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Following its acquisition of Nextbit, gaming brand Razer has entered the smartphone market with a device aimed at gamers. Called the Razer Phone, it offers incredible tech not found on any other handsets on the market including a 120Hz Quad HD display capable of offering double the frame rate of the likes of the iPhone X, Pixel 2 and more. It’s a great concept, but has Razer done enough to cement its place in the smartphone market? Read on to find out.
Let’s be honest, the Razer Phone won’t be winning any smartphone design awards when compared to the
likes of the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8 or OnePlus 5T. The rather angular, blocky design that the Razer Phone employs is oddly reminiscent of the Xperia range (which is also considered rather unattractive) but with a distinctly Razer feel.
In terms of specifics, the handset measures in at a rather thick and broad 778x8mm and weighs in at a hefty 197g, making it one of the heavier flagship smartphones currently available.
These figures are immediately noticeable when you pick the smartphone up but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It makes the phone feel sturdy and more secure in the hand. It is a fingerprint magnet though, especially on the aluminium rear.
It looks like a solid block of aluminium, with nearly invisible antenna lines at the top and bottom, with the Razer logo on the back. It’s the only noticeable design feature of the smartphone, as it has been engraved and coloured, and this can be felt by running your finger over the logo.
The issue is that the logo is right where your finger rests on the rear of the smartphone, and the slightly jagged edges of the engraving constantly catch your fingers. It’s not painful, but it’s a little annoying (a
thought shared by several of the Android Advisor team). Apart from the Razer logo and display, the only physical feature of the phone you might notice are the front-facing speakers above and below the display, which is half the reason the phone feels so tall in the hand. We investigate the audio prowess on page 64.
There are also circular volume buttons on the left of the smartphone, though these are placed further down than on other smartphones. The placement, while it looks odd initially, makes sense for gamers – they always in the way when gaming in landscape. Not with the Razer Phone.
It’s a similar story with the power button, but it’s flush on the right-side of the display, so placement doesn’t matter as much. It’s still easy enough to reach to lock and unlock the smartphone without adjusting your grip though, don’t worry.
The real deal-breaker? It features a 16:9, 5.7in display. While that may sound okay, many manufacturers already employ bezel-less 18:9 displays in their smartphones. This allows for a larger display in a smaller body and for some is easier to use. The decision means that compared to bezel-less smartphones, the Razer Phone looks a little dated – on the surface, anyway.
Plus, Razer decided to follow Apple’s example and ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack on the phone, featuring a solo USB-C port instead. Admittedly, like Apple, the Razer Phone does come with a USB-Cto-3.5mm adaptor for use with existing headphones, but most users will likely need to make the switch to wireless headphones sooner or later.
So, it’s not the best-looking phone on the market by any means, but there’s a reason for some of the slightly odd design choices. Let’s take a look at why.
As should be obvious by the manufacturer, the Razer Phone was designed with one focus in mind – mobile gaming. It’s why the phone is slightly chunkier and taller than competitors – it features unique tech to make it the ultimate gaming smartphone.
The most impressive feature of the Razer Phone is undoubtedly the 5.7in IPS LCD display. It offers a Quad HD (2560x1440) resolution and an eye-watering pixel density of 515ppi. Far more important here, though, is that the display offers the highest refresh rate of any smartphone on the market – 120Hz. For comparison, most high-end smartphones available at the moment are capped at 60Hz, meaning the Razer Phone can display double the number of frames in a single second – 120fps, up from 60fps.
In the real world, this means the smartphone provides a better mobile gaming experience than anything else available at the moment. The graphics are buttery smooth – so smooth, in fact, that you’ll struggle to play games on any other smartphone once you adjust to the improved refresh rate.
Even in relatively basic games such as Pokémon GO, the experience is instantly improved – the difference in performance even when compared to flagships like the Google Pixel 2 is day-and-night.
The engraved logo on the rear of the phone is located where you rest your fingers