Razer Phone vs. LG V30: Can Razer topple a smartphone giant?

Razer Phone review back full
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Razer has thrown a gauntlet down to the rest of the smartphone market with the Razer Phone. It’s a media-consuming beast of a device with stereo speakers, 8GB of RAM, and a buttery smooth display that has to be seen to be believed. But how does Razer’s monster stack up against the competition? LG’s V30 is a stylish, powerful Android smartphone with some serious video shooting skills. We took the LG V30 and the Razer Phone and pitted them against each other to see which phone came out on top.

Specs

Razer Phone
razer phone
LG V30
iphone x vs. lg v30
Size 158.5 x 77.7 x 8 mm (6.24 x 3.06 x 0.31 inches) 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.4 mm (5.97 x 2.97 x 0.29 inches)
Weight 197 grams (6.95 ounces) 158 grams (5.57 ounces)
Screen 5.7-inch 120 Hz Ultramotion IGZO IPS LCD display 6-inch P-OLED display
Resolution 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (514 ppi) 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (537 pixels per inch)
OS Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.1.2 Nougat
Storage 64GB 64GB, 128GB (on the V30 Plus)
MicroSD card slot Yes Yes, up to 256 GB
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Snapdragon 835 with Adreno 540 Snapdragon 835 with Adreno 540
RAM 8GB 4GB
Connectivity GSM, UMTS, HSPA, TD-SCDMA, LTE, TDD LTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Camera Dual 12 MP rear (f/1.75 wide angle & f/2.6 zoom), 8 MP front Dual 16MP and 13MP wide angle rear, 5MP wide angle front
Video Up to 4K at 30 fps Up to 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 120fps
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 5.0
Audio Dual front-facing speakers, no headphone jack Bottom-firing speaker, headphone jack
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass Accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, proximity
Water resistant No Yes, IP68 rated
Battery 4,000mAh

Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0+

3,300mAh

Fast charging, wireless charging (Qi standard)

Charging port USB-C USB-C
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Colors Black Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue
Availability Razer Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile
Price $700 $800
DT review Hands-on review 4 out of 5 stars

You’re going to see a lot of similarities between these two phones in terms of processing power, as both the LG V30 and the Razer Phone come with the Snapdragon 835. We’ve seen this processor powering multiple flagship phones this year, including the Pixel 2, the Samsung Galaxy S8, and the Galaxy Note 8. It’s a very powerful chip, one of the best in the world, and we expect to see similar performance from the LG V30 and Razer Phone, with any real differences in processing power being negligible. It is notable that the Razer Phone contains a lot more RAM than the V30 — a staggering 8GB against the 4GB in the V30 — but as we like to remind you, the jury is still out on how much impact RAM has on on a smartphone’s performance, so while the extra RAM scores Razer some extra points, it’s not as big a deal as the numbers might suggest.

The LG V30 pulls ahead when we start to compare internal storage. Again, both have space for a MicroSD card, expanding available storage, but it’s nice regardless that LG offers the choice between a 64GB and a 128GB model (on the V30 Plus) for initial internal storage. The Razer Phone only comes with a 64GB option, which seems small for a phone aimed toward mobile gamers and avid media consumers.

The LG V30 gets more points for the inclusion of a headphone jack — which is missing on the Razer Phone. Puzzlingly, the Razer Phone also lacks the upgraded Bluetooth 5.0 you’ll find in the V30. Since the Razer Phone doesn’t include a 3.5mm jack, you’d expect Bluetooth 5.0’s improved signal strength and features to be a must-have to make up for the missing functionality, and the lack of it is strange. LG doubles down on audio quality with Quad DAC and AptX included in the V30, but the Razer Phone’s stereo speakers and DAC-enabled USB Type-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter put up a good fight.

It’s a tough call between the two, and with the extra RAM included, we expect that the Razer Phone will be the slightly superior performer. However, we also anticipate that the difference will be so slight as to not really be noticeable, and the V30’s headphone jack, upgraded Bluetooth, and better range of storage options hand LG the win here.

Winner: LG V30

Design and display

Razer Phone review home in hand
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The trend for minimizing bezels has given us some of the most beautiful smartphones we’ve ever seen. LG is no stranger to this trend, and the LG V30 shows off a gorgeous 6-inch 18:9 screen with tiny bezels around the edges. A larger forehead and chin are present, but they’re so small that you’ll forget they’re there. The OLED display showcases LG’s usual great performance, with vibrant colors and dark, inky blacks. Flip over the phone and you’re greeted with more smooth glass, mounted on a metal frame. LG has put the V30’s glass through rigorous testing, but we still recommend a case to ensure it stays beautiful.

By contrast, the Razer Phone is a throwback to an earlier time. Chunkier bezels abound, and the design is close to that of a Sony Xperia, with hard, angular corners and straight lines. Still, we don’t mind a different design from time to time, and it does mean that the display is flanked by a pair of seriously impressive stereo speakers. The display itself is a 5.7-inch IPS LED, and it outputs a good-looking image, even if it’s never going to match the clarity and color of the OLED screen on the V30. But you need to see the Razer Phone in action to really understand its true strength — a 120Hz Ultramotion screen refreshes at twice the usual rate of smartphone screens, giving motion on the Razer Phone a smooth quality you don’t find in many devices (the iPad Pro may have been the last we saw). It adds an extra “wow” element to an already smooth phone, and really cements Razer’s drive for the mobile gaming market.

The rest of the Razer Phone is aluminum, and while it’s nice to handle that reassuring metal again, glass feels so much more premium in 2017. That said, you don’t have to worry so much about your phone’s body smashing during use, so at least the Razer Phone has that over the LG V30. But what it doesn’t have is water-resistance. There’s no water-resistance at all in the Razer Phone, which feels like a misstep when compared with the LG V30’s IP68 rating.

All in all, each of these phones has a lot to offer. While the Razer Phone’s 120Hz display is a stunning piece of technology, and we have a soft spot for the chunky look, it just can’t compete with the futuristic style of the LG V30. Pair the V30’s amazing looks with the stunning and massive 6-inch OLED display, as well as the water resistance, and you can forgive the fragile nature of the glass covering.

Winner: LG V30

Camera

LG V30 dual camera
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

This one’s a bit more clear cut. While the camera hardware on the Razer Phone is respectable — two 12-megapixel (MP) lenses, one with a 2x optical zoom, and the other a wide-angle lens — we have our doubts about the strength of the software, which is rather bare-bones. The front snapper is similarly standard — 8MP is a good selfie taker, but there’s nothing special about it. It’s clear that Razer’s focus isn’t on the strength of the camera. That said, Razer has promised updates to add features to the camera and make certain aspects clearer.

The LG V30, on the other hand, has a stunning pair of lenses mounted on the back of the phone — a 16-megapixel and a 13-megapixel lens. The 16-megapixel lens has an aperture size of f/1.6 (setting a smartphone record on release), giving a huge amount of light to the sensor, while the 13-megapixel lens is concerned with taking wide-angle shots of up to 120 degrees. It’s an incredible combination that we haven’t really seen from other manufacturers. Amazingly, LG’s focus isn’t even on still photos — it’s on video. The LG V30 has great capabilities as a camera, coming with 15 “Cine Effects,” which dynamically alter the color balance and look of the shot to match your chosen filter. We won’t go into greater detail here, but you can check out our LG V30 review if you’re interested in knowing more.

The answer here should be pretty clear — the LG V30 wins again.

Winner: LG V30

Battery life and charging

Razer Phone review bottom profile
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Razer Phone comes with a huge 4,000mAh battery to fuel that incredible 120Hz display. But that display is a power hog, and while we haven’t done detailed tests yet, we expect that the Razer Phone will manage to make it through the day on a full charge. There’s no wireless charging here, thanks to the aluminum body, but the phone is the first to ship with Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 4.0+ technology, which Razer has said can charge the battery from zero to 50 percent within 35 minutes. Given the capacity of the battery, that’s quite an impressive feat.

The LG V30 is no slouch either, with a 3,300mAh battery. While it falls short of the pure numbers of the Razer Phone, the battery life on the V30 is very impressive. Tests during our LG V30 review showed the battery to be capable of well over a day’s worth of usage, consistently ending a work day with just under 50 percent battery life remaining. Wireless charging is available, and QuickCharge 3.0, while an older product than the upgraded version on the Razer Phone, is still capable of charging the phone with blinding speed.

The LG V30 has stronger battery life, as well as the option for wireless charging, and that scores it the win.

Winner: LG V30

Software

LG V30 screen angle
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The LG V30 is running Android 7.1.2 Nougat, overlaid with LG’s own customized skin. It’s not bad looking, but it’s never been one of our favorites. It’s got some fun additions to it that might catch your fancy, such as the ability to set Smart Settings that detect when you’re home and change the sound profile accordingly. You’ve been able to get this sort of functionality from third-party apps like IFTTT for a while, but it’s nice to see it baked into LG’s software. The “Floating Bar” is another of these — replacing the secondary display from earlier V-series phones. It’s not quite as good as the secondary display was, but it does give the option to quickly access apps that you don’t want on your home page. There’s no Android 8.0 Oreo update for the V30 yet, and LG hasn’t yet shared when it can be expected to arrive.

The Razer Phone is also running Android Nougat, and much of your initial experience will be of stock Android. There’s a reason for that — Razer has seen fit to not include any bloatware with its phone, trusting in stock Android to deliver the goods. It does — your experience is buttery smooth, as you’d expect. But there’s also a reason we said “initial experience” above — Razer has included Nova Launcher Prime as a part of the OS, giving the user the plethora of customization options offered by one of the best Android launchers on the market. It’s stunning how much flexibility Nova Launcher gives you, with the ability to mimic Android 8.0 Oreo from the Pixel 2, or set up your very own way of scrolling through your app drawer, or increasing the number of icons present on the home page. Like the V30, there’s no sign of Android 8.0 Oreo on the Razer Phone yet, though promises of early 2018 have been made.

Both phones have the ability to access virtual reality apps, though the V30 has the edge with Google Daydream integration. That said, we haven’t seen much from Daydream, so it doesn’t win LG many points.

We’ve got to hand it to the Razer Phone here. We love stock Android, and pairing it with the optional customization from Nova Launcher Prime is a dream come true.

Winner: Razer Phone

Price and availability

razer phone vs note 8

The Razer Phone is currently up for pre-order on Razer’s site for $700, and it will also be available from the Microsoft Store and Amazon when it releases November 17. It will be sold unlocked, so you’ll be able to put it on any supported network — though Sprint and Verizon customers will be disappointed by the lack of support for their networks.

The LG V30 starts at $800 for the 64GB, with prices increasing to $912 for the V30+ from Sprint, or $950 from Best Buy. You don’t need to worry about the phone not working on your network, as all the major carriers are offering it, but $950 for the V30+ is a very significant amount of cash, and one that could make you think twice about your purchase. Still, $800 for the 64GB model of the LG V30 is reasonable enough, and we think the V30 offers enough to justify the extra $100.

Winner: LG V30

Overall winner: LG V30

The Razer Phone is shaping up to be a great phone, with a super-smooth 120Hz display, an almost nostalgic design, some incredible speakers, and all the power you’d expect from a 2017 flagship. If you’re looking for a phone that will double as a media center, you could certainly do worse than Razer’s new beast.

But it’s a testament to how good of an all-rounder the LG V30 is that it beats the Razer Phone so thoroughly. LG has done an amazing job in making the V30 the phone it is, from the stunning OLED display, to the futuristic and gorgeous glass-and-metal design, to the excellent camera, which is one of our favorites for taking wide-angle images and video. LG has put together a staggeringly good phone, making it impossible for the Razer Phone to beat it pound for pound.

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