RAZER PHONE 2 REVIEW: IT GLOWS, BUT IT DOESN’T SHINE, GAMING SMARTPHONE
Gaming phones like the new Razer Phone 2 seem to fascinate the companies that make them more than the general public. Razer really wants “gaming phones” to happen. But if you’re not sure what that means, the only way for them to convince you is to make gaming phones.
So Razer is at it again with the second iteration of its phone that’s dedicated to the idea that people want the smartphone equivalent of a high-end PC with gaming specs. Razer’s hope is that if you’re deeply involved in mobile gaming, want to stream gameplay, or think you can gain an edge in your next match from gaming-oriented hardware, investing in a phone specifically tailored for what you’re into might make sense.
What do you get in the Razer Phone 2 that justifies its $799 price tag over a phone with the same price, like the recently reviewed Google Pixel 3? A lot, actually: Dolby Stereo speakers, a fast refresh 120Hz screen with HDR content support, Chroma lighting, tons of Razer game optimizations, and a “game boost” mode that gives you extra power if you need it.
However, mobile gaming doesn’t have the same lofty requirements as PC gaming. You don’t need a massive desktop or a $2,000 laptop to play mobile games at their best settings; any other flagship smartphone will do. What Razer wants you to believe is that the Phone 2 is a great phone and the best gaming phone. But only one of those things is true.
The Phone 2 looks and feels like a premium device, though. The rear panel is glass now, which is required for wireless charging, and its build quality is solid. Although an all-black, candy bar phone with a glass back isn’t a unique design, Razer has managed to make its take look different from everything else out there.
IT’S A BIG, RECTANGULAR PHONE
The device’s footprint hasn’t changed; it’s still the same large slate of aluminum and glass with as many square edges as possible. (Of course, they’re slightly rounded so they won’t cut you.)
This phone is large and slippery. You can get used to holding it, but its glass back should probably be protected by a case. Although that just makes the issue of size and ergonomics worse. On the bright side, the Razer Phone 2 doesn’t scratch as easily as the Pixel 3 XL.
There’s more to the Razer Phone 2’s backside than just glass and wireless charging. There’s also a backlit Razer logo. It supports the static, breathing, and spectrum color profiles that are available on all of Razer’s Chroma accessories. It can also be useful as a notification light when it pulses.
Razer Phone 2 specs
Display: 5.72-inch IGZO 120Hz screen at 2560 x 1440 and wide color gamut
Processor: Snapdragon 845 (2.8GHz) with vapor chamber cooling
Camera: f/1.75 12MP and f/2.6 12MP rear-facing cameras
Storage: 64GB, microSD expandable to 1TB
24-bit DAC audio adapter
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth 5.0/ NFC
Android 8.1 with Nova Launcher
Battery: 4,000mAh with wireless and fast charging
IP67 water and dust resistance
Dimensions: 6.24 x 3.11 x 0.33 inches
Weight: 220 grams
You can control the Chroma light’s battery consumption with the included app. There are three power modes: low (notifications only), medium (works only when the screen is on), and high (always on). I used the high power mode during most of my time with the Razer Phone 2, and I found that it didn’t dramatically drain the battery. So your decision about what to do with that light-up logo comes down to how much you like light-up logos.
I was really disappointed when I found out that I couldn’t use the Chroma app to control other Chroma-equipped devices I have at home. There is no Synapse 3 appequivalent for the Razer Phone 2. Hopefully, that will change in the future because a phone would be the ideal control hub for all of my Chroma gear.
THE CHROMA LOGO IS A NICE TOUCH
Also, Razer representatives told me that the rear panel on an upcoming variant (with more storage) will receive a matte finish but still retain wireless charging. If you really want to avoid a slippery glass back, you should look forward to it