100 days with the Razer Phone: the edgy outsider


An alternative style

Over the course of using the Razer Phone as my daily driver for several months, I got plenty of comments from friends about its appearance. We might know it as the Nextbit Robin in its edgy goth phase, but for most people, it’s just that weird black block phone.

Now, your mileage may vary according to taste, but I have some affection for the unfashionable Razer Phone. With the smartphone industry dominated by lemming-like following and trend-chasing, the Razer Phone stands out from the crowd. Does the Razer Phone look sexy? Nope, but it looks different, and that has a charm of its own.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0298 No sexy curves for this geeky gamer phone. / © AndroidPIT

While the Razer Phone may not have the shiny sleekness of the latest Samsung or Huawei, it’s not by omission, but by design. The Razer Phone knows exactly what it wants to be. And if you plumped for an outsider like the Razer for your phone of choice, chances are you have a pretty clear idea of what you want too. As you’ll see in this article, the Razer Phone’s form serves its function.

Mean multimedia machine

If you see your smartphone as a portable media device or palm computer, then it’s hard to find better than the Razer Phone. The audiovisual experience is incredible, thanks to the gorgeous screen and absolutely fantastic front facing stereo speakers 

Many of the strengths of the Razer Phone really became apparent when I’ve been on holiday or on the road, far from my precious PC. The front facing speakers and the ability to prop the phone up in landscape (well worth all the comments about the ‘blocky’ design) has made it more than able to serve as my music and video player on the go without ever feeling like I’ve compromised on quality.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0303 The ability of the phone to rest on one side is highly underrated. / © AndroidPIT

A January software update enabled support for Netflix HDR videos as well as Dolby Digital 5.1, so the Razer Phone is still in the top class when it comes to playing multimedia. And as you would expect from Razer, this naturally includes gaming. 

The gaming, tho

As a lifelong gamer, I ‘get’ what Razer is trying to do here, and appreciate what they’ve done for gamers while also realizing the problem of the gamer’s smartphone. Most gamers who can afford the $ 700 Razer Phone would already have a good PC/console at home, which the Razer Phone can’t compete with. So how much gaming are you really going to do with it?

This is something that anyone who buys into Razer’s marketing will have to consider. The Razer Phone is just as good a handheld gaming platform as it is a general multimedia device on the go, capable of running the most demanding, cutting edge mobile games with ease. 

AndroidPIT Razer Phone Gaming 03 The Razer Phone can take the most demanding games on the Play Store, no trouble. / © AndroidPIT

You want AAA graphics on the go? You got it with the Razer Phone. Aside from travelling and the daily commute, I’ve also had the pleasure of using the Razer Phone as my main test device for all those tasty game reviews I’m serving up here on a daily basis. I haven’t been tempted to swap it out for any others.

For more details about the Razer Phone gaming experience, and how games from the 120Hz IGZO LCD display and Razer’s Game Booster, settings, I’ll point you to my dedicated article. 100 days on, I can still confidently say that the Razer Phone is the best choice if you want your smartphone to also be a handheld gaming device.

They see me scrollin’, they hatin’

Even I don’t spend the majority of my time with the Razer Phone playing games or even watching videos. Like many people, the majority of my use is taken up by social media and web browsing. Maybe I spend more time than the average person going through documents and news feeds in the course of my research.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0311 You won’t want to slow down. / © AndroidPIT

It’s in these simple everyday tasks that the Razer Phone shines again, thanks to the display’s 120hz refresh rate and relatively clean software. Scrolling and navigating on the Razer Phone is lightning-fast, butter-smooth and highly addictive. Once you’re used to it, most other devices feel sluggish under the fingers.

A beefy battery

The Razer Phone’s chunky 4,000 mAh battery gives it a good lifespan even with the screen set to 120 fps all the time. Even taking into account a couple of short gaming sessions with something like Arena of Valor, PUBG, or Shadowgun Legends, the phone chugs through the whole day. With just casual use, it’s usually a day and a half before I reach for the cable.

Taking full advantage of the phone’s media and gaming capabilities on the go though, means either diving into the game booster to tone down the framerate and graphical goodies, or having an power source nearby. Luckily, the packed-in charger juices it up to full power in no time thanks to Quick Charge 4+.

Great in the hand, awkward in the pocket

Touching again on the Razer Phone’s shape, the rectangular shape that makes it a great portable media player and helps a secure grip in both hands while gaming makes it pretty inconvenient in the pocket. More than once I’ve been annoyed at the phone poking my legs or sliding up out of my jeans. 

AndroidPIT Razer Phone Gaming hero 6803 The size and shape of the Razer Phone makes it somewhat inconvenient to carry around. / © AndroidPIT

Speaking of jeans, I’m fairly confident this phone is responsible for wearing a hole through my cheapest pair. Should I shake my fist at Razer? Or Primark? The Razer Phone’s unwieldiness is especially inconvenient the summer when lighter clothing is required. This ain’t a phone to casually carry around in your shorts and text with.

The camera can’t catch up

In our initial review of the Razer Phone, it was clear that the camera just didn’t measure up to the quality of other similarly priced devices, and despite updates rolled out by Razer, this situation hasn’t changed. This is the major factor keeping the Razer Phone from joining the cool kids table and counting flagships from Huawei and Samsung among its peers.

Uncertain updates

Part of the unease with the Razer Phone is that we’re still not sure how well Razer will do with regard to software support. So far, it’s a mixed bag. I didn’t expect them to do miracles with the camera updates but the ability to play HDR content on Netflix was much appreciated. 

The real test will be with Android versions and security patches. I’m still waiting for the update to Android 8.1 Oreo, which is meant to arrive later this month. It’s a far from speedy update schedule, and it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence about the Razer Phone’s future-proofing.

A loveable misfit

Despite some misgivings, I’m glad I took a chance on the outsider and stuck with the Razer Phone over the long term. In many ways, it’s a specialist phone for particular interests. As a gamer and multimedia enthusiast, the Razer Phone’s strengths align with my use, with the camera being the only cause for regret.

The Razer Phone clearly has room for improvement, and that’s why I’m also looking forward to the next generation to fix its weaknesses and also watching out for Razer’s ambitious Project Linda, which would allow the Razer Phone and its successor to serve as a 13-inch laptop.

Weird? Niche? Yes, but that’s part of the appeal. After 100 days, I’ve found a lot to love in this misfit, and while there are mobile games to be played and music to be blasted, we’ll be keeping company.

Have you tried the Razer Phone? What do you think of it?

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Project Linda turns the Razer Phone into a laptop

Razer recently presented Project Linda at CES. The new concept combines a smartphone and a laptop. So is the dream of a single multifunction mobile device that can take over the tasks of a laptop, tablet and smartphone finally coming true?

The Razer Phone, with its Snapdragon 835 processor and 8 GB of RAM, is at the heart of Project Linda. The smartphone can slide into a laptop-like case including a 13.3-inch QHD display, a keyboard, a power bank as well as a 200 GB hard drive.

razer project linda front Razer Project Linda: The smartphone turns into a laptop. / © Razer

The Razer Phone is plugged into the touchpad and the second display. Razer also created a video for Project Linda that beautifully demonstrates the concept’s possibilities.

Like the Razer Phone, Project Linda also has a 120 Hz display and integrated buttons for navigation and selecting apps. The keyboard has a backlight that lights and flashes in different colors. You can even connect accessories to the USB ports and play Android games with a keyboard and mouse. The smartphone will be able to use apps as well as a second display to implement completely new operating concepts.

razer project linda vainglory Razer Project Linda: The Razer phone can turn into a second screen or a touchpad. / © Razer

When the smartphone and laptop are plugged in together, Project Linda comes to a weight of 2.75 pounds (1.25 kg). Because Project Linda is completely powered by the Razer Phone, the common data interfaces such as Wi-Fi and LTE are available in laptop mode. And given the sheer power of Snapdragon 835, Project Linda could develop into a real replacement for conventional laptops, at least for things like surfing and emails.

According to the video, Project Linda will be on view at CES. Razer has still not announced a market launch or even prices, but the presentation should be able to help potential customers learn more about the product.

razer project linda top Razer flow: Colored backlight / © Razer

The only downer is perhaps the history of the designs Razer has presented in recent years: Project Christine was a modular PC that was never heard of again. Last year, there was the Project Valerie laptop with three displays. The prototypes were stolen from the CES booth, and since then there has been little hype about the project.

Some other manufacturers have already dared to develop these kinds of smartphone-laptop hybrids. Motorola introduced something similar with the Atrix and Lapdock. Asus also wanted to turn a smartphone into a laptop. And yet, there has still not been a model that has been successful on the market. Razer has the advantage that their concept is very cohesive, primarily because it gives the inserted smartphone a purpose.

Would you extend your Razer Phone with Project Linda? Or perhaps even purchase a Razer Phone to have your own smartphone-laptop hybrid? Let us know in the comments!

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Razer Phone: a phone for gaming as well as a phone for gamers?

“By gamers, for gamers” is Razer’s motto, and as a member of that distinguished group, I have to admit I was skeptical about a smartphone coming from company who made their name in gaming hardware.

High-end PC gamers love to pour scorn on mobile gamers (and console gamers, and PC gamers with mid-to-low-end PCs, and people in general). Trust me, I was one of them. But I’ve learned to appreciate the experience that Android gaming can offer, while also being keenly aware of what a step down mobile gaming feels like when you’re used to the good stuff.

And to Razer’s credit, they do make the good stuff. The Razer Blade Pro laptop, for example, is a thing of beauty, packed with high-end hardware to smoothly run demanding modern games including a 4K display and GTX 1080 graphics card. If you’ve got one of these babies, or any kind of high-end gaming rig at home, why would you care about a phone for gamers?

With that in mind, I’ve been particularly keen to see how the Razer Phone really improves Android gaming compared to the competition.Is this really a phone for playing games on? Or simply another smartphone, but marketed to “gamers” as a consumer demographic? I’ve been getting to grips with the Razer Phone with an eye on its gaming experience and well, it’s a little from column A, and little from column B.

Function over form

Compared to the rounded, near bezel-less flagship phones of the current generation, the Razer Phone comes across as looking distinctly unfashionable. The body is an angular, brutal black box with solid corners and thick black bezels above and below the screen.

The rectangular design of the Razer Phone betrays its lineage as the child of 2016’s Nextbit Robin. But while the Robin had its eye on the cloud, the Razer Phone packs its box with some serious hardware optimized for gaming performance. Practicality, not style, is the philosophy behind the Razer Phone, and every seemingly old-fashioned aspect of it is built to purpose.

Namely, the angular design makes it a much better handheld gaming device, it rests securely in the hand, powerful speakers pointing right at you, the bezels preventing your fingers from blocking the action on the screen. It has another, less obvious advantage for gaming in its shape.

AndroidPIT Razer Phone Gaming 03 The Razer’s edges feel good in the hand. / © AndroidPIT

If your hands are busy with playing with a mouse and keyboard on your desktop but you still want to say, make a video call, or play a tutorial video while you game without messing around with tabs, the Razer Phone doesn’t just stand out because of its design, it also stands up! Much like Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium phone, this device can stand up tall and proud, but, unlike Sony’s rectangle, Razer’s can also lie on its side, propped up in landscape view. This just works on the side without the volume buttons, though.

Used to rounded smartphones, I didn’t initially think I’d use the phone this way very much, but after a week or so of use, I find myself propping it up every day, and not just when I’m on my desktop. It’s fantastic for video calling, as it allows you to free up your hands and assume a more natural position for conversations. 

Those front-facing speakers are nothing to sneeze at, and I appreciated the ability to stand the phone to make sure they were pointed at me. Just bear in mind that although the Razer Phone can stand on its own, it can’t do miracles, and a light tap or stiff breeze will topple it. Make sure you put it somewhere stable.

Vulgar display of power

With Qualcomm’s top-end processor and 8 GB RAM, the Razer Phone packs impressive specs, it’s still more or less what you’d expect of a modern high-end smartphone. Its main selling point, however, is the amazing 120Hz IGZO LCD display.

This is where Razer’s gaming pedigree really shines through. If you’re used to a decent gaming monitor (120Hz+), then the same picture at 60Hz can’t help come across as laggy and janky.

Screenshot 20171117 111131 3D racing and action games like Breakneck run blazingly fast on the Razer Phone / © AndroidPIT

The IGZO panel works with Ultra Motion technology, Nvidia’s mobile version of G-Sync for desktop monitors.This provides the major benefit of an adaptive refresh rate, no dropped frames at all.This eliminates the “jankiness” or stutters that the human eye is sensitive to.

Before we even get to games, it’s worth noting that Razer has worked with Google to get Android to render properly at 120FPS (frames per second). Just browsing through the OS is wonderfully slick and smooth, even Google’s own Pixel 2 seems to lag behind under my fingertips.

The 120Hz refresh rate is what could elevate the Razer Phone above the crowd as the phone of choice not just for gamers as a lifestyle brand, but people who actually want to use the phone as a mobile gaming platform in the face of competition from the PS Vita or Nintendo Switch.

The Razer Phone just chews up anything you can find on the Play Store, allowing you to play the most demanding and graphically beautiful games on the platform without compromise. Battling through Lineage 2? Blitzing through Breakneck? Blasting through N.O.V.A. Legacy? No sweat.

Thanks to the Razer Phone’s high RAM count, you can switch between multiple running games and apps easily and swiftly. Razer also show off their talent when it comes to heat distribution, as the Razer Phone doesn’t heat up excessively in any one area, nor does it becoming uncomfortable to hold even when it warms. And if you do feel that your heavy gaming using might be straining the phone or draining the battery, that’s where the Game Booster comes in.

Game Booster: more than a gimmick

A major benefit to the Android gamer is Razer’s Game Booster, where you can control various settings related to gaming, adjusting the resolution, frame rate, and processing power. If you’re someone with a ton of games on your phone, some requiring more power than others, this is great for making sure your phone handles them efficiently. When you need to save battery, you can sacrifice performance and play for longer at lower settings. You can even toggle anti-aliasing and disable notifications while a game is running so that you’re not disturbed.

gameboost With Game Booster, control how much power to give to games, and dial it down to save battery. / © AndroidPIT

This kind of attention to detail and level of control over gaming experience really does make the Razer Phone feel like it belongs to the same family as the Razer Blade laptops. But the Razer Blade laptops have a vast library of fantastic high-end games available to buy and play on them. The Razer Phone is more limited.

A great gaming device needs great games

Right now though, the Razer Phone’s potential is handicapped by the state of the Android gaming ecosystem. In many ways the mobile gaming market is the opposite of the type of premium games current fans of the Razer product line are familiar with. Most app developers, aiming for mass appeal over the range of middling to low end devices, don’t focus on graphics and anyway, will lock their apps at 60 FPS max, even if the panel setting is higher, making the Razer Phone’s main display advantage irrelevant.

Razer has attempted to head this off by promising games designed specifically to make use of the Razer Phone’s unique advantages, namely mobile versions of Tekken and Final Fantasy XV.

This could be really exciting for the future of Android games if it takes off and the Razer Phone can build a stable of games that really push it to the limit. At the moment though, buying the Razer Phone to play games that other flagships can’t is quite a gamble. It does, however, offer a better all-round gaming experience than the competition.

If you really want the gamer’s smartphone, you got it…at a price

I’m not just talking about the $ 700 dollar price tag. There actually is a good case for the Razer Phone being the best gaming smartphone. A combination of high-end hardware, solid design, a fantastic screen and game booster elevate it above the competition. But to get this, it sacrifices in other areas important to a smartphone.

If you ideal games on Android are the likes of Candy Crush Saga, Fruit Ninja, or Clash of Clans, then the Razer Phone isn’t going to add anything to your mobile gaming experience. But Razer isn’t really interested in talking to Candy Crush fans. They know that the ready audience they’ve built through their notebooks and peripherals play certain kinds of demanding games, and are proud of it.

AndroidPIT razer phone 3023 Razer’s writhing serpent brand stands for gaming quality and not much else. / © AndroidPIT

To many gamers, it doesn’t matter whether mobile games aren’t as impressive as PC or console games. The fact that the phone in their hands can play the best mobile games out there on max settings speaks to what’s important in their lives.

Non-gamers will still appreciate the stock Android interface and buttery-smooth scrolling on most utility apps. I can just glide through my Twitter feed, eliminating that moment or two or mild irritation waiting for the refresh.

But, as we’ll soon see in our in-depth technical review, the Razer Phone still lags behind the competition in a few key areas when it comes to being a good all-round smartphone. The camera, one of the most important aspects of a phone to the majority of users, is clearly not a priority for Razer, who have only ever made one camera product before (a webcam). No Optical Image Stabilization. Even previous gen Samsung Galaxy S7 or Pixel can beat it. Mobile photography is 80% software, and while it’s possible that updates will improve the pictures taken with the Razer Phone, I can’t see them catching up to their more experienced market rivals.

Opinion by Nicholas Montegriffo

I play games on my smartphone more often than I take photos.

What do you think?

5 participants

In the end, I can’t think of a better compliment to the Razer Phone other than that, after getting used to it, I’m loath to go back to gaming on a more fashionable rounded handset, even a powerful flagship with a great screen like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. When everything-display, comfort, sound, speed-is factored in, I’ll reach for the Razer. And yet, I still wince every time I take a picture with the serpent-branded black brick. Because I love the gaming experience on it, I’m willing to take the hit. Whether you’re willing to do the same will depend on how important high-end gaming is in your own smartphone use.

What do you think? Is Android gaming good enough to justify getting the gamer’s smartphone?

 

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

We talk with Eric Lin about the creation of the Razer Phone

Razer sees the entry of a new contender into the hard-fought smartphone market that not only includes Samsung, Apple, Huawei, LG, etc. but also other ambitious brands such as OnePlus and Honor. After the London launch event, we had the opportunity to speak with Eric Lin, Razer Phone’s Product Marketing Manager, regarding the creation of the first Razer smartphone.

Do we really need another smartphone manufacturer? Not really, but in the case of Razer, it could succeed, because unlike most other smartphone manufacturers, Razer is familiar with the needs of its target audience. Gamers primarily need a high-performance phone with a display that can achieve very high frame rates and, of course, produce rich sound.

razer interview still In an interview, Eric Lin explained to us how the marriage between Razer and Nextbit came to be. / © AndroidPIT

Razer is familiar with its target audience’s needs so, what now? During the launch event for the first Razer phone, we had the opportunity to sit down with Eric Lin, Product Marketing Manager for Razer, and talk about how the gaming smartphone was conceived. Since Eric had previously worked at Nextbit, he spoke very openly to us about the “marriage” that formed between Nextbit and Razer and why the Nextbit Robin’s cloud features did not find their way into the Razer phone. 

In our interview, Eric also gave us a small glimpse into the origin of the Razer phone. Since all Razer employees are also hardcore gamers, employees were continuously able to test the devices and functions during development, which ensured that gamers’ needs were actually fulfilled. 

In addition to additional comments by Eric regarding the making of the Razer phone, this interview covers how Scott Croyle, Tom Moss and Mike Chan, the founders and minds behind Nextbit, stayed on board.

What do you think of the Razer phone? Would you call yourself a gamer and if so, what kind of games do you play the most?

Leave us your comments about the Razer phone below! Feel free to comment even if you have any open questions about the Razer phone. We’ll collect your questions and put them to Razer in future interviews.

Android News + App Reviews + Hardware Reviews – AndroidPIT

Razer phone hands-on review: by gamers, for gamers

The gaming specialists break new ground today with the introduction of an Android smartphone specially designed for gamers. Simply named the Razer Phone, the new device is meant to appeal to users who want to enjoy games, videos and music of the highest quality.

Release date and price

The Razer Phone will be available for pre-order in selected countries from November 3rd in the Razer Online Store. During the hands-on session, Tom Moss and Eric Lin from Razer informed me that the start of sales and the first day of delivery would be November 14th. The Razer Phone will only be available in the online shop of Razer and, in certain countries, from the network operator “3”.

For the time being, Razer’s first smartphone is aimed at 10 selected countries in the North American and European markets.

Although nowadays it’s not unusual to see a premium smartphone debut with a price around $ 1,000, Razer’s first offering is slated to be somewhat less expensive. We expect a US price tag in the range of just over $ 700,  which would be quite acceptable considering the hardware we examine further down and in line with the price in Europe (€749.99) and the UK (£699.99). The Razer Phone bucks the trend by not coming in various confusing combinations of memory, color, and available sizes, including different display resolutions. If you want a Razer phone, you get THE Razer Phone with Qualcomm’s latest and fastest processor, 8 GB RAM and the 5.7-inch Sharp IGOZ display, which offers a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. Razer squeezes all this into a casing that reminds me of a pumped up Nextbit Robin. 

Design and build quality

Some may call it old-fashioned, others would say that the Razer Phone’s design takes a backseat to other priorities, catering to the needs of its target group. The Razer Phone’s specifications are focused on maximum performance, a display with the highest refresh rate, a large battery for long running times and loud and good audio reproduction, rather than a front-filling display with rounded display corners.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0296  The angular Razer Phone. / © AndroidPIT

From a distance, you might even think that the Razer phone is a Sony Mobile 2017 version 2.0, because the smartphone adopts and even expands the Sony Xperia smartphone’s angular design, which is an unsung feature of the Sony Xperia range. Like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which I recently described in an in-depth review, the Razer Phone can stand upright. Even better than the Xperia XZ Premium, the Razer Phone can also be set up in landscape mode without an additional case and stand. It’s clear that a light push or even an air blast is enough to break the balance of the Razer Phone, but I personally liked the solid and angular design of the Xperia XZ Premium. If you don’t like the angular design, you will most likely not like the look of the Razer Phone. But you can’t please everybody, and inevitably some commentators will argue over the Razer Phone’s “old school” design. 

AndroidPIT razer phone 0308 The design is very similar to the old Nextbit Robin. / © AndroidPIT

The quality of the Razer phone’s workmanship is undisputed. The aluminium housing is very robust and our test device was not creaking or groaning in any way during the hands-on operation when pressed at critical points.

Display

Gamers have very sensitive eyes. If the display does not react within a fraction of a millisecond, or if it does not show frame rates above 100 Hertz, the gamer will complain about jerky images. Razer knows their fanbase and takes no risks with their first smartphone. The Razer Phone integrates a display from the Sharp IGOZ series, the same screen technology is already used in Razer’s notebooks, which features a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hertz.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0315 Thanks to the high refresh rate, games should be very fluid. / © AndroidPIT

Razer showed me what the display and the rest of the equipment is capable of delivering during the hands-on session with the Twitter app and a frame counter integrated on the demo device. Fast scrolling was quickly and smoothly displayed. However, we still have to wait for our review sample and see if the performance can be reproduced in long term use.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0311 The IGOZ display in the Razer Phone can be tailored to your needs. / © AndroidPIT

At the PC, high frame rates are quite understandable, because in combination with input devices such as a mouse, gamepad or keyboard, a fast display with a high frame rate is important for accurate and responsive playing. Most of the time, however, only hardcore gamers from a professional eSport clan notice this. The normal user will hardly notice any difference in a match of Hearthstone, Pokemon Go, etc. In theory, at least. We need to find out more once we have received our final test device and test the Razer Phone with different kinds of game.

Software

When it comes to software, the Razer Phone relies on Google’s Android operating system, which is not surprising, since the heads behind the cloud phone have also switched to Razer with the acquisition of Nextbit by the gaming specialist. Tom Moss and Mike Chan are former Google employees and so are naturally very familiar with the Android mobile operating system.

The Razer Phone will welcome you with Android 7.1.1.1 when delivered. In my conversation with Tom Moss and Eric Lin, I was promised an update to Android 8. x Oreo for the first quarter of 2018.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0300 The Nova Launcher has been trimmed and refined by Razer again. / © AndroidPIT

The Razer Phone used during our hands-on doesn’t have the final version of the software, because Game Boost was implemented but not finished. Also the framecounter activated for demo purposes will most likely not make it into the final version of the Razer Phone. But Tom assured me during the hands-on session that the Razer Phone will be offered with a special version of the Nova Launcher. “Super Nova” as he likes to call it, is integrated with Google Assistant and can be adapted later with special themes. Of course, most themes will most likely be created with games publishers. From what I know of Razer’s history, I feel it’s safe to say that the possibility to customize the UI to your own preferences will certainly be a feature on the smartphone. 

In order to get an added value from the high refresh rate, Razer works together with games publishers. Numerous partners, who will be eager to free their apps and games from the framelock, have already been announced at the launch event today. More will follow. 

Performance

The Razer phone’s hardware features mentioned above are indeed impressive on paper, but in comparison to the competition they are mostly identical. As with PC gaming, Razer can only use the hardware offered by chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm and co. Inside the Razer Phones is the fastest Qualcomm processor currently available on the market. The Snapdragon 835 still has 8 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory in the form of UFS chips. The memory can be extended by up to 2 TB via MicroSD cards.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0326 Razer stands for performance in gaming, which should also apply to the Razer Phone. / © AndroidPIT

The features alone, which are comparable to those of the maximum configuration of the OnePlus 5, should be enough to be able to play along with the current smartphones in terms of performance. But Razer doesn’t want to just play along. The ambitions are higher for the gaming specialist and its fans. You want to get the maximum possible performance out of the hardware, so that the demanding gamer gets a maximum of frames at maximum detail level. Razer uses software tweaks that are already known from Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note series and the LG V30. This refers to additional software functions that adjust the clock rate of the processor and the resolution of the display, depending on the app requirements. Razer dubs this set of functions “game booster” and here the user can define whether the four performance cores of the Snapdragon 835 SoC should perform their service at full or lower clock rate.  

According to Tom Moss, Razer was able to use the technical know-how accumulated over many years in heat dissipation for the Razer Phone. A heat pipe and two-layer heatspreader ensure that the smartphone does not overheat in continuous use and under full load. Whether the Razer solution really pays off in continuous operation as one would expect is something we have to find out in our upcoming review.

Audio

The Razer Phone doesn’t just want to be understood as a pure gaming smartphone. It is intended to provide the player or even normal smartphone users with good media playback capabilities. The two forward-facing speakers blast music, game audio and video soundtracks directly towards the user. The output directly on the smartphone is Dolby Atmos certified. The certificates are good, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the volume of both speakers during the hands-on.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0303 The front speakers are certified by Dolby Atmos. / © AndroidPIT

Bad news for fans of the good old headphone jack, because the Razer phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack on the phone itself. To connect analog headphones, there is a USB type C dongle, which has a THX-certified DAC inside.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0319 In the USB dongle, Razer installs a THX-certified DAC. / © AndroidPIT

If you don’t want to listen directly to the speakers and you don’t want to use cable headphones, then there might be a third option with the Razer Phone—Bluetooth 4.2 with aptx support. The Razer Phone we tried did not come with aptxHD and Bluetooth 5.0. However, since other smartphones with similar hardware configurations can offer Bluetooth 5.0 and aptxHD, it is quite likely that the manufacturer will still be able to provide these features via software update. Unfortunately, Razer couldn’t tell us whether this is feasible during the hands-on. 
 

Camera

Of course, you also have to be able to create photos or videos with the Razer Phone. In the main camera, Razer is following the trend towards a dual camera solution a la Apple, Samsung and co. In plain language, that means a wide-angle and a telephoto lens are available. Both image sensors offer a maximum resolution of 12 megapixels and are supposed to match that of the Galaxy S7. The wide angle lens is the full beam lens with an aperture of f/1.75 and the telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.6.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0323 We will find out in a final test whether the cameras can match the Galaxy S7. / © AndroidPIT

For selfies, the Razer Phone has a camera with a maximum resolution of 8 megapixels and an aperture of f/2.0 above the display, unfortunately without autofocus. In our final test, the quality of the cameras from the Razer Phone will be examined in depth.

Battery

Another critical element of smartphone hardware is the battery. Razer has installed a 4,000 mAh battery in the smartphone. Purely from the battery capacity, the Razer Phone ranks at the level of a Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Whether it can beat Huawei’s famously long runtime could not be verified in the short hands-on time. But as soon as we have received the Razer Phone in its final version, we will of course start comparing battery life.

AndroidPIT razer phone 0327 A short message from the co-founder of Razer is included with the Razer Phone as well as a Quick Charge 4+ charger. / © AndroidPIT

Even though Razer apparently did not want to pay the license fees for Bluetooth 5.0 in the audio sector, they were more generous when it came to the fastest QuickCharge standard. Instead of “only” using QuickCharge 3.0 like 99 percent of the smartphone competition, the battery of the Razer Phone can be charged with QuickCharge 4+. Qualcomm created the new charging technology just a few months ago as an update to QuickCharge 4.0, and until now only ZTE wanted to use Qualcomm’s latest high-speed charging technology for the Nubia Z17.

As an advantage over QC4, Qualcomm states that the devices become less warm during charging, the loading speed is up to 15 percent faster and the overall efficiency is 30 percent better than with Quick Charge 4. It’s also worth noting that Razer has included a corresponding power supply unit with the delivery.

Early Verdict

The gaming specialist has recognized that the brand’s demanding fanbase don’t just need headsets, keyboards, mice and other peripherals, but that they are also playing more and more mobile games. Hence the need for a smartphone with the snake logo. The Razer Phone is well tuned to the needs of the gamer community: a large display with high resolution and 120 Hertz refresh rate, stereo speakers with plenty of power and virtual 3D sound with Dolby Atmos certification. Under the hood you get top-of-the-range hardware, which can’t be pushed to the limit by gaming apps. 

One possible weak spot might be the camera, because the IMX260 sensor that we are familiar with from the Galaxy S7 might not be able to meet the highest demands. When it comes to snapping selfies and photos of the clan at LAN parties, the Razer gaming fan might be disappointed. 

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Razer: the gaming specialist enters the smartphone world

The brand name Razer is not unknown in the world of console gamers and especially among PC game players. For years, the hardware specialist has been producing highly successful gaming accessories in the form of keyboards, mice and headsets for a demanding target group of gamers. In the past few months, however, it has become clear that Razer might be expanding its product range to include smartphone accessories. Two acquisitions and former employees from Google and HTC also hint at this expansion.

The gaming market for mobile devices is growing rapidly, and not just because of games like Candy Crush or Pokémon Go. Many established smartphone manufacturers want to benefit from this growing target group and win over gamers to their brand. Some manufacturers enter into cooperations with game publishers and install games on their smartphones, others like Samsung or OnePlus integrate special gaming modes in the software for undisturbed game play. Other manufacturers, like Honor, hope that sponsorship of the renowned E-sports brand SK Gaming will help them break into the gaming market. 

There aren’t many gaming hardware manufacturers that are familiar with mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and other, who also create accessories for these devices. Some names you might know are Acer, Asus and MSI. None of these brands however have produced a smartphone that is suitable for the target group of gamers. Acer tried it, but since the Predator 6 from the IFA 2015, we haven’t heard any more. The only constant is Nvidia, which has the Shield tablet and GeForce Now game streaming service, can offer something worthy for gamers. But even Nvidia has not produced a smartphone.

AndroidPIT acer predator 3 With the Predator 6 and 8, Acer tried to provide gamers with a special smartphone and tablet – unfortunately without success.  / © ANDROIDPIT

But there is hope for ambitious gamers. Soon, a manufacturer that knows the requirements and desires of this target group will be bringing a smartphone to the market: Razer. The gaming specialist with the charismatic CEO Min-Liang Tan at its lead could be presenting a first smartphone in the near future. The technical know-how that has given Razer the edge was acquired through the takeover of Nextbit. In addition to the takeover of Nextbit also came along some recognizable names in the smartphone field: Tom Moss (formerly Google Android), Mike Chan (formerly senior software developer in the Android team at Google) and Scott Croyle (former head designer at HTC). Previously, in July 2015, Razer secured the software department of a small Android console manufacturer called Ouya. If you combine both of Razer’s acquisitions, then you can pretty safely assume that Razer is working on a mobile device specifically for the gamer.

A few days ago, Min-Liang Tan fueled the rumor mill in an interview with the South China Morning Post. In the interview, Tan said:  

At Razer, we bring together the best possible talents to work on the next generation of mobile products

Considering that Razer recently entered into a cooperation with network provider Three, this can only mean that a smartphone, tablet or similar mobile gaming device will hopefully soon be presented by Razer. Since Razer demonstrated its first prototypes or concept studies at the trade fairs (most recently at the CES 2017), could Razer’s new mobile product be presented at the upcoming Gamescom at the end of August?

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