Major gaming equipment vendor, Razer, has announced its first-ever Android smartphone, just as we expected, and it’s optimized for the high-end market and “hardcore mobile gamers.” Some of which we got was known following several rumors, but there were many surprises as well. Here’s everything you need to know.
Razer, a company known for its gaming hardware, has introduced a smartphone. What gives? Well, you can thanks Nextbit, which was acquired by Razer near the beginning of this year. In many ways, this new phone resembles the Robin smartphone from Nextbit, which makes sense, and we’ll probably continue to notice reminiscence in our testing. It’s an interesting move by Razer to launch a smartphone, but now that you think about it, the move shouldn’t be surprising at all.
The company is calling the device the ‘Razer Phone,’ and it combines the current standard flagship chipset (the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835) with a large, high-resolution display panel, 8GB of RAM together with 64GB of storage. Razer Phone also comes with dual front-facing stereo speakers entailing a 24-bit DAC and Dolby Atmos. There’s also a capacious 4,000mAh battery that should last you beyond a day’s charge.
In the design stakes, the Razer Phone is rather slab-like. It’s not the most impressive out there, but it’s still quite nice. It’s a simple rectangle with no rounded edges or corners to disguise the device. There are large bezels at the top and bottom, which may bother some customers, but when the handset is used in landscape mode these are justified in where to hold the device and how they contain the stereo front-facing speakers. There are two devices available, both finished in Matte Black: the standard model comes with a Silver logo and a Special Edition variant comes with a Green ‘Razer’ graphic on the back.
The display measures 5.7-inches and is of a QHD resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It comes complete with an ultra-fast 120Hz refresh rate, branded ‘Ultramotion’ by Razer. All other mainstream smartphones come with a 60Hz refresh rate, and so according to Razer their gaming handset will offer a smoother experience than most are used to. Razer’s Ultramotion technology includes a variable refresh rate presumably for enhancing image quality, reducing power consumption and input lag. Razer has sensibly adopted the more mainstream 16:9 aspect ratio rather than following the marketing-led adoption of the 18:9 aspect ratio as Samsung, LG and some other manufacturers have used for 2017 flagships. The display also features a wide color gamut.
As already mentioned, the Razer Phone is based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset and comes with 8GB of RAM (matching the higher specification OnePlus 5). It also comes with 64GB of internal storage and a high-capacity microSD card slot, which can take cards of over 10TB capacity.
Thankfully, Razer has not limited this impressive-sounding hardware with a small battery. Quite the opposite, in fact: the Razer Phone comes with an impressive 4,000mAh battery, matching the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active. Razer has also given its first smartphone Qualcomm’s latest fast-charging standard, Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+, together with a USB Type-C port for charging. Razer has promised that the new smartphone comes complete with class-leading thermal control, which when combined with the big battery, means gamers should benefit from many hours of gaming on a single charge.
Although the Razer device is optimized as a gamers’ smartphone, the company is not ignoring the would-be photographers out there. The Razer Phone comes with a dual 12MP camera arrangement, which consists of a wide-angle / telephoto lens arrangement. The wide-angle lens has an aperture of f/1.7 and the telephoto offers up to 2x optical zoom, and the camera comes complete with a dual tone flash with little protrude. The device also houses a camera on the front side which is of an 8MP sensor. On paper, the camera assembles looks impressive, but as Google has demonstrated, it takes much more than impressive camera specifications to take good quality pictures.
The company’s first-ever smartphone also gets it right when it comes to software. Google’s Android 7.1.1 Nougat is pre-installed. Plus, Razer has promised us updates. Google’s latest software has a range of new features including doze on the go, bundled notifications, split screen multitasking, enhanced security, new emojis, and a new Vulkan API for better overall graphics performance. You’ll also have some Android 7.1.1 Nougat (MR1) exclusive features like app shortcuts, GIF touch keyboard support, live wallpaper metadata, and more. The Google Assistant is also pre-loaded, which is based on AI and machine learning and will improve with time and use. It’s a near stock experience all around, so few additions have been made by Razer. One being that the device’s default home launcher is Nova Launcher, which is a first and could mean more to come. As a result, performance should be more than smooth.
Other included sensors are Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/h/n/ac, GPS and NFC for making payments. The handset’s dimensions are 158.5mm x 77.7mm x 8mm, and the device all together weighs 197g. Volume controls are on the left side of the phone and the power key along with a microphone are on the right-hand side. The bottom houses the charging port and an additional microphone. No physical home button exists, and that’s because there are software navigation keys, which have become favored by nearly all Android manufacturers. Oh, and the headphone jack, I wish we had one. But an adapter is included in every box. Putting that aside, we’re looking forward to testing the phone once in-house.
The Razer Phone will be released for $699 in the US on November 17 online or exclusively at Microsoft stores. There will be no carrier variants, meaning you’ll have to pay full price for the phone up front. However, support for most US carriers is included. For our British readers, Razer is sadly following Apple’s lead and is pricing the device at £699, around $900 USD. No pricing has been slated for European customers just yet.
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