The Razer Phone
is a unique Android phone: with an innovative, 120Hz display as its signature feature, it tries to be more than an ordinary smartphone, it wants to be a phone for gamers.
Coming from popular gaming gear maker Razer this is no surprise, but is the Razer Phone really that good for gamers and how does it fare as a smartphone that you carry with you every day?
10 things you should know about the Razer Phone!
We have used the Razer Phone for a few days, ran a ton of tests on it and we now think we have the answer to all those questions. Of course, you can take a look at our in-depth Razer Phone review, but here we also give you an easily digestible list of the 10 key review findings, the ten things you should know about the Razer Phone.
Razer Phone: 10 key review takeaways
Razer Phone: 10 key review takeaways
1. 120Hz display makes everything appear to run smoother
The refresh rate of smartphone displays has pretty much been the same for years: 60 hertz, or simply put 60 refreshes per second. The Razer Phone changes that: it comes with an innovative and quite revolutionary, 120Hz display.
Why is this important? Refresh rate simply means that the screen can refresh more often, so the overall experience of using the phone is much smoother. This smoothness is especially valued in high-paced games, so that’s why the Razer Phone comes as a much better smartphone choice for gamers. In our testing, we found the Razer Phone does indeed run much smoother, impressively so. The higher refresh rate might not be a game-changer for the everyday user, but it is still a noticeable and appreciated improvement.
One important thing to note is that the Razer Phone runs at 90Hz by default. You can go into settings to change this to the full 120Hz, or choose lower rates, down to even 40Hz. Since higher refresh rates also mean that the display draws more power, 90Hz is a good intermediate option.
2. But the screen has very low brightness
The Razer Phone ships with a big, 5.7-inch IPS LCD screen with a Quad HD resolution and it might be revolutionary in terms of its refresh rate speed, but it is quite disappointing when it comes to brightness. It has the lowest brightness of any flagship-grade phone in 2017.
Max brightness is just 364 nits, which in simple terms means that the screen appears too dim and is hard to read, especially outdoors.
3. Only a few games are optimized for 120Hz
The Razer Phone comes with a few games pre-loaded on it: cool games like Titanfall Assault and Gear Club, but there is a ton of other games out there. We tried running a few popular games off the Play Store and found that very few were actually optimized to make use of the 120Hz refresh rate. Minecraft took good advantage of the screen and stayed ata solid 90fps while we played, but others like NBA Jam did not go over the typical 60fps.
The Razer Phone ships with a Snapdragon 835 system chip and 8GB of RAM, which is excellent for multitasking and general performance. We found that the phone ran very smoothly in general use, which is great news. It does tend to get hotter than average when you play a game, though, so keep that in mind.
5. Lackluster camera app
The Razer Phone has a camera app that lacks some important features. Probably the major missing feature is an auto HDR option. You can only turn HDR on or off manually, but you cannot have the phone automatically determine when is a good time to use the HDR setting. There is also no way to quickly jump between the main wide angle camera and the secondary, “tele” lens. You would need to pinch to zoom, but no one button to allow you quickly switching to the tele camera. Also, there are no camera modes, not even a panorama mode. Razer promises fixes soon, so fingers crossed, but at the moment the camera app has some serious issues.
6. Image quality is mediocre
The photo and video quality from the Razer Phone is also just… not great. The photos it shoots turn out consistently underexposed and lacking in dynamic, plus colors are a bit dull and ghostly, lifeless. We have seen worse phones, but considering the high price of the phone, its camera is definitely not on par with rivals.
7. Excellent front loudspeakers
A noticeable element of the Razer Phone design are its giant front-firing speakers. They sound great, better than the majority of smartphones with their tinny little speakers out there. The sound they pump out has some depth to it and they get impressively loud. You even get a bit of added stereo effect, simply due to the fact that the speakers are significantly far apart.
8. Very good battery life
We ran our proprietary battery life test on the Razer Phone and it scored 8 hours and 52 minutes, which is a very good result. Still, for those expecting wonders, the Razer Phone is not a record-breaker in terms of battery life. In real life, we can get through a full day with the Razer Phone even if we spend a couple of hours playing games, which is nice. On those days when you don’t play games, you can expect a day and a half, and with scarce use, you could even stretch that to a full two days, but that would really be a stretch.
The Razer Phone is also the first phone to support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0 standard. It features a quick charger and the necessary USB-C to USB-C cable in the box, so you don’t need to pay extra. It’s still a big battery, though, and it charges up to nearly 50% in about 40 minutes. It takes 2 hours and 20 minutes for a full 0 to 100% charge.
9. The fingerprint scanner is clunky
The Razer Phone has its fingerprint scanner in a weird place: on the side of the phone. You get used to the position – after all, your thumb naturally rests on the side of the phone – but what we don’t like is that you have to actually physically press the fingerprint button to activate it, while on other phones you can simply rest your finger on the button and it unlocks. And of course, this takes you straight to the home screen, so if you just want to take a quick look at the lockscreen for notifications, it is not that easy.
10. The big takeaway: should you buy it?
The Razer Phone has an innovative screen, good performance with a clean interface, great sounding loudspeakers, and above average battery life, but it falls short when it comes to the camera and screen brightness. The 120Hz screen is great for gaming and it’s not a gimmick, but not all games are optimized. Overall, $700 definitely seems like a steep price and the Razer Phone looks like it would be a device worth considering only if it had a lower price.