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Razer Phone 2 review: Gaming and nothing else

Needs to be more than that

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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.

Bezels for days

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.

A useful pre-installed app for a change

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.

Ragnarok M: Eternal Love pushes the Razer Phone 2 to peak hotness

Asphalt 9 is an example of a fast-paced game that pushes the phone to its limits

Alto’s Odyssey benefits greatly from the 120Hz refresh rate

A gamepad accessory would be a godsend for games like Fortnite

Playing in vertical orientation is less comfy yet manageable

Going outdoors introduces a new issue

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?

More is always better

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?

Razer’s new…

… wireless charging pad

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.

Take your pick!

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.

In case you’re wondering: No, turning on the lights doesn’t make it run faster

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.

Features

Dancing in the rain? Capture it with the Galaxy A52 5G

Content creation with IP67

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Galaxy A52

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is easily the best flagship-loke phone without the wallet-robbing price.

And with flagship specs, come flagship lenses. These make the Galaxy A52 5G the best content creator phone.

With its quad-camera’s 64MP main shooter and 32MP selfie camera, it’s really no surprise this phone’s got all the specs you want and need for content creation.

A quick swipe into more camera features, gives you loads to choose from. The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is feature packed. From delivering stunning stills, to features like 4K video, Fund Mode, nothing comes close to making content all in one phone.

From silly obscure intros, to filming your new indoor hobbies, to finding the best moments while vlogging. And it doesn’t stop there.

The phone has IP67, protecting it against dust and sand. It can also work for at least 30 minutes while under 15cm to 1m of water.

Want to record quality TikToks? Play and stream? Or, Vlog your day-to-day? You ca do those, plus watch and immerse in other’s content on the 6.5” Full HD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate.

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is a heavy hitting midranger. Whether you’re watching content or making it!


This feature is collaboration between GadgetMatch and Samsung Philippines.

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I’m missing the Olympics because I don’t have cable

And it sucks

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It’s 2021. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is in full swing as of writing. However, as someone whose primary source of media entertainment all comes from streaming, there’s no easy and convenient way for me to watch the games. Major bummer.

I like to enjoy my media a certain way; I prefer to stream them on my TV. Which is why majority of the content I consume come from YouTube, Netflix, and the occasional Amazon Prime, HBO Go (Yep, not even HBO Max), and Apple TV.

I find it incredibly baffling that the stakeholders involved in bringing the games to the people failed to come to an agreement to make it easily accessible on the aforementioned platforms. It’s 2021. Why on earth am I not able to watch the greatest sporting event on the planet the way I want to?

Believe me, I hear the privilege in my words. Regardless, I still feel marginalized.

So how can you watch the Olympics right now?

I asked a friend who’s been covering the games. He watches through cable and had to pay a PhP 150 fee (around US$ 3/ SG$ 4) to avail of the Tokyo 2020 Premium from a particular cable provider.

Thing is, the whole Olympic coverage in the Philippines is locked to the MVP group of companies. You wanna follow the games, you’re gonna have to do it on one of their platforms.

Here’s an excerpt from their press release on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic coverage:

“Sports fans will have comprehensive access to the Olympic Games — from the Opening Ceremonies all the way to when the games conclude — on free to air via TV5 and One Sports. One Sports+ on Cignal TV will also dedicate a significant amount of their daily hours to broadcast the events, with Cignal also opening up two exclusive channels dedicated to broadcast the games 24/7. Cignal Play, in addition to live channels TV5, One Sports & One Sports+, will be offering exclusive channels broadcasting live updates to its subscribers, along with exclusive content not available on the TV broadcast. Cignal TV’s One News leads the group’s round-the-clock news coverage, featuring results, updates, and highlights.”

Comprehensive? Maybe. For platforms within the MVP group of companies. If you’re not subscribed to any of these, well, that’s just too bad. It’s good for business and I completely understand how the whole thing works. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The coverage also missed to televise or showcase Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal win in the Weightlifting competition. If you’ve been following sports news, the Philippines was expected to get a medal in this event. Sadly, the moment was only known following updates from reporters on the ground.

How I wish it was handled

I’m sure there’s a lot more that goes into it in terms of TV and broadcasting rights, but we’re literally at an age where plenty of folks have decided to cut the cord and rely on streaming for content.

On YouTube, you can buy and/or rent movies and shows. The platform and structure exists for pay-to-watch content. They could have even made tiers or packages like charge a certain amount to gain access to all the games, a different and lower amount if you just want to follow a certain sport and/or a certain event.

Maybe the potential earnings to do so didn’t justify the costs to implement it. Whatever the case, it’s still incredibly frustrating.

Sure, I can go through the hoopla of setting up a VPN and look for streaming sites. But that’s more even more cumbersome. I don’t mind paying a convenience fee if it means that after a long day of work I can kick back, relax, and watch some damn sports.

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How to git gud at Mobile Legends from Blacklist International

Bring out your notepads…

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School is in session. If you’re into Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, you know Blacklist International. The recent MPL PH Season 7 champion team has a decent rep in the mobile gaming world. So, if you want to get good, you’ll definitely get good-good. And, who better to give us the best tips than the QueenVee, Ohmy.v33nus, himself?

TIP #1 – Start small

When asked how to hit it right with the basics, Ohmy.v33nus answered with pretty solid advice saying: “When it comes to improving your gameplay, do it one step at a time. Players can try mastering one hero or one role at a time first. From there, you can best strategize how you plan to win your game better.”

TIP #2 – Know you to do you

Beginners are faced with almost as many daunting questions as ordering sugar and ice levels for boba when it comes to who to play. From characters’ skills, roles, and abilities in the grander scheme of the team game, it can get overwhelming.

So the best way to get better is to know who you want to play and what role suits your preferences. And like Ohmy.v33nus said, “Knowing the role that suits you is important, some players love playing heroes in melee combat, some in long-range or using magical powers.

TIP #3 – If you want to go pro, you’ve got to play harder

We asked what advice the team had for people who are starting out and want to maybe go pro in the future. He answered by saying, “what separates casual players from those wanting to take it seriously is ranking, so if players want to be noticed they can try to achieve a top global ranking.” And, while that’s a technical target goal you can work towards, Blacklist gave sage advice on how to get there.

TIP #4 – The grind

Ranking up to where you’ve proven you take the game seriously to be pro comes with time and effort. So, it’s no surprise when Blacklist followed up TIP #3 with this: “before you achieve that desired ranking, practice makes perfect. When there’s an opportunity to practice, do it. Never stop learning and discovering your battling strategy so you’ll be able to champion your way to the global competitions.”

When asked how often and for how long the team grinds to get to be as good as they are, they practice a minimum of 8 hours per day, extending to up to 10 hours. “This helps us build team dynamics better and strengthen our strategy,” Ohmy.v33nus said.

TIP #5 – Know the meta

If you’ve got all 5 down so far, you’re up for more technical know-how. So, given the ever-changing game meta it can be challenging to keep up. This is where noting patches and updates can be helpful. Keeping track of who has been nerfed, buffed, and adjusted. And, knowing little tweaks Moonton has made in-game can help players adjust and adapt.

It’s also good to note that this is where you’ll be returning to TIPS #1 – #5, where it rides on comfort and familiarity. So, whether you fully grasp the meta or not, you can play however you feel outside the world of going pro.

So, with the current meta, we had to ask Blacklist for their whitelist. Jokes aside, we had them recommend heroes for each role and they said, “Marksman: Granger, Tank: Tigreal, Support: Rafaela, Angela, Assassin: Ling, Fighter: X-Borg, Mage: Nana.” When asked about the top meta hero picks for ranked, they said that they weren’t quite sure with the recent patch. But, they think some of the best heroes last season kept their placement. “Like Mathilda, Yve, Granger, and Harith,” Blacklist said.

TIP #6 — Play on a gaming-capable smartphone

You know that highly-contested-on-who-said-it quote about how when you give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime? Well, think of getting the perfect gaming smartphone as equal to getting yourself a fishing rod to get started on learning how to fish. But, enough silly metaphors.

Ohmy.v33nus aptly said, “it goes without saying that your tools can make or break your game. You need a phone that has the processing power, battery life, storage space, and stunning display to give you long-lasting, smooth, and precise gameplay.”

When asked about particular phones and features the team liked, he said they loved OPPO’s A94 and its AI gaming features. Adding, “our favorite is the Gamer Mode which lets you block off interruptions and notifications so you can focus more on your battle.” Plus, when waiting on important messages, the phone features a Bullet Screen Message that allows users to instantly receive messages without blocking or interrupting the game.

TIP #7 – A gaming phone, stripped

Not all gaming features need to be game-centric. At the end of the day, it’s night. No, kidding aside, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is a fun team game and if you’re stripping the game of its fun and the team, you’ve got no one to be or get good with. A gaming phone, stripped without games, are phones, and as good as the OPPO A94’s 48MP AI rear quad-cam matrix and 32MP ultra-clear front camera set-up was, we needed to know if Blacklist had much use for it.

So, we asked how important camera specs and features were to team members when picking out a gaming phone. Ohmy.v33nus replied saying, “a lot. We don’t only focus on gaming, as professional players; we also create content and stay active on social media for fans, family, and friends.”

The OPPO A94 Features:

Display — 6.43-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) AMOLED display, 90 Hz refresh rate, 409 PPI

Processor — MediaTek Helio P95 octa-core processor

Storage — 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage

Camera — Quad rear cameras: 48MP F1.7 (primary), 8MP F2.2 (ultra-wide), 2MP F2.4 (macro), and 2MP F2.4 (portrait); Selfie camera: 32MP

Operating System — ColorOS 11.1

Battery – 4310mAh, 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0

Price and availability

OPPO A94 comes in Fantastic Purple, Crystal Silver, and Fluid Black. It has a price tag of PhP 13, 999 and can be purchased via OPPO Brand Stores nationwide, Shopee, and Lazada.

TIP #8 – Lastly, soft skills and heart

When asked for advice for aspiring pros on what they can work on, Ohmy.v33nus said, “since ML:BB is a team game, a crucial soft skill you can develop is communication. Being clear and precise with teammates not only helps in-game strategies but also helps strengthen the synergy between them and their teammates.” Going on to say, “keep your heart in the game. Keep practicing and play regularly to boost your skills to achieve top leaderboard spots.”


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and OPPO Philippines

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