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What we want to see in its next gaming phone

When it was revealed that Razer, a company best known for its hardcore gaming products for PCs and consoles, was going to launch its own smartphone in late 2017, many observers were highly skeptical that it could make an impression on an already crowded market. However, the first Razer Phone’s debut in November of 2017 turned out to be a pleasant surprise for the most part.

It included high-end hardware specs with features that are still not found on any other smartphones, most notably its 120Hz display that offers higher refresh rates for the games that support it. The initial price of the first Razer Phone was also fairly reasonable at $699.99, although the company has since offered the phone at lower prices with limited discount events. The first Razer Phone also kicked off a mini-trend in the industry, with several phones marketed at gamers either released or announced in 2018.

While Razer has not revealed any official sales numbers for its first phone, they were apparently good enough that it decided to launch a successor. Razer is holding a press event on October 10 where it will almost certainly reveal the Razer Phone 2. In fact, some of the phone’s hardware and features may have already been leaked.

Even though the Razer Phone 2 specs are almost certainly locked down, we do have a few things we would like to see included in the new version when it is revealed in a few weeks. Hopefully, the Razer Phone 2 will have at least some of these features.

A brighter and bigger display

One of the biggest features in the first Razer Phone was its 5.7-inch IGZO LCD display, which supported a 120Hz refresh rate. This allows developers to create much more fluid-looking mobile games with support for the higher refresh rate. The original Razer Phone also supported what Razer called Ultramotion, which switches the refresh rate on the fly for games which helps to cut down on graphical tearing. All in all, 120Hz makes playing games on the phone a much better experience.

However, in our review of the first Razer Phone, we noted that the display was quite dark when using the handset in broad daylight, even if we cranked up the brightness to full. We would definitely like to see that issue solved for the Razer Phone 2. Also, a display of 5.7 inches was really big a year ago, but in this age of phones that are coming out with 6 inches of screen and more, a larger display for the Razer Phone 2 would also be very nice.

Much better camera software and hardware

The single biggest weakness with the first Razer Phone was its camera hardware and software. Indeed, it looked like the company slapped on the camera features almost as an afterthought, as our review called them “a bit of a mess“. While Razer has released software updates for the phone since then that have updated the camera’s features, there’s really not much of an excuse for launching a high-end phone with cameras that have slow shutter speeds with poor color images.

The truth is any improvements to the Razer Phone 2’s camera would be welcome compared to the first phone. We know that most people who purchase this phone are not looking for Pixel 2-style camera quality, but they are also not looking for sub-par processing and image quality when they take pictures with a phone that costs several hundred dollars. Hopefully, Razer learned some lessons and will deliver a better camera experience with the Razer Phone 2.

More onboard storage

The original Razer Phone had 8GB of RAM, at a time where that kind of memory was almost unheard of inside a smartphone. We expect the Razer Phone 2 to have the same amount of memory inside, which is still plenty for high-end gaming. We also expect that this phone will have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor as well, to keep the Razer Phone 2 on the cutting edge of Android processor speeds.

However, the first Razer Phone only had 64GB of onboard storage. While the phone also had an SD card slot to add more storage, the truth is that gamers prefer to install games on the main storage drive and that 64GB of space can disappear quickly if you are downloading high-end games like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite. We would hope that Razer will launch models with at least double the onboard storage for the Razer Phone 2, if not higher, so players can get the most out of the phone.

Android 9.0 Pie

When the first Razer Phone launched in late 2017, it came with Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, and the phone only got an over-the-air update to Android 8.1 Oreo after several months. For the Razer Phone 2, we would hope that it would launch not with Oreo but with Android 9.0 Pie out of the box. Really, there is no reason why such a high-end smartphone would launch with 2017’s Android OS.

If for some reason, the Razer Phone 2 does indeed launch with Oreo out of the box, we will be disappointed, yes. However, if that does happen, we would also hope that the upgrade to Pie would be very swift, instead of making us wait for months to get it.

Pie in the sky hope: support for Project Linda

At CES 2018 in January, Razer showed off yet another one of its wild “concept” products: Project Linda. It used the design of the company’s impressive Razer Blade Stealth laptop as a docking shell for its Razer Phone. The phone could be placed in the laptop shell where its trackpad would normally be located, and not only could the phone’s display be used as a trackpad, but its hardware could transform the shell into a full PC-style laptop, running on Android.

The demo at CES made a great impression on us, and we could definitely see a lot of reasons why we would get a “Project Linda” laptop shell for the Razer Phone 2.  While it’s unlikely Razer will launch such a shell alongside the release of the Razer Phone 2 in October, perhaps it will release it sometime in early 2019, so that we can extend our use of the Razer Phone 2 so it can become a full-blown Windows-style work PC.

Other things we want to see in the Razer Phone 2

Razer logo at IFA Berlin 2018

There are a few other things that we would like to see in the Razer Phone 2 when it is revealed in a few weeks:

  • More games that support the phone’s 120Hz display refresh rate.
  • The continued use of the great Nova Launcher.
  • The use of the company’s Chroma LED lights and features that are already used in its laptops.
  • A bigger battery than the first phone’s 4,000mAh size.
  • More support for U.S. carriers other than GSM-based networks.

Razer Phone

The Razer Phone 2 has become one of our most anticipated Android phone launches of the fall season. While the original phone was a solid release out of the gate, there was definitely some room for improvement that the Razer Phone 2 will hopefully address when it is revealed on October 10. In the meantime, what do you want to see in the Razer Phone 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


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