It should go without saying that the Razer Phone 2 is designed for mobile gaming and nothing else. Ever since we first laid our hands on it, there’s nothing else worth doing on this device aside from playing games — and a little media consumption on the side.
For one, this thing is big and blocky. Never have I used a phone as daunting as this. While it feels fine during landscape mode with two hands, going single-handed can be a literal pain to one’s hand.
You can get a better feel of it in our initial hands-on video:
It’s essentially the same brick as the original Razer Phone. The gaming company definitely applied the don’t-fix-it-if-it-ain’t-broke mentally here. I’m honestly fine with it since it delivers an unmatched screen-speaker combo, but I imagine small-handed users having a problem with this.
That’s mainly because it owns a 5.7-inch screen with a traditional ratio of 16:9, which means it isn’t as slim as those with the newer 18:9 panels. However, the dreaded notch is still nowhere in sight, and there’s more vertical space when playing in landscape orientation.
And since the stereo speakers are placed in front (where they should be), there’s no way of blocking them while gaming. That’s important, because you wouldn’t want to cover these grilles. They’re the absolute loudest, clearest speakers I’ve ever experienced on a smartphone, and could even beat some of the laptops I’ve reviewed in the past.
But from start to finish, it’s the display you really want. It’s an unmatched 120Hz LCD with a 1440p resolution. There’s really nothing like it in the market; it’s unbelievably smooth when scrolling and incredibly sharp when pixel peeping. Only the ROG Phone’s 6-inch 1080p AMOLED with its 90Hz refresh rate comes close, but I could definitely feel Razer’s extra pixels and hertz.
So, how does all that translate to actual gaming? Mostly hits for sure, but I must point out some misses to make this a complete review.
First, the good. Even though Razer doesn’t advertise it, the faster 120Hz refresh rate applies to practically all games that involve scrolling or movement. That means you get on-screen motion that’s twice as smooth as the usual 60Hz on 99.9 percent of all other phones ever made. It’s tough to describe in pictures or words, but you can take my word that it’s tough to go back to anything less than this.
Combined with the Snapdragon 845 chipset and 8GB of RAM, this is the best mix of hardware you can find until the next flagship Snapdragon gets announced, which may be as soon as next month. It’s a shame really, although this chip is more than enough to power the demanding screen. You can even boost performance further with the Game Booster app, which allows you to customize individual settings per game. I just keep mine on Performance mode to be safe.
My only concern is the heat management. Even though it’s been proven that the internals are cooled by a vapor chamber, I can’t say it’s effective in keeping heat away from my hands during intense gameplay. For comparison, it gets as warm as the vapor cooling-less Pixel 3, and doesn’t maintain temperature as well as the Mate 20 Pro, which isn’t even a gamer-centric phone but does own a more advanced 7nm Kirin processor.
The display’s biggest drawback has to be its poor brightness even at the highest setting. This poses a problem for games like Pokémon Go wherein you gotta go out in daylight to play. It was close to unplayable for me when the sun was high — something that never bothered me whenever I stayed inside my cave.
Speaking of going outside, I also can’t say that the 4000mAh battery capacity is enough. While it may seem ample on paper, I noticed the Razer Phone 2 easily burns through it in a few short hours. I would peg average use on a single charge at five hours of screen-on time tops; about an hour less if you use it purely for gaming. I could probably improve battery life by adjusting the refresh rate to 60Hz, but why would I hinder the phone’s best feature?
And yet, despite these minor complaints, I can’t take anything away from the audio-visual experience the Razer Phone 2 offers. Having powerful stereo speakers and a desktop-grade 120Hz 1440p LCD is unreal, and I don’t understand why more brands aren’t copying this. The era of 60Hz needs to end already, and it should start with smartphones.
With the gaming aspect out of the way, what else can this smartphone do?
For one, the Razer Phone 2 has wireless charging unlike its predecessor. Razer offers an RGB-lighted fast charging pad of its own, and it matches well with the customizable illumination of the phone’s rear logo.
Yeah, that RGB logo really puts the game in gamer! The built-in Chroma app is where the magic happens; there are lots of options to adjust colors and how they radiate. Of course, leaving it on too long drains the battery immensely. My preferred setting is a glowing logo while the phone is on, and totally off when the unit’s asleep.
What else is there to know? Aside from all the upgrades over the predecessor I’ve mentioned, the Razer Phone 2 also comes with IP67 water and dust resistance, meaning it can handle unfortunate situations (like dunks in a toilet) more easily. Unfortunately, the 3.5mm audio port has once again been excluded, which is a head-scratcher on any sort of gaming device.
Oh, and the camera performance isn’t that good. As expected of a gaming phone, image quality isn’t a priority, but it gets the job done when daylight is plenty and you have nothing serious to shoot. I also appreciated the 2x optical zoom of the secondary lens. Take a look at some samples:
Is this your GadgetMatch?
If it isn’t clear by now, the Razer Phone 2 is fantastic for gaming, and not much more. Its blockiness and general lack of focus for anything other than raw performance makes it a rather niche product in a sea of versatile smartphones. You could easily buy a different Snapdragon 845-equipped handset for a fraction of this phone’s US$ 799 price, and you’d likely gain other features like better cameras and a modern look, while still getting gaming-level speeds.
However, those would lack the amazing 120Hz display, extra-loud speakers, and all-around customization. At the same time, last year’s discounted Razer Phone has become a little more lucrative, especially since it looks nearly identical to its successor and offers mostly the same signature features.
When all’s said and done, the Razer Phone 2 is a fun little machine. I wouldn’t use it as a daily driver, but whenever a hot new mobile game comes out, this would be my go-to match.
Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?
Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!
Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.
I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.
The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.
DALLA DALLA, Crazy Rich Asians: Now Playing
A Valentine’s special!
If you don’t have a date, don’t be grumpy. Sometimes, all you need is self-love and entertainment to keep you going. Have some fun alone time and enjoy what’s now playing at GadgetMatch!
Movies to see
Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Marvin: If you’re single and unhappy about it this month, catching a late showing of Dragon Ball Super: Broly may be the best way to release stress in the theater. It’s by far the best Dragon Ball movie yet with tireless action and gorgeous visuals, plus it’s surprisingly friendly to both old fans and those new to the franchise.
Crazy Rich Asians
MJ: Crazy Rich Asians is a film for those who are ready to take it to the next level. It’s about standing up to people who get in the way of your happiness, and choosing what’s best for the person you love. It’s a dash of romance with a sprinkle of comedy to keep you from crying in heart-wrenching scenes.
TV shows to binge watch
Rodneil: The anime follows a transfer student who seemed sweet and normal at first, but has an insatiable thirst for gambling. It’s a relatively easy watch and you can follow along even if you’re doing something else.
Games to play
Kingdom Hearts III
Rodneil: There’s too much backstory heading into this game that it can get super confusing, especially if this is your first game in the franchise. The story is clunky at best but the game is a visual spectacle. Push the narrative to the side and just play it for the fireworks.
Resident Evil 2
Marvin: I was too afraid to finish Resident Evil 2 on my own as a kid, so I’m glad it’s been remade for my braver adult self. In line with Valentine’s Day, I’d say it’s a perfect game to play with a partner so that you have someone to hold your hand during the most intense zombie sightings. 💕
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
Kahit Ayaw Mo Na by This Band
Rodneil: Only caught wind of this song recently and I haven’t been able to stop listening since. It talks about someone wanting to work it out with her/his partner. However, the partner seems unwilling. The music invites multiple listens and the way the words flow is ear-candy.
Shine by Pentagon
Rodneil: My obsession with girl group Twice has served as a gateway to other K-Pop tracks, and this is one of them. It’s simply an absolutely fun song to listen to. A great pick-me-up to get you started in the morning.
Can’t Help Falling In Love by Kina Grannis
MJ: Kina Grannis’ strings and acoustic guitar rendition of Elvis Presley’s classic love song makes you remember how love is a force you can’t resist. The emotion you’ll feel in this song is overwhelming — ranging from the bliss of being in love to confusion and even heartbreak.
DALLA DALLA by ITZY
Vincenz: The song’s unique and dynamic blend of sounds, from a hip-hop centric intro and bridge up to a contrasting, bright chorus, makes it a great and catchy debut song (their visuals are exceptional, too). Message of the song? It’s all about empowerment and self-love!
Gokigen Sayonara (A Happy Goodbye) by IZ*ONE
Vincenz: This song caught my ears with its catchy tune and lyrics, which doesn’t usually happen since most J-Pop releases sound so different. Its lively, electro-pop vibe opposes the song’s message about bidding farewell to someone you truly love, but it works.
Cities/Places to visit
Marvin: Now cleaner and more beautiful than ever, Boracay’s beach is the perfect weekend getaway once again. A lot of activities and shops are still unavailable, but if you simply want to soak in the sun and sea breeze, it would be a great time to go once the tourists leave post-Valentine’s.
Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!
Samsung Galaxy S10: Everything we know so far
The tenth-generation flagship
Samsung is set to unveil its new flagship series this month — the Galaxy S10. Even before the phones get announced, we already know a lot about them. From the design to their prices, information about the Galaxy S10 family is already floating around the internet.
Without further ado, let’s get to know the Galaxy S10 phones before they go official.
A slight refresh in design
For starters, it’ll have a new display. Samsung doesn’t like the notch (but they do have a budget notched phone), so the Galaxy S10 phones will have a hole-punch camera instead. The Galaxy A8s gave us a preview of Samsung’s plans, but the Galaxy S10 will use Super AMOLED technology, of course.
This year, aside from the usual regular and Plus variant, we’ll have a third member of the Galaxy flagship family. Dubbed the Galaxy S10E, this model is going to be cheapest of the bunch. It’ll have to let go of some features to meet its price point, though.
In terms of display size, the Galaxy S10+ will be the biggest at 6.4 inches, in the middle is the regular Galaxy S10 with its 6.1-inch panel, and the smallest is the Galaxy S10E at 5.8 inches.
The superior Galaxy S10+ will have two front cameras and its hole is more of an oblong rather than a circle. This also means that the Galaxy S10+ has less screen real estate than its smaller siblings.
Since the front camera is now smacked inside the display area, Samsung can shrink the bezel even more. The current Galaxy flagships already have edge-to-edge screens, which means the Galaxy S10 phones will have more immersive displays. Although, Samsung has to let go of its iris scanner in order to pull off the true borderless design. In exchange, the Galaxy S10 and S10+ will have in-display fingerprint scanners.
The Galaxy S10 phones will have curved displays and contoured glass backs, except for the Galaxy S10E model. The camera setup on the back is aligned vertically, similar to the Galaxy Note 9’s.
Top of the line as always
In the specifications department, none of the Galaxy S10 models will disappoint. All three Galaxy S10 phones will have at least 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage.
The Galaxy S10+ will have a special variant that’ll certainly be considered overkill with 12GB of memory and a whopping 1TB of storage. Just typing that makes my laptop feel inferior to a smartphone.
Like previous Galaxy S phones, the tenth generation will sport the fastest Exynos and Snapdragon processors available. Currently, there’s the Exynos 9820 from Samsung and the Snapdragon 855 from Qualcomm. It’s unclear, though, if the phones will support 5G out of the box.
The rest of the specs should include USB-C and 3.5mm audio ports. If the headphone jack truly continues to live another year, it’ll be a strong statement against manufacturers that ditched it for certain reasons.
The multiple cameras on the Galaxy S10 phones are quite interesting. We knew Samsung was already developing triple cameras since the second half of 2018. If you can recall, the company released the new Galaxy A7 with three rear cameras and then the Galaxy A9 with four rear cameras.
The camera sensors and features of the Galaxy S10 models have yet to be detailed, but we do know that the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ will have three advanced shooters on the back.
As for the batteries, the Galaxy S10E will have the smallest at 3100mAh, which is above average. The Galaxy S10, on the other hand, will have a slightly bigger 3400mAh cell, while the Galaxy S10+ will have a long-lasting 4100mAh battery. Fast charging will be supported both in wired and wireless methods. Reverse wireless charging is also anticipated.
How much will it cost?
EXCLUSIVE! Here’s the full list of Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10 and S10+ variants that will be coming to Europe along with Official Pricing. This price list is for Netherlands, I don’t have for other countries as of now, but the difference should be minimal b/w European countries. pic.twitter.com/WWSFzXjnFO
— Ishan Agarwal (@ishanagarwal24) February 1, 2019
According to the latest leaked pricing info, the Galaxy S10E will go for EUR 749. The regular Galaxy S10 will start at EUR 899 and will have a more expensive EUR 1,149 variant. As the more premium of the three, the Galaxy S10+ starts at EUR 999. If you want the top-dog variant with 12GB memory and 1TB storage, you’ll have to prepare EUR 1,499.
When will it ship?
The phone is launching on February 20 during Samsung’s yearly Unpacked event. The keynote will take place in San Francisco, California and streamed live on Samsung’s website.
They won’t be immediately available after the launch, but pre-orders are expected to be open the next day. Rumor has it that the phones will be in stores as early as March 8.
That’s about everything we know about the Galaxy S10 series, so far. Nothing is confirmed until the official launch, so there might be some changes. Are you planning on getting any of the Galaxy S10 phones?
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