RAZER DEBUTS ITS FIRST PHONE, AND IT’S BUILT FOR GAMES

IF I TOLD you Razer made a smartphone, you’d probably develop a mental picture pretty quickly. Since the company is mostly known for its gaming mice, keyboards, and laptops, you’d expect this phone to be For Gamers. It’d be crazy powerful, of course, with all the best specs and the highest numbers and probably a bunch of chips you don’t need but sound really cool at a LAN party. It’d probably be huge, and super expensive, as gaming gear tends to be. And it would definitely glow, for sure, no question. Maybe red flames? Maybe Razer’s own multicolored Chroma system? Lots of ideas.

The actual Razer Phone almost counts as boring, by gaming gear metrics. It’s a slightly blocky black rectangle with no glowing lights, no sound effects when you press the right button, and no glowing lights. Even Razer’s three-headed snake logo, usually neon green, comes only in black. The Razer Phone was largely created by the team behind Nextbit, a design-led company that built one pretty cool phone, called Robin, and then sold to Razer. The Razer Phone carries a lot of the Robin’s DNA, but none of the cloud-blue coloring.

Inside, though, the Razer Phone’s everything a Blade owner could want. Snapdragon 835 processor, one of the best in the biz. A whopping 8 gigs of RAM. A huge 4,000mAh battery. Best of all, a 5.72-inch, Quad HD IGZO LCD (I swear those acronyms all mean something) screen, with 120Hz capabilities. The display can ramp up its framerate when you’re scrolling or playing a game, and crank all the way back down when you’re just reading or watching a movie. The tech behind the display sounds like the iPad’s ProMotion display, and seems to work just as well. I’ve never scrolled so smoothly on an Android phone, and a quick demo of Riptide GP: Renegade, one of my fave mobile games ever, felt and looked incredible. Its looks may disguise its intentions, but the Razer Phone exists for gaming.

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The spec list just keeps on going. Two 12-megapixel cameras in the back. A 24-bit digital audio converter included in the box. Stereo front-facing speakers, with Dolby Atmos built in. It only ships with Android Nougat, but at least comes withNova Launcher, one of the best and most customizable Android launchers out there. And Razer says Oreo is coming soon.

Preorders start today at $699, and it ships on November 17.

A gaming phone, of course, matters only as much as the games it can play. Lack of truly great, unmissable games on mobile has plagued every so-called “gamer phone” since the days of the Nokia N-Gage. Razer has an advantage here, in that it’s already working with so many game makers. It’s working with the makers of games like Arena of Valor andFinal Fantasy to optimize their wares for the Razer Phone’s specs. That would be good for the Razer Phone, and for theAndroid ecosystem in general.

Razer’s trying to walk a tough line here, as many have before it: to make a phone for gamers that doesn’t look like, well, a phone for gamers. The company understands that people don’t buy two phones, and they need their device optimized for both important presentations and importantShadowgun sessions. That’s hard to do, but based on a brief demo at Razer’s office, the company’s done a pretty good job. It makes a few cool-phone concessions in the name of gaming—the slightly thicker body to house more battery, the extra bezel above and below the screen to offer a grip in landscape mode—but no one would look askance when you took the Razer Phone out of your suit pocket. Though they might be tipped off to your true intentions when the dulcet tones of Hearthstone come blaring out your speakers mid-meeting.

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