Razer Phone 2 review: A powerful gaming phone with a dash of flagship panache

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MSRP: $799.99

The Good The Razer Phone 2 adds IP67 water resistance, a brighter 120Hz screen and wireless charging. That's on top of its great gaming performance and amazing built-in speakers. It's also compatible with 2TB microSD cards for extra storage and runs a close-to-stock version of Android.

The Bad Battery life is worse than the original Razer Phone, despite costing $100 more.

The Bottom Line Short battery life and just OK photos undermine what is otherwise an amazing phone.

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7.2 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 10
  • Camera 6
  • Battery 6

Update, May 13: We compared the Razer Phone 2 to the Asus ROG, Nubia Red Magic Mars and Black Shark to see which is the best gaming phone. The in-depth testing covered everything from game play and processing power to cooling systems and screens. Read: Best phone for gaming in 2019: Razer 2 vs. Asus ROG, Nubia Red Magic Mars, Xiaomi Black Shark.

Last year's original Razer Phone entered the phone market like a cowboy through swinging doors at a saloon. It grabbed attention for its rectangular design, 120Hz screen and horsepower. But it lacked the polish and features of other flagship phones and was viewed as more of a "gaming phone" oddity.

The new Razer Phone 2 fixes those flagship gripes without losing the soul of the original. In fact, the new phone has the same "monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey" design vibe while adding IP67 water resistance, wireless charging, a camera portrait mode and an even brighter 120Hz screen.

However, all is not rosy with Razer's newest phone. "Flagship features" come at a cost, literally. The Razer Phone 2 costs $800 (or £780, which converts to AU$1,430). That nets you 64GB of storage, but it's $100 more than last year's Razer and puts the phone in the same price range as the Google Pixel 3 and iPhone XR. The phone is compatible with 2TB microSD cards, however, if you wish to expand the storage.

Its cameras have improved hardware, but image quality is just OK. Photos and videos currently suffer from moire and color banding.

Despite having a honking 4,000-mAh battery, the Razer Phone 2 performed poorly in CNET's battery test for continuous video playback on airplane mode. In real-world usage, however, it made it through a day of use -- including a few sessions of 120Hz gaming -- just fine.

If you live on a diet of movies and mobile video games, the Razer Phone 2 is worth a look. But if you want a great camera and a phone that can make it through more than a day on a charge, take a look at the cheaper OnePlus 6 or the Galaxy Note 9.

Now playing: Watch this: Razer Phone 2 gets unboxed

Razer Phone 2's boxy design gets Gorilla Glass 5 and a cool extra

The Razer Phone 2's blocky design won't be to everyone's liking, but I find it unique and alluring. The squared edges are reminiscent of the iPhone 5 and fit well in my hand, especially in landscape orientation. I have large hands, however, and in a smaller pair of mitts this phone might be more than a handful. I like that I can confidently stand the Razer Phone 2 on its side to watch a movie or capture a video.

And in case you're wondering, there's no notch. Instead, you'll find a chunky forehead and chin housing two of the loudest speakers I've ever heard on a phone. Seriously, play Bohemian Rhapsody or Liquid Swords by GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, tap on that Dolby button, select Music -- and you're welcome. These speakers are all the more impressive when you consider they were completely redesigned to make the phone IP67 water-resistant.


The $99 wireless charging dock puts on a light show every time you charge your phone.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The phone has a cool chroma logo on the back that isn't just there for looks: It actually glows when you get notifications. So when new texts or Snapchat messages come in, the logo lights up. You can also customize the color, brightness of the glow and determine whether it's static or not. There's an idle mode in which the logo brightens and dims as if the phone is breathing -- it lured several coworkers to my desk with its visual siren song.

The Gorilla Glass 5 back allows for wireless charging which is made all the more fun if you buy the $99 Razer Phone 2 wireless charger. Place your phone on the stand and the edges of the base light up like Rainbow Road from Mario Kart. I get so much enjoyment and satisfaction from using the Razer Phone 2 wireless charging dock.