Camera and Conclusion
Arguably the most difficult feature to get right on a premium handset is the camera, whose performance depends more upon software implementation than any other feature. Specs suggest it ought to be decent as the sensors are broadly comparable to the Apple iPhone 8 Plus or Samsung Galaxy Note 8 on paper.
The real-world results aren't that impressive and I believe this has to do with the software. The phone takes reasonable photos in good light, but as you can see below, struggles somewhat on an overcast day. Drilling down further, it appears as if doesn't want to jack-up the ISO to compensate for the low-ish light, leaving photos looking soft and lacking serious detail where not enough light is being pulled in by the sensor. Notice how dark the trees are in the first picture?
Click for full-size pics - Picture 1 Picture 2
Click for full-size pics - Picture 3 Picture 4
Support for HDR is present but putting it into this mode bogs down the phone significantly and makes it really slow. I'd hazard that future software updates could solve the camera-related problems to a large degree, though given how important cameras are to the overall smartphone experience, this is an area where Razer needs to up its game quickly. Capturing 4K video suffers from a lack of image stabilisation, as well.
I still come away with the feeling that Razer ought to be commended for trying something different...
There is a plethora of good premium Android smartphones based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform. Most feature high-quality screens, ample resolution, solid battery life and impressive cameras. Going against the grain of Android, premium handsets have become increasingly homogenous.
It is into this fray that Razer, the PC gaming specialist, enters with the release of its first smartphone. The company understands that another me-too product isn't going to cut it so plays to its strengths by launching a phone with gamer-centric technology in the form of an adaptive-framerate screen capable of outputting at 120Hz. Together with the best-sounding smartphone speakers I've ever heard, the audio-visual prowess of the Razer Phone is considerable.
Yet for all the good, question-marks do remain. There aren't that many games which can truly take advantage of the Razer-specific technology - other Snapdragon-powered handsets do a fine job at most Android titles - and this is an issue with the operating system more than any failing on Razer's part. Will developers want to add explicit support for a niche gaming audience? History with Nvidia's Shield streaming device, packing in some serious GPU horsepower, indicates otherwise.
General performance is good but the battery life and camera are both below average for a handset firmly entrenched in the premium category. Razer's smart in pricing the phone at £699, thus avoiding direct comparisons with the best that Apple and Samsung have to offer, and it falls into the middle ground between them and cheaper phones such as the One Plus 5T and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2.
I still come away with the feeling that Razer ought to be commended for trying something different in a crowded ecosystem. As an effort for a first phone, and one that rocks features not seen anywhere else, it has enough of a unique selling point to attract interest from a niche gaming audience. A brilliant all-rounder? Nope, but it is a refreshing kind of different in the premium Android space.
Like nothing else out there
Clean Android build
Reasonable price for premium handset
Camera is below average
Screen not as bright as most
Battery life mediocre
The Razer Phone is available to purchase direct from Razer.
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