Razer Phone 2 review

Vlad Bobleanta, 7 November 2018.


If we had to pick one headlining feature on the Razer Phone 2, it would definitely be the RGB Chroma logo! In fact, we would have preferred a second logo on the front of the device instead of a display. Joking aside, the Razer Phone 2 has a truly unique display. Again, unique with a sibling twist, since the original Razer Phone has pretty much identical display tech.

Razer Phone 2 review

In keeping with "PC master race" traditions, the screen in question has plenty of titles and figures to throw around: ULTRAMOTION, 120Hz, IGZO, Wide Color Gamut. As far as familiar metrics go, it is a 1440 x 2560 pixel panel, with a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, which works out to a very sharp 513ppi. Razer's justification for sticking with the traditional aspect, instead of going with the trendy 2018 extra-tall display crowd is content consumption. There is something to that, since most video content is, indeed, still delivered in 16:9 aspect ratio and that's unlikely to change anytime soon. Plus, if you really care about your in-game frame rates, then the last thing you would want is rendering extra pixels on the sides of the image.

Anyway, to really appreciate the Razer Phone 2's display and its unique nature, we have to start picking apart the aforementioned technologies it incorporates. If you are already familiar with the original Razer Phone and its panel, it is worth starting the tour off with a comparison of the two. On paper, they look really similar and that's no coincidence. We are pretty certain this panel also comes courtesy of SHARP. In fact, it is probably the exact same panel, only handled and controlled a bit differently.

Razer Phone 2 review

One of the main shortcomings of the original Razer Phone IGZO display was its inadequate brightness, topping off at around 300 nits. Razer has since acknowledged the issue and as a result, the Razer Phone 2 gets noticeably brighter. Now, the company's PR department claims peek brightness of 580 nits, which we really tried to validate. No matter how bright of a light source we introduced to the phone's ambient light sensor, however, the best we managed to get out of the max auto boosted mode is 426 nits. Under normal conditions, simply setting the brightness slider to maximum yields around 380 nits.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Huawei Mate 20 (Max Auto) 0.554 778 1404
Samsung Galaxy Note9 (Max Auto) 0 658
Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Max Auto) 0.003 657 219000
Samsung Galaxy Note8 (Max Auto) 0 647
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Max Auto) 0 631
Xiaomi Mi 8 (Max Auto) 0.002 624 312000
Sony Xperia XZ3 (Max Auto) 0 620
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 0.002 508 254000
Huawei Mate 20 0.347 491 1415
Honor Play 0.414 470 1135
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 0.314 461 1468
Xiaomi Mi 8 0 458
OnePlus 6T (Max Auto) 0 455
OnePlus 6T 0 453
Sony Xperia XZ3 0 442
Razer Phone 2 (Max Auto) 0.403 426 1057
Oppo Find X 0 426
Google Pixel 2 XL 0 420
Samsung Galaxy Note8 0 412
Razer Phone 2 0.401 380 948
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 0 376
Samsung Galaxy Note9 0 367
Razer Phone 0.251 300 1195

That's still not great on a market-wide scale, but is definitely an improvement over the original. The same can be said for the previously abysmal sunlight legibility.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Apple iPhone XS
  • Apple iPhone X
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
  • OnePlus 5T
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Play
  • Oppo R11
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
  • OnePlus 3
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • Google Pixel 3
  • OnePlus 6
  • HTC One A9
  • Oppo R15 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
  • Nokia 8
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (pre-update)
  • OnePlus 3T
  • Google Pixel XL
  • ZTE Axon 7
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
  • OnePlus 6T
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
  • vivo V11
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro (normal)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
  • Huawei P20 Pro
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
  • Meizu 15
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
  • Google Pixel 2 (pre-update)
  • LG V30
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
  • vivo NEX S
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro
  • OnePlus X
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
  • LG G7 ThinQ (outdoor)
  • Oppo R7s
  • Apple iPhone 7
  • Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone)
  • Huawei P9 Plus
  • Oppo Find X
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
  • Lenovo Moto Z
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
  • OnePlus 5
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
  • Meizu PRO 6
  • BlackBerry Priv
  • Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
  • Sony Xperia XZ2
  • LG G6
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
  • Acer Jade Primo
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
  • Oppo R7 Plus
  • Nokia 7 plus
  • nubia Z11
  • Huawei P10 Plus
  • HTC U Ultra
  • Motorola Moto G6
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
  • Meizu MX5
  • LG V20
  • Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018)
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI Dual Camera
  • LG G7 ThinQ
  • Huawei P10
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
  • Oppo R9s
  • Honor Play
  • Honor 8 Pro
  • Oppo F7
  • Oppo R7
  • Lenovo P2
  • Archos Diamond Omega
  • Honor 9
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
  • Nokia 5
  • Nokia 6 (Chinese version)
  • Xiaomi Mi 5
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
  • Oppo Realme 2 Pro
  • HTC U11 Life
  • Motorola Moto X Force
  • LG Nexus 5X
  • HTC U11
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
  • HTC U12+
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
  • Huawei Mate S
  • Oppo F9
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 3
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
  • Huawei Mate 20
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL
  • Sony Xperia XA1
  • Motorola Moto X4
  • Oppo Realme 2
  • Sony Xperia L1
  • Sony Xperia X
  • LG Q6
  • Huawei P10 Lite
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
  • Huawei P20 Lite
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
  • Huawei Mate 8
  • Sony Xperia XA2
  • Oppo Realme 1
  • Razer Phone 2
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
  • LG G5
  • Huawei Honor View 10
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
  • Lenovo Moto G4
  • Lenovo K6 Note
  • Oppo F1
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
  • BlackBerry Motion
  • Oppo F1s
  • Motorola Moto G
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
  • Huawei G8
  • Huawei nova
  • Sony Xperia Z
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
  • Meizu m3 max
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Auto)
  • HTC 10 evo
  • Xiaomi Mi 4S
  • Acer Liquid X2
  • Huawei P8lite
  • vivo V5
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
  • Sony Xperia E4g
  • OnePlus One
  • Meizu m3 note
  • BlackBerry Leap
  • Meizu m2 note
  • HTC Butterfly
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
  • Sony Xperia U
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
  • Jolla Jolla
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
  • Motorola Moto E
  • Sony Xperia M
  • Sony Xperia L
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
  • HTC Desire C
  • Nokia X
  • Meizu MX
  • Sony Xperia E

The new-found, higher maximum brightness is definitely helpful in this regard. Speaking of which, brightness problems aren't what you would typically associate with IGZO technology. If you are not familiar with it, this is a pretty good point to open a bracket and provide a quick overview. This might get a bit technical but bear with us for a moment. A modern flat-panel display, LCD or OLED, is generally comprised of multiple very thin layers. These can include polarizers, light diffusers, and other layers, but one common part is the so-called thin-film transistors layer (TFT for short). It is a layer of transistors that allows pixels to be turned on and off. In most panels, this layer is comprised of amorphous silicon or aSi - a material that is not transparent by nature but gets etched thin enough for the backlight to still be able to shine through it.

Razer Phone 2 review

This is where IGZO comes in, it is an acronym for "indium gallium zinc oxide" - a transparent alternative to aSi that's better at passing light through. Manufacturers can thus leverage IGZO technology in one of two ways: either boost the maximum brightness of a panel or lower the power consumption necessary to achieve a particular brightness level. Razer was clearly shooting for the latter with its original smartphone, while the latter tries to strike a more user-friendly balance.

And, since we can already hear you asking, the main reason why Razer is trying to be as conservative as possible with brightness and by extension, power usage, has a lot to do with the 120Hz refresh rate of the panel. Almost a year has passed now since the release of the original Razer Phone and we are happy to see high-refresh rate display popping up here and there in the smartphone realm, like on the Asus ROG Phone. Even so, chances are that most users haven't gotten a chance to experience the glorious smoothness 120Hz provides. Alternatively, some that have had the pleasure to use one of Apple's recent 120Hz tablets can attest to just how much of an experience changer it is.

Every animation and every scroll on the Razer Phone 2's 120Hz display looks much smoother and makes it feel like we're witnessing some extra processing power.

That level of smoothness does, however, come at a cost. Razer has done a great job optimizing its UI to make it run really smooth at 120fps, thus saturating the panel's refresh rate. That, however, means more strain on the Adreno 630 GPU. Not to mention that the fact that the panel is refreshing twice as often as it would on a regular smartphone also makes it more power-hungry.

Razer Phone 2 review

So, maintaining a smooth, high-refresh rate experience is a hard task. And it gets exponentially harder when the Razer Phone 2 has to render heavy game graphics and shoot for high frame rates, not just the mostly static pixels of the Android UI. This is where ULTRAMOTION comes in. The technology is based on a variable refresh rate, quite similar to Nvidia G-Sync or AMD Freesync. At every given moment, the screen refresh rate adapts to match the framerate that the GPU outputs resulting in ultra-smooth motion. No dropped frames, no stutters, no tearing, no lag. You simply get to see every frame the GPU renders, as quick as it does so. And this syncing is important since there is not much Razer can do to guarantee consistently high framerates in all the millions of apps and games that are currently available for Android.

There is a major power-saving aspect to the ULTRAMOTION variable refresh rate technology as well. While Razer does allow you to set a desired refresh rate in the settings: 60Hz, 90Hz or 120Hz, doing so does not fix the refresh rate at that number. Since it is variable, when there is nothing happening on screen, the phone can theoretically lower its refresh rate all the way down to 1Hz, also reducing the panel's power consumption. This kind of dynamic flexibility is really impressive, since other high-refresh rate devices, like the aforementioned ROG Phone and compatible Apple tablets, only have a couple of fixed refresh rate values to switch between, depending on circumstance - the adaptive part being left out.

Razer Phone 2 review

While on the topic of changing and adapting display properties, Razer also allows resolution change. Natively, the display runs at QHD, but you can also set it to run at 1080p or even 270p. In the past, we have already determined that doing so has little battery life benefits and the case was the same here. So, our first guess was that this could help with frame rates, so we can saturate that 120Hz refresh rate as best we can. As it turns out, this is not entirely true either. We will get into more detail in the performance section, but as it turns out, most game engines can't really come close to the 120fps mark by design, no matter how much you lower the screen resolution. But, we digress.

Razer Phone 2 review

Back to the second generation of Razer's IGZO panel and its color accuracy, which appears to have taken a slight hit compared to the original. No matter how much we fiddled with the settings, the best color rendering we managed to get had an average deltaE of 6.7 and a maximum of 9.1. Boosted, natural and vivid modes all over-saturate certain colors in different ways. It's not all bad news, though, unlike the distortion and tint that is typically associated with cheaper, non-color-accurate LCD panels, the one on the Razer Phone 2 remains well balanced with all the color profiles. Also, there is support for Wide color gamut but it's not something readily perceivable with the naked eye. Still, Razer claims its phone is the only one certified by Netflix for both HDR and 5.1 surround sound.

Battery life

Just like its predecessor, the Razer Phone 2 is pretty well equipped in the battery department. 4,000 mAh is plenty of juice to go around. However, that stunning, high-refresh rate panel draws quite a bit of power. In fact, so much so that the original Razer Phone ended up being very crippled in terms of overall battery endurance.

So, with its new, higher brightness, the Razer Phone 2 must be even more power-hungry, right? Well, Razer shifted some things around and did its best in the optimization department.

Razer Phone 2 review

The new Razer Phone 2 clearly fairs better in this respect than its predecessor. That being said, however, it doesn't necessarily get more Screen On time out of a full charge. Playing back a 1080p, h264 video still drains the battery in just about seven hours which is subpar. Wi-Fi browsing time has seen some improvement, but that is more than likely due to Qualcomm optimization on the newer Wi-Fi radio, combined with Android and Google Chrome software improvements.

Speaking of which, the main area of improvement is definitely stand-by performance. Perhaps a large chunk of that can again be attributed to the newer and more efficient X20 LTE modem or the OS itself. But it is still a noticeable improvement. The reported standby figures fall in line with other Snapdragon 845 handsets. In fact, they compare with some of the better-optimized implementations of the chip out there. The same goes for the 3G talk time figure.

Razer Phone 2 review

Since we are certain it's going to come up, leaving the RGB Chroma logo ON all the time at its maximum brightness drains quite a bit of battery. It's hard to measure exactly how much, but our best estimate puts it at somewhere around 5% every hour. Of course, you can use it at a medium setting, only when the screen is on or, better yet, just when new notifications come in.

All things considered, the Razer Phone 2 will probably last you longer than its predecessor while simply idling and waiting for a call or notification in your pocket, but won't really do much to extend your gaming time. This is pretty understandable, since, despite the variance in maximum brightness, we still set both phones at 200 nits for our on-screen runs, which levels the playing field. This only comes to show that, just like with the original Razer Phone and its IGZO panel, it's the dynamic high refresh rate that really takes its toll on the battery more than anything else.

Razer Phone 2 review

Unlike its predecessor, the Razer Phone 2 comes with support for wireless charging. It uses the Qi standard, which is quickly becoming the norm throughout the industry and claims to be capable of charging at the 15W speeds, as defined by the current Qi Fast Charging specification. We mostly managed to confirm this number in software. Ampere reports about 12W of maximum current going into the phone, which after accounting for idle power draw does roughly round up to 15W going into the phone.

This was achieved using Razer’s fancy new wireless charging dock. It can only be described as a perfect match for the Razer Phone 2 and is frankly one of the flashiest Qi chargers we have seen to date. As far as hardware specs go, it supports a 15W output. You do need to hook it up to a good wall brick and one that is capable of outputting 12V@2A. The included charger with the Razer Phone 2 is capable of delivering that and we can only assume that Razer simply deemed it easier to include the extra output and effectively go beyond the Quick Charge 4+ spec the Razer Phone 2 supports and into what appears to be USB Power Delivery, rather than ship a whole different power adapter.

Razer Phone 2 review

As for the extra juice, the wireless charging dock might just need it to drive its eye-catching 16.8 million color RGB LED ring surrounding the base of the unit. It looks really stunning and fits right into the whole “gamer” aesthetic. It is also managed through the phone itself and Static, Cycle, and Breathing effects. It even doubles as a notification LED while the phone is charging. Last, but not least, the Razer Qi wireless charger is also quite flexible in ergonomic terms, since it has a pivoting mechanism that can switch between a flat horizontal surface and a tilted vertical one, depending on which way you prefer your phone to be facing. Pretty nifty!

Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Razer Phone 2 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern, so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.


The Razer Phone 2 gets really loud. Impressively and almost uncomfortably so. It lacks a bit behind its predecessor in terms of sheer decibel output, but even so, the newer model is impressively consistent in loudness in the highs, mids and even does an impressive job at trying to represent bass and lows.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Samsung Galaxy Note8 67.8 69.5 71.5 Good
Google Pixel 2 XL 66.2 70.4 78.2 Good
Honor Play 68.3 73.8 75.8 Good
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 68.4 74.0 80.1 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi 8 68.1 72.3 82.2 Very Good
OnePlus 6T 67.2 72.5 84.5 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy Note9 71.2 74.9 80.2 Very Good
Huawei Mate 20 74.3 70.2 82.6 Very Good
Oppo Find X 70.7 75.2 81.2 Very Good
Sony Xperia XZ3 (ClearAudio+) 68.0 75.3 84.0 Very Good
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 70.3 73.4 83.8 Very Good
Sony Xperia XZ3 71.0 75.4 82.9 Excellent
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 72.8 74.7 86.6 Excellent
Razer Phone 69.3 75.0 90.5 Excellent
Razer Phone 2 (Dolby dynamic) 76.7 77.7 87.7 Excellent
Razer Phone 2 78.2 78.8 86.9 Excellent

However, being loud doesn't necessarily equate to a good sound. In fact, more often then not, phones tend to hit some unpleasant high-pitched resonance frequency to get the top scores. Out of the box, the Razer Phone 2 is really no different. Despite having a pair of hefty speakers and plenty of air in the chambers around them, the default sound profile is rather hollow and often times distorted.

Razer Phone 2 review

That being said, we really appreciate the addition on a Dolby equalizer in the Razer Phone 2. Once we enabled it on auto mode (Dolby Dynamic), everything started to sound noticeably better. Sure, at the cost of a few decibels, but more than a justified trade-off. If you really go full hands-on with the EQ sliders and know what you are doing, the Razer Phone 2 is actually capable of some really impressive sound output. Razer just needs to improve the defaults a bit and make them less discouraging and off-putting.

Audio quality

Speaker output aside, the Razer Phone 2 really impressed in the audio quality test when we measured what comes through that USB-C port. Using the supplied adapter, the phone delivered a perfectly accurate output with an active external amplifier connected. There is minimal degradation when headphones come into play, which is merely par for the course when talking flagships.

Yet the super high volume in both test use cases made it shine - it's rare that you see a phone so loud these days, and rarer still one that relies on a USB-C to 3.5mm audio adaptor. The Razer Phone 2 adapter's larger USB-C plug is larger than just about every other unit we have seen, so that might be what explains it - the company just had more room to fit in a higher quality chip inside Of course, that's just guessing on our part but the numbers prove it.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Razer Phone 2+0.06, -0.52-93.493.30.00180.0078-92.8
Razer Phone 2 (headphones)+0.12, -0.18-92.892.80.0140.168-68.3
Huawei Mate 20 +0.02, -0.16-
Huawei Mate 20 (headphones)+0.07, -0.07-
OnePlus 6T+0.03, -0.05-93.493.30.00100.0070-93.8
OnePlus 6T (headphones)+0.17, -0.15-
Sony Xperia XZ3+0.01, -0.02-
Sony Xperia XZ3 (headphones)+0.38, -0.21-
Samsung Galaxy Note9+0.01, -0.03-93.793.70.00170.0074-94.1
Samsung Galaxy Note9 (headphones)+0.03, -0.02-93.693.50.00330.046-93.2
HTC U12++0.02, -0.15-94.394.30.00210.0069-94.3
HTC U12+ (headphones)+0.18, -0.13-93.793.60.00240.104-52.7

Razer Phone 2 frequency response
Razer Phone 2 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous
  • 13 May 2021
  • msg

i love this phone

  • Anonymous
  • 30 Apr 2021
  • TdQ

i had this phone sins 2018 and i love it but the screen shattered but i did drop it of a balcony but i love Razer products

  • Caboose
  • 27 May 2020
  • s9M

I have owned this phone for almost a year, and I love everything about it, I run lots of programs and messy little rooting and such for school (IT) and this works awesome for me. My only complaints are that one: this is a glass phone and if you dont ...