Razer Phone 2 vs. Red Magic Phone vs. Honor Play: Which gaming phone is best?

Red Magic Phone
Mark Jansen/Digital Trends

Gaming phones have gone from being virtually nonexistent to increasingly common in less than a year. With high-powered processors, big screens, and even bigger batteries, there are now more choices than ever if you’re looking for a phone to support your mobile gaming habit.

The Razer Phone 2 is the latest gaming phone to emerge, but is Razer’s updated monolith good enough to stand atop the pile? We pitted it against the Red Magic Phone and the Honor Play to find out.

Specs

Razer Phone 2 Red Magic Phone
Honor Play
Size 158.5 x 79 x 8.5 mm (6.24 x 3.11 x 0.33 inches) 158.1 x 74.9 x 9.5 mm (6.22 x 2.95 x 0.37 inches) 157.9 x 74.3 x 7.5 mm (6.22 x 2.93 x 0.30 inches)
Weight 220 grams (7.76 ounces) 185 grams (6.53 ounces) 176 grams (6.21 ounces)
Screen size 5.72-inch Ultramotion IPS LCD 6.0-inch IPS LCD 6.3-inch IPS LCD
Screen resolution 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (513 pixels per inch) 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (402 pixels per inch) 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (409 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo EMUI 8 (over Android 8.1 Oreo)
Storage space 64GB 64GB (with 6GB of RAM), 128GB (with 8GB of RAM) 64GB
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 512GB No Yes, up to 256GB
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay No Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Kirin 970
RAM 8GB 6GB (with 64GB of storage), 8GB (with 128GB of storage) 4GB, 6GB
Camera Dual 12MP rear, 8MP front 24MP rear, 8MP front Dual 16MP and 2MP rear, 16MP front
Video 2,160p at 60 fps, 1,080p at 120 fps 2,160p at 30 fps, 1,080p at 30 fps 2,160p at 30 fps, 1,080p at 30 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports USB-C USB-C, headphone jack USB-C, headphone jack
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes Yes
Water resistance IP67 No No
Battery 4,000mAh

Fast charging (QuickCharge 4.0+)

Qi wireless charging

3,800mAh

Fast charging (QuickCharge 3.0)

3,750mAh
App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T
Colors Mirror Black, Rugged Satin Black, Red, Flame Red Midnight Black, Navy Blue, Violet, Player Edition Red, Player Edition Black
Price $800 $520 Around $380
Buy from Razer Red Magic Honor
Review score 3 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Power is important in a gaming phone. After all, what’s the point of a gaming phone if it can’t handle the latest games? According to benchmarks, the Razer Phone 2’s Snapdragon 845 is the most powerful processor, followed by the Red Magic Phone’s Snapdragon 835, and then the Honor Play’s Kirin 970. However, the gap isn’t very telling right now, because each of these phones has more than enough power to keep up with the most demanding modern games.

A large battery is also helpful when playing a lot of games, and each of these phones comes with a large battery that’ll easily last a full day. The Razer Phone 2 comes with the fastest charging, going from 18 percent to 90 percent in just over an hour — and it also comes with Qi wireless charging, which the other two phones lack.

While each of these phones will give you amazing performance on all the latest games, the Razer Phone 2 is the most powerful, with the biggest battery, and the best charging abilities.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Design and durability

Gaming phones are an interesting, at least partly because they don’t conform to the usual beauty standards. The Honor Play is the most normal-looking of the three, with slim bezels, a notch, and vertically stacked lenses — it’s very similar to the iPhone X. The Red Magic Phone has a similar bezel-less design, but it breaks the mold with a prism-shaped back and RGB light strip. The Razer Phone 2 is the most different-looking of the lot, with huge bezels at the top and bottom of the phone that hold its front-facing speakers, an angular design, and the RGB logo on the back.

The Razer Phone 2 has more fragile glass on the back, but it also comes with IP67-rated water resistance. The Red Magic Phone and Honor Play both come with more durable metal bodies, but lack any water-resistance. However, they both have headphone jacks, which the Razer Phone 2 lacks.

It’s tougher than usual to judge this category, but we figure you might be looking for something more unique-looking if you’re interested in these phones. The Razer Phone 2’s bezels may be large, but the speakers are worth the sacrifice, and it has an angular beauty all its own.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Display

honor play blue and pink models front
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find large LCD displays on each of these phones. The Honor Play’s 6.3-inch display is the largest, followed by the Red Magic’s 6-inch display, and then the Razer Phone 2’s 5.72-inch display. The Razer Phone 2 is the only display to run a 1440p resolution, while the other two top out at 1080p — making Razer’s display significantly sharper.

But that’s not the only trick up the Razer Phone 2’s sleeve. It has a 120Hz Ultramotion display, meaning it refreshes twice as fast as most other phones. While that may not sound impressive, the smoothness it produces has to be seen to be believed. As a result, the Razer Phone 2 feels super-smooth, even during day-to-day tasks — and it’s a huge boost to mobile gaming. While the other two phones have great displays, the Razer Phone 2’s display is truly special.

Winner: Razer Phone 2

Camera

Red Magic Phone
Mark Jansen/Digital Trends

The camera was one of the original Razor Phone‘s major negatives, so we were excited when Razer told us it had completely revamped the Razer Phone 2’s camera. Unfortunately, while it’s definitely improved, the Razer Phone 2’s dual 12-megapixel lenses are still a disappointment. The Red Magic Phone suffers a similar fate, with the 24-megapixel single lens not delivering great results in lower lighting.

So, it’s no surprise that the Honor Play runs away with this category. While it’s clear that the 24-megapixel and 2-megapixel lens weren’t ever meant to challenge heavyweights like the Galaxy Note 9 or iPhone XS, the Play offers a fully featured camera that produces shots you won’t be ashamed to share. It’s even got Huawei’s scene-recognition A.I. to back up the camera’s great performance.

The Razer Phone 2 has definitely improved, but the improvements just aren’t enough to take it up to the Honor Play’s level.

Winner: Honor Play

Software and updates

Razer Phone review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’ll find Android Oreo on each of these phones, but each with a slightly different spin. The Red Magic Phone runs close to stock Android, with a few additions that control the RGB light strip, and some game-boosting features — but otherwise it’s pure Android. The Razer Phone 2 is similar, and uses Nova Launcher to provide an amazingly customizable experience. The Honor Play is the most different from stock Android, and uses Huawei’s EMUI 8 skin. It’s not a bad UI, but it’s certainly different from what most Android phone owners are used to.

In terms of updates ,you’ll find a mixed bag. You may assume Honor would be the slowest at getting updates out, but with the debut of EMUI 9 on Huawei’s Mate 20 series, you can probably expect Android 9.0 Pie on the Honor Play fairly soon. The first Razer Phone saw a fairly quick update to Android 8.0 Oreo as well, so we expect to see the Razer Phone 2 get updated to the latest Android in the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately, while the Red Magic has been promised an update to Pie, no date has been given.

It’s between the Razer Phone 2 and Honor Play for sheer speed of updates.

Winners: Razer Phone 2 and Honor Play

Special features

Razer Phone 2 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You won’t find many special features on the Razer Phone 2. There’s the 120Hz display and an app to help you find supported games, but apart from that, you’ll have to be happy with just getting some options to control when and how the RGB logo flashes. It’s a similar situation with the Red Magic Phone, which comes with the Gameboost Mode and controls for the RGB light strip, but precious little else.

The Honor Play is the standout choice here. It has GPU Turbo to keep up with the competition, but also comes with A.I. that boosts the camera and sorts your gallery, the Smart Shock feature that matches device vibration to your game, and facial unlocking. The Honor Play just has more to offer than the other two phones.

Winner: Honor Play

Price

The Razer Phone 2 starts from $800 for 64GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. The Red Magic Phone only costs $520, but still is not available in the U.S., despite launching in Europe and the U.K. The Honor Play is the cheapest, costing just 330 euros (roughly $380), but it also hasn’t been launched in the U.S. yet. None of these phones will work fully with Verizon or Sprint, so you’ll need to be on T-Mobile or AT&T, though the Razer Phone 2 does have the right LTE bands for Verizon.

Overall winner: Razer Phone 2

It’s not perfect by any means — once again the camera is the weak point — but the Razer Phone 2 is the best dedicated gaming phone. With a super-smooth 120Hz display and the powerful Snapdragon 845, it’ll run whatever you want and look and sound amazing.

If you’re looking to game without spending $800, the Honor Play is an excellent choice that offers great value for your money. It’s powerful, has a decent display, and even has a great camera thrown into the bargain — but you will need to import it. It’s harder to recommend the Red Magic Phone, which sits between the two other phones in price (and perilously close to the excellent OnePlus 6) — but it’s still a great performer with a truly unique style. Overall, though, the Razer Phone 2 has regained the throne — for now.

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