This year has brought an onslaught of gaming phones. Riding the tide of mobile gaming, manufacturers from Asus to ZTE have launched phones targeting the fast-growing demographic of hardcore mobile gamers.
Razer claims credit for igniting the gaming smartphone craze with its eponymous 2017 flagship. Now the company is back with Razer Phone 2 — a phone that keeps all the features that made the original special, addresses its biggest weaknesses, and adds more style and power.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
A familiar design
No notch, no 18:9 display.
The Razer Phone 2 looks a lot like its predecessor, which, in turn, looked a lot like the Nextbit Robin (Razer bought Nextbit in January 2017). We really don’t mind the boxy, Robin-on-steroids look. It’s still fresh and it stands out in a sea of notched displays and rounded corners. It’s also highly functional, having room for a 4,000mAh battery, a vapor cooling system, and gigantic stereo speakers… but not a 3.5mm audio jack, apparently, which is a shame.
On the front, the Razer Phone 2 looks almost identical to the Razer Phone, but there are a couple of notable changes on the back. The dual cameras are now centered and Razer’s triskelion logo is now illuminated by its trademark Chroma LED system.
One other change: the Razer Phone 2’s back is made of glass, not metal. The glass looks fancier, but it’s likely less durable than the previous unibody construction.
16.8 million colors
Almost everything that Razer touches gets a splash of Chroma. In the case of the Razer Phone 2, Chroma is more than eye-candy. The backlit logo acts as a big notification LED, letting you know when you get a message or a like without looking at the screen. Using a dedicated app, users can pick from 16.8 million colors — talk about overchoice — and you can also set dynamic effects by choosing from static, spectrum cycling, and “breathing.” Turn the whole thing off if you want to save battery.
Wireless charging and water resistance
The Razer Phone 2 one-ups its predecessor with fast wireless charging, made possible by the glass back. Razer will also sell you a separate wireless charger that features — no points for guessing — Chroma effects.
Real gamers will game just about anywhere, so the Razer Phone 2 now features resistance to water and dust, rated IP67.
A much brighter 120Hz display
The Razer Phone 2’s LCD screen features a 120Hz refresh rate. Games optimized to take advantage of this feature will look just a bit smoother. For more precise gaming, the phone also features 120Hz touch sampling, giving you a theoretical edge over your in-game adversaries.
Razer fixed one of our biggest issues with the Razer Phone: brightness.
Razer says it’s fixed one of the display issues we noted in our original Razer Phone review: the mediocre brightness. The Razer Phone 2 hits 645 nits in brightness, or about 50 percent higher than the first generation.
Well, not really overwhelming, but still pretty great. Like most of its flagship peers, the Razer Phone 2 comes with a Snapdragon 845 processor (2.8GHz, Adreno 630 GPU). You get plenty of RAM — 8GB — to keep those gaming sessions in memory while you deal with real life, but only 64GB of storage, which is on the low side for devices in this class. You can add more storage via microSD, at least.
The Razer Phone 2 features a “vapor chamber cooling system,” designed to dissipate heat away from the processor. Less heat means less CPU throttling, which translates into higher frame rates and smoother performance over longer periods of time. Razer claims its new phone offers 30 percent more performance than its predecessor.
Speaking of more power, the Razer Phone 2’s speakers are louder and crisper than the original’s. In a demo we were shown, the phone reached 98 dB and sounded great.
The camera should be better
There’s no way around it — the Razer Phone had a bad camera. We called it “terrible” and a “mess” in our review and it was not necessarily due to the dual-lens hardware. The camera app lacked basic functionality like an indicator of which camera you’re using, while image processing was often poor.
The Razer Phone 2's camera might not be horrible.
Razer promises a “vast improvement” for its sophomore effort. Razer Phone 2 has two 12MP cameras on the rear, a wide-angle (f/1.75) and a 2x telephoto (f/1.75). Both sensors feature phase detection autofocus and the wide-angle has optical image stabilization as well.
The camera app has received a makeover, and should now be easier to use with one hand. Razer also committed to updating its imaging software on the regular. Check out our Razer Phone 2 hands-on for more details on image quality.
Great battery life
The Razer Phone 2 features a 4,000mAh battery, on par with heavyweights like the Galaxy Note 9 and the Huawei Mate 20 (coming very soon). Despite the battery size remaining the same as last year, Razer managed to improve battery life by reducing the power consumption of the 120Hz display.
When you run out, you can get back to 50 percent battery capacity in 30 minutes, thanks to the Quick Charge 4+ charger.
Razer Phone 2 price and availability
We’ve got used to pricy flagships, the Pixel 3 being the most recent example. At $800, the Razer Phone 2 is definitely not affordable, but it’s not grossly expensive either when you consider what it offers.
At launch, the Razer Phone 2 will be available in glossy or matte black finishes with 64GB of storage. The phone will be sold in U.S., Europe, and Asia, with pre-orders starting Oct. 11 at 12:01AM PT on Razer.com. The U.S. release date is set for October 22. A variant with a transparent back will be launched down the road.
Launching alongside the phone, you’ll be able to pick up Razer’s Raiju Mobile Bluetooth controller for smartphones for $150.
Thoughts on the new Razer Phone 2? Let us know in the comments.