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Razer Edge 5G review: the best gaming handheld that you probably don’t need

A Razer Edge plays A Plague Tale: Requiem.
Razer Edge 5G
MSRP $600.00
“The Razer Edge is a powerful handheld for cloud gamers, but you probably already own something that can do what it does.”
Pros
  • Powerful specs
  • Truly portable design
  • Beautiful display
  • 5G is ideal for cloud
  • Great emulation potential
Cons
  • Loud fan
  • Cramped design
  • Pricey considering alternatives

It’s a phone! It’s a tablet! It’s a gaming handheld! It’s … some amalgamation of the three?

The Razer Edge is one of the most peculiar pieces of tech I’ve ever reviewed. If I was simply critiquing it as a gaming handheld, which is how Razer is marketing the device, I’d question why anyone would need to buy a $400 console that does the exact thing your phone is already capable of. It would be the same story as the similar Logitech Cloud G, where I’d just tell most readers to buy a mobile controller (perhaps Razer’s own Kishi) and only recommend it to cloud gaming enthusiasts who want to keep their streaming separate from their phone.

If I were to critique it as a mini-tablet, however, my tune would be much different. Thanks to its detachable controller, the Razer Edge is essentially a large phone minus the phone. As soon as I start to break down its impressive technical specs and contrast its price with similarly powered devices on the market, it becomes a much more appealing deal — even a bargain, arguably. Yes, you can buy a Steam Deck for the same price and have it do everything this does as a gaming device and more. But if you were to buy a “gaming phone” with the same capabilities, like the ROG Phone 6, you’d be paying hundreds more … though you’d also have an actual phone.

That head-scratching dynamic makes the Razer Edge a complicated product to criticize too much or wholeheartedly recommend. If you’re deeply committed to the idea of cloud gaming and want to keep that experience uninterrupted, the handheld impresses with an incredible AMOLED 144Hz display, a strong processor, and 5G support if you spring for the Verizon edition over its Wi-Fi counterpart. It’s just hard to fully shake the fact that it’s a luxury that’ll be difficult for your average users to justify.

Functional design

From a design perspective, the Razer Edge is a bit of an ingenious invention. Rather than making a traditional video game handheld, Razer created a more flexible device that better suits its multiple functions. The Edge is essentially a mini tablet that comes bundled with a detachable controller, the Razer Kishi V2 Pro. That makes it more philosophically aligned with the Nintendo Switch than the Steam Deck, which is ultimately the right direction for a mobile-focused device like this.

The tablet unit doesn’t have a custom UI that’s built specifically for gaming — it’s just running a normal Android OS. That means that you can use it like a standard Android phone or tablet, downloading any app onto it. Though the Logitech Cloud G had the same capabilities, its size and inseparable controls made it less versatile. If I want to play Marvel Snap on Logitech’s device, for instance, I need to flip it vertically and use the touchscreen while the controls awkwardly hang on the top and bottom. With Razer Edge, I can simply take the Kishi off and use the core tablet unit like I would a phone. That might sound like a small difference, but it’s a key one that makes the Edge feel less restrictive. It’s not just a gaming device.

The fact that I’m praising it for simply functioning like a more practical device that I already own highlights the limited appeal of the Edge.

It helps that Razer’s device is truly portable in a way that even the Switch isn’t. If I take the Kishi off, I’m able to comfortably fit it in the front pocket of my jeans thanks to its 6.8 inch display. It’s entirely plausible that I could just carry it around like a normal phone, using it as a device that houses all of my social media apps, mobile games, or anything that’s on my phone. It even has a front-facing camera — another detail that helps it stand out from everything else on the market — so I could even use it for videoconferencing as well. The only thing it can’t do is make calls, but you’re otherwise buying a capable Android device here with an impressive list of specs.

I’ll get into those specs momentarily, but now’s as good a time as any to address that elephant in the room. All of those exciting features I’ve just described to you are, in fact, things the phone or tablet you already own can do. This is fresh and exciting in the context of a gaming-centric device, but a lot of it will be redundant for anyone with a Samsung Galaxy S22 or Google Pixel 7. That’s ultimately the shadow that’s hard to evade for the current wave of “cloud gaming” devices; by the nature of the tech, you likely already own a great cloud gaming device. Why not just buy a Razer Kishi V2 for the phone you already have and save $300?

A Switch OLED and razer Edge sit side by side.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As will become apparent in this review, Razer does make as strong a case as it can here, but it’s something to keep in mind as you consider if the Edge is for you. The fact that I’m praising it for simply functioning like a more practical device that I already own highlights the limited appeal of the Edge. It’s built for people who love cloud gaming enough that they don’t want distractions interrupting their stream sessions, and it may be a step up for someone who owns a cheap phone. If you don’t fall into one of those two groups and don’t have a disposable income, the Edge doesn’t have much to offer. It’s just another screen.

Strong specs

If you do fit the small cross-section of people the device seems to be targeting, the Edge will undoubtedly impress. Razer seemed to understand how hard a sell a device like this is when making it and has gone to great lengths to stack its spec chart. That starts with its phenomenal 144Hz AMOLED FHD+ display, which puts it in competition with something like the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 in everything but size. It’s a vibrant display that keeps my games looking clear, something that’s especially important when dealing with the visual inconsistency of streaming.

The screen doesn’t go to waste either. The Edge contains a Qualcomm Snapdragon G3x Gen 1, which is fairly similar to the flagship mobile chip we’ve seen in phones like the Galaxy S22 Ultra. How much difference does a chip really make when you’re streaming off the cloud? You could argue that it hardly matters, but the power does lend it some much welcome flexibility. You can expect mobile games like Call of Duty Mobile to run flawlessly, and the extra power opens up some potential to turn the Edge into a great emulation device.

A Razer Edge displays Marvel Snap.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Yes, emulation is very possible on the Razer Edge. That’s thanks to both its regular Android OS and a microSD slot — although the device doesn’t come bundled with the ejector pin needed to open the system’s card slot. You can easily download an emulator like Dolphin, load up your GameCube and even Wii games onto a card, and get them running on an Edge with relative ease. I’d argue that it’s an even easier process than on the Steam Deck, which can be cumbersome due to its tricky Linux browser. If you strictly see the Edge as a cloud streaming device, it’s an eye-rolling piece of tech. But if you consider it as an all-in-one portable gaming device, its powerful chip, impressive screen, 6GB of RAM (8 on the Verizon edition), and sizable 128GB storage become much more appealing.

Battery life gets the job done here depending on how you plan to use the Edge. It includes a 5,000 mAh battery, which is what you’ll get in a Galaxy S23 Ultra. However, that battery can drain fairly fast if you’re using the Edge primarily as a cloud streaming device — the thing that Razer is really emphasizing as its primary function. In my testing, I was able to get roughly five hours of life out of it while cloud streaming. That’s acceptable, but it does come in under the almost impossibly high bar set by the Logitech Cloud G. That handheld’s battery can last up to 12 hours when streaming, which blows most gaming devices out of the water. The Edge pales next to that, which makes it less appealing in a side-by-side comparison, but the extra power boost does justify the shorter life.

The Edge becomes more of a value when you start comparing it to similar gaming phones on the market.

The only aspect I’m not terribly enthused with is how loud the device can get. When its back fans get moving, they absolutely blare louder than any device I own. That’s perhaps the trade-off you have to be willing to make with a powerful device like this, but it’s a grating sound that makes me think twice about taking it on a train or subway.

The Edge becomes more of a value when you start comparing it to similar gaming phones on the market. Its closest parallel is the ROG Phone 6, which costs close to $1,000. The Wi-Fi edition of the Edge is $400 by comparison, which feels like a bargain … except for the fact that it doesn’t function as a phone. Still, if you want a portable device with a lot of power, but don’t want to spend close to a grand upgrading your phone, there’s a compelling case to at least consider the Razer Edge.

Cramped controls

While there were some pain points I anticipated with the Razer Edge before I even got my hands on it, I was most surprised to find that the Kishi controller would be at the top of my list. I’ve long been a vocal advocate of the Razer Kishi as a mobile controller. The first iteration of it has always been my iPhone attachment of choice, even over the Backbone. When I learned that the Edge would come bundled with an upgraded version of the Kishi V2, I figured that would be a slam dunk.

A razer Kishi V2 Pro sits on a table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To its credit, it almost is. The Kishi V2 Pro is a strong mobile attachment that builds on the success of previous iterations. It features a fairly standard button layout with two sticks and all the triggers and face buttons you’d see on an Xbox gamepad. It even brings some added innovation to the table with two extra bumper buttons on each shoulder, opening up some extra control possibilities. A USB-C slot on the right side even allows for passthrough charging of the central unit, while a headphone jack on the left lets me plug in a headset if I don’t want to connect wirelessly.

My one issue with layout is that the V2 Pro has four different menu buttons, each marked with vague shapes like an ellipsis or three-line hamburger menu. Some of those act like a pause button on an Xbox controller. Others boot up Android features that’ll take you out of a game and usually disconnect you from your cloud session. The layout can be confusing. The button that opens the Razer Nexus app is directly above the in-game menu button and is the exact same size and shape. I continually mixed up which one did what, and that led to a lot of lost sessions early on. You’ll want to commit those to memory before getting too deep into your first play session.

As an added bonus, the V2 Pro features haptics thanks to Razer’s HyperSense tech. While the rumble is more subtle than, say, the PS5’s DualSense, the enhanced feedback keeps me more immersed in my portable gaming experience. That’s something that’s usually hard to replicate on a mobile device unless you’re connecting to a separate gamepad via Bluetooth. It’s the best version of an already great mobile controller.

When I play for long sessions, I begin to notice how cramped my hands get …

So what’s the problem? It’s a comfort issue.

The core Razer Edge tablet doesn’t have much heft to it since its a relatively thin 6.8-inch display with little room around or behind the screen. The Kishi V2 Pro neatly docks on either side of the screen, which means that the controllers themselves are about comparable to its height. When I play for long sessions, I begin to notice how cramped my hands get as I have to squeeze my fingers down to tightly grip it. I’m not someone with large hands either. My Nintendo Switch is a natural fit for my grip, as I don’t have to compress my hands to hold it comfortably. The Edge is loose in my hands by comparison, with the bottom half of my palms dangling freely under it unless I scrunch up.

The corner of a Razer Kishi V2 Pro controller shown up close.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It doesn’t help that the controller attachment doesn’t appear to have been built with comfort in mind. There’s no curve on the back that allows it to neatly conform to the shape of my hand; I’m clinging on to two rounded rectangles for dear life.

In fairness, that shape and size is comparable to similar devices on the market. It isn’t far off from a Backbone in terms of size and shape. However, this is a device that’s built with longer play sessions in mind. When I usually dip into a game on my phone, it tends to be a more casual, short experience. With the Razer Edge, my urge is to play it more like I would a normal console or PC session. After two hours of playing Marvel’s Avengers, I was left feeling uncomfortable. I swapped over to my Switch right after just to make sure it wasn’t in my head, and I felt instant relief as the tension in my hands loosened up. Just because the Edge can stream high-end PC games doesn’t mean it’s the ideal way to play them.

5G performance

Though I have issues with comfort, I can’t deny that my gaming experience on Razer Edge has been otherwise smooth. When testing games like Marvel Snap, I found that the experience went off without a hitch, as you’d expect to see from mobile games played natively on such a device. Much more impressive, though, is how easily I’m able to run emulated games on it. In testing with Dolphin, I was able to easily load my GameCube files onto the device and run them smoothly. Mapping the Kishi V2 Pro to GameCube controls took no more than a minute and instantly worked (I had more trouble configuring a Wiimote setup, naturally, but it seems like the Edge is more than capable of running those games too). After a good year of Linux headaches on Steam Deck, I genuinely believe this will become my dedicated emulation device of choice as long as its kicking around — especially since its display puts the Steam Deck’s to shame.

So far, my 5G tests have yielded ideal results.

When it comes to cloud streaming, the Edge has a true ace in the hole: its 5G capabilities. While there’s a wi-Fi only model available for $400, there’s also a Verizon edition of the Edge that allows players to stream games using 5G. While that device is pricier than the Wi-Fi model if bought separately, it’s a stronger value if you have an existing Verizon plan already, as you can add it to your account and pay it off in installments like you would a phone. That winds up being the most cost effective way to buy the console in the long run (that will cost you around $360, while buying it separately will cost you a whopping $600).

And 5G streaming is exactly the kind of feature a cloud device needs to stay alive in the post-Steam Deck world I imagine Razer wasn’t anticipating. The trouble with devices like the Logitech Cloud G is that you can only stream on it when connected to Wi-Fi. Not only does that limit where you can use it, but it also means your connection is at the mercy of your internet speed. But 5G solves that problem by offering players more flexibility in where they can play and how stable the experience can be.

So far, my 5G tests have yielded ideal results. When playing Marvel’s Avengers, I maintained a clear image for multiple several-hour sessions without a disconnect. I did experience a brief pause here and there, but those were always short and infrequent. Any quality dips were similarly light and frankly hard to notice due to the smaller screen size. The most impressive test I ran was with Hi-Fi Rush. The rhythm action game requires precise timing in order to execute moves to the beat of music. While I felt a slight bit off from time to time, I was shocked when I finished a 45-minute long level with an S rank — and for the record, I didn’t land a score that high when playing it natively on a console.

Well, if you’re wondering how reliable the latency is when cloud streaming on 5G, I guess it gets an S. pic.twitter.com/gS7b75MMuK

— Giovanni Colantonio (@MarioPrime) February 10, 2023

Note that I can only speak to my own personal experience here. As is always the case with cloud streaming, your results are going to widely vary. I spoke with another critic who lived blocks away from me who was having trouble connecting to 5G reliably. I can confirm that 5G streaming is capable of working without a hitch, but there’s still an X factor here that’s perhaps beyond the device’s power.

If you do go with that option, though, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got one heck of a data plan. You’ll chew through GBs faster than you can imagine if you’re not working with unlimited data. Though that’s expected, it does add yet another condition onto a pile of them. Razer Edge is a device that’s best application is for cloud gaming enthusiasts who want a separate device from their phones, but who also are Verizon customers with an unlimited data plan and living in an area with 5G coverage. Oh, and also ideally someone who’s subscribed to Xbox Game Pass and Nvidia GeForce Now. It’s a narrow cross-section of people, and I frankly don’t know how many real customers there are that fit the bill.

A Razer Edge sits on a piano displaying Metal gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
Digital Trends

That isn’t to say that archetype is the only one that’ll find use in the Razer Edge. Anyone who gets their hands on one will gain access to a powerful Android device that can run games quite well in an ideal environment. It’s a strong supplemental device for someone who’s serious about mobile or cloud gaming. However, it’s still not the cloud-focused device that feels like a sensible purchase for most people. A Steam Deck costs the same, plays a wide array of PC games natively, and supports emulation. The Android phone you already own can accomplish at least some of what it can do, even if it can’t reach the same performance highs.

The Razer Edge impresses in a vacuum, but tech can’t be evaluated outside of context. You’ll get a ton of use out of it if you spring for one, but just understand that you really don’t have to. It’s a video game luxury, but a darn fine one if you have the cash to spend.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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