Developed under the codename "Project Cheryl", Razer has been hard at work building its first smartphone after it acquired Nextbit in early 2017. And out the gate, Razer has created a monster.
Going by the simple moniker Razer Phone, the company is positioning the device as a phone for gamers, but not necessarily a gaming phone. That distinction is crucial — the Razer Phone should appeal to anyone who wants a large, powerful Android device with outstanding specifications but doesn't necessarily game all the time. Nonetheless, the main features of the phone are tuned to maximize the gaming experience.
Razer Phone full specifications
|Operating System||Android 7.1.1 Nougat (Android 8.x coming spring '18)|
|Display||5.72-inches Sharp IGZO
2560 x 1440 resolution
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Audio||24-bit THX certified DAC (headphone adapter only)
Dual front facing speakers
|Dual Rear Camera||12MP AF f/1.75 Wide
12MP AF f/2.6 Zoom
|Front Camera||8MP f/2.0|
Qualcomm Quickcharge 4.0+
|Biometric||Fingerprint scanner (side power button)|
Let's cut to the OS and specifications. The Razer Phone is running Android Nougat 7.1.1 and will be making the jump to Android Oreo 8.0 in early 2018. The OS thankfully lacks any bloatware and Razer includes a free copy of the excellent Nova Launcher Prime with every phone.
Other than that, the Razer Phone is mostly a pure Android experience, which is welcomed. Users can even unlock the bootloader directly from the phone without jumping through any hoops or using any special tools.
There are three focal areas where Razer is making its Phone stand out from the crowd: display, audio, and battery.
The display packs a 5.72-inch 1440 x 2560 IGZO LCD panel with Wide Color Gamut (WCG) – the same screen tech found in its laptops. But it's the refresh rate where the Razer Phone shines, clocking in at blazing fast 120Hz. Razer calls this innovation UltraMotion because the refresh rate is like NVIDIA's G-Sync, where it can adapt to any game, or slow down when not being used to conserve battery life.
And it's gorgeous.
Doubling the screen refresh rate of most phones even browsing Twitter or a webpage is buttery smooth. Gamers will also be able to toggle between high frame-rates or high graphics too, so they are never locked into a single experience.
Flanking the display are two rather large bezels, but that's OK. The Razer Phone packs two massive stereo speakers each with discrete amplifiers powered by Dolby Atmos. While there is no headphone jack, Razer includes a Type-C dongle that houses a THX-certified DAC to power even the most expensive Hi-Fi headphones.
For a processor, Razer is using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with a massive heaping of 8GB of DDR4 RAM. Razer tuned the thermals of the phone too, with its laptop team to ensure the CPU will always max out and not running into heating issues after prolonged gaming.
Powering all of that is a massive 4,000 mAh battery with the world's first implementation of Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0+, which promises to run up to three degrees cooler, up to 15 percent faster and 30 percent more efficient than Quick Charge 4. Razer tells me that just 35 minutes should give a 50 percent charge to that enormous battery.
The cameras look surprisingly decent too, with dual-12MP shooters in the rear at f/1.75 for wide and f/2.6 for zoom. There's also a sharp 8MP front-facing camera with a f/2.0 aperture. For now, Razer is keeping the camera app to the basics, but the company plans to continually improve and add features going forward. While pre-production I didn't cringe at taking photos with the Razer Phone, so that's promising.
Rounding it all out is Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, Wi-Fi and a GSM-unlocked Nano SIM slot. There is also support for up to a 2TB microSD card to expand on the 64GB of internal storage.
Finally, for design, the Razer Phone is a jet black and metal obelisk, made from the same materials as its gaming laptops. The phone is wide but thin at just 8mm and weighing in at a hefty 197 grams. It still slid into my pants pocket with ease, however. While blocky, it feels great to hold and use whether as a standard phone or gaming.
Initial impressions of the Razer Phone are excellent. It's ridiculously fast, that display is jaw-dropping, and it just looks sleek without drawing too much attention. While there is no water resistance (e.g. IP67/IP68) due to the size of the speakers the tradeoff is arguably the loudest audio of any smartphone today. Those who enjoy mobile gaming and the rise of eSPorts will appreciate what the Razer Phone offers. Just as importantly, there's a lot to like here for your average person who uses their phone for media streaming.
Besides all the awesome specifications, Razer is teaming up with various gaming companies to deliver Razer Phone-optimized games to leverage the new 120Hz display. One of the first games will be Tencent's popular "Arena of Valor," which is also launching soon in North America.
Other optimized games available for Razer Phone at launch include:
- Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (Square Enix)
- Tekken (BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe)
- RuneScape (Jagex Limited)
- Lineage 2: Revolution (Netmarble Games Corporation)
- Gear.Club (Eden Games)
- World of Tanks Blitz (Wargaming Group Limited)
- Shadowgun Legends (Madfinger Games)
- Titanfall: Assault (NEXON Co., Ltd. and Particle City, Inc.)
Razer Phone owners will be able to personalize their devices with custom ringtones by Razer DJs and custom wallpapers inspired by the world's top gaming titles, such as Shadowgun Legends.
Pricing, availability, and the limited edition model
Expect the Razer Phone to drop November 17 for $699 / €749.99 / £699.99 in North America and Europe. The phone will be available from the following distributors:
- Three Europe at launch: United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden.
- Razerzone.com at launch: North America, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden.
- Additional locations at launch: Select Microsoft Store locations and Amazon.com in the USA.
On November 1, 2017, 9 p.m. GMT, pre-orders will begin at Three outlets and on the Three website. The Razer Phone can also be reserved on Razerzone.com in launch countries.
For those who are truly 'leet, Razer is making just 1,337 Razer Phones with Razer's "iconic green Triple Headed Snake" logo instead of the muted gray for production. If you want one of those limited run devices you need to get it from Three stores in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, at Razer Store in San Francisco, and online in the USA and Canada via Razerzone.com.
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