Razer build its brand name from designing and manufacturing gaming products like laptops, tablets, keyboards, mice. After acquiring Nextbit in Jan 2017, the Razer phone was announced in Nov 2017. The Razer phone reuses a bulk of the Nextbit’s Robin phone design, including hardware placements of the power button, volume buttons, cameras.
The Razer phone offers impressive premium specs, like the fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, Adreno 540 GPU, 8GB LPDDR4X RAM, 64GB storage with expandable microSD slot, 4000 mAh battery, 5.7-inch IPS LCD 2560×1440 pixel, and a brilliant 120 Hz refresh rate. The dual rear cameras are both 12MP to capture standard angle (f/1.75) and 2x telephoto (f/2.6), while the front camera is 8MP. The front-facing stereo speakers pumps out sound enhanced with Dolby Atmos.
The aluminium body with angular edges feels premium and weighty. One’s hand could mistake for an older-generation Xperia phone, especially when even the power and fingerprint buttons are implemented the same way as Xperia.
When I tested the Razer phone over 2 weeks, a few things strike me very strongly.
Capable Android phone
As an Android phone, the Razer phone is exceedingly capable, looking at the highly-decorated specs above. Battery life is commendable, lasting me an entire day comfortably. There are other battery-saving options to squeeze more juice, for instance, reducing the frame rate (I turned on 120 Hz for the entire review duration). The phone does not lag, though it does not perform as lightning-fast as OnePlus 5, which I think was more to do with the launcher than the phone capability. The Antutu benchmark score (179843) puts the phone at No. 2 for Android OS phones.
Smooth Gaming Animation
With 120 Hz display, animations are stutter-free. Playing Pokemon Go is so surreal, with butter-smooth animation. Other high-frame rate casual games I tried are also gorgeous. I have not noticed any animation lag when playing games. The generous bezels allow me to hold the phone comfortably without fear of touching the screen. The phone gets warm during gaming, but acceptable.
App Icons Layout
It is interesting that the Razer home screen allows app icons to be positioned in between the grids, giving more ways to personalise the home pages.
Immersive Gaming Audio Quality
I am not a fan of audio processing sound engines because of the audio distortion and compression, but the Dolby Atmos audio engine provides a more immersive 3D-spatial gaming experience. They are definitely the loudest speakers I have experienced on a smartphone, and when it comes to gaming, these speakers rock. When the Dolby Atmos is disabled, the audio quality over the speakers is tinny and lacks punch. There is no 3.5mm audio port on the Razer phone, but a USB-C audio adapter is included.
Audio quality without Dolby Atmos is clean and delivers powerful amplification, well-controlled tonality, and would suffice for the general audience. When doing A/B with the LG V30+, the Razer phone lacks the instrumental separation. space, and definition, but drives the headphones louder (with Dolby Atmos enabled, the volume gets even louder, albeit heavy compression).
The camera specs might look competitive, but the resulting images are far from that. The camera app is elementary, without any shooting options, not even panorama or manual exposure modes.
When selecting HDR mode, the images are underexposed.
In normal mode, the highlights have a tendency to be overexposed.
Image quality is probably the worst among phones priced above S$1000. Metering and white balance are weak when the scene is not evenly exposed. In less challenging scenes, photos are acceptable but it does not deliver quality expected of premium phones.
For low light, images are grainy. At 2X zoom, the camera captures the original exposure level. But when shooting on HDR mode, the noise is eliminated while appearing less overexposed.
The Razer phone is Razer’s first phone, and is clearly very focused in getting the gaming aspects right. With high frame rate and powerful stereo speakers powered with surround-sounding Dolby Atmos engine, mobile gaming is very immersive, and I have to admit, playing games on a Razer phone is more enjoyable, giving at least some compelling reasons to own. Without a dedicated 3.5mm audio port, Razer wrongly assumes gamers do not play with headphones. Finally, its camera and imaging department leaves much room for improvement.
Razer phone retails at S$1068, available from Razer online store.
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 Cameras: 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
Size: 158.5 x 77.7 x 8 mm
Weight: 197 g
In the box:
- USB-C to USB-C Cable
- Audio Adapter (USB Type-C to 3.5 mm)
- Power Adapter
- SIM Eject Pin