We all knew what was coming when Razer bought phone-cobbler Nextbit. What we weren’t sure about is how it would end up in practise.
It appears that the challenge of building a full-blown gaming machine the size of a smartphone was too good to pass up.
Razer officially unveiled their Android phone at a huge bash last night. The thing is, should you do something just because you can?
Razer Phone specifications
Let’s start with the propriety 5.7-inch 1440p screen. This packs variable refresh rate as well as something akin to NVIDIA’s GSync.
On the face of the device there are stereo front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos support, each powered by their own amp.
It was good to see that the user interface (UI) was kept basically as stock Android Nougat 7.1.1 with Google Assistant. However, they have worked with Nova to include a premium version of the Nova Launcher.
Android 8 Oreo will follow early next year. This was a surprising compromise for me. Furthermore, the handy cloud backup feature that was core to the Robin experience has been dropped. That is a shame.
If you were shopping for a phone using the same method as Top Trumps, the Razer certainly ticks boxes aplenty.
Razer Phone design
I have a feeling that this is where the Marmite effect comes in to play. Yes, the CNC aluminium body will take the knocks but there isn’t really much in the way of design happening here.
If you took a Nextbit Robin, made it bigger and ditched the plastic in favour of dark anodized aluminium, you’d basically have the Razer Phone.
Razer said they wanted to break the mould of all the other curved-edged slabs out there, which they’ve acheived. However, even with my love for brutalism, this phone left me a little meh.
On the subject of audio I was a little confused. They boasted about their THX and Dolby Atmos certification and the fact that the Razer Phone is equipped with a 24-bit DAC. Perfect for audiophiles, they said. However, the phone iteself is lacking a headphone jack. From what I can see, the phone has plenty of space for one, too.
Upon closer investigation, in the box, you’ll find a THX-certified audio dongle that lets you hook up headphones. This is how they honour their promise of 24-bit “audiophile-quality” sound. I still find this another odd compromise for an uncompromising phone.
For gamers by gamers
This is Razer’s mantra but I cannot help but feel they missed out on some more gamer-y touches. The company’s Chroma kit is much loved by their community of gamers. Having the rear logo RGB-equipped would have been an awesome touch.
Instead, you get access to a bunch of game themes and wallpapers.
That means you get ultra smooth animations during games and extra slow (and thus efficient) speeds for when the phone is just idling on the home screen. You don’t really need 120Hz when updating Facebook or Twitter, do you?
The higher frame rate does make the experience of using the phone feel more fluid. This is obvious even when just running through some demos on a tethered unit.
I really hope that this is one of the areas where other manufacturers take note. It would be great to see this is the sort of tech becoming standard on all mobile devices.
Razer Phone – initial thoughts
As the details were being revealed there were many jaw-dropping moments. Tekken, Final Fantasy XV, Ultra Hunt and Arena of Valour all looked great. The specs were just getting more and more “insane” as they were announced. However, was I excited when I finally got hands-on? Well, no. Not really.
I was more disappointed by my disappointment, if I am totally honest. I really wanted this to be the complete package.
Don’t get me wrong, this is an impressive machine. They have obviously put in a lot of work to get everything to fit and perform how it does.
Are these enough to entice gamers? We can only wait and see. Razer is new to this particular arena and, for that reason alone, I hope it does well.
Perhaps it was the dimly-lit area where the non-VIPs, such as myself, were introduced to the Razer Phone. I have seen photos and hands-on videos taken by the more elite level of journalists, and that does seem to help with everything.
So, I reckon I need some more quality time with the device before making my mind up.
It is a great device but not quite perfect. Yet.
Price and availability
The device is priced at £594 + 10 top up with Three on Pay As You Go! That is an excellent price for such a high-specced phone.
You can get it in the UK through Three and in the states in Microsoft Stores. Naturally, you’ll be able to grab them directly from Razer’s online store too..
You can reserve yours now and expect shipping on November 17th.