Razer Phone Review – Will embarrass other flagship devices

Phone Specifications:

Snapdragon 835 CPU

5.7″ 1440×2560 IGZO UltraMotion Display

8GB LPDDR4 RAM

64 GB internal storage + up to 2Tb expandable storage

4000 mAh non-removable battery

 

When I’ve finally grown sick of going through a new budget phone every year, it was time to look into a reasonably priced flagship handset, and I’ve found my choice in the last company many would think of when shopping for a mobile device. Razer is a well-established brand in the PC accessories market, but the Razer Phone is their first foray into a creating a well-rounded flagship killer. Spec-wise, the price is very competitive, and the Razer Phone outpaces every single phone in the price zone above it. Razer will sell you a fully unlocked version for $700USD or $900CAD, and I would highly recommend purchasing the phone directly from the company’s website. The benefits of paying Razer directly include high priority international shipping, where I received my phone in Ottawa within 4 days of ordering it. Mind you, it ships from Razer’s warehouse in Hong Kong which makes the shipping dates crazy quick. User experience will vary of course but buying from Razer’s store lets you support the company more directly.

Now on to the phone itself – the Razer Phone gives every flagship device a run for its money and is in fact currently one of the only 2 phones to have computer-grade specs in a smartphone chassis. The other device I’m talking about is of course the OnePlus 5T, also a flagship with specs that almost seem overkill for a mobile device. I will focus on the Razer Phone in this review and show no comparison charts between the two – this review encompasses my opinion of the device after a month’s use.

The short summary of the phone’s hardware already shows really impressive stats, even for a flagship device, and after extensive use I can easily say the Razer Phone is the best phone to get on the market (despite some camera issues which I will touch upon later). The phone features the very first 120Hz-capable display on a mobile, which produces impressive results during gaming and content streaming. The phone is packed to the brim with latest tech to outpace any other flagship, and Razer hands on packed the best speakers into this mobile device.

The Razer phone impresses right away starting with its packaging, which is a fairly large box that has a premium feel. Compared to little phone boxes we see on most devices, Razer ships you a really nice designed box that contains the phone with all required accessories. The packaging is exactly as I’d expect from a $900 flagship and Razer individually boxes its cords and adapters inside the bigger packaging.

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The box is very nicely made

Included in the box:

3.5 mm to Type C audio adapter with DAC

USB-C to USB-C cable

USB-C QuickCharge 4.0 plug

2x Razer Logo Stickers

 

IMG_20180302_140200.jpg

Its a bit of a shame that the charging cable is Type-C on both ends

Since Razer is one of phones to lose a standard audio plug, it is convenient that the company includes an audio adapter as standard with their phone. And further, Razer didn’t just throw in any cheap adapter cable, instead opting for their branded adapter with a DAC sound enhancer built in. One disappointing thing with accessories, however, is there is no USB-C to 3.0 cable included, however a quick trek to Amazon can net you a high-quality Anker adapter for $10 to connect the Razer Phone to standard USB devices. As I’ve yet to acquire that cable, I tend to rely on Dropbox as the main source of transferring files between my Macbook Air and my phone.

Razer Phone’s design is very impressive and its blocky nature only provides a fresh change from the standard fare of endless rounded up devices. The phone is perfectly rectangular, and phone enthusiasts are bound to recognize the design cues from Nextbit Robin that briefly stirred up the smartphone industry. I’ve looked into Razer’s inspiration, and the company indeed acquired Nextbit into the Razer brand, which allowed them to effectively use existing design packed with high end hardware. At the back, the phone features dual rear cameras along with a flashlight, which take up very little space in one of the phone’s upper corners. At the front there is a camera as well, designed to be small to get the most out of those loud speakers.

Screenshot_20180226-214005

Despite the phone’s impressive RAM, Android tends to use about a half on average

The Razer Phone is fairly huge given it carries a 5.7” screen along with large upper and lower bezels that house the speakers. For an average individual, I’ve mostly had no trouble using the device with one hand for typical tasks despite its blocky feel. The corners never get in the way of one-handed use and the phone is easy enough to operate in both portrait and landscape modes, however user experience will largely vary based on individual preferences. The minimalistic design then aids with the grip, given the phone only has side-facing power and volume buttons and the fingerprint sensor is cleverly embedded in the power button. The lack of clutter also makes the phone’s design look very sleek and what you have here is a simple yet elegant device that sets itself apart from standard design trends of the market.

The phone’s brushed aluminum feel is surprisingly deceiving to think the phone is cheaply made out of plastic, and the Razer Phone is indeed built on an aluminum frame like other flagships on the smartphone market. The solid frame design is apparent when holding the phone in hand, however I would quite frankly recommend buying a matching case and a screen protector. You could opt for Razer-branded accessories, however there are plenty of good options available on Amazon, such as this Tudia dual-layer case with resistance protection. The screen is made using non-impressive Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which is a bit outdated, however I see very few scenarios where this is a disadvantage for an otherwise beautiful display panel.

For sound junkies, there is currently no better phone on the market than the Razer, which packs high end audio drivers into its speakers and beyond, features Dolby 5.1 Audio enhancement. Combined with max volume and Dolby, the phone’s sound drivers rival any small Bluetooth speaker and inside, the sound spreads across an entire room. Bluetooth audio hasn’t been compromised on either, and although Razer’s phone is up to Bluetooth 4.2 standards, I found its wireless connection and sound quality much better than most phones you can get. Makes you wonder what went into this Bluetooth trick, but in the end regardless of which connection you go with for your music, you are guaranteed extreme satisfaction from the phone’s audio output.

The main selling feature of the Razer Phone is of course its 120 Hz Ultra Motion display which doubles the response of the screen to create the most fluid picture you can find on a phone. The WQHD resolution of 1440×2560 also aids in producing crisp colors, however based on battery needs, Razer’s display is also one of the most modifiable, though we do see similar features on most flagships these days. For Razer’s main gimmick, the refresh rate can be adjusted manually between 120, 90 and the standard 60Hz refresh rate of other phones. I generally found no need for 120 Hz refresh rate as 90 is an already smooth value. The Razer phone easily shines with its screen to outpace the competition, and I would highly recommend it to all people streaming media from their mobile device.

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Razer has kept the OS mostly clean with only a few Razer-specific features included

To back up the hefty demands of the phone’s screen and its powerhouse processor, Razer have included a generous 4000 mAh internal battery, however don’t get your hopes up thinking it will last beyond a day on a single charge. For a standard mix of user tasks with a hefty dose of music and Wi-Fi, the Razer Phone lasts for a full day, which not many smartphones can provide. Generally, what might seem like a hugely capable battery is actually on par with most modern phones. Razer have ensured their device will run  a full day on mixed use, and delivered, as my battery has never run out before the end of the day. To those means, it was their justification in removing the audio jack to pack in a large battery, and after extensive use of the device, I have no complaints for either.

On the software side, Razer doesn’t disappoint either, providing one of the cleanest third-party Android systems. With a few gaming-specific settings and a little Razer flare, the company has moderately built upon stock Android. As an added bonus, Razer’s partnership with developers of the widely successful Nova Launcher has allowed the company to integrate many of the launcher’s features into their stock OS. The clean experience of the Razer Phone feels quite refreshing from the common market of bloatware found with other companies.

Moving on to the cameras, and this is the area where the Razer phone has received negative feedback. Spoiled by 26MP rear cameras, critics have mentioned plentiful flaws out of the Razer’s camera, however on the overall note, the dual 12MP cameras do a great job at capturing images on the go. Although we’ve far gotten used to the fact of our smartphones replacing high end cameras, the Razer phone is not meant to excel in the camera department, and instead does so with its audio and the display. The selfie camera is also weaker and fails to capture high-detail images, especially when lacking clear focus, but it is a sufficient tool at being an everyday camera. Razer really only takes a clear hit with its lack of attention to camera quality, however the phone’s emphasis on entertainment indicates a clear direction for the phone’s production. The company’s phone may lack high-end cameras many have gotten used to, but it more than makes up for that in other features.

After a month’s use, I can highly recommend the Razer Phone as one of the superb flagship handsets on the market, and despite the company’s lack of involvement in producing phones, this is a very solid contestant for the stale phone market. The Razer Phone offers a well-rounded set of features that distinguish it apart from the standard output of the smartphone industry, counting a set of impressive front-facing speakers and a fluid 120Hz display to deliver a focus on entertainment that also functions as a superb daily driver. Razer is only one of the few companies to offer such an impressive performance package in a flagship device, and apart from some evident camera issues, the phone delivers on all user expectations. Add to that a fairly reasonable price point for a phone that outpaces most of the higher-priced competition by offering a superb display and speakers along with some innovative features previously not seen in the fairly stale mobile market, and you have one of the most interesting flagship phones currently available on the global market. Despite the previously mentioned glaring issues with the cameras that didn’t quite deliver to the standards we are used to with Android phones, I can easily say the Razer Phone is one of the best value propositions when buying a new flagship phone and totally worth its asking price. Razer has ultimately created one of the most innovative and powerful flagships that currently exist on the market and there is a lot of bang for the buck with this smartphone.

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The stock Razer theme looks very cool already

Pros:

+ First 120Hz screen on a mobile device with a 2K resolution

+ Highest specs available on the market, 8GB RAM

+ Clean OS with very little bloat

+ High capacity battery and stand-out design

Cons:

– Battery still only lasts a day

– Cameras are lacking compared to competitors

 

*Note: although I typically do not assign review scores, the Razer phone makes a solid 9.1/10 flagship based on my current experience after a month’s use despite some small camera flaws. If I run into any glaring issues through future use, I’ll make sure to keep this article updated with anything new I find. All images I didn’t take originally are credited to the Razer online store.

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4 thoughts on “Razer Phone Review – Will embarrass other flagship devices

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