Mobile gaming has become a huge part of the smartphone industry, yet very rarely has there been a handset designed specifically for this task. The last high-profile release was Nokia's N-Gage in 2003, which has widely been deemed a commercial failure. However, it seems there may be a new option available for gamers, thanks to PC manufacturer Razer.
The company – which specialises in producing high-performance hardware specifically for computer gaming – announced the Razer Phone on November 1st. This smartphone has been designed with gamers in mind, and boasts a range of features that make it specialised for the task.
First of all, the display – a 5.72-inch Quad HD IGZO LCD screen – is the first in the world to come with 120 Hz UltraMotion technology. This synchronises the graphics processing unit (GPU) with the screen to ensure the images move smoothly and without tearing. The resolution of the display will be a generous 1440p.
Another aspect of the handset Razer is keen to promote is the sound. The Razer Phone will come with front speakers with dual dedicated amplifiers, and the whole thing is powered by Dolby Atmos technology for what the company calls “true-to-life cinematic audio”.
Users will also benefit from 8GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 835 processor, as well as a powerful 4,000 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ for rapid charging. The phone also comes with two 12MP rear cameras.
In a press release, Razer's co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan said: “It’s common knowledge that I’m obsessed with my smartphones, I play a ton of games on them, and they’re my go-to for streaming content. We have wanted to make a phone with gaming-level tech for years, and the Razer Phone delivers in every way we imagined.”
However, the new phone is not without its detractors. Vlad Savov, mobile reviewer and one of the founding members of tech site The Verge, has pointed out several aspects of the Razer Phone that might suggest it will not live up to the hype as a true gamers' smartphone after all.
First of all, Mr Savov highlighted the lack of a headphone jack as an odd design decision, despite the phone coming with a THX-certified dongle that circumvents this issue. Characterising headphones as “a gamer’s most essential peripheral after the controller”, he said the the inclusion of the dongle was “a weird compromise on a device that’s supposed to be about no-compromise gaming performance”.
He also pointed out that, compared to its competitors, Razer is not actually offering much more for the price of the Razer Phone. The device will cost £699.99, putting it firmly at the high-end of the smartphone market.
Many of the other handsets that cost a similar amount, such as the HTC U11 or Samsung Galaxy Note 8, also come with Snapdragon 835 processors and 8GB of RAM. While they cannot boast the Razer Phone's UltraMotion technology, they generally do come with headphone jacks.
This is not to say that the Razer Phone isn't an impressive piece of hardware; it very much is. But the question is whether or not it is that much more useful for gamers than other handsets for the same price.
On the software front, it does feature a Game Booster app that allows users to change certain settings to optimise their gaming performance. However, Mr Savov was not impressed with this feature, saying: “I game a lot on Android phones and I rarely feel compelled to tinker with settings; most games just work, so I’m not sure how big of a problem Razer thinks it’s solving with its phone.”
Time will tell whether or not the Razer Phone will be a success or go the way of the N-Gage. The device is currently available for pre-order from Three outlets, the Three website and Razerzone.com, and will go on sale on November 17th.