Razer Phone help usher in a new era for mobile gaming
In 1958, when physicist William Higinbotham created what is widely believed to be the first video game – a simple tennis game, similar to the classic 1970s video game Pong – a revolution was started that gave birth to what has now become one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world.
Over the next few decades, video games grew exponentially in popularity and soon started to move out of our living rooms and on to the streets with the launch of the first Nintendo Gameboy in 1989. Fair to say, by then, they had already transcended from just being tools of recreation to becoming a culture in itself that had a whole generation hooked to it like a drug.
With advancements in silicon technology, the charm of gaming only grew and gaming today has become an inseparable part of our everyday lives, thus making it all the more baffling to understand why we had to wait until the end of 2017 for a smartphone that has been truly crafted for gaming and hardcore gamers.
Enter the Razer Phone. A smartphone conceptualized and designed by Razer – a brand known for its gaming peripherals and laptops – with gaming and only gaming in mind. However, this gamer-focused device because of its top-of-the-line-specs and Nextbit Robin inspired design surprisingly ends up looking like a well-rounded smartphone that is as recommended for your average user as it is for your next door gamer.
But we’ll get to that a bit later. For now, let’s talk about the phone and what it brings to the table.
Design to die for? Let’s keep it simple
Like we’ve mentioned quite a few times already, this is a device built with gaming in mind, and that is something which shows the moment you first set your eyes on the phone.
The Razer Phone as such looks nothing like the smartphones that currently dominate the market and comes with some bold yet understandable design choices that not only make it good for gaming, but also mark it out as a device you should definitely be looking at if you’re bored of the fragile glass back and 18:9 edge-to-edge display fad that the industry looks to be so smitten by these days.
Designed by the team at Nextbit – a company that was bought by Razer last year – the phone draws from the DNA of the company’s crowdfunded smartphone, Robin, which came with a box-like rectangular design with sharp edges. The design scheme now finds the way to the Razer Phone along with the dual front-firing speakers that have been improved upon to bring two full-fledged speaker grilles at the front of the phone with Dolby Atmos built in.
These speaker grilles apart from helping improve the audio also hold the front camera of the phone and serve as resting pads for your fingers while you enjoy gaming in landscape mode on the Razer Phone.
Like the Robin, the volume rocker, power button, and the fingerprint scanner are all placed on the left and right side of the phone.
At the back, the phone is all metal that bears Razer’s snakehead logo in black. And that’s that. No fancy curved glass, or shiny HTC U11 like acrylic color-changing back. The Razer Phone here tries to keep it simple – if not too simple – and will as such appeal to buyers looking for a sturdy device.
Under the hood
Like its gaming-centric laptops, the Razer Phone brings to the table top-of-the-line specs to flawlessly run any game you throw at it. This also doubles up into making it rival, and at times even beat, top-of-the-line flagship smartphones. TThe chipset on board is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 which comes with an Adreno 540 GPU paired with 8 Gigs of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. To power all this, the phone has a 4,000mAh battery with QuickCharge 4.0+ technology neatly tucked inside the boxy frame of the Razer Phone.
In comparison, most other Android flagships come with 6GB RAM and a battery pack that also falls below the one that’s found on Razer’s smartphone.
There are also dual 12-megapixel rear cameras, and there’s also no headphone jack but includes a USB Type-C to 3.5mm jack headphone adapter if you need to plug in your headphones.
Another important aspect of any gaming machine – and the Razer Phone is one – is its thermal handling. Razer’s offering excels here too. Instead of using separate fins to dissipate heat, Razer has used the metal frame of the phone as a heatsink that it uses the phone from overheating and running at full throttle throughout your gaming/work sessions.
Super smooth display
The smartphone sports a 5.72-inch Quad HD IGZO LCD display that Razer claims is the first 120Hz Ultramotion panel ever fitted on a smartphone. It is important to note that a display with such a high frame rate is unheard for smartphones as most of them max out at 60Hz, but this excess that the company has introduced for gaming eventually helps the Razer Phone truly shine.
The device’s display that is optimised for gaming and promises fast refresh rates and zero lag while playing games also ends up delivering more than just crisp and sharp images during normal usage. Not just that, the 120Hz rated display, according to reviewer Marques Brownlee, also results in improving the user’s interactions with the UI, making the Android experience feel even snappier than on Google’s Pixel 2 phones.
Even Wired’s David Pierce was full of praise for the display in his review where he went on to add, “I’ve never scrolled so smoothly on an Android phone, and a quick demo of Riptide GP: Renegade, one of my fave mobile games ever, felt and looked incredible.”
The phone also has the inbuilt tech for cracking the frame rate down for movies and videos which usually max out at 24 frames, thus ensuring that the overall multimedia experience on the phone is optimised to the fullest.
Make mobile gaming popular?
Well, that’s the million dollar question and we will have to wait to get an answer. Undeniably, the Razer Phone with its design and internals is a step in the right direction. With its internals and super smooth 120Hz diplay, it has all the tools to facilitate great gaming sessions, but as we’ve seen before from the days going as far back as the first Nintendo Gameboy, gaming on a mobile platform is more than just about the hardware or the features that the phone offers.
The buck eventually stops at the games on offer, and quite frankly there are very few mobile games on offer that can provide an immersive experience that gaming enthusiasts can find playing popular first person shooter or even sport simulation games on gaming rigs and consoles.
There is a need for mobile games and the whole gaming ecosystem – especially on Android – to evolve, and maybe this where devices like Razer Phone come into play as they could provide the industry with an impetus to do so.
Razer’s already started to play its part here. The company claims that it has started working with major game developers – including Final Fantasy XV, Lineage 2: Revolution, Tekken, and Titanfall – to bring out game titles that go beyond the 30- and 60-frame barrier, and if it manages to convince them to bring games that can go as high as 120 FPS, then it will only signal the beginning of a renewed attempt at bringing mobile gaming to a point where it can rival the consoles and even dedicated gaming rigs some day.
At $699 (approx Rs 45,000) at least for now, the Razer Phone is a device that can give you the best possible gaming experience on the Android platform with its big battery, heatsinks, and powerful SoC that serve as a great phone to run emulated games on.