Razer Phone 2 Hands-On: Meaningful Incremental Upgrades
January 17, 2019 Andrew Cheng

Surprise surprise, the Razer Phone 2 has just been officially launched in Malaysia. It’s a pleasant surprise, considering the fact that the first Razer Phone never made it to the Malaysian market – officially, that is.

Sporting some upgrades here and there, the Razer Phone 2 doesn’t look all that different from its predecessor. While it still retains the unconventional angular design, the Razer Phone 2 does come with a number of meaningful upgrades under the hood.

If you’re into mobile gaming, this may be the right phone for you.

The standout feature of the Razer Phone 2 is its 5.72-inch UltraMotion IGZO display with a 120Hz refresh rate; a rare feature for any given smartphone. Thanks to the high refresh rate, the phone feels extremely fluid. In fact, just navigating through the Razer Phone 2’s menu is a pleasant experience.

Animations appear smoother, the high refresh rate give the illusion of extra responsiveness (it’s a plenty responsive phone, of course), and chances are, you will notice the difference the 120Hz display brings. As for the display quality itself, it’s quite good with punchy colours and a high 2560 x 1440 resolution.

But unlike most phones in the market now, the Razer Phone 2 is still sticking with a 16:9 display. As a result, it is much wider and shorter than other phones with taller 18:9 screens. Personally, I would’ve preferred a taller display, but hey, at least it’s a good quality screen.

Aside from that, the Razer Phone 2 also has pretty darn big bezels at the top and bottom of the display, giving it a…well, dated-looking design. But to Razer’s credit, the bezels do house a pair of excellent front-facing stereo speakers; this feature alone may be worth the sacrifice for certain folks.

Speaking of design, the Razer Phone 2 is unmistakably a large, thick phone. It can feel unwieldy – especially for those with smaller hands – and tipping the scales at 220g, it’s a hefty phone too. On top of that, the square, angular shape of the phone is not particularly appealing.

Thankfully, the build quality of the Razer Phone 2 is really good. It feels solid, it is IP67-rated, and the glass back gives the phone a premium look and feel. Oh, of course, the Razer logo on the back of the phone now comes with the company’s signature Chroma lighting too.

Performance is, without a doubt, excellent on the Razer Phone 2. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset paired with 8GB of RAM (as well as 64GB of expandable storage), gaming on this phone is really fun and enjoyable, especially with the fast 120Hz display.

Yes, the Snapdragon 845 isn’t quite as good as the Snapdragon 855 chipset – which will ship with most 2019 flagship smartphones – but the 845 is still the best SoC from Qualcomm at this point in time in a consumer-ready device.

As for battery life, I’m positive the Razer Phone 2 can return at least a day’s worth of usability on a single charge. After all, it features a generous 4,000mAh cell, which should be large enough to get all-day battery life. The phone also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ technology and wireless charging.

Given the Razer Phone 2’s heavy focus on gaming, it’s perhaps not surprising that the phone’s camera performance leaves much to be desired. In low light conditions, the 12MP f/1.75 + 12MP f/2.6 (telephoto) dual camera system feels particularly sluggish, and it takes much too long to get proper exposure. Basically, it’s not a pleasant phone to photograph with.

That being said, I’ve only managed to test out the Razer Phone 2’s camera for a brief moment; I would need to spend more time with it to give a fair assessment. Besides, I’m sure the camera can deliver good results when shooting under ideal lighting – same goes to the 8MP f/2.0 front-facing shooter.

If you plan to get the Razer Phone 2 purely for gaming, it will serve you very well. Its fast 120Hz display will make for a very pleasant gaming experience, and the Snapdragon 845 chipset is more than capable at delivering a good level of performance.

However, you will have to consider if the Razer Phone 2’s steep asking price is worth it. Retailing at RM3,449 in Malaysia, it is one of the most costly flagship smartphones in the market now, retailing at about the same price point as its biggest competition: the Asus ROG Phone.

I can’t say with absolute certainty yet if the Razer Phone 2 is worth recommending, but I do think it’s one of very few devices that really lives up to the status of a proper “gaming smartphone.” If you’re an avid mobile gamer, give the Razer Phone 2 a gander; along with the equally compelling ROG Phone, of course.