Ladies and gents, Razer now makes mobile phones. In the past the odd forays by the company into mobile gaming weren’t very popular with mobile users or fans of Razer’s brand, and often led to failure prompted by poor design. Min-Liang Tang isn’t giving up on the idea, though, and the company ended up purchasing Nextbit, a fledgling phone company that got its start through a successful Kickstarter in 2015, in January of this year. Nine months later, we have the Razer Phone, and it’s shocking how quickly Razer was able to come up with a competitor in the mobile space.
Launching on 17 November 2017, Razer expects their $700 flagship to be the best phone on the market for gamers. In fact, Razer doesn’t market it as a “gaming” phone at all, but rather as a companion device for gamers who want good hardware and a great user experience. It ships out of the box with Android Nougat 7.1, and will receive Android Oreo as an OTA update early next year. It is very nearly bog-standard Android, with the only addition being Nova Launcher Prime.
As a bonus, the Razer Phone does not lock down the bootloader, and Razer will seed images of their phone’s operating system for people to tinker with. Updates for the official OS will continue for two years, but the addition of an unlocked bootloader means that the Android community can keep it running for much longer than that.
Internally, it packs in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 eight-core chipset along with Adreno 540 mobile graphics. It ships with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, an absurd amount of memory for a mobile device in 2017, and 64GB of ultra-fast UFS-class internal storage. There’s a microSD slot that supports SD cards up to 256GB in size. The dual-camera system has one 12MP and one 13MP camera on the rear, the former for regular shots with a f/1.75 aperture and the latter with a f/2.6 aperture set to zoom in 2x optically.
It shoots video in 4K at 30fps, and the front 8MP camera supports 4K 30fps video. The sensors are said to be similar to the Samsung Galaxy S7, so it’ll be quite the contender in the photography department as well.
The battery is enormous at 4000mAh, made possible because the phone houses a 5.7-inch IGZO display capable of 120Hz refresh rates. That’s not a static refresh rate either, because the display also supports variable refresh rates, in addition to offering set levels of 30Hz, 60Hz, and 120Hz in the settings menu. The phone will take the opportunity to display static content on the screen at a low refresh rate, sometimes dropping as low as 11fps while navigating around the Android UI. Once you touch the screen, it will burst back up to 120Hz to improve the responsiveness.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, there are two front-firing speakers that are Dolby Atmos compliant. It might lack a headphone jack, replacing it in favour of a USB 3.1 Type C connector, but Razer will include a Type-C to 3.5mm adapter that also includes an external DAC to power professional-grade headphones and give users the best sound possible.
So far, all the hands-on reviews, footage, and feedback seems to indicate that Razer has a real winner on their hands. Aside from the obvious benefits to people who might want to experience the best Android has to offer in terms of gaming with an uncapped framerate, it will also find favour with Razer fans who want good hardware. Razer will produce a limited run of the Razer Phone with a glossy holographic green logo on the back, numbered from 1 to 1337, for the die-hard fans who want the proper branding.
If there’s any downside to this phone’s announcement, it’s that it is GSM-compliant, but won’t be selling locally in South Africa. Razer’s first target market is the United States, followed later by Canada, the UK, and most of Europe. Any local samples will have to be imported by distributors, and that puts it into Apple iPhone-levels of price insanity.
But, this is only the beginning. Razer hasn’t announced any plans for other phones, but if the first Razer Phone succeeds, they’ll surely get into producing cheaper models that are good enough to not compromise the user experience.