Razer Phone 2 vs. Razer Phone: Is it time to level up?

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Razer Phone was something of a surprise last year, but it looks as though gaming phones are a new category that’s here to stay. This year, Razer is looking to level up with an improved smartphone that offers the best mobile gaming experience around and improves on some of its predecessor’s shortcomings.

On top of the inevitable adoption of a newer processor, the Razer Phone 2 has a better camera, water resistance, and wireless charging support. We decided to compare it to the original Razer Phone to see precisely what has changed. Game on.

Specs

Razer Phone 2 Razer Phone
Size 158.5 x 78.9 x 8.5 mm (6.24 x 3.1 x 0.33 inches) 158.5 x 77.7 x 8 mm (6.24 x 3.06 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 220 grams (7.76 oz) 197 grams (6.95 oz)
Screen Size 5.7-inch IPS LCD 5.7-inch IPS LCD
Screen Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (515 pixels per inch) 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (515 pixels per inch)
Operating System Android 8.1 Oreo Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Storage Space 64GB 64GB
MicroSD Card Slot Yes Yes
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 8GB 8GB
Camera Dual 12MP + 12MP rear, 8MP front Dual 12MP + 12MP rear, 8MP front
Video 4K at 30 frames per second 4K at 30 frames per second
Bluetooth Version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports USB-C 1.0 USB-C 1.0
Fingerprint sensor Yes (side) Yes (side)
Water resistance IP67 No
Battery 4,000 mAh

Fast charging (Quick Charge 4.0+)

Qi wireless charging

4,000 mAh

Fast charging (Quick Charge 4.0+)

App Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T
Colors Black Black
Price $800 $700
Buy From Razer Razer
Review Score Hands-on review 3.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Razer Phone 2 is packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor backed by 8GB of RAM. This year’s “flagchip” is in all the top Android phones and it’s significantly faster and more power efficient than last year’s Snapdragon 835, which you’ll find in the original Razer Phone. Both have 64GB of storage with room for expansion via a MicroSD card.

The battery capacity hasn’t shifted, still weighing in at 4,000 mAh, and you’ll find support for the incredibly fast Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+ standard in both Razer phones, but only the Razer Phone 2 offers Qi wireless charging.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Design and durability

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Quite honestly we wouldn’t award Razer’s design any plaudits. The chunky, squared-off look of the original, itself inherited from the ill-fated Nextbit Robin returns in the Razer Phone 2, but this time around the rear of the phone is black glass and the triple-headed snake logo glows with customizable lighting effects that can serve as app notifications. It’s a bold, unique look that definitely grabs your attention. The camera module has also been centered, giving the Razer Phone 2 a much more stylish look from the back than the original. You’ll still find the fingerprint sensor in the power button on the side of the frame. The front of these phones looks very similar with the 5.7-inch screen flanked by stereo speakers.

The first Razer Phone felt like a tank that could survive a drop or two. The glass-clad Razer Phone 2 doesn’t feel as durable, but it does add water resistance into the mix with an IP67 rating that means it can be submerged in shallow water for up to half an hour without sustaining damage.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Display

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The displays in these phones are identical on paper. They are both 5.7-inch IPS LCD screens with resolutions of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. They also both offer 120 Hz screen refresh and 120 Hz touch sampling, which ensures that you never miss a frame of the gaming action. It still doesn’t match the quality of an OLED screen, but Razer has managed to make the screen 50 percent brighter this year and it really makes a difference.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Camera

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We highlighted the camera as one of the weak spots of the Razer Phone. Despite pairing two 12-megapixel lenses it disappointed with most shots and we felt the experience was severely hampered by slow software that was lacking in features. Razer went back to the drawing board with the Razer Phone 2 camera to pair an all-new 12-megapixel wide-angle lens with optical image stabilization (OIS) and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with 2x zoom. Based on first impressions, it seems to be a big step up on last year’s camera.

Both phones can record video at up to 4K at 30 frames-per-second and also have an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Software and updates

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The original Razer Phone launched with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, but has since been updated to Android 8.1 Oreo. The Razer Phone 2 is being released with Android 8.1 Oreo installed, which is a bit disappointing since Android 9.0 Pie is now available. There is a customizable launcher and a special Game Booster app, but the experience is fairly close to stock Android. We expect the Razer Phone 2 to get updates for a bit longer than the Razer Phone, so it scores the win here.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Special features

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both Razer phones have the fast refreshing, super responsive screen, though the brightness is improved in the Razer Phone 2. They also both offer plenty of customization options in the Game Booster app. However, only the newer phone boasts a Vapor Chamber cooling system which, paired with the more powerful processor, allows you to run demanding games for longer before the phone overheats. The Razer Phone 2 also has that versatile, eye-catching light-up logo on the back which can be fully customized with the pre-installed Chroma app.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Price

The original Razer Phone costs $700, but the Razer Phone 2 will cost you $800. You can buy either one unlocked directly from Razer, but the original Razer Phone won’t work with Verizon or Sprint. There’s also no CDMA support for the Razer Phone 2, but it does have support for Verizon LTE.

Overall winner: Razer Phone 2

It’s refreshing when a manufacturer listens to feedback and works to improve as Razer has done here. A lot of the things we didn’t like about the original have been improved or fixed in the Razer Phone 2. The camera and design are much better, it’s faster, it’s water resistant now, and it supports wireless charging. Even at $100 more, the Razer Phone 2 is a much more attractive prospect and the obvious choice if you’re considering these two phones. If you already have the Razer Phone, we’re not sure you’ll want to upgrade so soon.

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