LONDON: Gaming accessories company Razer on Wednesday (Nov 1) unveiled its first ever smartphone device - the Android-based Razer Phone - targeting its core customer base of gaming enthusiasts.
During the launch event in London, CEO Tan Min-Liang showed off the company’s latest offering, which comes equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 8GB of RAM and a large 4,000 mAh battery. It also comes with dual rear 12-megapixel cameras.
The Qualcomm chip can also be found in high-end smartphones such as Google’s Pixel 2, while a similar battery capacity can be found in Huawei’s Mate 10 devices.
However, the Razer Phone comes with features aimed at enticing gamers specifically: Its 120Hz UltraMotion display and Dolby Atmos sound technology. These specifications had been leaked in the lead up to the launch event by UK mobile plan reseller 3G.
The 120Hz UltraMotion is paired with a 5.72-inch Quad HD ICZO LCD display, and Razer said the technology’s adaptive refresh synchronises with the graphic processing unit (GPU) to “remove image tearing or lag while driving efficient power usage”. This is similar to that of Apple’s iPad Pro 10.5-inch model, which was unveiled earlier this year.
Additionally, the Razer Phone will have Dolby Atmos technology integrated into its front-facing speakers with dual dedicated amplifiers. The company added that a THX-certified USB-C audio adapter with a 24-bit digital audio converter “guarantees audiophile-quality sound with one’s favourite headphones”.
The gaming device company had last October acquired the majority of the assets of US-based THX, which was founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas in 1983.
“It’s common knowledge that I’m obsessed with my smartphones, I play a ton of games on them and they’re my go-to for streaming content,” said Mr Tan. “We have wanted to make a phone with gaming-level tech for years, and the Razer Phone delivers in every way we imagined.”
Mobile gaming is a lucrative market, with Amsterdam-based market intelligence company Newzoo stating in its Global Games Market Report issued this April that 2.2 billion games around the world are expected to generate US$108.9 billion in game revenues this year. Of this, the mobile segment will account for US$46.1 billion, or 41 per cent, and by 2020, mobile gaming will represent more than half of the total games market, it added.
The device will be available initially in markets such as the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden, and will retail for US$699.99. Pre-orders will start from Nov 1 and it will go on sale in these markets from Nov 17, the company said.
When asked why the Razer Phone is not launching in Asia initially, a company spokesperson said: "We will launch the Razer Phone in US and EU first, and will announce our Asia launch plans at a later date."
TENCENT PARTNERSHIP GIVES RAZER AN EDGE
Beyond just the handset, Razer is also partnering the world’s leading gaming companies, including Chinese giant Tencent and Square Enix, which are optimising their games for the phone’s UltraMotion display technology.
These include the popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), Arena of Valor, which Tencent is launching in North America soon, Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition and Bandai Namco’s Tekken, the press release said.
Global marketing director at Tencent Games Vincent Gao said in the release: “The future of gaming is rapidly expanding to mobile devices, and both Razer and Tencent are at the forefront of fast-tracking development.
“Arena of Valor brings gamers a fast-paced, competitive experience, and the Razer phone was built to handle the visuals, sound and quick-reflex mechanics of the game. This partnership sets the standard for the next generation of mobile screen play."
A partnership with Tencent was highlighted by IDC market analyst Sam Reynolds as one that would set the Razer Phone as “superior gaming platform” compared with other high-end Android smartphones.
Mr Reynolds, in an email to Channel NewsAsia ahead of the launch, said: “One potential caveat to that is if Razer has a partnership with a China-based gaming giant such as Tencent.
“If they can use this phone as a launch platform for a mobile e-sports hit such as Honor of Kings, then it should get some solid momentum,” he added.
PLANS FOR FUTURE GROWTH
Seen as a whole, the Razer Phone is a culmination of technologies and know-how from the acquisitions of THX and smartphone maker Nextbit, which was bought over this January.
And it is indicative of how the company hopes to grow and expand in the future.
The prospectus issued by Razer in June this year stated its plans for the funds raised by the initial public offering (IPO), including to “finance acquisitions that will continue the expansion of (its) ecosystem” and to develop new verticals in the gaming and digital entertainment industry including mobile devices.
The other stated plans in the prospectus are to expand its research and development capabilities, implement sales and marketing initiatives to “broaden the appeal of the Razer brand and increase user awareness of new products including virtual credits service zGold”, and for general working capital purposes.
The IPO aims to raise around US$400 million (S$545 million), which will give the co-founder a net worth of more than US$1.2 billion, according to Bloomberg.