Yesterday Razer announced its second generation gaming phone, The Razer Phone 2. We don't have Aussie pricing or a release date yet, but I did get some time with it earlier this week. Here are the things that stood out
A Lot Of The Same Specs, With A Few Good Improvements
You may remember that Australia was late to the party when it came to the original Razer phone. Despite launching in 2017, we only got it a few months back. This had me wondering why they bothered even bringing it here when its successor was arriving so soon afterwards.
I was told that this was due to demand, and that only a short supply was ordered - which makes sense. I also think it was a way to gauge interest before launching the Razer Phone 2 here.
When it comes to the new gen, a lot key specs are the same - 5.72-inch IGZO LCD screen with 1440 x 2560 120Hz display, 8GB RAM, 64GB storage (with 2TB expandable memory), and a 4,000mAh battery.
One of the standout features of the original razer phone, the dual-amplifier front facing speakers, remain as well. I'm a big fan of these - not only is the sound quality good, but you're less likely to cover the speakers with your fingers like on some other phones.
What is new though is the upgraded Snapdragon 845 processor with vapor chamber cooling - as well as some camera upgrades. But we'll get to that. Also, despite launching with Android 8.1, it will be upgradavle to Android Pie later this year.
While we're not seeing a whole of differences here, these were already some pretty solid specs. And the new processor is quite attractive when it comes to thinking about upgrading.
That being said, if you don't mind being a generation behind, you'll probably be able to pick up the first gen Razer Phone at a much better price (and many of the same specs) once the 2 launches.
It's An Absolute Unit
In a world where phones are becoming increasingly slimmer and delicate, the Razer Phone is still built like a brick shit house. And that is not a bad thing.
It feels tough and durable in the hand, and unlike many other phones I handle on the reg, I don't feel like it will break if I accidentally set it down on the table too hard.
Of course, this doesn't prove anything. Maybe it's just as breakable as any other handset. But it *feels* different. And considering the bezels and how gratuitously rectangular it is (no soft curves here) it looks different, too.
It's also apologetically thick - but despite this, it still feels comfortable to hold and didn't have any more trouble slipping into my back pocket than the iPhone XS Max or Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Razer is absolutely shirking convention when it comes to how solid this thing is, and I really like it. It is built for power and has the aesthetics to back it up.
You Can Customise The Performance
Besides the specs, what really makes this device stand out as a gaming phone is that you can highly customise the performance and settings for your own personal gaming experience.
The Game Booster apps allows you to prioritise either performance or battery, as well as set a 'do not disturb' mode for notifications while you're in-game. You can also mess with the CPU clock speed, resolution and anti-aliasing in the Cortex app.
I love this functionality, because it's just so damn versatile. As someone who values battery life above all else, I can easily switch the settings to power saving mode. But if you would rather boost the frame rate and push the performance to the limits, you can do that instead.
If you want some 2.8GHz chicken dinner, you can have it.
With the addition of RGB, this bad boy definitely feels like a Razer product now. Those of you familiar with the brand will know that this allows you to adjust the lighting and patterning on things like Razer keyboards.
The phone has dedicated Chroma integration app where the RGB lights can be programmed to pulse and blink different colours when you get emails and texts - as well as other notifications. So it provides functionality, as well as aesthetics.
And of course, your primary colour of choice will display on the Razer logo on the rear of the device, too.
The Camera Is Just Okay
With so many of the specs remaining the same, one of the biggest non-gaming features that Razer has been highlighting is the upgraded phone. The dual 12MP rear cameras come with a f/1.7 wide-angle lens as well as a f/2.6 telephoto lens. In regards to video, the rear camera is apparently capable of 4K/60fps or 1080p/120fps.
As for the 8MP front-facing camera, it sports improved image stabilisation and auto focus. Beauty and portrait modes have also been added to the lineup.
While these are improvements on the 2017 model, it's not particularly impressive when you compare it to other phones that have launched this year.
The camera app on the Razer Phone 2 is actually quite disappointing - even though it is better than last year. HDR is a bit quicker and there are more shooting options.
However, there really isn't a lot here for people who enjoy manual settings. You can't customise the white balance, shutter speed or ISO settings, and there is no option to shoot in RAW. And don't expect to change the aspect ratio from 4:3 - 16:9 and 1:1 are nowhere to be found.
It really feels like this thing has been designed for people who only shoot in auto, which is a shame. While I wasn't expecting the functionality of the Huawei P20 pro, I would have liked to have seen a bit more here.
The good news is that you can always use a different camera app instead. My pick is Adobe Lightroom.
We'll let you all know when Aussie pricing and availability drops. And until then, you can read more about the Razer Phone 2 here:
The first time you test something, you check out its design, you try all the new features, but even after an hour or more, the device still doesn’t feel as familiar as something you own and use every day. And yet, the first time I sat down and played a round of PUBG Mobile using the Razer Phone 2, I finished with a chicken dinner. Was it me or was it the phone? I’m still not sure, but here’s how Razer’s gaming phone has evolved for its second tour.