Razer Phone Review: A Gaming Monster We Almost Love

In a decade I’ve lonesome Razer, I’ve schooled one thing: never contend never. we never would have suspicion a association would burst from peripherals to gaming laptops. But Razer did, and in a grand conform and with plain success.

So we wasn’t too astounded when a association announced a Razer Phone. Priced during $699, a unbarred phone packs in some considerable components, including 8GB of RAM and some of a best speakers I’ve listened on a smartphone. But a standout underline is a innovative 120-hertz Ultramotion display, a world’s initial for phones and something that truly enhances a gaming experience. However, a Razer Phone’s battery life and camera peculiarity route comparably labelled flagship phones.


Design: From Laptop to Smartphone

Thanks to reward materials and a sleek, iconic style, I’ve always been a vast fan of Razer’s laptops. That’s since it’s poetic to see that a association incorporated many of those pattern records into a first-ever smartphone. Just like a Blade, Blade Stealth and Blade Pro, a Razer Phone is done of a evermore poetic black CNC aluminum. But distinct a laptops with their lifeless corners, a Phone has a some-more boxy shape, interjection to a change of a Nextbit Robin, that Razer bought progressing this year.

It was a decidedly polarizing demeanour around a Tom’s Guide’s offices, yet we unequivocally like it, generally a black embossed accents along a top, bottom and behind of a device and Razer’s silver-lined, three-headed lizard emblem. However, with slimmer, sleeker phones accessible such as as a Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8, a Razer Phone’s boxy figure could be a harder sell for some, generally given it isn’t water-resistant.

Like a Stealth, a Razer Phone isn’t vast on a lot of accoutrements. You’ll find a microSD container on a right with a silken energy symbol that doubles as a fingerprint reader. On a left are twin spin volume buttons. Along a bottom sits a USB Type-C port. The Razer Phone is a latest device to join a “no headphone jack” club. Although, when you’ve got speakers like these, we competence not need a span of buds.

Flip a phone over on a behind and you’ll find a span of 12-megapixel cameras with a peep in a top-right corner. On a front of a device, we get an 8-MP shooter with a peep embedded in one of a phone’s vast speakers, with a other resting right next a 5.7-inch display.

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When it comes to weight, a Razer Phone is some-more Blade Pro than Stealth. The 6.2 x 3.1 x 0.3-inch device weighs a vast 6.9 ounces. That’s even heavier than a 6.2 ounce, 6.2 x 3 x 0.3-inch Google Pixel 2 XL, a Samsung Galaxy S8 (5.5 ounces, 5.9 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches) and a OnePlus 5 (5.4 ounces, 6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches). However, a 6.2 x 3.1 x 0.3-inch Apple iPhone 8 Plus is a loyal heavyweight during 7.1 ounces.


Display

I approaching a bit some-more from a Razer Phone’s 5.7-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) Sharp IGZO display. It has certainly abounding color, yet it’s hamstrung by severely lifeless backlighting. Nowhere was this some-more transparent than when we watched a Pacific Rim 2 trailer. A grievous Kaiju erupted from a ground, mouth agape with blue hellfire and malice. It was pleasing and terrifying, until we watched it side by side with my Samsung Galaxy S8+ and a Super AMOLED panel. On a Razer Phone, that fragile blue beak looked lifeless and cleared out.

The device”s vast bezels are another strike opposite a Razer Phone’s panel.. In a universe of Infinity Displays and notched, yet bezelless screens, a black bars ensconcing a Razer Phone’s arrangement hang out like a bruise thumb.

The Razer Phone’s colorful arrangement stems from a ability to imitate 126 percent of a sRGB tinge gamut, that is improved than a iPhone 8 Plus’ 123 percent. As poetic as Razer’s row is, though, it falls brief of a 156 percent smartphone normal as good as a Pixel 2 XL (130 percent), Galaxy S8 (183 percent) and a OnePlus 5 (220 percent).

I approaching some-more from a Razer Phone’s 5.7-inch Sharp IGZO display. It has certainly abounding color, yet it’s on a low side.

I’m unhappy that such a transparent arrangement isn’t brighter. The Razer Phone averaged usually 310 nits, that is good next a 448-nit average. The OnePlus 5, GS8 and Pixel 2 XL were all brighter, with outlines of 384, 437 and 438 nits, respectively.

Welcome to Ultramode

This wouldn’t be a Razer device yet some wild, gamer-centric innovation. For a Razer Phone, a association is rolling out a Ultramotion display, a exclusive arrangement that delivers a 120-Hertz modernise rate — a world’s initial for smartphones. Similar to Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, Ultramotion synchronizes a arrangement modernise rate with a GPU describe rate. The outcome is smoother graphics with small to no stuttering or lag.

When we played Asphalt Street Storm, we found myself in a white-knuckle foe for pinkish slips. we floored a gas of my yellow Porsche and pulled brazen of my competition. we drifted into a pointy turn, narrowly blank a block as a reduction of object and shadows ran opposite my car’s framework during 64 frames per second.

Audio: Hearing Is Believing

The Razer Phone has a best speakers I’ve ever listened on a smartphone. By far. The front-firing speakers are loyal powerhouses, and to produce home that Razer aesthetic, a association took a filigree grille pattern from a laptops and used it on this phone. The grilles are a bit larger, and any orator has a possess amplifier. If that wasn’t adequate special sauce, a smartphone also has Dolby Atmos program preinstalled for legitimate 360-degree audio.

Honestly, a Razer Phone sounds improved than many laptops, that feels uncanny to type. But when we launched Spotify, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Find A Way” filled a proportions of my bedroom. Q-Tip’s singular voice was good and clear, as were a trap and a hi-hat. The aloft piano chords weren’t twisted during max volume, and there was transparent spacing between Phife Dawg’s outspoken and a soprano singing a hook. Despite a implausible volume, a lows weren’t as brazen as we approaching them to be. we played a some-more bass-heavy “Drug Dealers Anonymous” to exam my low-end theory, and while Pusha T and Jay-Z’s vocals were frail and scathing on a track, a drum was a some-more pointed player.

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The Razer Phone also has THX certification, that we can usually take advantage of around a 3.5-millimeter dongle bundled with phone. At 0.3 inches thick, Razer could have and should have combined a headphone jack instead of forcing people into an neglected #donglelife. As good as a Razer Phone sounds — and it does sound good — many people are going to be regulating headphones as they travel, generally someone like me who relies on a New York City subway. Yes, we have Bluetooth headphones, yet we remove out on a THX tip sauce. Don’t make me select between charging and removing an optimal audio experience.

The Razer Phone has a best speakers I’ve ever listened on a smartphone. By far.

With or yet a dongle, mobile games have never sounded so good. we was a small on corner as we ran and gunned my approach by Dead Trigger 2, interjection to a everlasting sound of soppy undead sloshing toward my position. The staccato from my MP5K submachine gun had genuine weight, as did a bomb barrels strategically placed via a boards.

Tailor Made for Gaming

Portrait mode is a de facto position for many handsets, yet a Razer Phone isn’t your standard handset. Pushed as an unashamed gaming device, a smartphone is Razer’s answer to a quick flourishing ardour for mobile gaming. including Arena of Valor, a multiplayer online conflict locus (MOBA) renouned in Asia that’s set to launch statewide in a nearby future. Razer sees a destiny where personification and streaming mobile games is usually as renouned as examination and personification Destiny 2 or Injustice 2.

The phone is designed so zero gets in a approach of we and a game. The front-facing speakers are positioned so that your fingers don’t inadvertently silence that glorious audio. The energy and volume rockers are located in places where we can’t incidentally exit a game. It’s usually you, a phone and some severely considerable support rates.

When we played Dead Trigger 2, a support rate didn’t drop next 62 fps and during a top reached 74 fps. The same pretension on my Galaxy S8 Plus scored betweenf 55 to 63 fps. Although both games ran smoothly, sum like a disfigured tombstone-gray musculature of a bumbling Titan sight were crook on a Razer Phone.

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I saw identical formula on Asphalt Street Storm, where a object reflecting off my car’s golden-yellow paint pursuit looked some-more picturesque compared to a GS8+. In terms of support rates, a Razer Phone ranged between 55 to 68 fps, while a GS8 hovered between 52 to 62 fps.

Overall Performance

I’ve got to palm it to Razer: The performance on this thing is impressive. Even yet we was using YouTube and Twitch in a credentials with 5 open tabs in Google Chrome, we didn’t knowledge any loiter when we was surfing web sites and navigating between home screens. The Razer Phone confirmed a fluidity even after we launched Asphalt: Storm.

The Razer Phone also outpaced all a Android foe with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 8GB of RAM. The smartphone strike a multicore measure of 6,685 on Geekbench 4, a fake exam that measures altogether performance, simply violence a 4,186 difficulty average. Armed with their possess Snapdragon 835s, a OnePlus 5, Pixel 2 XL and GS8 notched 6,542, 6,282 and 6,124, respectively. None of these phones were a compare for a iPhone 8 Plus and a A11 Bionic processor, though, that scored an extraordinary 10,472.

As was expected, a Razer Phone nailed down sincerely high outlines on graphics tests. The handset delivered 41,526 on a 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, positively decimating a 21,385 average. The OnePlus 5 wasn’t too distant behind with 39,576, while a GS8 constructed 35,903. But once again, a iPhone 8 Plus laid a epic smackdown with a measure of 64,412.

Heat

Despite being sheathed in aluminum, a Razer Phone stays remarkably cool. Beneath that obsidian steel lies a feverishness siren and some thermal helmet that funnels a feverishness to a extraneous frame. That allows a feverishness to waste some-more quickly, creation for a cooler phone overall.

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I played Dead Trigger 2 for 30 mins and a behind of a phone became warmer over time, yet not uncomfortably so. In fact, when we totalled a behind row with a feverishness gun, it purebred 91 degrees Fahrenheit, that is usually next a 95-degree comfort threshold.

Battery Life

At 4,000 mAh, a Razer Phone has one of a largest batteries I’ve tested. That didn’t indispensably assistance it during a battery test. After surfing a web over ATT’s 4G LTE network during 150 nits of shade brightness, a smartphone tapped out after 9 hours and 30 minutes. That’s usually brief of a 9:41 smartphone average.

The Razer Phone has one of a largest batteries we’ve tested, yet that didn’t assistance it on a battery test.

The iPhone 8 Plus lasted a many longer 11:16, while a GS8 ran 10:39. The Pixel 2XL and OnePlus 5 clocked in during 12:09 and 13:06, respectively.

Cameras: No Frills Whatsoever

The Razer Phone has a twin camera in a character of a iPhone 8 Plus. But before we start primping and preening for those Portrait Lighting and Contour shots, know that a phone lacks any important camera features, outward of an visual zoom. In terms of features, it’s one of a many vanilla camera apps I’ve ever used. There’s not even a dedicated symbol for visual zoom; we have to splash to wizz and theory what’s 2x.

While we can adjust a bearing and contrast, there are no Pro settings if we wish to futz around with a white change or ISO. You do get HDR (high energetic range), yet it takes a camera 2 to 3 seconds to constraint a print when it’s enabled. That feels like a lifetime, generally when we was perplexing to get a shot of my dog. By a time it snapped, he had changed and we was left with a becloud disaster of a photo.

I pitted a Razer Phone opposite my Samsung Galaxy S8+ in a mini camera face-off, and a Samsung has a edge.


When we shot a picture of Sojourner Truth on a propagandize in my neighborhood, a Razer Phone delivered richer tinge than did my GS8 Plus, whose images looked a tad cleared out. However, a GS8 Plus had improved detail, like little cracks in a paint and a ridges caused by a depressions in a brick.

I saw a identical outcome in a natural-light shot we took of twin of my colleagues. The Razer Phone practiced improved to a lighting, producing some-more picturesque color, yet a GS8 Plus held a finer sum like  flyaway hairs. There was also some-more pellet when we zoomed in on a Razer Phone’s shot.


The Razer Phone strike a vital roadblock in low light.


When we dimmed a lights, a camera usually focused on one face and took 2 to 3 seconds to constraint a shot. The finish outcome was a dark, grainy picture with frequency any fact and pale color. The GS8 Plus was like day to a Razer Phone’s light, once again delivering pointy detail.


When we switched to a Razer’s front-facing 8-MP shooter, we found that since a camera had difficulty adjusting to a light, there was a greenish cover over a image. As a result, my skin looked pallid and my orange-and-purple locs looked brown. The GS8 Plus’ picture constructed a some-more accurate skin tinge and came closest to arrangement off my purple hair.

While both a rear- and front-facing cameras can constraint video in 4K, don’t design any fancy-schmancy features. Sample videos we took during a New York City Marathon showed a Razer did a improved pursuit with tinge facsimile than a Samsung G8 Plus, while a latter showed off some-more detail, like hairs tangled to a runners’ heads by sleet and sweat. Despite holding both phones precariously in one hand, conjunction video suffered from my fumbling. In fact, we couldn’t make out many shaking, if any during all, in possibly video.

Interface: Not Quite Vanilla

Even yet we possess a Galaxy S8 Plus with all a TouchWiz bells and whistles, there’s something to be pronounced for a sheer leisure that comes with semi-vanilla Android. we contend semi, since Razer combined one important hold to a interface with a Game Booster.

Designed to concede gamers to optimize their games with a concentration on fluctuating battery life and improving altogether opening while playing, Game Booster is identical to a Game Optimization and BatteryBoost facilities found in Nvidia’s GeForce Experience apartment or a Samsung Game Tuner app. Razer gives we a choice of formulating your possess tradition settings or switching between Power Save and Performance modes.

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Aside from that, a Razer phone delivers a sincerely sheer Android experience. The best partial about Android is that it’s not slowed down by layers of skinned interfaces. we churned by menus and home screens with a biggest of palliate on a Razer Phone’s Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) interface yet nary an confront with latency.

It would have been good if a phone were shipping with Oreo (Android 8.0), yet we theory we’ll have to wait until a initial partial of Q1 2018 for a pleasure.

Bottom Line

After several days with a Razer Phone, I’m still not totally assured that we need a bona fide gaming phone. But Razer creates a flattering clever box with a Ultramotion display, good support rates and overwhelming audio.. However, this $699 handset has some drawbacks, including a camera that’s bad in low light, a miss of a headphone jack and a shade that simply doesn’t daunt like OLED. That battery life could also be better.

If you’re in a marketplace for an unbarred phone and wish poignant opening for an affordable price, we would advise holding out for a OnePlus 5T, that debuts Nov. 16. The Galaxy S8+ isn’t as quick when gaming, yet it offers improved cameras, a some-more gorgeous Infinity Display and longer endurance. Overall, a Razer Phone is a confidant initial step for a company, yet it’s not a impact dunk.

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom’s Guide

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