Razer Phone 2 wants to make gamers green with envy.Josh Miller/CNET
Looking down at the glowing black box on the conference table in Razer"s San Francisco offices one thing is already clear: The Razer Phone 2 ($640 at Amazon) is a better device than the gaming phone the company debuted a year ago. Mostly, because the brick I"m looking at isn"t actually the phone itself, but a wireless charging brick outfitted with a bright ring of colorful LEDs.
It"s an answer to one of the original Razer Phone"s ($489 at Amazon) shortcomings, and that"s what the Razer Phone 2 seems to be all about -- fixing the first model"s mistakes.
Yes, that means its an iterative evolution of an existing phone -- but the Razer Phone 2 was a good starting point. The new model keeps the original"s boxy, black design, loud stereo speakers and astounding 120Hz screen (that"s twice as fast as the 60Hz refresh rate on most phones), but kicks things up a notch with improved camera sensors, support for portrait mode (albeit through software), wireless charging and IP67 water-resistance.
It also dives deeper into Razer"s DNA as a gaming lifestyle brand. The original phone"s matte backing has been shined to a bright, reflective, glossy glass -- and the Razer LED now glows. By default, it"s green, but that color can be customized to specific alerts via Razer"s Chroma app. Those color settings will extend to the LED strip lining the bottom of that wireless charger I mentioned, too.
These additions mark a step in the right direction for Razer, a company that"s only released one previous phone.
That said, the idea of a "gaming phone" is still a little nebulous. Razer"s 120Hz screen does have the potential to give you an edge in terms of response time, at least in games that support it, and the phone"s speakers are gloriously loud. Even so, it"s still going to play the same games as any other Android phone -- and apart from the Razer Phone smooth framerate offered by the aforementioned display, don"t expect better graphics than you would see on the Google Pixel 2 ($649 at Google Store) or the Galaxy S9.
As for the games playing better? Well, at least Razer has a solution to that: the company has announced a wireless game controller designed specifically to go with the Razer Phone. The accessory could help the phone stand out to gamers. Don"t expect a Nintendo Switch ($289 at Amazon) like experience, though, this seems to be a retooled Razer Serval gamepad with a few extra buttons and a phone clip.
In a choked phone space dominated by Samsung and Apple, a Razer-branded gamer phone won"t make a pinprick of difference in gobbling up sales. But it does highlight gadget-makers" continued interest in winning over ultra-niche populations such as gamers. Booming video games sales are expected to reach a value of $138 billion dollars by the end of 2018. If Razer can attract hardcore gamers with its smooth graphics and heat management system, it has a chance to earn a customer for life.
The Razer Phone 2 will cost $799. Preorders are available now. Read on for more details and see the full specs chart at the end.
Pick a color, any color for the logo to glow when alerts arrive.Josh Miller/CNET Razer Phone 2 design
- Same basic design as original Razer Phone, but now with a glass back and brighter logo.
- 5.7-inch LCD screen with 16:9 screen ratio and 120Hz refresh rate (Razer says it"ll give you an unfair advantage in gameplay).
- No screen notch.
- Stereo front-firing speakers with 24-Bit DAC and Dolby Atmos are designed to update the first Razer Phone with better bass and richer sound.
- Fingerprint reader on right spine.
- Better HDR screen for games that pop during play.
- Snapdragon 845 processor.
- Razer"s Vapor Chamber Cooling, carried over from Razer laptops, helps keep frame rates high and temperatures lower.
- You"ll play at peak speed and resolution for a longer period of time before the phone gets overwhelmed.
- Dual-lens 12-megapixel camera with Sony IMX sensors, OIS on wide-angle lens.
- Razer has added Beauty mode and a Portrait mode.
- Front-facing 8-megapixel camera.
- Native camera app has been re-engineered with a sliding top menu, which looks like the Galaxy S9 ($539 at Amazon).
- Razer says it"s the only phone that will play Netflix-certified HDR video with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The goal is to give you a cinematic feel through the stereo speakers.
- 15-watt wireless charger lights up to alerts for Gmail, Facebook, and so on. The phone and wireless charger light up with corresponding colors.
- New themes coming to theme store inspired by games including Tekken, Vainglory and Arena of Valor
||Razer Phone||Razer Phone 2||Asus ROG Phone|
|Display size, resolution||5.72-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels||5.7-inch LCD; 2,560x1,440 pixels; 120Hz screen refresh rate||6-inch AMOLED; 2,160x1,080 pixels; 90Hz screen refresh rate|
|Dimensions (inches)||6.2x3.1x0.31 inches||6.2x3.1x0.33 inches||6.3x3x0.34 inches|
|Weight (ounces, grams)||6.95 oz.; 197g||7.8 oz.; 220g||7 oz.; 200g|
|Mobile software||Android 7.1.1 Nougat||Android 8.1 Oreo (upgrade to Android Pie "soon")||Android 8.1 Oreo|
|Camera||Dual 12-megapixel (wide-angle and zoom)||Dual 12-megapixel (wide-angle and telephoto; wide-angle has IOS)||Dual 12-megapixel and 8-megapixel, dual pixel PDAF|
|Video capture||4K||4K||1,080p HD|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.8GHz)||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.96GHz)|
|Storage||64GB||32GB or 64GB||128GB or 512GB|
|Expandable storage||Up to 2TB||Up to 2TB||None|
|Fingerprint sensor||Power button||Right spine||Back|
|Special features||120Hz screen, dual front-facing stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos||120GHz screen refresh rate, water resistant (IP68), wireless charging, gaming dock accessory (sold separately)||Gaming accessories includes gamepad and dual-display dock (sold separately)|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$699||$799||TBA|
|Price (GBP)||£699||Converts to about £615||TBA|
||Converts to about AU$915||Converts to about AU$1,105||TBA|