Razer may have brought its original Razer Phone to Australia a little late, but the Razer Phone 2 will be hitting our shores in short order.
The successor to the Razer Phone is every inch a Razer product, and comes packed with premium specs and features not just for gamers, but also power users.
I’ve often questioned exactly why companies think we need “gaming” phones when they generally have the same hardware inside as our “regular” phones, but Razer’s new Phone 2 provides a pretty neat answer that goes beyond the standard specs to offer something that delivers for its core audience. It’s not just about coloured logos and components, but performance.
Razer made much of the 120Hz refresh rate on the screen in the first Razer Phone, and it’s back with a vengeance on the second iteration. The Ultra Motion display brings a fairly standard 16:9 screen aspect ratio in an 18/19:9 world, but many games are designed to run best at this screen size so it’s a good choice. It’s also about 50% brighter than last year’s model, making it easier to use in direct sunlight, and is now specced for HDR content.
Under the hood, you’ll find a Snapdragon 845 processor with 8GB of RAM. That’s a very generous RAM allocation, and helps the phone in both standard performance and multitasking. Having had a brief play with the phone, I can attest that it goes like the clappers, especially when running some of Android’s more demanding games.
Razer’s brought its Vapor Chamber cooling technology from its laptop range to the Phone 2, and claims that its cooling allows them to eke an additional 20-30% out of the Snapdragon 845. This is an especially interesting stat given the processor’s already impressive performance, and the customisable performance boost options offered by the Phone 2’s software.
There’s a 4,000 mAh battery running the show, with Qualcomm QuickCharge 4+ and Qi wireless charging on offer so you’ll be able to get all those mAh’s into the phone any way you like.
Speaking of the hood, you could probably be forgiven for not being able to tell the difference between the old and new phones. Phone 2 is ever so slightly thicker, and the new dual camera array is now centered on the back, which helps the phone sit still on a flat surface without rocking back and forth. Otherwise we’re looking at a practically identical phone to the first generation, which itself shared quite a lot of design DNA with 2016’s Nextbit Robin, but cast in a tougher aluminium and metal frame.
The back of the phone now has a dual camera array with 12MP Sony sensors – one behind a wide angle lens with f/1.75 aperture and optical image stabilisation, and the other an f/2.6 telephoto lens. Razer has put a lot of effort into the second generation of its camera software with a number of camera features like beauty mode, portrait mode and slow motion video. The front-facing camera is an 8MP sensor behind an f/2.0 lens, but the phone doesn’t offer any facial recognition technology.
You’ll be able to spot a Razer Phone 2 a mile away too, with the company finally bringing its trademark Chroma feature to the phone. The company says this was the most-requested feature from Razer fans after the launch of their first phone. It’s a software-configurable light-up Razer logo emblazoned on the back of the phone, just under the camera array. You can control the colour with the Chroma app, and it can also be configured to light up different colours for different app notifications like LEDs of yore.
Razer’s Game Booster software also lets you take control over how power hungry or conservative your favourite game is, and how much it taxes your system. Game Booster lets you change the screen resolution (720p, 1080p, 2k), processor clock speed (1.7 to 2.8ghz), screen refresh rate (60, 90, or 120Hz) and enable/disable antialiasing on a per-app basis. If you don’t tweak the settings, you’ll get “optimal” settings, but if you configure an app in high performance mode you’ll really see the difference.
We threw Chrome into what we’re now calling “beast mode” for a demo, and found that scrolling performance up and down web pages was super smooth and fast. Knocking the refresh rate and other settings down to what we’re now calling “bin chicken mode” produced noticeably choppier performance, but it’ll go super light on battery consumption – it’s all about putting power in your hands and giving you the option to do so.
On the entertainment front, Razer’s new screen is capable of HDR and it’s certified by Netflix for access to its growing library of HDR content offerings. Not to leave audio behind, Netflix has also certified the device for Dolby Atmos content.
Audio fires out clear and loud from the phone’s front facing speakers – we cranked it up to full blast watching a few scenes from Altered Carbon on Netflix and the effect was immersive.
Like the first Razer Phone, the Phone 2 also runs a fairly untouched version of Android. Razer has a deal to provide a pro version of Nova Launcher, putting one of the most customisable launchers front and centre on the device (there’s also downloadable themes).
Razer Phone 2 will launch with Android Oreo 8.1, with an upgrade to Android Pie 9.0 in the works. Razer also commits to keeping pace with Google’s Android security patches.
You won’t have to wait long for the Razer Phone 2 to hit Australia – it’ll be available direct from Razer soon after launch, and will be coming to Optus in early November. with retail sales due to start soon after. If you’re looking to buy outright, it’ll set you back $1300, which seems like a pretty good deal for the technology under the hood.
We’re pretty excited to take a look at the phone. It’s good a great pedigree have our hands on an Australian review unit in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes out for a full review soon!