The Razer Phone is a bit of a puzzle. It’s not surprising that it exists, given that Razer, best known for PC hardware and peripherals, acquired smartphone maker Nextbit in January of 2017 in order to produce this device. Nor is it surprising that, based on our hands-on time with the device at a recent briefing, the Phone seems to be equal parts Nextbit’s Robin and Razer’s laptop line, touting impressive specs at a reasonable price of $699.
The Razer Phone’s first: A 120Hz screen
The Razer Phone is packed with a 120Hz, 1440×2560, 5.72-inch LCD panel. If you’ve ever used a high framerate PC display, you know the difference a faster refresh rate can have on simple tasks—not just games.
Speaking of battery, the Razer Phone packs a 4,000mAh one inside its 197-gram body. That, paired with the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, help it last for long “content consumption” sessions. The phone also features 8GB of dual channel LPDDR4 RAM clocked at 1,600MHz. Razer really knows its audience when it lists detailed specs like that for a device.
Shared design language
Razer also wants the Razer Phone to feel right at home with the company’s other hardware offerings—and it does. The engineers worked with some of the same teams that helped make Razer’s refined Razer Blade laptop series. At first glance it looks much like the Robin that came before it, but in my hands, the Razer Phone made the Robin feel like a toy. I would describe the overall design to be monolithic—taking cues from Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Phone audio with a punch
The Razer Phone’s dual speaker grille and stereo speaker configuration are not a first by any means, but I’d be hard-pressed to find a louder setup on any phone! Each speaker has its own amp, allowing the Phone to be pushed to higher decibels without distortion. I’m currently using a Google Pixel 2 XL (which also has dual front-facing speakers), and side by side it’s no contest: The Razer Phone blew the Pixel out of the water at the highest levels.
Sadly, the Razer Phone does not include a 3.5-inch headphone jack, and I’m not a fan of this decision. It especially makes no sense when Razer makes a number of high-quality headphones that still support this format. Razer does offer a couple of headphone options that support Apple’s Lightning connector, so I’m hoping the company releases USB-C support in the future. Until then we are stuck with dongles.
Stock for the Android Enthusiast
Razer is also trying to court Android enthusiasts. The Phone runs a near-stock version of Android 7.1.1 out of the gate, and Razer promises 8.0 Oreo support in Q1 of 2018. Unlike Nextbit with the Robin, Razer focuses on the basics while adding only a few custom tweaks, like its own Gamebooster technology and a theme store. We’ve heard this “focus-on-the-basic” approach before (re: Essential), so I’m hoping Razer can deliver.
To round out the enthusiast angle, the Razer phone is sold unlocked (GSM only), with the bootloader unlocked out of the box as well. This phone might be a great option for the tinkerers out there!