Gaming phones have gone from a strange niche to a commonplace release in the last year. The first Razer Phone arrived with good specs and an amazing display, and it was quickly joined by the Honor Play and the Red Magic Phone. Even Samsung started marketing the Galaxy Note 9 as a gaming phone. It hasn’t stopped there though, and we’ll soon see the release of the Asus ROG Phone and Xiaomi’s Black Shark phone. With such a suddenly swollen market, is there now room for yet another gaming-focused smartphone?
Razer seems to think so, and it’s throwing down a mighty gauntlet with the release of the Razer Phone 2. With new top specs, an improved camera, and new RGB lighting thrown in by default, here’s absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Release date and availability
After the pre-order period, the Razer Phone 2 is now available for $799 — though you can get it for even cheaper given a few deals that are currently going on. If you buy the phone through Amazon, Best Buy, or the Microsoft Store, you’ll get the phone for $100 off, which comes out to a total of $700. On top of that, if you bring the phone from another major carrier to Verizon and activate it on Verizon, you’ll get a $250 Prepaid MasterCard. These deals are valid until February 7, 2019.
A satin-finish model is also available for $899, but it comes with double the internal storage. While initially it was thought that the phone wouldn’t work on Verizon, Verizon announced that it has certified the phone on its network — so you can get the Razer Phone 2 from Best Buy and bring it to Verizon for activation. The phone works perfectly fine on T-Mobile and AT&T, too — though you can’t use it on Sprint.
Design and display
2018 seems to be showcasing a trend for slightly tweaked designs. Like the Galaxy S9 and iPhone XS, the Razer Phone 2’s design hasn’t changed an awful lot when compared to the original Razer Phone. The Razer Phone 2 is more or less the same size as its predecessor and shares the same chunky top and bottom bezel that houses the phone’s impressive Dolby-tuned front-facing stereo speakers. Razer claims its made these speakers even louder and clearer than the previous phone, which would be impressive — the Razer Phone housed some of the loudest phone speakers we’ve ever come across.
But flip the phone over and there are more differences to be found. The back panel is now made from Gorilla Glass 5 (enabling wireless charging) and the dual camera lenses have been moved to a more central position. There’s a big immediate change on the back though, and the Razer branding now comes alive with RGB lights. Powered by Razer’s Razer Chroma tech, the logo glows with 16.8 million colors, reacts to notifications, and can be customized with lighting effects like Static, Spectrum Cycling, and Breathing. It’s similar to the RGB strip on the Red Magic Phone, and we can’t wait to take it for a spin.
You’ll find the same 5.7-inch UltraMotion LCD display with a 120Hz refresh rate on the front of the Razer Phone 2. This was definitely one of the most impressive features of the original Razer Phone, and the 120Hz framerate provided incredibly smooth gaming and day-to-day use. It’s something you have to see to truly believe. Razer claims it has tinkered with the screen on the Razer Phone 2 a little though, as the newer phone’s display is brighter than its predecessor.
Razer has also added water-resistance to the Razer Phone 2, adding an IP67 rating that should mean it will survive a drop into a pool or the bath.
Specs and battery
The Razer Phone 2 is marketed as a flagship and gaming-focused phone, so it’s fitting that such a phone comes with the most powerful hardware to make sure of top performance.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor powers the Razer Phone 2, as it has for many of this year’s biggest flagships. It’s an exceptionally powerful chip, and we expect strong performance both from normal usage and in demanding mobile games. Razer claims a performance boost of 30 percent compared to the Razer Phone, and that seems likely with this powerful new processor. Similar to the Galaxy Note 9, there’s a special cooling system to keep the chip cool during strenuous use — the Razer vapor chamber that provides a wide surface area for heat to dissipate, and helps to draw heat away from components.
That processing power is backed up by a huge 8GB of RAM, which should keep the phone ticking through a load of multitasking. There’s a slightly smaller amount of storage with just 64GB available onboard, but you’ll be able to boost that by up to 1TB, thanks to the MicroSD card slot. A satin-finish Razer Phone 2 will also be available for $100 more, and it comes with 128GB of storage.
All that power requires some serious juice, and that’s why there’s a monster battery on board. The Razer Phone 2 comes with a huge 4,000mAh battery that should keep the phone ticking throughout the day. Wireless charging is now available, thanks to the glass back, and there’s superfast USB-C charging with QuickCharge 4.0+, which Razer claims will charge half the battery in 30 minutes.
Software and special features
You’ll find Android 8.1 Oreo on the Razer Phone 2, and it comes with Nova Launcher pre-installed, ensuring a high-level of customization. There’s no word as to when an Android 9.0 Pie update will be incoming, but Razer was pretty fast in updating the original Razer Phone to Android 8.0 Oreo, so it’s fair to expect a similar sharp turnaround for the Razer Phone 2.
It’s likely to be a mostly stock Android experience, but Razer has added some software to make your gaming life a little more pleasant. Razer’s new Razer Cortex app will be preinstalled, and it will organize your mobile gaming collection, optimize performance with Game Booster, and suggest 120Hz-compatible games as well. There’s also a Razer Theme store, where gaming fans will be pleased to find themes to match their PUBG Mobile, Tekken, or Vainglory gameplay.
The Razer Phone 2 has been optimized to work well with particular apps too. Netflix has officially certified the phone for HDR video content and Dolby Surround 5.1 audio content, and Razer promises the phone will also provide excellent performance in games like PUBG Mobile, Rival Crimson x Chaos, Marvel Future Fight, Guns of Boom, RuneScape and more.
Awesome new accessories
Just in case you thought a new gaming phone wasn’t enough, Razer is also releasing some new accessories to go along with your gaming.
Razer Raiju controller
The Razer Raiju is a controller for your phone that comes with a built-in mobile mounting system and a Bluetooth connection to ensure that you’re getting the best out of your gaming. It has four remappable buttons, hair-trigger mode, and Razer Mecha-Tactile action buttons. You can customize its use with an app, and it works with a wide variety of phones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above, and works in a bunch of games, including Vainglory, Lineage 2, and Dead Trigger 2.
The Razer Raiju will be available later this year, and will cost $150.
Razer Hammerhead USB-C headphones
There’s no headphone jack on the Razer Phone 2, but you can still get the best possible audio experience with Razer’s Hammerhead USB-C headphones.
It uses Dual Driver technology to deliver the best possible balance of bass and trebles, while a built-in digital to audio converter (DAC) also helps to boost the quality of your sound. The headphones also draw power from your phone for active noise cancellation, keeping you fully immersed in your gaming or music.
They also come with Comply foam tips for a comfortable and secure fit, while tangle-free cables and a solid aluminum frame mean they’re durable as well. The Hammerhead headphones will launch on Razer’s online store from October 22 and will cost $100.
You do get a 24-bit 3.5mm headphone jack to USB-C DAC in the box, in case you want to keep using your wired headphones.
You’ll find a pair of 12-megapixel lenses on the back of the Razer Phone 2 — a primary lens with optical image stabilization, and a secondary lens with a 2x optical zoom. On paper, it seems to be the same disappointing camera suite we saw on the original Razer Phone — though Razer claims to have worked on the camera’s interface, and image quality should be much improved thanks to the use of Sony sensors. The barebones camera app was another of our issues with the original phone, and a more fully featured app could help push the Razer Phone 2 beyond its predecessor.
On the front, you’ll find an 8-megapixel selfie lens, which supports taking 1080p video. The rear-facing cameras are more impressive, being able to record in 4K.
Updated on January 17, 2018: The Razer Phone 2 is available for $100 off.