Razer Phone Hits This Month, Focuses on High-Fidelity Visuals, Sound

Hits North America and Europe on November 17th for $700

The Razer phone is real, sleek and powerful.

The device, the first smartphone from gaming accessory and laptop maker Razer, aims to set itself apart from the steep competition with a high-end display, twin front-facing Dolby speakers, the same processor found in Google’s new Pixel 2 and Samsung’s new S8 phones and more memory than either.

Named simply the Razer phone, the device uses something that the company is calling an Ultramotion Display, which is a 5.72-inch IGZO LCA screen that runs at 120 Hz and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3.

“If you think about when Razer enters a new category, we typically do it when the capability of publicly available hardware lags behind the progress of software and content that we want to more fully enjoy,” Razer co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan tells Glixel. “The normal tack for hardware makers – phone brands included – is to limit and normalize content performance to what their devices can handle.

“As a gamer company dedicated to user experiences, that simply doesn’t make sense to us. Our community needs products that keep up with speed of entertainment software development, not ones that throttle or underexploit them. Don’t get me wrong, we love making incredible tech but not just for the sake of making the next such-and-such or expanding into new market category.”

In this particular case, that means addressing what Tan sees as the need for faster, smoother, brighter video and gaming speeds with its displace.

“A first for smartphones,” Tan says. “We solved for a better cinematic audio experience with Dolby ATMOS technology and two front-firing speakers with dedicated amplifiers, and THX-certified adapter that guarantees audiophile-quality sound with headphones. We ensured Razer Phone has the memory and power supply that mobile gamers demand with 8 GB of RAM, software and features to maximize power and performance, and a 4,000 mAh battery that uses Qualcomm Quick Charge technology to power-up rapidly.

“Gamers are everywhere, gaming on everything at any given time. They’re demanding better quality while they’re gaming, watching movies/ television or listening to music. We’re not getting into the phone business; the phone business is coming to us.”

While the Razer phone seems packed with new, cutting edge technology, it also doesn’t seem particularly aligned with something you would call a gamer’s phone or even one created by Razer.

The phone doesn’t include, for instance, the company’s Chrome lighting or any of Razer’s software pre-loaded.

Tan says the company wanted to steer clear of bloatware, but believes that its characteristic “game slant” is evident in the design.

“The most celebrated industrial designers of our time have put their all into perfecting the modern smartphone form factor,” he says. “If and when it needs to be modified, we will step up to solve for that; but for now, the basic design is great.

“That said, we did put our characteristic gamer slant on and in Razer Phone. It has a sleek military-grade aluminum chassis and internal thermal engineering which nods to our high-performance laptop advancements. We put 8 GB of RAM in it, memory that rivals top-end laptops. A 120 Hz, Ultramotion display screams gaming performance, as well as unmatched video playback. Razer Game Booster was adapted for mobile to minimize background processes and noncritical apps, improving game performance and extending batter life. We have dual Dolby ATMOS speakers with dual amplifiers driving a proper cinematic experience, and ensured headphone use is flawless with the help of THX. I think it’s more than fair to say we included gaming-centric factors into the device.”

While Razer has a long history of innovation and testing the bounds of tech and gadget, a lot of those products either never make it fruition or are discontinued once they don’t find a big enough audience.

Tan declined to talk about Razer’s specific future plans for smartphones, but said this latest device is not a test.

“We on boarded the staff of Nextbit specifically to advance our mobile programs,” he says. “We don’t do much testing, we simply make what we know our community wants and needs.

“Presently, we’re offering up to two-years of support for the Razer Phone. Mobile device use is growing, the gamer lifestyle is increasingly mobile, and phones are the de-facto vehicle for on-the-go communication and content, so I don’t see our focus waning anytime soon. Our fans demand the best hardware for gaming, watching movies and shows, and listening to music, so we’re steadfast today.”

I spent a few minutes with the Razer phone at a pre-briefing last month and found the surprisingly sleek and light. The screen, especially when playing games, appeared at first-blush to be among the best I've seen and the sound was certainly the strongest and most immersive I've heard coming out of phone speakers. The most interesting element to me, though, was the placement of the fingerprint reader, which is located on the side power button, a much more intuitive location for turning a phone on and off and a quick fingerprint security check.

Razer Phone Specs
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform
System Memory: 8GB dual channel (LPDDR4, 1600MHz)
Storage Internal: 64GB UFS External: microSD (class 10, 2TB max.)
Display: 5.72-inch IGZO LCD 1440 x 2560 120 Hz, Wide Color Gamut (WCG), Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Rear Cameras: 12MP AF f1.75 Wide 12MP AF f2.6 Zoom Dual PDAF Dual tone, dual LED flash
Front Camera: 8MP FF f2.0
Sound: Stereo Front facing speakers Dual Amplifiers, Audio Adapter with THX certified DAC
Power: 4000 mAh lithium-ion battery Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0+
Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Bluetooth 4.2 NFC
Bands: GSM: Quad-band GSMUMTS: B1/2/3/4/5/8 LTE:B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/66 TDD LTE: B38/39/40/41TD-SCDMA: B34/39 Size 158.5 x 77.7 x 8 mm 6.24 x 3.06 x 0.31 in 197g
Android Version: Nougat 7.1.1