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Razer Phone 2 review

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The Razer Phone 2 smartphone is (like its predecessor from a year ago) a smartphone, specially developed for games. Is a gaming smartphone worth the effort?

When Razer introduced the first Razer Phone a year ago, it was the only smartphone maker to see a market in game smartphones. Meanwhile, there are several parties. Xiaomi has the Black Shark smartphone, which will soon be available in the Netherlands. The biggest competitor that Razer now has to face is Asus, which has released the somewhat more expensive ROG smartphone. Apparently a new (niche) market has developed within the smartphones.

You would think that Razer has built up a lead compared to Asus because they came on the market a year earlier with the first Razer gaming smartphone. At the time I was pretty positive about the Razer Phone: the high refresh rate of the screen was leading, the same goes for the clean software with Nova Launcher and thanks to the large construction with stereo speakers it was nice gaming. Misses were there too, the camera did not make any impression and the lack of the headphone port is a bad idea for gamers. Also, the price was just too high to justify a purchase.

Learned from past?

Now that the competition Razer in the smartphone area is suddenly in the neck, Razer could apply the lessons learned from the Razer Phone to the successive Razer Phone 2. But the innovations are not too big: there is a more powerful chipset installed, the dualcam has about better lenses, the smartphone is water resistant and the back is made of glass to enable wireless charging. That back is also the part that stands out the most. A luminous Razer logo shows off on the back. In the settings, you can also indicate which colour the hoses of the logo should light up. It is very nerdy but secretly very cool. A glass back, however, has a concession: it makes your smartphone even more vulnerable. A case is not a luxury for the Razer Phone 2,

The construction of the smartphone has remained the same. The device reasonably logs, thanks to the speakers above and below the screen and its rectangular shape. The screen itself is also pretty strong because of its 5.7-inch diameter and (normal) aspect ratio of 16 by 9. For those who like to play games or watch videos on his smartphone, this is a big advantage. The Razer Phone 2 is comfortable to hold for a long time when you have tilted the device. The normal screen ratio is somewhat out of tone, compared to other top smartphones, which use alternative proportions to use the entire front of the device for the screen. By keeping the standard screen ratio of 16 by 9, the device is quite large and wide. But it makes sense, this aspect ratio is the standard for many videos and games.

The fingerprint scanner is incorporated in the edge of the smartphone, as Sony Xperia smartphones also had this first. Personally, I am very enthusiastic about this, for me, this is the most logical place for the fingerprint scanner. Unfortunately, Razer still sticks to the stupid idea of not giving gamers a headphone port, perhaps to generate revenue from wireless and USB c headsets.

Razer is no longer the only manufacturer that offers a smartphone for gamers.

Pros

The Razer Phone distinguished itself with its screen, which can handle a refresh rate of 120 Hertz. This feature has the screen of the Razer Phone 2likewise, although you have to dive into the settings to boost it from 90 Hz to 120 Hz. But it may be said: other manufacturers may take an example from Razer. The high refresh rate ensures that movement is smoother, of course, you notice that with gaming. But also in everyday activities, such as browsing through menus and scrolling through websites. The LCD panel that Razer uses is very good for an LCD screen. Especially the colour reproduction is neat. Most smartphones in this price range use an OLED (or AMOLED) screen panel. These are usually brighter, which is useful when the bright sun shines on the screen. The contrast is also better and the colours are more vivid on an OLED screen.

The software has also remained the same. Your system is not polluted with bloatware such as misleading virus scanners so that you use all your capacity for processes that are important to you. Android has been kept very clean, with little intervention by Razer and the Nova Launcher pre-installed. The advantage of Nova Launcher is that you can adjust your device to the smallest details. Here, too, other manufacturers can take an example from Razer. However, I wonder why Razer did not opt for Android One. This Android version is completely clean from bloatware, except for the Google apps, with the big advantage that Google itself offers the updates. Which gives you longer and better Android support. At the time of writing, the Razer Phone 2 has the October 2018 security patch and Android 8.1.

The battery capacity of the Razer Phone 2 is considerable: 4,000 mAh. However, the battery life is quite dependent on how you use it. Are you going old-fashioned to hunt Pokémon? Then you will be ready after a few hours. Have you fully loaded your smartphone to play through during a long journey? Then your battery will last about an hour or 10. With normal use? Start from about a day and a half. When you are empty you can use a USB-c fast charger, or charge the smartphone wirelessly.

Camera

Of course you do not buy a game smartphone to shoot the best photos, The dualcam of the Razer Phone shot nice pictures, but for its price range, however, it dropped too many stitches. The Razer Phone 2 has other camera sensors, but unfortunately, the photo quality still leaves much to be desired. Photos show too much noise and colours are a bit grey. Little details are lost in low light. When there is more light, the photos are fortunately a lot more detailed. The front camera is unfortunately not much better. There was too much noise and a drowsy beauty filter does not make that much better.

Gaming on your smartphone

The big question remains: how game the Razer Phone 2? I noticed in practice that the smartphone is hot, but not overly hot, although that, of course, depends on what you play and where. If you are sitting in the sun during a hot day, every smartphone will become lukewarm naturally. It is very nice that the sound is projected to you through the speakers at the front. For a smartphone the sound quality is fine! I noticed already that the refresh rate really adds value and that the Razer Phone comfortably holds.

Point of criticism, however, is the state of mobile games. Many mobile games are first developed for the iPhone, most developers are in the US, where they are pretty attached to their iOS devices. The quality of the offer can also be improved, there are still too many ‘loot box’ and ‘pay to win’ games. Hopefully, the arrival of a new generation of gaming smartphones can put Android on the map as a platform for better games.

Buy Razer Phone 2?

Razer is no longer the only manufacturer that offers a smartphone for gamers. But is it also the best choice? The game offer for the iPhone is better, but for an iPhone Xs, you pay an unreasonable amount. The Razer Phone 2 is also quite on the price: 849 euros is hefty. Too big for what you get in return. For the same money you get a Galaxy Note 9which, to be honest, is a better choice. Speaking of better choice, if I personally would really choose a gaming smartphone, then the Asus ROG Phone is a better choice. This device is more versatile, more complete and has a better screen quality. Although the Asus smartphone has a slightly lower refresh rate of 90 Hz. In practice, however, many people will never notice that difference, because the Razer Phone 2 standard is also at 90 Hz. However, the Asus smartphone costs a few bucks more (899 euros), but if you invest so much money in a game smartphone, then you better spend those few extra euros.

Conclusion

As I stated in my final paragraph, the Razer Phone 2 praises itself out of the market. The Galaxy Note 9 and Asus ROG Phone cost about the same, but are better choices. That makes the Razer Phone 2 not a bad smartphone: the refresh rate of the screen and the clean Android with Nova Launcher are an example for other manufacturers. Secretly, the illuminated logo on the back is also very beautiful. But the image quality, camera and the lack of a basic headphone connection ensure that the Razer Phone 2 is just as inadequate to stand out from its competition.

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