Built for gamers, but you don’t need to be one – Razer’s first phone is a standout Android handset for anyone
Razer’s first handset has 3D surround sound and is perfect for media
The Razer Phone classifies itself as a gaming phone, but it’s also the perfect device for entertainment, whether that’s watching movies or listening to music, thanks to an amazing screen with technology not seen in a phone before, brilliant speakers, and a design that makes it easy to hold in landscape mode.
Taking inspiration from Razer’s range of gaming laptops, the phone is crafted from matt-black aluminium, giving it the appearance of a stealth jet. The rear casing features a contrasting black Razer logo on the back giving away its identity (a limited-edition launch model will feature a venomgreen logo). It still manages to be understated, though, and should appeal to gamers and non-gamers. The slab-like design isn’t as sleek or elegant as the iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S8, but it’s certainly unique and it does make the body easy to grip and hold for long periods of gaming or video. The large bezels top and bottom might look a little ungainly, but they have a purpose: to allow you to grasp the phone easily without touching the display.
It’s a considered design, then, but there are a few omissions that could prove irksome. The first of these is a lack of waterproofing, which we really expect at this price; and the second is no headphone jack, though you do get a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box.
You won’t find a fingerprint sensor on the front or rear of the Razer Phone - instead it’s hidden inside the side-mounted power button. Unlocking is lightning fast, and it feels perfectly located for your thumb.
Unsurprisingly, as a gaming handset, one of the main highlights on the Razer Phone is the stunning Quad
HD 5.7-inch LCD panel. It’s bright and colourful, although not quite as vibrant as the OLED panels found in the S9 or iPhone X. Razer has gone with LCD technology because it offers a higher refresh rate. Dubbed the ‘Ultramotion’ display, it’s one of the first devices to feature a display with a 120Hz display, like Razer’s laptops.
When you’re whizzing through the interface or playing games at 120fps, things look silky smooth. Razer has been working with developers to create 120Hz-optimised games, including some big-name titles, such as ArenaofValor, Tekken and Final FantasyXV, though only Arenaof Valor was available at time of testing. There are 120Hz games on the Play Store already, but because they’re not signposted, they can be tricky to find.
It’s not just gaming that benefits from the Razer. You’ll even see an improvement scrolling through apps like Twitter, or surfing the internet. Once you try it, it’s hard to go back.
Flanking this beefed-up display are two large speakers, each with a dedicated amp. There’s also support for Dolby Atmos and THX, offering an immersive 3D audio soundscape like no other, with sounds projected in front and behind of you. Hands down, the Razer Phone has the best speakers on any phone currently available - they’re loud, rich and clean. They work best with Dolby Atmos content, but you’ll also get the spatial effect in any kind of video or audio. And when you’re on the train, you can avoid public ridicule by using the Dolby Atmos-enabled audio adapter to plug in your regular headphones, giving you the same enhanced surround sound, in private. Naturally, you’ll see the benefit whatever you’re using the phone for - whether it’s gaming or watching the latest movies.
Keeping all this impressive tech ticking along nicely is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and a monumental 8GB RAM - the same amount you’ll find in a 13-inch MacBook Pro. We’re not sure a phone needs 8GB RAM, but in use it did allow us to run multiple intensive apps with no lag or slow-down. Obviously the focus here is gaming, but we could see this powerful phone used for on-thefly video or photo editing as well.
Elsewhere the Razer Phone packs a hefty 4,000mAh battery which will comfortably last a full day, though not in 120Hz mode. The Game Booster app is useful here because you can set games to run at 120Hz, while keeping the rest of the Android interface running at 60Hz or 90Hz. Handily, it’s the first phone to support Qualcomm 4+ Quick Charge, allowing you to charge to 85 per cent in only an hour.
It has an 8MP front camera, and a dual 12MP system with a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens on the back. Sadly, this is its weakest feature. In daylight it takes acceptable shots, but things quickly head south when the lighting gets darker. The camera app is also slow, especially in HDR mode.
ABOVE LEFT There’s a simple design honesty to the square lines and chunky top that we really like
ABOVE RIGHT The dual cameras sadly aren’t up to the standard of its big phone rivals