Razer's first smartphone ticks all the right boxes

The Razer Phone may be a mite too wide for regular phone users, but gamers will welcome the stable grip it provides in landscape mode.
The Razer Phone may be a mite too wide for regular phone users, but gamers will welcome the stable grip it provides in landscape mode.ST PHOTO: LESTER HIO

Gaming peripheral firm Razer's debut smartphone, the simply-named Razer Phone, sticks to what the company knows best: gaming.

On first impression, the Razer Phone is a surprisingly good first crack at a smartphone, checking off all the boxes for a modern flagship.

With a 5.7-inch display featuring a 120hz refresh rate, Snapdragon 835 processor, 8GB of RAM, 4,000mAh battery and Dolby Atmos-powered front-facing speakers, the Razer Phone is, on paper, a dream phone for spec-chasers, even though it follows the annoying trend of dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack.

It holds its own against current flagship phones like the iPhone X, Samsung Note8 and Google Pixel 2 XL.

The Razer Phone's screen is sharp and crisp, with good colour vibrancy and contrast. It is the first smartphone to be released worldwide with a 120hz refresh rate, although Japanese firm Sharp - which also made the Razer Phone's IGZO LCD display - has already slapped a similar feature on its Japan-only Aquos R smartphone line.

The visual bump with going from 60hz to 120hz is subtle, even in-game, but games do look smoother and crisper. Responsiveness, however, is more readily apparent - the screen just flies while scrolling through menus, Twitter feeds and long webpages, with minimal lag and stuttering.

The Razer Phone is a stout, wide phone, which is impractical for one-handed use. But its wideness translates into a better holding grip when using the phone in landscape mode - which is what most games use. In that position, its width makes it ergonomically efficient, which, when combined with its matte aluminium body, gives a good, stable grip be it while rotating the phone in racing game Asphalt 8, or tapping in fighting game Tekken.

I enjoyed its massive dual front-facing stereo speakers.

They are incredibly loud - beating the maximum volume of other phones at only 50 per cent of its own - but lack bass response and distort noticeably near maximum volume.

The speakers also add thick top and bottom bezels to the phone.

The camera is where the Razer Phone falls short of market leaders. Quick test shots show decent image quality with faithful colour reproduction and decent detail.

But the shooting process can be improved, as it has noticeable shutter lag in low-light conditions. Action shots tend to be a bit blurred too, as the camera has trouble re-adjusting its focus quickly.

The Razer Phone is a strong debut effort for the company although its mainstream, non-gamer appeal remains to be seen.

It will be launched in the US and selected European markets on Nov 17, with no word yet on local pricing and availability.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'Razer's first smartphone ticks all the right boxes'. Subscribe