A lot of good and a lot of bad

Approximately a year ago, I purchased the Razer Phone 2. It was on sale from Razer for an affordable $500, and my Pixel 2 charging port was having issues. For the price point, it made sense to upgrade at a much lower cost than a new Pixel or comparable phone would have cost. I can’t also forget the allure of having a phone dedicated to gaming from a company as prestigious as Razer. After all, they make some wonderful laptops and top-of-the-line gaming accessories.

The Razer Phone 2 has a lot going for it on paper. Its 120Hz UltraMotion Display projects gorgeous visuals at a rate that few phones still compare to. It rolls with a Snapdragon 845, so its a capable processor. It’s 4000 mAH battery leaves a lot to be desired, even at the time I purchased it, but we’ll spend more time on that later. The Razer Phone 2 features a USB-C charging slot, which creates a reliable and hasty charge time. Unfortunately, the phone features no port for your headphones, so you’ll need the accompanying USB-C adaptor. 

The Good

Razer is known for its ability to ship high quality gaming machines, and the Razer Phone 2 certainly lives up to much of that name. I consistently play Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Marvel: Strike Force on a daily basis at the highest settings. The quality of play is excellent, and the display is beautiful. It will certainly be a difficult transition to whatever the next phone I may use. Still, neither of those games are particularly taxing, even at the highest setting. Shortly after my Razer Phone 2 arrived, I downloaded Lineage, and, more recently, downloaded Call of Duty mobile. Both run smoothly at highest settings, and I found that my Call of Duty seemed to play extremely well. In fact, I found myself scoring in top rankings in every match I played – after the tutorials and such – and perhaps thought it was due to having excellent latency. Either way, it made my experience enjoyable. 

The other positive about this phone is its eye catching design and pleasing touch. I teach, and because we use Google in our school, as well as our safety apps, my phone is often visible. That said, students love the design. The Razer Phone 2 sits in a perfect rectangular shape with twin speakers at the end of each side. It has a front facing camera and an eye catching light-up logo on the rear. The majority of the exterior is a glass coating, which is one of my favorite designs (the feel is simply wonderful). The negative of this, however, is that it is easily breakable. On top of that, if the phone isn’t inside a case, it will slide off just about every surface. You can imagine the horror of watching your phone slide to its inevitable doom. 

The Bad

While I love a lot about the Razer Phone 2, its shortcomings far outweigh its successes. Firstly, the battery life of the Razer Phone 2 is atrocious. On full settings of Star Wars and Marvel for about an hour of gameplay, the phone is drained to around 30%. YouTube drains the battery quicker, so watching or playing for extended periods is difficult without a charger nearby. While the battery charges quickly, I’ve found myself charging the device multiple times in a day. 

The dual speakers on the front, which originally produced excellent sound quality at first but have gradually declined. Now, one speaker has ceased to work and the other sputters. Perhaps it has been this way for a while, but I rarely use sound when playing games (I only use it to watch YouTube or football). Listening to music on these is tough now, too, as the sound is muffled and sounds worse the louder the volume. Sometimes, I feel these issues are directly related to battery life, but I have nothing to back that claim up. 

While I did not buy the Razer Phone 2 with the intention of taking astounding pictures, I expected a bit more from a phone camera in 2019. This phone takes some of the worst photos I’ve ever seen with some of the worst quality. I knew the camera wasn’t great, but I wasn’t prepared for how terrible the end results were. My wife, for comparison, purchased a Pixel 3 shortly after I obtained my Razer Phone 2. Side-by-side comparisons of the photos taken are breathtaking. The Pixel 3 could pass for professional photography. Mine resembles the photos I took on that AR game on the Nintendo 3DS. The one with faces – you know it. 

My biggest issue with the Razer Phone 2 is a very concerning one. The phone will randomly and often power itself down. It could be after much use or after no use, in my pocket or sitting in a cool room. I researched if others experienced this issue and found many users reporting this. I did not try all of the remedies for the situation, as I have a lot of pictures that I have yet to back up of my 15 month old daughter (and it requires a factory reset), but it seems the phone tricks itself into thinking it’s overheating and shuts down. This is concerning to me, however, because I purchased this phone after the charging port of my Pixel 2 died. I need a reliable phone that will stay powered on and charged in case there are any emergencies with my family, particularly my child – who was only maybe five months old at the time I purchased the phone. 

The Verdict

Overall, the Razer Phone 2 provides an excellent mobile gaming platform that falls far short of being an excellent overall device. The few positives of the phone are vastly outweighed by the negatives, which continue to show themselves every day. My fingerprint scanner, for example, stopped working after about two weeks, which I found to be a common issue. From there, the experience unraveled. Still, its relatively low price point (it has consistently sat around $400 since I purchased it, about 50% of its original pricing) might make this phone a realistic option for Android users looking for a competitive phone but not willing to pay upwards of a grand for one. If you have the means, however, there are plenty other options that I would recommend over this. 

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