The Razer Phone 2 is more than a year old at this point, and yet, it still sits at the top as one of the best gaming smartphones out there. How can it do this with an older processor platform and some lower specs? Simple. Really, really good engineering.
The device may be powered by the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile platform and come with less RAM than current gaming smartphones, like the ASUS ROG Phone II, but it still performs better than most and has a leg up in many areas.
It has the best display of any gaming smartphone out there. It's cooling feels second to none. It has the Dolby Atmos support for its speakers and a THX certified DAC. So, despite the 8GB of RAM instead of 12GB, and the Snapdragon 845 instead of an 855, it still holds up. Is it the best gaming smartphone on the market?
That really all depends on what you as a consumer want out of a gaming smartphone. It's certainly one of the best gaming smartphones on the market, but whether or not it's the best for you hinges on your preferences.
In this review we'll aim to touch on its good and bad points so that you can hopefully make a more informed decision as to whether or not you want to side with Razer if you're looking for an upgrade.
Visually striking gameplay anchored to the market's best screen
The Razer Phone 2 has the best screen of any gaming smartphone on the market. Past or present. Period. If there's one takeaway on what the phone has to offer, let it be that the screen is second to none. Not even to the ROG Phone II from ASUS which we reviewed earlier this year.
It isn't just about the 120Hz refresh rate. That is a huge part of the success here that Razer has achieved with this device. It's not the only good part about it though. The screen is also fairly large at 5.7-inches. And, it's using the ULTRAMOTION tech.
Lastly, it's QHD. Displays like the one on the ROG Phone II are only 1080p. And believe me it makes a difference. That doesn't mean the ROG Phone II is a hunk of junk. On the contrary we thought it was great and it plays games exceptionally well.
It's just at the size of the screen that comes on that particular phone, the lower 1080p resolution leaves a tad bit to be desired. That's where the Razer Phone 2 pulls ahead of the competition.
The high-resolution paired with the high refresh rate makes mobile gaming pure enjoyment. Naturally this only makes a difference in games that actually have the support. At least where the high refresh rate is concerned.
Even without the high refresh rate support though, those games still look better on the Razer Phone 2 than they do on any other comparable device. If you primarily play games on your phone, or if it's just your gaming device for on-the-go action, you won't be disappointed here.
Even with phones having just released over the past few months that are marketed as gaming smartphones, none have a screen that compares to Razer's now year-old device. Mark that as a win for Razer.
Its design is undeniably "Razer" and that's a good thing
Razer may possibly be the most well-known brand in gaming, but that doesn't mean if its hardware has to look like it. Razer takes pride in having a minimalist approach to the design of its gaming products.
And consumers who buy them should to. That's because Razer has an amazing design team and it's hard to argue that hardware such as its laptops aren't the best-looking. Sure they come with things like Chroma RGB lighting and a big triple-headed snake logo, but nothing about Razer hardware designs are extremely loud.
Compare that to other brands like Acer or ASUS. You can tell the gaming hardware they make is "gaming hardware." That's not a bad thing really, but if you want something understated in the looks department, Razer wins here too.
This whole design philosophy carries over to the Razer Phone 2. It's a rectangular black slab. There are no major curves, no brash design elements, or crazy colors. True to Razer, this phone is simple when it comes to design.
The all-black phone has clean lines and edges, and a single triple-headed snake logo that lights up (if you want it to). It doesn't look like a gaming phone unless you know the Razer logo. Which is great if you want a phone that is made for gamers but at the same time doesn't scream "I'm a gamer."
If you compare this to other gaming smartphone designs, again like the ROG Phone II, or devices such as the Red Magic 3s or Black Shark 2 Pro, Razer's performance is more of a hidden sleeper because it looks like a standard black phone.
Now, some people absolutely love the "gamer look" when it comes to the gaming hardware. That's totally fine. For me, the design of the Razer Phone 2 is right along the lines of what I personally want from a gaming phone design.
Razer can still improve on the design of this device family should it decide to put out a Razer Phone 3, but if it didn't change much, I wouldn't be mad.
Great battery life and the vapor cooling chamber mean nice, long, comfortable gaming sessions
One of the complaints about the ROG Phone II that I had was how hot it would get after gaming for even just 20 minutes. A lot played into that of course, like the game I was playing and whether or not I was running the game with the 120Hz refresh rate.
The ROG Phone II also has a vapor cooling chamber. In comparison though, when playing games like Call of Duty Mobile or Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, the Razer Phone 2 stays cooler.
This is important on more than one level and it isn't just about performance. It's about comfort. It's great that the speakers are front-facing so I don't have to hold the phone with this weird claw grip so I'm not covering the speakers.
More importantly though is the fact that I can hold the phone without worrying it's going to get insanely hot and start to get uncomfortable. You don't need to connect a fan attachment to keep things from overheating or to supplement some of the heat that you would feel on your hands.
You can just pick up the phone, launch a game, and dive in for an hour, or two, or three. At the end of your session your hands won't be burning. I'm not saying the phone won't get warm. It will, but not uncomfortably warm.
What it comes down to is no noticeable decrease in performance from a device that's heating up or a lesser experience because you're partly focused on whether or not your hands are burning a little bit.
This is another part of Razer's engineering team's hard work that has been carried over. And one that definitely wins the Razer Phone 2 some points.
When it comes to the battery life, the Razer Phone 2 comes with a 4,000mAh capacity battery. I was routinely getting around seven hours of screen on time. Which is more than enough for gaming throughout the day.
Unless you have the day off and are planning to dedicate four or five hours to gaming on this device non-stop, chances are you won't run into the need for a recharge until you go to bed. Which is what you want in a smartphone's battery life.
Should you run out of battery at any point, the Razer Phone 2 does use a USB C port and it charges up rather quick. So you'll be gaming again in no time and still not have to worry about running out of juice later in the evening.
Solid gaming performance like you'd expect from a gaming-focused brand
When you start to tally up all the things that make the Razer Phone 2 a great gaming phone performance is definitely there. Even with year-old tech it still performs very well with the highest quality mobile games available.
It doesn't perform quite as well as some newer phones out there, and that's simply down to the hardware. Newer phones released this year have newer components that are more tailored for gaming, and there's just no getting around that.
If you like having bleeding-edge specs, the Razer Phone 2 isn't going to offer them. But it still offers great performance and that shouldn't be overlooked. One of the most demanding games on mobile right now is no doubt Call of Duty Mobile.
The Razer Phone 2 plays this flawlessly. Out of all my time playing this game on this device, I rarely if ever experienced slow downs or any sort of noticeable frame skip.
The phone just handles games well and having older tech doesn't stop it from being a power house. When you pair the performance with its other highlights, and even other Razer products like the Razer Hammerhead True wireless earbuds and Razer Junglecat, gaming on this device really takes off.
Razer is after all a gaming-focused brand which has been around for a long time. They've been making gaming machines for quite a while too. So you'd expect it to deliver on a gaming phone when it comes to performance. And it does. Without question.
Also without question is that you can get a better performing gaming smartphone. With some useful features that aren't to be downplayed because they add another layer of mobile gaming complexity. See the Air Triggers on the ROG Phone II for example.
That said, the Razer Phone 2 might be the next best thing. It delivers on performance while ensuring you'll play with excellent graphics, a gorgeous screen, great audio, and all at a really low price point compared to the other options.
No the Razer Phone 2 didn't launch with a low price. But it's no longer $800. Instead you can pick one up for $350 and it still performs better than almost any other gaming phone out there. That should at the very least warrant attention.
If you like themes, Razer offers an integrated app store dedicated to them
One of the more understated features of this phone, at least from my perspective, is the theme store. The Razer Phone 2 offers you an integrated theme store app that quite surprisingly, has a ton of options.
This isn't just filled with themes that give you a specialized wallpaper and a couple of key changes to match it. The themes are actually pretty in-depth. Some of them will come with matching icons to go with the look. Not all of them though.
What all of them do seem to come with is a collection of phone sounds that follow the theme. Some of them you'll just get notification and alarm sounds, while others you'll get those along with the ringtone too.
What this results in is a fully customized design for your phone complete with all the elements to really personalize it.
It's a minor thing about the phone that probably isn't going to be a selling point for anyone. It's still worth mentioning though as the theme store packages things up really well. And that's notable since it's kinda like a one-stop shop for all your phone customization needs.
Is the Razer Phone 2 the device for you?
There are a lot of variables here. On the one hand, the Razer Phone 2 is packed full of good hardware. It has some stellar features and some good engineering that make it a very competitive device in the gaming smartphone market.
As to be expected. The thing is, a gaming smartphone is not for everyone. If however you are in the market for one, then you should definitely at least consider the Razer Phone 2.
There may be potentially better choices. The ROG Phone II for example is what I consider the gaming smartphone to beat. Overall, it delivers the best performance, has the best specs, and it works with a range of different accessories to take mobile gaming to the next level.
It is however also more than double the cost of the Razer Phone 2. So you have to ask yourself if you really want the best specs. Also worth noting is that the Razer Phone 2 is almost as good as the ROG Phone II in the performance department.
There was very minimal difference in how games ran on this device compared to the one from ASUS. The Razer Phone 2 also has a much nicer display. When you consider those factors, the Razer Phone 2 may be the best option out right now, since it costs less and has the best screen.
On top of all that games run great, audio is awesome, and of course it works well with the Razer Junglecat mobile gamepad. At $350, the Razer Phone 2 is a hard device to dismiss.
All that said, if you absolutely have to have the most powerful device with the newest specs, you might be better off going for something else. So long as you're ok with paying more for it. One thing is certain. The Razer Phone 2 is an amazing gaming smartphone, and anyone who chooses to pick it up will probably be happy with it.