Razer unveiled its second-generation Razer Phone 2 today in a bid to outdo Apple when it comes to making the best smartphone for gamers.
The $800 device has a 120-hertz display and an 8-millisecond response time, making it faster than Apple’s most-competitive iPhone XS and XS Max phones when it comes to refreshing the screen for fast gameplay. The whole idea is to deliver console-quality experiences on a flagship smartphone with up to 30 percent better performance than its predecessor.
Razer, of course, is nuts when it comes to making gear for gamers. Then again, Razer has more than 50 million gamers using its products.
“The big reason we are is flagship gaming,” said Min-Liang Tan, cofounder and CEO of Razer, at an event in Hollywood. “The Razer Phone has taken the market by storm. I am incredibly excited to announce the Razer Phone 2.”
The Razer Phone 2.I got an early look at the device at a preview event.
“It has flagship features you expect from a $1,000 phone, and it overindexes in gaming and entertainment,” said Mike Breslin, head of global sales and marketing for mobile at Razer, in an interview with GamesBeat. “The first thing you see that does that for us is the screen.”
I played a couple of games on the phone. The 2560 x 1440 resolution screen is fast, with no tearing or lagging. Both Razer and the new iPhones have a 120-hertz display when it comes to touch detection. But the screen refresh on the new Apple devices is 60 hertz, while the Razer device has a 120-hertz refresh rate.
Razer debuted its first Andrdoid-based Razer Phone in November 2017. That device will continue to sell for $700. The 5.72-inch UltraMotion IGZO LCD screen is 50 percent brighter (at about 645 NITS) and it has a wider color gamut.
The green Razer logo lights up on the back when it’s in use, as the phone can now handle Razer Chroma’s 16.8 million color lighting options. But the phone can glow in different colors, based on the kind of visual notification it is sending you. If you have a new Gmail message, it will glow one color. If you have a text message, it can glow in a different way.
The device using a Snapdragon 845 processor from Qualcomm and a Qualcomm Adreno 630 graphics processing unit (GPU). It has 20 percent to 30 percent better performance than the previous 835-based original Razer phone. Razer uses its proprietary vapor chamber cooling, a trick which it took from its PC gaming machines. The liquid-based vapor chamber absorbs the heat and spreads it across the entire surface of the phone. The system memory is eight gigabytes.
“That’s how we keep the frame rates higher for a longer time,” Breslin said. “We are taking cooling lessons from our PC business so we can essentially make a laptop in the palm of your hand.”
The new phone has a different camera, in response to feedback from fans who weren’t entirely pleased with the first one.
“One of the big features we built from the ground up was the camera,” said Vivek Gowri, senior manager for hardware engineering at Razer, in an interview. “We heard from everyone that our camera needed to improve.”
The company switched from Samsung to Sony IMX sensors got get better light sensitivity, low noise, and high-contrast images. The autofocus and white balance are more refined, resulting in better overall image quality. It has optical image stabilization and a better optical architecture, Gowri said. It also performs better with HDR, pulling details out of both well-lit and shadowy parts of the same image.
“It’s a more accurate and vibrant color experience,” Gowri said.
This device has a different placement for the back-facing 12-megapixel wide-angle dual cameras, which are in the center of the phone instead of the top. The changes in the camera required more space, necessitating the new placement for the camera. Each of the two cameras on the back are further apart, giving the cameras better depth perception. The rear cameras also have a 12 megapixel telephoto
lens with 2x zoom.
“We preserved the minimalist design from Razer Phone 1, but we rebuilt everything else from the ground up,” Tan said. “It is the most powerful phone in the world.”
Tan said the smartphone has the No. 1 benchmark score from Geekbench, Basemark GPU, and 3Dmark Slingshot.
The front-facing camera is 8 megapixels and it supports full HD livestreaming.
“Now we’ve got a flagship camera,” Tan said.
The gigabit LTE is 20 percent faster at 1.2 gigabits per second. It is IP67 water resistant, and the phone’s speakers are Dolby Atmos certified. It can handle Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and Netflix HDR videos. I watched a scene from Black Panther on the smartphone, and it felt like I was watching on a much bigger screen. The sound is loud and clear, blasting out of the front dual stereo speakers and 24-bit DAC.
The Razer Phone’s user interface has been rebuilt as well so you can take one-handed photos more easily.
You can personalize and customize the phone, adding a theme for Tekken’s Christie or a favorite Vainglory character if you so wish, Breslin said. You can also use a feature called Game Booster (within Razer’s Cortex mobile app) to optimize the phone for specific games, trading off performance and battery life. You can create a custom profile, go into a power-saving mode, or use a performance mode.
“Based on the games you are playing, it gives you the optimal settings to give you the best experience,” Breslin said. “We are taking this feature from the PC and bringing it to mobile because that is what gamers expect.”
Wireless charging is now enabled on the Razer Phone 2 with its new glass back. Razer has
announced its new wireless charger with Chroma. If you prefer plugging in a USB-C cable, Qualcomm QuickCharge 4+ allows users to charge the phone from a flat battery to 50 percent charge within 30 minutes.
The device has a 4,000 milliamp battery, giving it a day-long battery life. Where its predecessor was benchmarked for 10 hours of battery life at a screen refresh rate setting of 90 hertz, the Razer Phone 2 is optimized to also last 10 hours at a higher 120 hertz.
The device has 64 gigabytes of storage, and it has an external microSD slot for up to two terabytes of additional memory. It has Gorilla Glass 5, and it is just 8.5 millimeters thick. The phone runs Android 8.1, and it can do up to 4K video recording.
I played the Gear Club racing game and the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on the Razer Phone 2. The racing game looked amazing, and it didn’t stutter at all as I went around corners and pushed the pedal to the floor. PUBG, meanwhile, ran smoothly enough for me to shoot a guy who had the misfortune of landing next to me. I had a gun and he didn’t. But the point is that it looked good. I could hear if anyone was behind me.
Razer will sell a Satin edition for $100 more at $900. That’s still well below Apple’s most-competitive smartphone, the iPhone XS Max, which has a 6.5-inch screen and starts at $1,100. The iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch screen and sells for $1,000. Preorders start as 12:01 a.m. Pacific time on October 11.