It’s no secret, phones have become a little dull. Just look at the recent batch of flagship handsets to hit UK and US shores and the proof is in the pudding.
The iPhone 12 family is great and undeniably a very capable series of phones that will meet most buyers’ needs, but they don’t offer anything we haven’t seen before. Mobile editor Max Park said as much when he reviewed the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Mini last year.
Outside of a new CPU, minor camera improvements and a few design tweaks all the phones were pretty minor updates on the previous models. Which gives you little reason to pick one up if you’ve upgraded in the last few years, especially when you consider their hefty upfront cost, which you can see in the widget below.
This year, the same can be said about the Galaxy S21 line. I personally reviewed the Galaxy S21 Plus and, after a year using the Galaxy S20 Plus as my main phone between reviews, I can safely say it is a minor upgrade at best. The only feature that’s noteworthy is its new variable refresh rate screen. But again, I’ve seen this before.
Which is why, after my review, I suddenly felt a wave of reminiscence over the last phone that actually excited me: The Razer Phone. Razer isn’t the first name you think of, and many of you may be wondering why reviewing a new Samsung phone made me think of it, but the reason’s pretty clear. The original Razer Phone was the first handset to offer a high refresh rate screen.
This isn’t exciting now, you can actually pick up numerous affordable phones with the feature, including the OnePlus Nord and soon to be released Moto G30 have them. But back then it was revolutionary. As a PC gamer I’ve been used to the benefits of high refresh rate panels for quite some time.
Refresh rate refers to how many images a second a screen displays and a higher number reduces the delay between each image, making the screen feel smoother and generally more responsive. Coupled with a high polling rate, the metric used to gauge how rapidly a touch screen reads incoming commands, it can offer a competitive advantage when gaming. This is because the higher rate reduces the delay between you enacting a command and it being rendered on-screen.
Back then the tech wasn’t even being considered by mainstream phone makers, which were all focussed on innovating in the mobile photography space rather than screen specs. Which is why when I went to the Razer launch and first saw CEO Min-Liang Tan unveil the 120Hz screen I felt true excitement.
As I noted in my Razer Phone review at the time, the tech delivered on its promise and made the handset a standout star in my mind, despite it having some fairly serious flaws with its camera. I wasn’t at all surprised when other firms started implementing the tech into their products a year on as a result.
Being a selfish old hack I can’t help but feel the mobile market is in dire need of this sort of innovation and needs another outside player, like Razer, to come in and shake things up.
Razer in particular would be a welcome site given its hot streak this year. I mean look at the crazy stuff it’s come up with as concepts at CES 2021. A facemask with RGB lighting and a see through front, so people can lip read the wearer if needed. A gaming chair with a fold out display. Sure these products aren’t necessarily practical, but they’re fun and innovative and at the very least help break the humdrum monotony of lockdown life.
And that’s why, this week, I found myself wishing Razer would make another phone. Without it our best phone list for 2020’s going to be pretty by the numbers.