Razer Phone 2 review: A powerful gaming phone with a dash of flagship panache – CNET

Update, Nov. 15: Following a firmware update, we retested the Razer Phone 2 and found improvement in the overall image quality of photos and in the stability of the native camera app. The update did not improve battery life in our tests, however. We have now added full ratings to this review, which was originally published on Oct. 22.

Last year’s original Razer Phone entered the phone market like a cowboy through swinging doors at a saloon. It grabbed attention for its rectangular design, 120Hz screen and horsepower. But it lacked the polish and features of other flagship phones and was viewed as more of a “gaming phone” oddity.

The new Razer Phone 2 fixes those flagship gripes without losing the soul of the original. In fact, the new phone has the same “monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey” design vibe while adding IP67 water resistance, wireless charging, a camera portrait mode and an even brighter 120Hz screen.


However, all is not rosy with Razer’s newest phone. “Flagship features” come at a cost, literally. The Razer Phone 2 costs $800 (or £780, which converts to AU$1,430). That nets you 64GB of storage, but it’s $100 more than last year’s Razer and puts the phone in the same price range as the Google Pixel 3 and iPhone XR. The phone is compatible with 2TB microSD cards, however, if you wish to expand the storage.

Its cameras have improved hardware, but image quality is just OK. Photos and videos currently suffer from moire and color banding.

Despite having a honking 4,000-mAh battery, the Razer Phone 2 performed poorly in CNET’s battery test for continuous video playback on airplane mode. In real-world usage, however, it made it through a day of use — including a few sessions of 120Hz gaming — just fine.

If you live on a diet of movies and mobile video games, the Razer Phone 2 is worth a look. But if you want a great camera and a phone that can make it through more than a day on a charge, take a look at the cheaper OnePlus 6 or the Galaxy Note 9.


Razer Phone 2’s boxy design gets Gorilla Glass 5 and a cool extra

The Razer Phone 2’s blocky design won’t be to everyone’s liking, but I find it unique and alluring. The squared edges are reminiscent of the iPhone 5 and fit well in my hand, especially in landscape orientation. I have large hands, however, and in a smaller pair of mitts this phone might be more than a handful. I like that I can confidently stand the Razer Phone 2 on its side to watch a movie or capture a video.

And in case you’re wondering, there’s no notch. Instead, you’ll find a chunky forehead and chin housing two of the loudest speakers I’ve ever heard on a phone. Seriously, play Bohemian Rhapsody or Liquid Swords by GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, tap on that Dolby button, select Music — and you’re welcome. These speakers are all the more impressive when you consider they were completely redesigned to make the phone IP67 water-resistant.

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The $99 wireless charging dock puts on a light show every time you charge your phone.Patrick Holland/CNET

The phone has a cool chroma logo on the back that isn’t just there for looks: It actually glows when you get notifications. So when new texts or Snapchat messages come in, the logo lights up. You can also customize the color, brightness of the glow and determine whether it’s static or not. There’s an idle mode in which the logo brightens and dims as if the phone is breathing — it lured several coworkers to my desk with its visual siren song.

The Gorilla Glass 5 back allows for wireless charging which is made all the more fun if you buy the $99 Razer Phone 2 wireless charger. Place your phone on the stand and the edges of the base light up like Rainbow Road from Mario Kart.

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Posted by News Monkey