The Razer Phone is my favourite device of 2017.
That’s probably something odd to say considering the huge amount of smartphones released the past year, especially in the flagship tier. Many would consider the iPhone X, Pixel 2 XL, Galaxy Note 8, and many others when thinking of the best phones for the year.
Despite all of these devices, the Razer Phone still became the fourth most search gadget in Singapore in Google’s Top Trending Searches for 2017 despite being the last to be announced.
Razer’s first attempt at a phone could definitely do better but it’s still something worth a look at.
The Razer Phone
In today’s world where phones have done away with bezels, the surprising appearance of the Razer Phone seeks to disrupt that but let’s get something out of the way first.
The Razer Phone has a design that’s two years old. It derives it’s design from the Nextbit Robin, the cloud based Android phone whose company Razer acquired.
But that’s not a bad thing. In doing so, Razer has made sure to utilise all that extra real estate (more on that later).
The Razer Phone is essentially the Razer Blade in the form of a mobile device, with its all-metal unibody design and the latest in mobile computing packed into it.
Inside the Razer Phone, at first glance might not be too dissimilar to any other flagships out in the market today with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 at the heart of the device.
But that’s where the similarities end.
Accompanying it is 8GB of RAM to enable you to not just run the most demanding of games, but also letting you switch between apps without dropping performance.
The centrepiece of the Razer Phone’s media consuming prowess is the screen – a 5.7 inch vibrant quad HD display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. To give you context, the only other mobile device with a 120Hz display is Apple’s iPad Pro.
How this translates to users is a zero-lag experience when browsing the UI or in-game, without any stuttering, letting you enjoy content with maximum fluidity.
Flanking the screen are huge front-firing speakers that I dare say are the best in any smartphone today. While it won’t be replacing dedicated speakers any time soon, it easily fills up a room, though going full volume is not recommended as sound quality will suffer.
And it does all these and more with the massive 4,00mAh battery powering you through the day. If you are a casual user like myself, the Razer Phone can even last you over the weekend, with typical social media use, music listening through Spotify, and using the camera for photos.
Unfortunately Android Oreo is not in the Razer Phone, though purists will be glad to know that Razer has kept as close to stock as possible with the exception of a customised Nova Launcher UI for some apps and icons.
At the end of the day, for the first time in years, I’ve never been so inclined to start playing mobile games again after using the Razer Phone. No thanks to Razer including 3 awesome games already pre-loaded, Titanfall, Gear Club and World of Tanks.
Decent But Not Great Camera
Razer deployed a dual 12 megapixel camera setup at the back, where the main camera is a wide-angle one accompanied by a secondary shooter that has a 2x zoom lens.
Unfortunately, the Razer Phone’s biggest handicap is its camera. At launch, it was nothing short of bad for a flagship level device.
Photos lack vibrancy, sharpness, and most times, very noisy and looks over-processed.
Then Razer pushed out updates for their camera app, twice. Now, the camera is more usable though it won’t win any shootouts with the best in the market.
Still, for the casual mobile photographer, the quality is definitely good enough for social media use. If anything, at least Razer is committed to continuously updating the camera app.
When I first used it, the UI of the camera app was bare, and shutter lag was horrible. After the updates, it was slightly better.
Razer even added a toggle to switch between the wide-angle and zoom cameras, improved low-light performance, and vibrancy on top of other improvements.
Also, in my time using the camera, I found it to be quite buggy still and shutter lag still noticeable. Random app crashes aside, photos will sometimes not appear as they should, with “special filters” applied.
For Gamers, By Gamers?
This phone has won itself a place in my pockets. The search by the top brands for the perfect smartphone has made me somewhat jaded.
In the Razer Phone with it’s sharp angular corners, giant speakers (and subsequently, bezels), and metal body, I found something to be genuinely excited about holding everyday even though my fingers cannot smoothly wrap around the edges.
I find myself watching videos on-the-go, and playing mobile games – 2 things I’ve stopped doing for the longest time.
The above average camera shouldn’t detract from the fact that this is a good phone. In fact, the Razer Phone is more than just a device for gamers.
For the everyday user, this phone might just fit the bill for a device that can last through the day while delivering one of the best experience in any Android phone.
Better still, you won’t even have to sell a kidney to get one. At $1,068, it’s marginally lower than the price of other flagship devices.
Just keep those updates to the camera app coming together with Android 8.0 Oreo, and we’ll be fine. As a fan of all things Razer, I am already looking forward to a Razer Phone 2.0