Last year gaming accessory brand Razer turned a few heads with its self-titled smartphone, meant to appeal to gamers and compete with flagship Android phones from Google and Samsung. The refreshed model gets updated hardware and a few new tricks.
The Razer Phone 2 looks nearly identical to the previous version, with the same 5.7-inch 2560×1440 LCD screen bordered by huge speakers on the top and bottom. To see what’s new you’ll need to peek ’round the back, where the frame has been covered by a more conventional glass back that enables better radio reception and a new wireless charging coil.
Oh, and the triple-snake Razer logo now lights up too, with the company’s signature “Chroma” customizable RGB program. Razer’s added a bit of actual functionality here: the logo can flash with designated colors when you get alerts from your calls, email, or social networks, managed via the Chroma program. The first-party wireless Qi charger lights up as well, naturally.
Inside, Razer has upgraded the phone with the latest Snapdragon 845 processor and Adreno 630 GPU, claiming that it outperforms every other phone on the market (conveniently neglecting to mention other Android phones running on the same platform, like the less subtle ASUS ROG Phone, or the new crop of iPhones). Like last year, it features 8GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage plus a MicroSD card slot. A vapor cooling element now runs the entire length of the interior chassis.
The camera array is dual 12MP shooters on the back but adds optical image stabilization on the wider lens. On the front is an 8MP camera designed with live streaming in mind. The fingerprint scanner is still embedded into the power button on the side (meant for your thumb).
Like the original model, the screen and speakers are the stars of the show. The big improvement for the former is that the LCD panel is now much brighter, achieving a retina-searing 580 nits of brightness. The original phone’s 120Hz refresh rate and HDR color depth are intact, along with support from major Android games. Thanks to additional amplifiers at both ends, the speakers can now hit over 100 decibels of noise—not bad for something so small. Razer was happy to tout its “big-ass bezels and no notch” to accommodate the advanced screen and speakers, getting in a dig at the current trends of its competition.
Razer didn’t mention the Android version, but the company has been remarkably fast to update its original design, so Android 8.1 is a given and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Android 9.0 “Pie” on the phone before the end of the year.
Other highlights include the return of the much-loved 4000mAh battery, new IP67 waterproofing, and gigabit LTE support. The glossy back version of the Razer Phone 2 will be available for pre-order in the US tomorrow with shipping coming “soon,” with a satin back (still glass) color option available from the Razer web store only. It’s $800, a $100 premium over last year’s model… but a year later that seems less ridiculous next to the latest pricey options from Google and Apple.
A point of interest: in one of the presentation slides Razer said the phone supports “GSM and LTE networks” and included the Verizon logo. Verizon still uses CDMA on the oldest parts of its network, so a full retail rollout via that carrier is unlikely, but the newer radio may support its data-only network better than last year’s model.
In addition to the new phone, Razer debuted a Mercury White version of its diminutive Blade 15 laptop, as well as a slightly thicker budget model with an Ethernet port and support for both SSD and HD storage, both available later this year. The company also showed off a refreshed version of its Hammerhead earbuds, this one featuring dual drivers in each ear, support for USB-C phones, and active noise cancellation.
The new Raiju Mobile controller will be of particular interest to mobile gamers, with a flip-out holder for the Razer Phone (or any other phone that can connect via Bluetooth, of course). Razer’s Android app will allow gamers to customize the sensitivity of some functions like the analog sticks. There’s no word on pricing or availability for the charger, headphones, or controller.