It’s no big secret that Razer (the company best known for building gaming peripherals and laptops) has been building a phone. The company bought fledgling smartphone maker Nextbit earlier this year, and there’s been the talk of a Razer phone ever since.
Sure enough, here it is the Android-powered Razer phone. (Not to be confused, of course, with that shining beacon of the early 2000s, the RAZR)
120 Hz UltraMotion display
120 Hz displays are slowly making their way into the mobile space, promising an experience that is smoother than ever. The feature was well received on the iPad Pro 10.5, and Sharp recently announced a Japan-only 120 Hz smartphone called the Aquos R Compact. However, the Sharp device will only hit the market in December, giving Razer at least some partial bragging rights.
So what’s the 120 Hz refresh rate all about? We have an in-depth explainer for you to check out, but in a nutshell, the feature enables smoother animations, provided that all the other components of the stack – phone hardware, drivers, applications – support it. There’s some debate around the actual benefits of having a high display refresh rate (other phones are capped at 60 Hz, which is arguably “good enough”), but it’s clear that 120 Hz is the way to go if you’re looking for the best viewing experience. That’s exactly what Razer aims to provide, and judging from Josh’s and NNirav’sexperience, the display of the Razer Phone is, in fact, incredibly smooth.
Razer Phone uses a tech called UltraMotion to synchronize the display refresh rate with the frames rendered by the mobile GPU, similar to Nvidia’s Gsync feature for desktop PCs. The display itself is a 5.72-inch IGZO LCD panel of Quad HD resolution (in 16:9 format) that offers a Wide Color Gamut.
The company announced the device at an event in London this afternoon. Like most things Razer does, this phone is built with a focus on gaming — which, in this case, means it’s got some pretty crazy specs:
The specs are top-notch
As you would expect from a smartphone developed by Razer, the device features a truly impressive spec sheet. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno 540 GPU, along with 8GB of LPDRR4 RAM, and 64GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD. Razer says you’ll even be able to overclock the processor.
The battery is very generous at 4,000 mAh, and that’s exactly what we wanted to see in a device that’s heavily geared towards gaming. The Razer Phone also features the latest Quick Charge 4+ tech from Qualcomm and a 24-watt charger that should make quick work out of keeping your battery full.
The Razer Phone comes with two 12 MP cameras on the rear, one wide and one telephoto, similar to other modern flagships. The wide-angle lens features f/1.75 aperture, while the telephoto lens offers f/2.6 aperture. Both cameras boast Phase Detection Autofocus.
- Qualcomm’s ultra-speedy Snapdragon 835 chip, the same one that powers flagships like the Pixel 2 and the Galaxy S8
- A big ol’ 4,000mAh battery
- 8GB of RAM
- 64GB of internal storage, plus a microSD slot for expansion
- Dual 12-megapixel cameras on the rear with different levels of optical zoom — one wide angle, one telephoto.
- 8-megapixel cam on the front
- As with the Nextbit Robin, they’ve hidden the fingerprint sensor in the power button on the side
- 802.11a/b/g/n/AC, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC
- It’ll run Android Nougat 7.1.1 at launch, with plans to update to Android Oreo (8.0) in the first quarter of 2018.
- A 5.72 inch, 120hz display — meaning the screen refreshes super-fast for smoother scrolling and animation/movement in games. The iPad Pro tablet has a 120hz screen, but it looks like Razer might be the first to market with a 120hz display in a phone
The sound is loud and clear
The Razer Phone eschews the “bezel-less” design trend that has gripped the mobile industry, and that’s great for one reason in particular: it leaves room for some high-quality stereo speakers, as well as dual dedicated amplifiers.
Razer equipped its phone with Dolby Atmos technology in order to extract the most volume and clarity out of the two speakers. Whether the end result is “true cinematic audio” or not is debatable, but we really loved the Razer Phone’s sound in our hands-on demo.
There’s no audio jack on the Razer Phone, which is a bit of a letdown, but hopefully the THX-certified USB Type-C audio adapter and 24-bit DAC will make up for the inconvenience.
I got to go hands-on with the device a few days ago, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with it for a review. For now, I’ll say: The device looks and feels well-built, the speakers were nice and loud and the 120hz screen seemed buttery smooth.
In what seems to be an unstoppable trend at this point, there’s no 3.5mm jack here. The company tells me they needed that space for the battery and the speakers. On the upside, there’s a THX certified 3.5mm to USB-C DAC adapter in the box.
Android Nougat, Nova Launcher, and gaming features
The Razer Phone runs Android 7.1 out of the box, and the manufacturer promises an Oreo update for spring of next year. The phone is not quite stock – Razer made several customizations to take advantage of the hardware (you can change both the screen resolution and its refresh rate, for instance) and pre-loaded the premium version of Nova Launcher as the default launcher on the device. An app called Game Booster lets you customize the frame rate, resolution and processor clock speed on a per-app basis.
Razer also plans to launch a new theme store that brings more customization than traditional themes. Once launched, the new themes will allow designers to customize the dialer, icons, quick settings, wallpaper, ringtones, notification settings, calculator, clock, icon packs and all the default preloaded non-Google apps. The theme store can also apply themes to Nova Launcher for a fully customized experience.
Several major game developers are working with Razer to ensure that their games are fully compatible with the Razer Phone’s hardware. Optimized titles include Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, Lineage 2: Revolution, RuneScape, Shadowgun Legends, Tekken, and World of Tanks Blitz, to name a few.
Available for pre-order now for $700
The Razer Phone is launching today in the UK, Europe, and the US. Razer has partnered with Three as the exclusive launch carrier in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden. Razer will additionally offer the phone via Razerzone.com in North America, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden.
The company also plans to offer the phone via select Microsoft Store locations in the US and via Amazon.com. Pre-orders for the Razer Phone are available now for $699.99 in North America and Canada, €749.99 in European countries and £699.99 in the UK. The handset will launch on November 17 in the markets listed above.
A special edition of the Razer Phone, featuring a green Razer logo (instead of the chrome logo of the regular model), will be made available through the channels listed above. Only 1,337 (leet!) units will be made available, but it’s not clear whether the special edition will be different in any other ways other than the green logo.
If you’ve ever held the previous phone made by the Nextbit team, the Robin, the Razer phone feels a bit like the bigger, badder evolution of that. If there’s a parallel universe where Nextbit lived on independently and made a “Robin 2 XL,” it’d probably look a lot like this (minus, you know, the Razer logo on the back).
They’ve understandably dropped some of the software features that were unique to the Robin in its time. The Robin would, for example, automatically back your photos up to the cloud and remove the local copies to save space. Shortly after Robin’s debut, Google rolled similar functionality into Google Photos right within Android and made the whole thing a bit redundant.
Razer Phone: Unboxing MKBHD