Need a gaming phone? The Razer Phone 2 is your best bet

Mobile gaming has come a long ways since the days when Angry Birds or Candy Crush dominated the app store. The platform is exploding, with competitive games like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite captivating gamers. If you want the best Android gaming experience — and want be prepared for what else is to come — we’re here to help.

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With the Razer Phone 2, Razer has officially claimed the crown for the best Android gaming phone… for the time being, at least. Razer brought a lot of interesting concepts to the table with its first Razer Phone, but it missed the mark in a lot of fundamental ways that made it hard to recommend over more reliable options. The Razer Phone 2 addresses most of what held the first phone back and adds in cool flourishes like the RGB Chroma logo on the back. It’s a legitimately great phone that’s worth investing in if you’re passionate about mobile gaming.

Our pick

Razer Phone 2

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  • $800 from Amazon
  • $800 from Razer

A refined gaming experience.

The Razer Phone 2 brings in more of Razer’s design sensibilities from it’s popular laptop division to bring more wow-factor to the table — with both a brighter display in the front and customizable RGB lights on the back. Gaming on an Android phone has never looked or sounded so good.

Who should buy this phone

Mobile gaming has grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years. What was once seen as a niche market mostly for distracting fussy kids and entertaining bored adults on their work break has quickly evolved into an expansive industry featuring big-name titles, competitive gaming tournaments, and a diverse library of premium and free-to-play games to choose from. For the discerning gamer, we’re living through the golden age of mobile gaming.

For the discerning gamer, we’re living through the golden age of mobile gaming.

It used to be the case that it was good enough that your phone could play a few games. These days, you may be asking whether your older phone is good enough to play the latest mobile games being announced at major gaming conferences.

Games like PUBG Mobile, VainGlory, and Fortnite have pushed competitive mobile gaming to the forefront, where the Razer Phone 2’s Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of RAM flexes its might at top graphical settings with ease. Games optimized for the Razer Phone’s 120hz refresh rate display look fantastic, too, and the massive 4,000mAh battery and Razer’s Game Booster software come together to let you optimize the phone for game performance or extended battery life. If your skills and strategies are razor sharp, the Razer Phone 2 might give you a slight advantage over your opponents because the games play so fast.

Is it a good time to buy this phone?

Yes. The Razer Phone 2 was just recently released about a year after the first Razer Phone hit shelves. If you found yourself impressed by the first phone’s specs but opted to wait and see how Razer would refine the hardware and address the camera issues of the first, the Razer Phone 2 is the best phone for those serious about mobile gaming.

Reasons to buy

  • Brilliant display with a 120hz refresh rate
  • Impressive specs for gaming
  • Super loud Dolby Atmos stereo speakers
  • Chroma RGB logo
  • Wireless charging and water resistance

Reasons not to buy

  • No headphone jack
  • Unremarkable camera

The Razer Phone 2 is the best gaming phone for 2018

We can credit Razer for raising the bar for gaming smartphones since Razer acquired Nextbit at the start of 2017 and started designing the PC gaming company’s first smartphone. Released in November of that year, the first Razer Phone brought a lot to the table but was hampered overall by a dim display and a mediocre camera. Fortunately, Razer came back in 2018 with the Razer Phone 2 and managed to address all the issues while improving nearly every other aspect of the phone.

Razer Phone 2 manages to address all the issues we had with the first Razer Phone while offering improvements to nearly every other aspect of the phone.

The Razer Phone 2 is designed to deliver the best visuals and audio for your gaming and media needs, and it does not disappoint. The front-facing speakers are powered by Dolby Atmos and it sounds great. The display supports up to 120hz refresh rate which looks gorgeous whether you’re swiping through app menus or playing your favorite mobile game. The 4000mAh battery is ample and boosted by Razer’s Game Booster software that lets you fine-tune the phone’s performance to prioritize gameplay performance or battery life.

From there, you get a serviceable camera, IP67 water resistance, wireless charging, and that customizable Chroma logo on the back that’s a great conversation starter and can also be used for app notifications. The Razer Phone 2 is a phone that the average Android fan would enjoy using, but if you love to battle for chicken dinners in PUBG Mobile, you got to try playing the game on a Razer Phone 2. It will blow your mind.

Alternatives to the Razer Phone 2

While the Razer Phone 2 might be the best gaming phone, it’s also an $800 phone that’s not available on contract through a carrier. Fortunately, there are other great phones out there that offer particularly enticing features — and prices — for avid mobile gamers.

Runner-up

ASUS ROG Gaming Smartphone

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$900 from Amazon

ASUS gets in on the gamer smartphone craze.

The ASUS smartphone division has proven to be a player in big international markets such as China and India, but they’re looking to finally make a splash in the states with its flashy new gaming phone — proudly flying the Republic of Gamers brand with a bold design. Its top-tier specs include an Snapdragon 845 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, as well as some interesting features we haven’t seen before on an Android phone, like ultrasonic shoulder trigger inputs, relocated USB-C and 3.5mm ports designed for charging while gaming and an included cooling fan.

The ROG phone has a lot going for it, with a 6-inch AMOLED display that supports up to 90hz refresh rate and high-end specs for a gorgeous gaming experience. ASUS has also shown off a wide selection of accessories that let you convert your phone into a full desktop setup powered by your phone, along with a GameVice controller and other unique ways to game. At $900, it’s just too expensive to recommend as our top pick, but it’s still a really neat concept for a phone that deserves mention here.

Reliably awesome

Samsung Galaxy S9

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$625 from Amazon

A great phone for gaming… and so much more!

When considering the best phone for gamers, the decision largely comes down to three considerations: hardware performance, display, and battery life. The Galaxy S9 checks all three boxes with top-end specs and industry-leading design that includes great hardware features for gamers such as front-facing speakers, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, along with water resistance, and wireless charging for daily use convenience.

There are many good reasons why Samsung phones are so popular year after year. Samsung continues to fine tune its hardware and software generations after generation to provide a top-tier flagship device each year that’s guaranteed to support the latest and greatest in mobile gaming. With a brilliant display and all the hardware specs needed to power the most advanced gaming experience, Samsung’s latest flagships are always a solid option for gamers. Be sure to check out Samsung’s Gaming Mode and game launcher, which offers valuable features including an integrated screen recording function.

Priced to move

Razer Phone

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$485 from Amazon

Razer went all out on the specs for its first phone and even a year old, it’s still a beast, with a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 8GB of RAM, a huge 4,000mAh battery, and a 5.7-inch display that supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz — capable of producing the most buttery-smooth frame rate you’ve seen on a phone. You should consider getting one now because the Razer Phone 2 has led to deep discounts on last year’s Razer Phone.

The Razer Phone was plagued from launch by a $700 price tag that made its shortcomings — the abysmal camera and a dim screen that couldn’t stand sunlight, in particular — that much more glaring compared to similarly priced devices. But at its core, the Razer Phone was still a pretty good phone built around an impressively smooth display, and Razer did improve the competency of the camera through software updates. Now available under $500 — and as low as $420 for a certified refurbished — the Razer Phone might finally be worthy of its price tag.

Bottom Line

The Razer Phone 2 is the best gaming phone you can buy right now, but this previously niche smartphone segment is getting more and more competitive. The latest Razer handset is really sharp, featuring a flashy design front to back and outstanding gaming performance — but Razer has some steep competition mounting from ASUS, and Samsung will continue to consistently deliver devices with great specs for gaming along with everything else that you want from a smartphone.