The Razer Phone 2 – The Gaming Phone, Done Right

– Hey guys, this is Austin. The Razer Phone 2 is official and it takes everything that was good about the original and brings it up a notch. With the added benefit of not having a notch. (funky music) The original Razer Phone was a polarizing device. What it did well, it did really well.

What didn’t work though, was basically a deal breaker. The highlight last year was the 5.7 inch 1440p IGZO display. What made this so good for gaming wasn’t just the pure size of the display or the quality, but the frame rate.

As opposed to basically every other smartphone out there which is capped at 60 frames per second, the Razer Phone can go all the way up to 120 fps and that continues with the Razer Phone 2. The 120 hertz panel carries over this year, but with some key improvements, most notably brightness. The last year’s panel actually was a good, solid, accurate display but it just didn’t get all that bright. Thankfully that is something that has been improved with the Razer Phone 2, with up to 50% more brightness. Now mind you, when we were able to try it on our brief hands-on the difference wasn’t massive, but it is definitely going to be at least somewhat brighter than year. The fluidity is just as impressive as it was last year with a full 120 hertz refresh rate everything is buttery-smooth, not just games.

The UON itself is one of the most noticeable things when you’re doing something simple like scrolling through a webpage or some email. The closest competitor is actually the iPad Pros with ProMotion, it’s a very similar feeling with that 120 hertz refresh rate. It’s really something that you kind of have to see to really understand. What’s kind of interesting is that the game support actually is a little bit more hit and miss. On the Android side, a lot of titles only hit around 30 frames per second, much less 60 or even 120. But a fair amount of games are becoming optimized for that higher refresh rate, either with running with unlocked frame rates or with running with some kind of higher mode that will at least target something like 90 fps.

When it does support it, it makes a big difference. But the issue is that a lot of games don’t even come close, but I guess the harbor is there? My actual favorite feature though, are the speakers. Note the Razer Phone 1, which you got were two incredibly loud, incredibly detailed speakers and that carries over to the Razer Phone 2 but with some key upgrades.

Unlike most of the phones with dual speakers, such as the iPhone which takes advantage of the earpiece as well as the bottom-firing speaker. Don’t get me wrong that does sound good, but with having two huge proper speakers aimed directly at your face, it makes a big difference. It’s really straight forward, the Razer Phone has the best speakers on any smartphone, period. Not only are they rich and detailed, but a big part of it is the stereo separation. It is further helped by the fact that it does have Dolby 5.1 Surround Support which is weird because there are two speakers, but if you move past that what you’re getting is something that does give you some real presence.

Music and videos sound good but it’s especially noticeable in games. So specifically with PUBG you can really tell where people are around you purely using the speakers which is really impressive. The only downside to the whole audio setup is that we still don’t have a headphone jack, which would be nice on the ultimate gaming phone. At least there’s a good dongle in the box? The screen speakers were really the strong suit of the original Razer Phone and it’s nice to see that they’ve been at least somewhat enhanced for this new version and that’s going to definitely be a trend.

It is a very similar phone of the original Razer Phone, just improved in some not so subtle ways. The problem with the OG was that while it was a good gaming phone it really wasn’t good for much beyond that. There’s no water resistance, no wireless charging, the screen was a little bit dim in daylight, and the biggest issue was that the camera was straight up abysmal. Now credit where credit’s due, they have improved the camera quite a bit with firmware updates but there’s only so much you can do with the hardware that’s included, which is where the Razer Phone 2 comes in.

Thankfully they’ve stepped up the game with new Sony sensors, improved optics for both the standard as well as telephoto cameras, and a fully rewritten software stacked from the ground up to better take advantage of photos that are not crunchy and terrible. The phone I tried wasn’t running final software, so I’m not able to share the images that I took on it but it was a big improvement over the original Razer Phone. Now note it probably won’t compete the iPhones and the Pixels and the Galaxys of the world, but at the very least it should be a usable camera which is very nice in your expensive flagship gaming phone.

That is a big deal when you’re spending this kind of money you should expect no compromises. So one of the additions this year is full IP67 water resistance. Now that’s actually kind of impressive considering just how huge the speakers are.

It’s not easy to waterproof something like that. There’s also a new glass back which supports wireless charging at up to 15 watts. Speaking of the glass back while the overall dimensions of the Razer Phone are very similar, there is a revolutionary new feature this year, an RGB Chroma Razer logo. Yes, it actually isn’t as bad as it might seem. So you can, of course turn it fully off and the colors are, not only going to be full RGB, but fairly subtle. It kind of looks more like a colored logo than a bright, flashy gamer logo, gamer logo, gamer logo.

Unlike other gaming phones the Razer Phone’s design is fairly subdued. Now sure, it doesn’t have the same sort of flash as the RG phone but a lot of people, myself included, probably would prefer something that’s just a little bit more subtle. The rest of the specs are good, but nothing all that crazy. You’ve got the Snapdragon 845 paired with 8 gigabytes of RAM, 64 gigs of storage expandable via MicroSD, as well as a big 4,000 milli-Ampere-hour battery. The only thing that’s really remarkable is the vapor-chamber cooling.

Unlike a lot of other water-cooled smartphones, which have a tiny little heat pipe, Razer instead opted to go for a nearly full-size vapor chamber which goes directly on top of the processor. How much of a difference this make remains to be seen, but it does make a big difference when it comes to gaming for long sessions when you don’t wanna throttle down til half your normal clock speed like some other smart phones. The Razer Phone really did kick off the gaming phone trend something I don’t think is going anywhere, anytime soon.

But the real question, as it was last year, is do you actually need a gaming phone? Take a look at the PC space for example, there’s a very clear need for gaming-focused hardware. Sure you can play some games on an Ultrabook but it’s not going to be anywhere near the experience of playing something with proper CPU and especially proper dedicated graphics. On the mobile side though, that need is there but the actual hardware really hasn’t caught up.

When you consider that the $800 Razer Phone has the same spec as a $400 POCO phone, sure the Razer Phone might not throttle quite as much but the overall experience, not counting the screen, the speakers, the actual performance itself isn’t going to be massively different. All that being said, the Razor Phone 1 had a ton of potential but some major drawbacks, whereas the Razor Phone 2 can be really summed up very simply, it is a refinement of that original design and it really is what the Razor Phone 1 should have been. That $800 price though, means that this is squarely up against the high-end flagships of the world. The main question for me is going to be the camera, I really don’t think it’s going to match up to the very, very high-end stuff like the Pixels and the Galaxys. But as long as it is decent enough, I think that’ll be good enough for most people, but the difference between good enough and great is a huge one in this space right now. The real elephant in the room right now is the ROG Phone.

On paper it does have some superior specs in some ways, it does have the headphone jack, some additional accessories, and that 90 Hertz OLED display. I would like to think that the Razer Phone and ROG would be a good head-to-head comparison, but until the ROG Phone comes out it’s really hard to nail that down. There’s no doubt that the Razor Phone 2 is a big step forward with that high-refresh rate display, the loud speakers, and the solid performance it should be a real winner if you’re into gaming. But I’m really curious, what do you guys think about the concept of the gaming phone? Is it really worth the extra money? (funky music)