The Razer Phone is one of the most extraordinary flagship phones of the year 2017. The new phone from the world-famous gaming hardware manufacturer is aimed specifically at mobile gamers. Unique features such as its 120Hz display, Dolby Atmos speakers and 8GB memory distinguish the device from other flagship models. While this is an excellent start, the Razer Phone still has some downsides

Over the last few years smartphones have become more powerful and with that came the demand for better games. While serious gamers still preferred a dedicated platform, the phone was widely used by commuters and casual gamers. Mobile games are as well crafted as many big budget titles, and some publishers even have mobile versions of their first-party games. Think of Square Enix with Hitman GO, Lara Croft GO and DuesEx GO.

The majority of the mobile market has been dominated by Apple and Samsung for years, they are the companies that push the limits while lesser known brands follow suit. Companies have tried to introduce a “gaming phone” before such as the Nokia N-Gage or the Sony Xperia Play, but they were always overshadowed by the likes of Nintendos 3DS or Sony’s PS Vita and other such devices. Nvidia teased the market with its Nvidia Shield a few years ago and now Razer has come out with their revolutionary device with the highest specs on the current market.

The new Razer smartphone is a spiritual and physical successor to the cloud smartphone Nextbit Robin. Razer acquired the start-up Nextbit in early 2017 with the intention to gain a foothold in the mobile phone market. Barely ten months later and the Razer Phone was on the market.

Sleek Minimal Design

As I mentioned already, the Razer Phone is the spiritual and physical successor to the cloud smartphone Nextbit Robin. This phone was first introduced to Kickstarter in 2015 and incorporated a simple, flat but sharp design with no curves. The Japanese manufacturer Sony held on to this design until the beginning of 2018 until they changed the look when the introduced the Xperia XZ2 and Xperia XZ2 Compact. Razer keeps the original design for the Razer Phone. While this is a unique selling point and will stand out against other current flagship phones it does look a bit dated. The overall design, however, is built more around practicality than the actual look.

The build quality of the Razer Phones is extremely high. Elements such as the dual camera on the rear are neatly placed and show no unsightly gaps. The metal unibody looks a bit dated compared to gorilla glass housings seen in many modern phones, but at the same time, it’s also robust. The phone measures 158.6 x 78.9 x 8.8mm and weighs little under 200g. On the rear of the phone, the Razer logo is embossed in the metal housing. At first glance, it looks like a miniature version of the included stickers and there is a slight lip around the edges of the logo. I found this a little disappointing as it seems like a feature that would have received a huge amount of care and deliberation. The phone also comes without any IP certification and is, therefore, neither waterproof nor dust-proof.

The phone uses a USB Type-C port for charging. This seems to be the new standard for phones as they charge quicker and have a faster data-transfer rate. What the phone lacks, however, is a 3.5mm audio port for headphones. Included in the bundle is a Razer-branded USB Type-C – 3.5mm converter but this only works if your phone is not charging. What happens if you tend to play games for long periods of times and want to charge the phone and use headphones at the same time?

The obvious solution would be to use Bluetooth headphones, but again, these aren’t for everyone and can be on the expensive side. What really disappointed me, in the end, is that, while the phone included a USB Type-C converter, it didn’t come with any headphones included. Considering the price of the phone Razer could have easily included a pair of low-cost headphones. I would have thought that including a pair of Razer Hammerhead USB-C in-ear headphones would have been a pretty good branding opportunity here.

Not Your Grandmas Display

The screen of the Razer phone at first glance may seem like any ordinary smartphone display. However, there are some special features inside the panel that make it the ultimate gamer phone. The display is 5.7 inches tall and has a resolution of up to 1,440 x 2,560 pixels (QHD). The screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 3 against possible damage. Although 18:9 is currently the flagship format par excellence, the Razer Phone continues to rely on traditional 16:9. The panel is framed by two speakers on top and bottom.

The Razer Phone relies on an LCD panel as a screen. The display technology is known to be particularly bright, however, colour depths and black levels tend to be lower in return. This is partly confirmed by the flagship phone, but not always. For example, the maximum brightness of the display is not very high. Compared to other phones, the Razer Phone looks darker at the highest level. However, this is only a partial downside because the smartphones automatic “Adaptive brightness” mode works very well in most situations.

Specifications & Features

At a glance
  • 120 Hz UltraMotion™ screen
  • Featuring Dolby Atmos and THX-certified audio
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 8GB RAM
  • 12MP dual cameras for complete versatility
  • 4,000 mAh battery for all-day power
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 Camera
  • 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
Bands
  • GSM: Quad-band GSM UMTS: B1/2/3/4/5/8
  • LTE: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/66
  • TDD LTE: B38/39/40/41 TD-SCDMA: B34/39
Size
  • 158.5 x 77.7 x 8 mm
  • 6.24 x 3.06 x 0.31 in
  • 197 g

Powerful Specs Pack A Punch

The Razer Phone boasts the latest high-end hardware. The phone is equipped with the top processor of the year 2017, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 which has a clock speed of 2.35 GHz. In addition, it also has 8 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory. The storage capacity can be expanded to a whopping 2TB (yes, you read that correctly) meaning you won’t ever be short on space for your games, movies or music.

To test the Razer Phone I used 3DMark for Android. This is the same software we use to test hardware on PCs such as CPUs, GPUs, System Memory and SSD Drives. The Razer Phone I tested ran better than 96% of the same model. It scored a whopping 98% better than all other devices. The FPS stayed between 30-60 during our tests. The temperature stayed consistently below 30 Degrees C while still maintaining a nice FPS number, even when the CPU was under full load. This is impressive for a high-spec phone as 50-60 degrees is generally the norm.

In Short, This Is An Amazing Device!

Razer is well known for making solid products that hold a firm stance against the competition. The Razer Phone is no different. The phone comes with the highest specifications possible and boasts more power than any other phone on the current market. This makes the first smartphone from the gaming brand one of the best Android smartphones currently available. nevertheless, there are still a few drawbacks that disappoint. For example, the phone lacks a few features that have long been standard in its price range: an IP67 certification would have been a start, Bluetooth 5.0 also but hopefully this will come with the Android 8 update.

Even though the phone wasn’t Razers original design, they have themed the phone to match their current portfolio. Considering that all their peripherals are equipped with ‘Chroma’, Razers LED lighting technology, this doesn’t make an appearance on the phone. I wasn’t expecting the entire phone to light up like a disco, but I would have liked a LED bar at the bottom of the phone that was customisable. The micro-LED at the front of the camera can barely be seen and seems more like an afterthought than anything. The phone has a 4000mAh battery so this wouldn’t have had much of an effect on performance.

It will be interesting to see what Razer wants to achieve with the Razer Phone – and above all how they go about it. Are gamers really the intended target group or are Razer trying to break into the mainstream market? At €749, the Razer Phone isn’t cheap but it definitely outperforms many more expensive smartphones. Regardless, this means that many gamers will not be able to afford the cost. As this is Razers first phone I’m interested to see what direction they go in now. One smart move would be to release a ‘budget’ version of the phone similar to how Apple did when they released the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c. A Razer Phone Lite would go down well with most of the gaming community.

Nevertheless, the Razer Phone is a great device for anyone gaming minded or even those that want a powerful smartphone. The company has a great track record with previous products and they have brought that standard into the smartphone market. There are some downsides to the device, but most of these are minor annoyances that won’t affect most people. One thing is clear, the phone has shown a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what Razer has in store for the future.

The Razer Phone is exclusive to the network Three in Europe and can be purchased from their site here or in store. If you are located in Ireland, right now you can get €70 off the full price plus a ticket to the Three EStars final event in 3Arena on Sunday 13th of May. The phone currently costs €569.00 if purchased via Three or €749.99 to buy it unlocked.