Take your smartphone. Swipe home screen, scroll down a web page. Is everything fast and fluid? If the answer is "yes", it is because you have never tried the Razer Phone.
This mobile is a foretaste of the future. If you buy one today, you'll enjoy technology that will appear later in many phones: a screen that refreshes 120 times per second. This completely transforms the usage.
To illustrate this, it's like moving from a fuzzy web page to a page whose text is so crisp and clear that you can read it as it goes by. When you tap the screen to launch an app or control a game, the sensation is the fastest we've ever experienced. It is not the fact of the processor, but the screen that displays the information faster than other mobiles. Razer is the first to offer a 120 Hz screen, the others are usually half.
But for the rest, the Razer Phone has nothing of a phone more than 700 euros. Both the design and features, autonomy and especially the camera are not up to the latest iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel. The comparison with the OnePlus 5T is not favorable to him either.
A Mobile Game Console?
Not really. The Razer Phone is the first mobile brand Razer known for its keyboards, mice, headsets and laptops dedicated to video games. But just like the Stealth Blade which is a thin laptop without a powerful graphics card, the Razer Phone is not necessarily geared for gaming. It can run all existing games like other high-end Android smartphones, but there is no noticeable difference in graphics.
Despite this, we would rather play on the Razer Phone rather than on another model. The 120Hz display combined with Razer software provides smoother and more responsive gaming sensations in many titles we've tried. The Razer Game Booster app adjusts the maximum CPU frequency and screen refresh rate for each game by even applying an antialiasing filter for those who want it. We can not force the 120 Hz for all games, but many accept it.
However, we will not go so far as to say that the Razer is the best mobile for the game, simply because it is often the iPhone that has the scoop of new titles. In addition, it is not compatible with virtual reality headsets like Gear VR or Daydream as is the case of most high-end Android smartphones.
Deceptive sound and imposing design
The speakers of smartphones are generally quite mediocre, offering a weak and / or deformed sound. Not to mention that it is quite easy to smother them with his hand while manipulating the mobile. But Razer is an exception. The manufacturer has thought of his smartphone to include a pair of stereo speakers that are so powerful and clear that it is amazing to see them fit in a phone.
We have listened to hours of music on this Razer and are really impressed. Of course, they will not defy the laws of physics with very powerful bass, but they can easily fill a small room if you listen to music or watch a movie with friends. Notebook makers would do well to draw inspiration from it …
That said, this exceptional audio system has forced Razer to make painful concessions in design . This is indeed why the mobile is the size of an iPhone 8 Plus, with huge borders at the top and bottom in which are housed the speakers. This is also the reason advanced to justify the fact that the smartphone is not waterproof and does not have a headphone jack. At a time when almost all manufacturers are struggling to accommodate large screens in compact formats, the Razer Phone looks like a big block that will deform your pockets of clothing.
Let us nuance all the same this judgment while greeting the attractive side of this monoblock design in very square aluminum monolithic way of 2001: the Odyssey of the space . The rounded corners make the contact pleasant, you feel a beautiful impression of quality in the finish, until the click of the volume button and the way the drawer of the SIM card slides smoothly. The embossed Razer logo on the back of the device also makes it easy to grip. In the end, even if it is very imposing, this smartphone gives off an impression of reassuring solidity.
Apart from this clutter problem, we have no other reproach to make him, maybe put off the power button which also makes fingerprint reader that the it can be hard to find blindly.
The camera must progress
A smartphone 700 euros from a manufacturer who lands on the market and whose camera double sensor is poor, does it tell you something? We think not only of the Razer but also of the Essential Phone. But good news, the Razer camera is still better than the Essential Phone. He beats it easily on well-lit clichés, with more details and less grain. In addition, the second photo sensor has a 2x optical zoom that really works. Confronted with an iPhone 8, the zoom Razer can capture more details.
But the positives stop there. Because the application is slow, the viewfinder is jerky and the shots in low light are mediocre. Without optical image stabilization and an effective autofocus, to succeed his photographs requires to take again several times.
Moreover, the software of treatment makes the blues and the greens so glowing that the photos of sky and grass give the impression of having been treated with a saturated Instagram filter. The HDR mode is so dubious that we recommend to forget it. Processing an image takes well over a second and the result is consistently worse with HDR than without.
The optical zoom is certainly effective, but its use is no less ergonomic: you have to pinch to zoom to the right place to activate the second camera and you do not know how much you enlarge. We had to put a finger in front of the lens as a reference to know where we were going.
The iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X have a dedicated software button to manage the zoom level. Razer said he planned to add one in a future update.
The other things to know
Autonomy is not great for a 4000 mAh battery . The Razer held 11:32 minutes to our endurance test. In common use, we always arrived at bedtime on a single charge. On the other hand, the autonomy was weakening dangerously during long sessions of play in 120Hz.
The refresh rate of the screen is adjustable. By default, the phone is set to 90 Hz. It can be clamped at 60 Hz to improve battery life but we have not seen much difference, mainly because the phone automatically adjusts the refresh rate according to the use.
- – The pure performances are nothing exceptional. The Razer Phone is one of the fastest phones we have ever tested, but the test stands show that other smartphones equipped with a Snapdragon 835 do as well.
- – Top speakers are the best we've heard on a mobile, but they're not as good as a Bluetooth speaker or a JBL Soundboost module for Motorola's Moto Z.
- – The screen is great to read in bed without waking up your partner.
- – There is no wireless charge.
- – No decision headset but the phone comes with a USB-C cable with a jack. The headphones are not supplied.
- – Oddly enough, the excellent audio performance is not found for hands-free calls that lack power. Razer planned to improve this during an update.
In the end so behind the screen 120 Hz, the Razer Phone fishing on too many points to shade the big market. However, it is a first test sufficiently convincing for one to want to see a version 2.