.5 x 78.99 x 8.5 mm
BATTERY CAPACITY: 4000 mAh
DISPLAY SIZE: 5.72 inches
DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY: LCD
SCREEN: 2560 x 1440 pixels (513 ppi)
FRONT CAMERA: 8 megapixels
REAR CAMERA: 12 megapixels
FLASH: Dual-LED
ANDROID VERSION: 8.1 – Oreo
RAM: 8 GB
INTERNAL MEMORY: 64 GB
REMOVABLE MEMORY: microSD
CHIPSET: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
NUMBER OF CORES: 8
CLOCK SPEED: 2.8 GHz
CONNECTIVITY: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0

The gaming smartphone has become great

The first generation of Razer Phone was really something new, a trend-setter that stood out from the crowd. When it comes to the successor, Razer is not reinventing the wheel, but rather reinforcing the weaknesses that were evident in the first model by taking the fan’s criticism to heart.

All the strengths: first quality hardware, 120Hz display, powerful speakers, fast charging, etc. remain. The weaknesses of the original, such as the unpretentious design and the unconvincing camera, have been addressed and improved. Apart from the best cameras, the Razer Phone 2 has a superior quality look and, of course, a flamboyant backlight. You will no longer be embarrassed by the cameras of your expensive smartphone and the back glass with illuminated logo will make your friends jump (for better or for worse).

Of course, the Razer Phone 2 is still a Razer Phone. There are compromises to be made, the sharp corners are still present, the speakers are still basically giant frames around the display and the panel is still LCD. Some premium features like slow motion videos and face recognition unlocking are missing.

Razer-2

A more mature phone than its predecessor, but with less compromise.

Naturally, the gaming smartphone market is much more crowded now than it was since Razer opened up new possibilities for rival producers. Smartphones like Honor Play will try to attack Razer thanks to a lower price. On the other hand, a more luxurious offer like the 900 euro Asus ROG Phone aims to beat the Razer Phone 2 through a combination of power and extra features such as ultrasonic back buttons, a side charging port and tons of accessories imaginative. When we have both devices in the office, a direct comparison between the two big gaming brands will be a must.

Considering the competition from the likes of Asus, I would have liked Razer to be less conservative with his second smartphone. If you bought the original Razer Phone last year, the number 2 is better in some respects but it is certainly not a substantial update. It is possible that Razer continues to stand out in the mobile gaming space with accessories similar to the Raiju Mobile gaming controller. Perhaps we will also see the Project Linda laptop dock becoming a commercial reality.

If you wanted a Razer Phone but you decided to wait for the second generation, you will find your patience rewarded by a powerful portable gaming device that at the same time is also matured in a premium smartphone with a more elegant look. There are few surprises but improvements will not disappoint anyone looking for a top smartphone geared towards a gamer lifestyle. For non-gamers, however, the compromises in design and in the camera are not such as to convince you to give up on the likes of Samsung and Huawei.

Razer Phone 2
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Value for Money
4

Summary

If you wanted a Razer Phone but you decided to wait for the second generation, you will find your patience rewarded by a powerful portable gaming device that at the same time is also matured in a premium smartphone with a more elegant look. There are few surprises but improvements will not disappoint anyone looking for a top smartphone geared towards a gamer lifestyle. For non-gamers, however, the compromises in design and in the camera are not such as to convince you to give up on the likes of Samsung and Huawei.

Pros

  • 120Hz screen
  • Powerful loudspeakers
  • Software optimized for games
  • Chroma lighting

Cons

  • Inconvenient shape
  • No face unlock
  • Limited memory
  • Not improved camera
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