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Razer Blade Stealth Review: a true MacBook alternative at last

The Razer Blade Stealth is not made for gaming – not on it’s own, anyway. When it was first shown at CES 2024, the company suggested that it was meant to be part of a two-device combo, the other being a GPU dock that gives the laptop a massive boost in graphics power. The Razer Blade Stealth is launching on its own – but unless you’d planned on buying this laptop ONLY for laptop-centric gaming, that won’t be a problem. Razer just out-designed itself.

The Razer Blade Stealth is a surprise. It was a surprise when the company decided to unveil it earlier this year. Not because of its looks, nor the fact that the company was going to release a laptop. They’d released pieces of hardware like this before.

It was a surprise that Razer would release a laptop that, in and of itself, alone, wasn’t entirely focused on gaming. This notebook is made by a gaming-centric company, but it has the feel and functionality of a high-end do-anything piece of equipment.

It feels like a MacBook Air.

The Razer Blade Stealth is entirely matte black metal save the light-up Razer snake logo on its lid.

Slight grooves to the right and left of the logo make the entire package distinct, while extremely subtle variances in where the metal is flat and where the metal curves make the entire laptop unique.

While if you’re going to use this notebook as a work computer, you might miss the memory card slot so many other laptops come with standard, you’ve got plenty of USB ports to connect everything else.

On the right you’ll find a full-sized HDMI port as well as a single USB 3 port.

On the left you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone/mic combo port, another USB 3 port, and a single USB-C port.

And what’s this?

Razer has actually taken the time to design a power cord that doesn’t look and feel absolutely terrible!

Experiences with notebooks like the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Pro are ruined by lesser cords. Razer knows good and well that the power cord is still part of the laptop experience – as such, they’ve taken the time to design something nice.

Inside you’ll find a stereo speaker system. Speaker grilles sit on the left and right of the keyboard, blasting sound the likes of which we very much expect from the highest of quality laptops.

Just above the keyboard is a small, out of the way power button. Just above the power button you’ll see – if you look VERY closely – the name of the laptop.

Razer makes clear here with this sleek font (not the insane gamer font they sometimes use for other projects) that they mean business. This notebook is a sign of the times – Razer is bringing the heat with hardware that’s for gamers, but with quality that’s good enough to compete with laptops that are made for the most discerning of users – even if they don’t play video games.

Down below the keyboard is a trackpad that’s downright usable.

Using Synology technology under the hood, we’ve got a trackpad that stands up to the test of everyday use – we don’t need to fiddle with the settings more than once to get it moving across the screen the way that feels most natural.

The keyboard, too, is comfortably spaced and feels entirely natural to use for standard typing. This is nothing like using a full-sized PC gaming keyboard – and it shouldn’t be. This is a notebook, and not one meant just for WASD action.

This keyboard lights up, too.

Each one of the keys here has the ability to be attached to macro commands. If you have other Razer peripherals – like a Razer keyboard for your full-sized gaming PC, for example – you’ll be able to save your keyboard setups for individual games or apps to the cloud, available to you then through Razer Synapse here on this notebook. Handy!

Much more apparent on the keyboard right from the start: each key is individually lit.

This notebook is part of Razer’s Chroma family, which means you’ve got the ability to make it dance and freak out with colors and effects the likes of which you’ll never actually need for any justifiable reason. But it is fun. Give yourself seizures with the waves of color!

Razer Synapse software inside this notebook allow you to configure your keyboard, backlighting, and fan control – though we’ve not had a reason to adjust the fan in any way at all thus far.

The bottom of the notebook has rubbery strips that keep the unit up and away from the surface it’ll end up sitting on, and vents under the notebook keep the airflow moving. The notebook hasn’t gotten hot to a point at which it’d be uncomfortable resting on a lap so far – we’ll see again in the future when we connect it to the Razer Core for gaming.

The area to the left and right of the touchpad remain cool at all times. Which is good, since that’s where your wrists are going to be resting basically constantly.

Two versions of this notebook are being made available – one with a sharp screen, and one with a REALLY sharp screen.

• Razer Blade Stealth QHD (2560 x 1440) 70% Adobe RGB (128GB and 256GB PCIe SSD)

• Razer Blade Stealth 4K (3840 x 2160) 100% Adobe RGB (256GB and 512GB PCIe SSD)

NOTE: While some apps you’ll download from the web may not scale properly for a display as sharp as 4K, the vast majority of the software you’ll be using will look completely fine. Windows 10 takes care of the scaling up for sharper displays that’s needed for devices such as this.

Both versions work with a 12.5″ IGZO display with 16:9 aspect ratio, LED backlighting, capacitive multi-touch, and what Razer describes as up to 170° wide viewing angles. We’re inclined to agree with that range of viewing angles – amongst the best we’ve ever seen on a notebook.

We’ve got the 4K display model here. The display is unbelievably good. It’s difficult to describe how intensely nice it is.

A few more specifications for you, all standard:

• Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core Processor with Hyper Threading 2.5GHz / 3.1GHz (Base/Turbo)

• Intel HD Graphics 520

• 8GB dual-channel onboard memory (LPDDR3-1866MHz)

• Windows 10 (64-Bit)

• Wireless-AC (802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.1)

• Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)

• USB 3.0 port x2 (SuperSpeed)

• Built-in webcam (2.0MP)

• HDMI 1.4b audio and video output

• 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo port

• Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) security chip embedded

This notebook is 0.52-in tall – that’s extremely thin, but not so thin that you’d have any worries about bending. It’s tough enough. The notebook is also 12.6″ / 321 mm (Width) x 8.1″ / 206 mm (Depth) – it’s small. It’s so small that we’re seriously hoping Razer creates a 15-inch or even a 17-inch edition at some point in the future.

The Razer Blade Stealth is encased in an anodized black aluminum body which can get a little fingerprinty.

I’d be covering the cover with stickers and such anyway, so I’m not entirely concerned, but if you really need a spotless top, you really should keep the silky display-cleaning cloth the device comes with in your pocket.

Battery time on this machine – off the cord, obviously – is somewhere around 7 hours. That’s using the machine for work (mostly web browsing and typing) with the display set below 50% brightness. If you’re really going to roll with this notebook for work, you’re going to want to aim for the QHD version of this notebook instead of the 4K.

This 4K version of the notebook is made for gloriously sharp images and video. It’s not made to be an off-the-cord last-all-day workhorse.

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Fix Razer Blade Display Issues Like Flickering, Blotching, Discoloration, Etc.

Check if the issue is hardware-related

Perform a Pixel test

Update Graphics drivers

Adjust Screen Resolution

Uninstall Monitor and Scan for hardware changes

Calibrate your Display

Let’s get into the details of every method and fix display issues on Razer Blade.

1] Check if the issue is hardware-related

If there are any hardware failures or issues, you might face displays issues on Razer Blade. You need to check if hardware issues are the real cause of the issue. Connect an external monitor using an HDMI cable and see if it is working fine without any issue. If there are no issues found on the external monitor, the display issues on the Razer Blade are due to hardware issues. You need to visit the Razer service center and get it fixed. If you are facing the same issues on the external monitor too fix the below methods.

2] Perform a Pixel test

By performing the Pixel test on your PC, you can find the working status or health of every pixel. There are many free services that provide free pixel tests online and give you detailed results.

3] Update Graphics drivers

The graphic drivers of your PC might be the cause of the display issues on the Razer Blade. They might be outdated or corrupted. You have to update them to the latest versions which fix the bugs of previous updates and give improved performance. So, try updating the graphic drivers and check if the issue still persists. You can update graphics drivers on your Razer Blade in the following ways:

You may also visit chúng tôi to download and install the required drivers.

After updating drivers, restart your PC and see if the issues are resolved.

4] Adjust Screen Resolution

If you are seeing display issues on a specific app or game, you can use this fix. Sometimes, the screen resolution of your program or game might not match that of your Razer Blade. You need to adjust the screen resolution of your Razer Blade to match the game or applications’ resolution.

To adjust the screen resolution,

You will find the Display resolution under Scale & layout.

Read: Windows Display Quality Troubleshooter will fix Screen Resolution issues

5] Uninstall and Reinstall Generic PnP Monitor

The corrupted Generic PnP monitor drivers can also cause display issues on Razer Blade. You need to uninstall it and reinstall it on your Razer Blade to fix the issues.

To uninstall the Generic PnP monitor,

Then, expand Monitors in the Device manager

Follow the on-screen wizard and complete the process

Read: Fix Generic PnP Monitor driver issue on Windows

6] Calibrate your Display

The other way to fix the display issues on Razer Blade is to calibrate the display. It can be done easily in a few steps.

To calibrate the display,

It opens the Colour Management window

Follow the on-screen wizard and calibrate the display

These are the different ways using which you can fix the display issues on Razer Blade. If none of the above methods helped you fix the issues, you have to visit the Razer Blade service center or contact the support team online.

Related: Fix Razer Blade touch screen not working

How do I fix my Razer laptop screen?

If there are any hardware issues, you need to visit the service center. If not, you can update graphics drivers, reinstall the monitor, recalibrate the display, etc. You need to implement fixed based on the type of error.

Read: How to fix Stretched Screen display problem on Windows.

Shadow Blade Review: Who Knew Becoming A Ninja Would Be So Hard

Platform gaming is one of my favorite genres. I love the mindless simplicity. When console devices were just starting to make their way into living rooms across America, platform games were the most prevalent style. I guess they remind me of my childhood.

Platform gaming is one of my favorite genres. I love the mindless simplicity. When console devices were just starting to make their way into living rooms across America, platform games were the most prevalent style. I guess they remind me of my childhood.

Shadow Blade is a basic platform game, only not. That is to say, it has all of the elements you would want in a platformer, but takes it to the next level by being difficult to beat and even tougher to get all the items. That blue hedgehog doesn’t know what hard is…

Design

This is a basic platform game. Players must jump across gaps, climb up steep walls, and kill bad guys, all while collecting coins and special symbols. It’s a pretty hectic gig.

The story takes place in different locations. The first chapter takes place inside a building filled with traps and bad guys. In other chapters, you’ll be on rooftops or out on the street.

Your little ninja runs, jumps, and slashes with amazing graphics. Some of his special moves include throwing a star on a chain to draw the enemy in, slitting bad guys throats by sneaking up behind them, and slashing them in half by getting a running start.

You can play the game with either gesture controls or traditional joystick controls. I tried them both and gesture controls are way harder than using the A/B and left/right buttons. Trust me.

As levels progress, so does the game’s difficulty. You may start off just killing bad guys, but as you complete levels and improve your skills, you’ll be jumping on moving platforms, avoiding spring-loaded spikes, and striking down snipers.

Gameplay

The game starts you off pretty easily, teaching you how to move and showing you how to perform certain attacks. When you are offered the option to play with gestures or joystick, I highly recommend going with joystick. The controls are way easier and this game is hard enough already without the added confusion of swiping and tapping to add to the mix.

The movement buttons are on the left side of the screen, while the A/B jump and attack buttons are on the right side of the screen. When jumping, you can get twice as high or far by tapping the jump button again in mid air. When attacking a bad guy, you can sneak up on him from behind and hit the attack button to slit his throat. Or, fight head on, even at a distance, by moving and attacking at the same time. Different combinations of jump, attack, and move will result in different finishing attacks on an enemy. If you strike from above, you’ll slice right through your foe.

You can run, jump, and climb walls with your ninja. To climb a wall, run up to it and jump. Then, while holding down the left or right move button (depending on which side the wall is on), tap the jump button over and over again until you’ve sprung your way to the top. Watch out for spikes. Some walls are covered in them, making it very difficult to safely climb.

The action is very fast paced. There are not many places where you can sit and rest and collect your thoughts. On any given level, you will have to time a sprint across spring-loaded swords that shoot out from the floor, or the ceiling, or both. Then, you’ll have to jump out of the way to avoid being shot by a sniper. After that, you’ll be jumping from one falling platform to the next before they drop into the spiked floor below. After all of this, there will probably be another group of bad guys, waiting to attack you just when you think you’ve landed safely on the other side.

If you do die, don’t worry. Your game will restart from the most recent checkpoint. You don’t receive penalties for dying or lose any lives. The only thing you will lose is the progress from the checkpoint until you died.

If you think the game is too easy, you can always try your skills in the “Hardcore” chapter. There are nine levels in the hyper difficult chapter that features further jumps, way more spikes, and ridiculous obstacles. I played the first level of Hardcore and was able to get to the first checkpoint. After that, I just gave up. Too hard.

The Good

I had a blast playing this game. Even though it was frustratingly hard, I’d eventually make it to the end (although getting all of the goodies was oftentimes too much). The joy of getting though the obstacles against all odds was enough to keep me playing until my thumbs started to cramp up. Just like when I was a kid.

The Bad

The only thing wrong with this game is that it is too short. There are 40 levels across four chapters. I want more. The game is too fun to put down, which means you get through the entire game so fast it leaves you wanting more.

Value

Shadow Blade costs $1.99. Normally, I’d say that the price is a bit steep for a basic platformer. However, this game is definitely worth the money. The graphics are amazing. The game mechanics are fun. The controls work great. You will definitely get a good bang for your two bucks.

Conclusion

If you like platform games and are looking for something challenging, I highly suggest picking up this game. It is fun, exciting, and offers hours of fast-paced gameplay. This game is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Download it in the App Store today.

Related Apps

Swordigo is a fun platform game. Cordy 2 is another great platformer, and you can try it out for free.

What do you think of Shadow Blade? Do you think you’ll give it a try?

Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition Review: This Stripped

Note: This review is part of our 

best gaming keyboards

roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

Laser beams

I’m tempted to say the Huntsman TE is out of character for Razer, but that’d be doing Razer a disservice. Sure, I mostly associate Razer with flashy hardware. See: the original Huntsman Elite, which packed RGB LEDs into its detachable wrist rest, one of the most over-the-top design elements I’ve ever seen.

But for every RGB wrist rest or mouse pad, Razer’s got a device like the Huntsman TE. Stripped down and simplified, the idea (I guess) is that pros don’t need all the distractions that come standard on Razer’s other models. The Tournament Edition is pure. All performance, and nothing more.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

Who’s to say if this is really what pros want. The fact is, like Logitech’s corresponding Pro line, Razer tests a lot of interesting ideas under its “esports” brand.

Case in point, the Huntsman Tournament Edition is the first Razer keyboard to boast double-shot PBT keycaps. Popular in enthusiast circles for years now, PBT is a thicker and more durable plastic than the ABS alternative used on most keyboards. As a bonus, it’s also more resistant to that sheen that develops on oft-pressed keys.

Will the average person be able to tell the difference, or even appreciate a difference? Unlikely. The Huntsman TE keycaps look identical to Razer’s other keyboards, black squares emblazoned with a thin sans-serif typeface. Maybe—maybe—you’d notice a slight thickness to the plastic, or a deeper thock when a key bottoms out. But it’s unlikely.

Enthusiasts benefit as well. With a company this size now machining PBT, prices are sure to go down. Razer’s standalone keycap replacement sets list for $30, significantly lower than popular enthusiast brands like Ducky, Vortex, and Tai-Hao. And they’re backlight-ready, a rarity for PBT keycaps.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

Optical switches are usually smoother than their mechanical counterparts, and indeed the Razer Reds are pleasant in isolation. They’re so damn lightweight though, simply resting my fingers on the keys is enough to actuate them. That’s not so much an issue while gaming, but even after an adjustment period I find them a detriment to day-to-day typing.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

I also continue to take issue with Razer’s marketing around optical switches. First, some background from our original Huntsman review:

“In a standard mechanical switch you press down the key, metal contacts metal, a circuit is formed, and the computer then interprets that circuit as the key in question. With optical keyboards, the process is almost exactly the same except instead of metal, the switch uses light.”

Only for the last centimeter or so of the circuit though. Razer’s really set on selling this whole “speed of light” thing, but do you know the difference in transmission speed between a centimeter of laser and a centimeter of circuitry? For our purposes, both are essentially instantaneous. It’s a nonsensical distinction. Yes, probably even for pro gamers.

And that has ramifications for the overall lifespan of the keyboard. Traditional switches are rated for a certain number of keystrokes—50 million, in the case of Cherry MX. Optical switches more than double that, testing at 100 million keystrokes. It’s unlikely you’d hit either of those caps, as 50 million strokes on your most-used key translates to 20 years of typing on the low end. But the fact remains, optical switches are slightly less prone to developing issues.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

Anyway, I’ve saved discussing the Huntsman TE’s build until last because there isn’t much to say. It technically falls under the Huntsman line, but this stripped-down version couldn’t be further from the RGB-laden Huntsman Elite we tested last year. It has no wrist rest, no dedicated media keys, no numpad, no frills at all.

Bottom line

The Huntsman line mostly interests me because Razer is taking risks. It bet big on optical switches last year, then introduced a new optical switch this year. And now it’s dabbling in PBT keycaps as well. With the mechanical keyboard market essentially “solved” or stagnant, it’s interesting to see Razer make bets on the future. Safe bets, pioneered by enthusiasts long before Razer arrived on the scene, but bets nevertheless.

As for the Huntsman TE itself, I think it’s a perfectly fine keyboard if you can stomach the Red switch’s low resistance. The price is steeper than I’d like, and $150 is significantly more than you’d pay for a tenkeyless board with more traditional switches—even factoring in a set of PBT keycaps. The Huntsman TE is one of the few keyboards that checks all the boxes though: tenkeyless, backlit, PBT keycaps, and optical switches. Maybe the only one. Chances are you know if that’s what you need.

Razer Phone Review: The Ultimate Android For Gaming

Our Verdict

The Razer Phone is the perfect smartphone… if you’re a gamer. While it doesn’t feature the sleek, bezel-less design of other flagship smartphones, no other deviceon the market can come close to matching the stunning 120Hz refresh rate. It makes a huge difference to gaming on mobile, especially when combined with stereo front-facing Dolby ATMOS-certified speakers and an app that lets you tweak the performance of games on a per-app basis. But while the display is perfect, we can’t really say the same about the camera setup. Admittedly the rear-facing dual-camera setup isn’t bad, but the quality of images captured isn’t enough to compete with the likes of the iPhone X or Google Pixel 2 XL. But hey, if you’re a dedicated gamer on the market for a new smartphone that can provide the best Android gaming experience possible, the Razer Phone is the ideal candidate – and it’s much cheaper than other flagships too!  

Following the acquisition of Nextbit, gaming brand Razer has entered the smartphone market with a handset aimed at gamers. It’s simply called the Razer Phone and offers incredible tech not found on any other smartphones on the market including a 120Hz Quad HD display capable of offering double the framerate of the likes of the iPhone X, Pixel 2 and more.

It’s a great concept, but has Razer done enough to cement its place in the smartphone market? We’ve spent some time gaming on the Razer Phone so here’s our full review. 

Razer now has a serious competitor with the announcement of the highly anticipated Asus gaming phone. Read our Asus ROG Phone hands-on review.

Price and availability

Those interested in picking up the Razer Phone can do so right now – the smartphone is available to buy from both Razer and Three UK, although at slightly different prices.

You can head to Razer and pick up the smartphone on PAYG for £699.99, or you can make a smart decision and grab one from Three UK for over £100 less at £595 – go figure. There’s also a range of Razer Phone contracts available from the network if you don’t fancy (or more likely can’t afford) going SIM-free.

The smartphone is available exclusively on the network in the UK so regardless of where you buy it, chances are that it’ll be locked to Three UK.  

Design and build

Let’s be honest, the Razer Phone won’t be winning any smartphone design awards when compared to the likes of the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8 or OnePlus 5T. The rather angular, blocky design that the Razer Phone employs is oddly reminiscent of the Xperia range (which is also considered rather unattractive) but with a distinctly Razer feel.

In terms of specifics, the Razer measures in at a rather thick and broad 778x8mm and weighs in at a hefty 197g, making it one of the heavier flagship smartphones currently available.

These figures are immediately noticeable when you pick the smartphone up but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It makes the phone feel sturdy and more secure in the hand. It is a fingerprint magnet though, especially on the aluminium rear!

It looks like a solid block of aluminium with nearly invisible antenna lines at the top and bottom, with the Razer logo on the back. It’s the only noticeable design feature of the smartphone, as it has been engraved and coloured, and this can be felt by running your finger over the logo.

The issue is that the logo is right where your finger rests on the rear of the smartphone, and the slightly jagged edges of the engraving constantly catch your fingers. It’s not painful, but it’s a little annoying (a thought shared by several of the Tech Advisor team).

Apart from the Razer logo and display, the only physical feature of the phone you might notice are the front-facing speakers above and below the display, which is half the reason the phone feels so tall in the hand. We’ll investigate the audio prowess later.

There are also circular volume buttons on the left of the smartphone, though these are placed further down than on other smartphones. The placement, while it looks odd initially, makes sense for gamers – they always in the way when gaming in landscape. Not with the Razer Phone!

It’s a similar story with the power button, but it’s flush on the right-side of the display so placement doesn’t matter as much. It’s still easy enough to reach to lock and unlock the smartphone without adjusting your grip though, don’t worry!

The real deal-breaker? It features a 16:9, 5.7in display. While that may sound okay, many manufacturers already employ bezel-less 18:9 displays in their smartphones. This allows for a larger display in a smaller body and for some is easier to use. The decision means that compared to bezel-less smartphones, the Razer Phone looks a little dated – on the surface, anyway.

Oh, and Razer decided to follow Apple’s example and ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Razer Phone, featuring a solo USB-C port instead. Admittedly, like Apple, the Razer Phone does come with a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter for use with existing headphones, but most users will likely need to make the switch to wireless headphones sooner or later.

So, it’s not the best-looking smartphone on the market by any means, but there’s a reason for some of the slightly odd design choices. Let’s take a look at why.

Specs and features

As should be obvious by the manufacturer, the Razer Phone was designed with one focus in mind – mobile gaming. It’s why the phone is slightly chunkier and taller than competitors – it features unique tech to make it the ultimate gaming smartphone.

Display

The most impressive feature of the Razer Phone is undoubtedly the 5.7in IPS LCD display. It offers a Quad HD (1440×2560) resolution and an eye-watering pixel density of 515ppi.

Far more important here, though, is that the display offers the highest refresh rate of any smartphone on the market – 120Hz. For comparison, most high-end smartphones available at the moment are capped at 60Hz, meaning the Razer Phone can display double the number of frames in a single second – 120fps, up from 60fps.

In the real world, this means the smartphone provides a better mobile gaming experience than anything else available at the moment. The graphics are buttery smooth – so smooth, in fact, that you’ll struggle to play games on any other smartphone once you adjust to the improved refresh rate.

Even in relatively basic games like Pokémon GO, the experience is instantly improved – the difference in performance even when compared to flagships like the Google Pixel 2 is day-and-night.

It’s not only games that get the buttery-smooth treatment either – you can head to the Settings menu and enable the 120Hz refresh rate throughout the operating system, making swiping between screens, browsing through your library of apps and surfing the web as smooth as can be. 

Backing up the 120Hz refresh rate is a Wide Colour Gamut. This provides the display with a wider breadth of colours than what’s provided on standard displays. It doesn’t only improve the general look of your favourite Android games, but makes everything – from YouTube videos to the Google Play UI – look bright, accurately represented and vibrant.

Gaming

This, of course, is the main focus of the smartphone. The combination of impressive internals, an incredible display, front-facing stereo speakers and software enhancements provide something close to the PC gaming experience on a mobile. Believe us – that’s not something we thought we’d ever say!

The 120Hz display provides up to 120fps on supported games – and although it’s an impressive feat, it’s also where the biggest issue currently is.

While there is admittedly a fast-growing list of Android games that offer support for the Razer Phone’s impressive UltraMotion display, the vast majority of popular games don’t offer support at the time of writing. You can see a full list of supported games on the Razer website here to give you an idea.

The difference between supported and unsupported games is immediately noticeable, especially in terms of how smooth supported games look on-screen. Even when accessing in-game menus or watching the same battle animations you’ve seen thousands of times before, it looks smoother and frankly better on the Razer Phone than most smartphones on the market.

It definitely makes a difference to the overall gaming experience too; rather than being something that you play for 5-10 minutes at a time, the Razer Phone’s impressive display and speaker setup keep you coming back for more – if for nothing more than to marvel at how amazing games look on the smartphone.

The experience is improved with the introduction of Game Booster, an app found exclusively on the Razer Phone. The app provides both granular control over the performance of individual games and the ability to generally favour game performance or battery life on the phone.

It’s the granular control over individual games where Game Booster really shines. Unlike with any other smartphone, you can customise not only the resolution but frame rate, anti-aliasing and even how much CPU power is dedicated to the game.

The higher you crank it, the more your battery will drain – but it’s also true of the opposite. If you regularly play a mobile game that doesn’t need flashy graphics, you can turn the performance down and use less battery life than usual. That way, you can enjoy the best games at 120fps and text-based games at 720p/30fps and help you game for longer.

It’s essentially as close to configuring a PC game’s Graphics settings on Android as you’ll get for a while, and it’s incredibly impressive.

Audio

Alongside the stunning display, you’ll find two front-facing stereo speakers. While most smartphones offer a single mono speaker or combine it with the phone earpiece to provide still poor stereo audio playback, the Razer Phone provides amazingly clear stereo audio with two dedicated directional speakers.

They aren’t random speakers either – they’ve been Dolby ATMOS tuned and you’re provided with several audio profiles (Movies, Games, etc) to enhance your audio experience depending on what you’re doing. They’re easy to select too, as the toggle is accessible from the Notification Shade on the smartphone.

The audio is powered by a THX-certified DAC, which provides impressive audio quality when listening to music via headphones. The overall audio quality is impressive for a smartphone, but the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack may put some users off. As mentioned, there’s an adapter in the box but Bluetooth headphones may just be the way forward in 2023!

Processor, memory and storage

Of course, just because a display offers the ability to display 120fps when gaming, it doesn’t mean it always will – any PC gamer will tell you that! So, how did Razer make sure its inaugural smartphone had enough oomph to power a Quad HD display at 120fps?

The Razer Phone features an octa-core Snapdragon 835 processor, the most powerful chip available right now from Qualcomm, alongside an Adreno 540 GPU and a whopping 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM – the most (and fastest) RAM in any smartphone on the market right now.

There’s also 64GB of built-in storage with the option to expand it by up to 2TB via a Class 10 microSD card slot.

This means the Razer Phone provides a decent bang for its buck, especially when you consider that lower-specc’d flagship smartphones cost £100-200 more than Razer’s option. The smartphone is incredibly responsive when opening apps, swiping between menus and scrolling through Twitter, and it’s equally as impressive in the gaming department. Even when rendering games at 120fps at 1440p, the Razer Phone barely breaks a sweat.

We’ve got some numbers to back up the impressive performance of the smartphone, which can be seen in the below chart. Though the numbers aren’t chart-topping, the real-world difference isn’t noticeable when compared to other smartphones – and thanks to the 120Hz display, apps, games and menus often look nicer just because they’re a lot smoother.

Battery life

That 120Hz display and high-end internals must have an effect on overall battery life, right? Essentially, yes, but it’s not as simple as that.

The Razer Phone features an impressive non-removable 4,000mAh battery, one of the largest of any smartphone on the market at the moment. But despite the high capacity, the display and internals draw more power than the average smartphone.

In real-world use, we’ve found the Razer Phone to last comfortably all day when using social media, replying to texts and reading emails, but when you add gaming to the mix (which, let’s be honest, is the whole point), the battery drain is more noticeable and chances are you’ll need to top it up before the end of the day.

The good news is that if it does require a top-up, the Razer Phone features Qualcomm QuickCharge 4.0+, which can charge the battery in next to no time. It’s one of the first phones we’ve seen to move beyond version 3.0.

It features Dual Charge technology and Intelligent Thermal Balancing to eliminate hot spots, provide lower thermal dissipation and an overall reduced charge time.

The down side is that this is only provided by the official Razer plug and the USB-C to USB-C cable included in the box. That means that if you use a non-branded USB-C charger to top up the smartphone, chances are you’ll be waiting for quite a while, especially with such a high-capacity battery inside.

There’s also a Game Booster app that allows granular control over the performance of the smartphone generally and when playing specific games. It allows users to change the priority from performance to battery life with a tap – we’ll go into more detail about in the Gaming section below.

Connectivity

The Razer Phone offers fairly standard connectivity options including Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC. It also boasts 4G LTE activity for all UK-based networks. We’ve already mentioned the lack of a headphone port and the lone USB-C port.

Cameras and photography

In terms of cameras, the Razer Phone has an impressive – but not perfect – camera setup. On the rear of the device you’ll find a dual camera setup comprised of two 12Mp cameras – one standard lens with f/1.8, while the other is a telephoto lens with f/2.6. This is coupled with phase detection autofocus and a dual-LED flash that should in theory provide well-lit, perfectly focused images.

In testing we had mixed results. Take a look at the below photo of St. Pancras Hotel – while it captures decent detail and light on the whole, when you zoom in you start to notice ‘soft’ patches, especially on the hotel brickwork. Whole patches of brickwork are featureless blurs, thanks to slightly over-aggressive noise cancellation, an issue suffered by many flagship smartphones. It’s not completely lacking in detail though as you can still easily make out things like street signs and road markings pretty well.

Like other dual-camera smartphones, the Razer Phone opts for a telephoto lens to offer 2x optical zoom on-the-fly. The toggle in the camera app looks and works much like what’s offered by the iPhone 8 Plus, but the degradation in quality is more noticeable than with Apple’s offering. We found images to be more washed out and noisy than those taken with the standard lens, as can be seen with a zoomed image of St. Pancras hotel below taken directly after the above image was taken.

There’s also the option to record at up to 4K@30fps on the rear-facing camera, although the recording options are limited to 4K, 1080p and 720p, with no option to change the frame rate. We’ve recorded some 4K sample footage, which can be seen below, but we’re not too impressed – especially at how dramatically the colour changes towards the end of the video.  

On the front of the smartphone, you’ll find a rather standard 8Mp front-facing camera that provides decent quality for the likes of Skype, Snapchat and taking selfies for social media. It’s also capable of shooting up to 1080p video if required.

It’s worth noting that Razer is constantly updating the camera app to improve the quality of images and add new features, so it’s possible that our complaints could be somewhat alleviated by a future update.

Software

The Razer Phone comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat installed, with no upgrade to Android 8.0 in sight – for now. Though it hasn’t been confirmed by Razer, we imagine that the Razer Phone (which will likely be the flagship for most of 2023) will get some Android 8.0 love at some point in order to keep it competitive, especially as other 2023 flagships are announced and released.

It’s very much stock Android, but with a few design tweaks. In addition to the plethora of Google apps, you’ll find the Razer Store. While you may think this is the place to find games, you’d be wrong (although it’d totally make sense!). Instead, it’s where you can browse from a variety of game- and Razer-related themes for your smartphone.

While the designs vary, the themes change more than your background – they’ll change the icon style and the colour scheme used throughout the operating system. Some could argue that it’s a little gimmicky, but we think it’s a nice way for users to personalise the phone without spending too much time in the Settings menu.

Specs Razer Phone: Specs

5.7in (2560×1440, 515ppi) display

Android 7.1.1 Nougat

Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835 processor

Octa-core (4×2.35 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo) CPU

Adreno 540 GPU

8GB RAM

64GB storage, up to 2TB with microSD

Fingerprint scanner

Dual rear-facing cameras: 12Mp (f/1.8, 25mm)and 12Mp (f/2.6), 2x optical zoom, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash

8Mp front-facing camera (f/2.0)

802.11ac Wi-Fi

Bluetooth 4.2

A-GPS

NFC

USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0

Non-removable lithium-ion 4,000mAh battery

158.5×77.7x8mm

197g

Macbook Air 2023 Review: Gold Standard

Our Verdict

Although it seemed like Apple would completely discontinue the MacBook Air, it’s done the opposite by making it better than ever. At long last the much-loved laptop has been given the refresh it deserves with not on a gold option but more importantly, a Retina display, new internals, Touch ID and more.

Best Prices Today: Apple MacBook Air (2024)

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple was going to discontinue the MacBook Air, given the lack of attention it had for a few years. Short of making the build-to-order options on the 2024 MacBook Air the standard options, Apple had left the one-time lightest Mac untouched.

Despite the lack of attention, the MacBook Air has remained a popular choice for people looking to get a Mac but not wanting to spend a fortune. That’s probably what saved the MacBook Air, which was finally updated at Apple’s special event on 30 October 2023.

Notice: The MacBook Air 2023 is now discontinued so please read our MacBook Air 2023 review for the latest model. Below is our original review if you are looking to buy this model second-hand or refurbished.

Design & Build: Good as gold

The MacBook Air was previously only available in the silver aluminium finish, but now, taking a leaf from the MacBook book, it is available in three different colours: Gold, Silver and Space Grey.

It seemed that everyone at the Apple event in New York loved the Gold model, as seen below. This is the one we have on review and we suspect that it’s the one that’s getting all the attention because it’s so different. It’s a very different shade of gold to what we’ve seen from Apple before, we’d say it’s more like brass or copper. It’s dark not pale.

To be honest we’re not sure that we like it as much as the gold MacBook or the gold iPhone shades, but assume that Apple is trying to make it appeal to men with this particular shade. We expect that the Space Grey option will prove popular. But if you want everyone on the train to know that you have a new MacBook Air the gold model is the one to get.

More than the colour choices we’d say we love the fact that this MacBook Air is built from 100 percent recycled aluminium. Although, this is more of a pat on the back for Apple, and for anyone who buys one, for being a little bit more environmentally friendly.

The colour and the materials it’s made from aren’t the only physical changes though. While it’s still recognisable as a MacBook Air, thanks to its wedge design with the edge tapering off at the narrowest point, in terms of dimensions, it’s smaller and thinner than before.

The new model’s dimensions are as follows:

30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm (tapering to 0.41cm at it’s narrowest point)

The old model measured:

32.5 x 22.7 x 1.7cm (tapering to 0.3cm)

It now weighs 1.25kg, compared to 1.35kg previously, which is negligible but an improvement nonetheless. We use an old 2024 MacBook Pro and there is a decent difference in the weight between these two models. We didn’t feel weighed down at all by the new MacBook Air when we carried it between work and home. At 1.25kg it weighs about the same as a 700-page hardback book.

It’s interesting to note that the narrowest edge is slightly bigger than before, by just over a millimetre. This tiny detail is insignificant given the 2cm lost from the length and 1.5cm lost from the width. And the fact that it’s thinner overall. The tapered design of the MacBook Air has always been a clever way to shave weight from the unit.

The real achievement is that Apple has slimmed down and shrunk the MacBook Air while maintaining the same screen size of 13.3in. This is thanks to the slimmer bezels around the edge of the display.

Screen: Eye-catching Retina display

The MacBook Air has finally got a Retina display and it’s one of the most obvious upgrades. The Retina display first arrived in 2010 with the iPhone 4 and has been available on all other Macs since the MacBook arrived in 2024. So it’s been a long time coming.

The Retina display is just as good as the Retina displays on other Macs, so if you have been using a MacBook or recent MacBook Pro, then the screen will be comparable. But if you are moving up from the old MacBook Air, the screen couldn’t look more different. It’s a big leap from the previous generation’s 1,440×900 pixels to the new 2,560×1,600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch (the same as the 13in MacBook Pro). It’s still a 16:10 aspect ratio.

Thanks to the Retina display your photos will look beautiful with vibrant colours, text is crisp and clear, and if you watch movies on your laptop then you will benefit from all those extra pixels – the native resolution is now enough to view a movie in Full HD (1,920×1,080) – it wasn’t previously. The only disappointment is that it doesn’t offer True Tone, which is reserved for the MacBook Pro and adjusts the light according to the local conditions, it’s unlikely to be hugely missed feature though.

On the older MacBook Air the screen was surrounded by thick aluminium bezels, but this time around the glass stretches almost to the edge of the laptop, with a tiny metal rim around the edge that is hardly noticeable. The screen itself starts less than a centimetre from the edge, but because the glass bezels are black it looks a lot better and more modern.

When we met with Apple we asked why the company hadn’t added Face ID as a means to unlock the new Air, they told us that Face ID makes sense on the iPhone because that device is thicker, and can accommodate the technology required. To add such technology to the MacBook Apps would need to make the display thicker.

Touch ID

Instead of Face ID, Touch ID makes an appearance in the form of a new sensor above the keyboard. We’re glad that Apple continues to add Touch ID to devices, despite removing it from iPhones, and now the iPad Pro 2023.

When you log on your password is required to enable Touch ID, however, the next time your Mac goes to sleep because you’ve left your desk for a few minutes you can unlock it just by touching your finger on the Touch ID pad – similar to the way your Mac can unlock thanks to the proximity of your Apple Watch.

You can also use Touch ID rather than enter your password every time you want to make a change in System Preferences. You’ll also be able to use authorise Apple Pay payments using Touch ID on sites that use Apple’s payment system and on the Mac App Store (once you have confirmed that you want to use Touch ID for future purchases).

We’re glad that Apple hasn’t added the Touch Bar, as seen on the MacBook Pro, to the MacBook Air as we feel that the Touch Bar is a gimmick that doesn’t really add much other than an extra layer of complication. Read about how the MacBook Pro compares to the MacBook Air here. Touch ID makes much more sense as an addition than a Touch Bar, as it’s about security for the average punter.

Hey Siri

Another addition is Apple’s T2 chip that also appears in the MacBook Pro and iMac Pro. The T2 is an Apple-made processor that looks after security features as well as powering Siri so that it’s always listening. (On Macs without the T2 chip you trigger Siri by pressing and holding Command and Space together.)

Before Siri arrived on the Mac we thought there wasn’t much point, we don’t want to be the one in the office talking to our Mac. However, when you are using the Mac at home it’s slightly less embarrassing to speak to Siri, and there are some benefits in doing so.

You can do things that would normally take a few steps, for example: “Turn on Bluetooth”. The only problem is that with a HomePod in the room we were just triggering that, which became more than frustrating especially when the HomePod would tell us it couldn’t do something that Siri on our Mac would have been able to do. It would be good if you could direct your Siri requests to a specific device.

What can you actually use Hey Siri for? You can ask “Hey Siri read [name’s] last message to me” and it will and ask you if you’d like to reply. “Hey Siri open Pages”. “Hey Siri change the wallpaper”. It’s still rather limited though. Here are  things you can ask Siri on your Mac.

Keyboard & Track Pad

It’s worth mentioning the keyboard because it’s considerably different to the keyboard on the old MacBook Air – which we actually loved. It’s the same ‘butterfly’ keyboard as the one on the 2023 MacBook Pro, so-called because of the shape of the mechanism below each key.

This is one benefit the MacBook Air has over the 2023 MacBook and the non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro. They are hindered by an issue that is causing some keyboard to stop working if a bit of dust gets trapped under a key. Apple appears to have rectified this issue in the new version of the butterfly keyboard, although it’s not mentioned it. Read more about the problems with the older butterfly keyboard here.

So, what is it like to use the keyboard on the new MacBook Air? We are used to using a Magic Keyboard with our iMac and we love the feel of typing on that. Using the keyboard on the new MacBook Air feels like it takes a bit more of an effort to press the keys, we’re not sure if its just that the keys move less and are quieter though, giving the impression that we aren’t hitting the key hard enough.

A friend who tried out the new keyboard loved it, so it probably depends on what you are used to. Whatever you think of the new keyboard, the design is a requirement for a narrower laptop, so probably worth the sacrifice.

Below the keyboard is a new, larger Force Touch trackpad that’s 20 percent larger than previously. One feature that the Force Touch trackpad brings is the ability to deep press on a word and see dictionary and thesaurus entries (and even translations).

The problem we have always had activating the touch pad while typing remains, with the cursor jumping up the page and our typing continuing in the middle of another section.

Specs & Performance

The new MacBook Air’s offer the following as standard:

1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost to 3.6GHz

128GB or 256GB SSD

8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory

Intel UHD Graphics 617

Build to order options include:

16GB RAM (previously only 8GB)

512GB or 1.5TB storage

The 1.6GHz processor is the Intel Amber Lake Core i5 CPU with no option for anything else, even if you’d be happy to pay more for a Core i7. Apple would rather point you in the direction of a MacBook Pro if this is a requirement.

These Amber Lake Y processors are lower powered than the Coffee Lake chips found in the MacBook Pro, but they should be suitable for every-day home and work use. Because they use less power the idea is that you get more battery life.

It’s important to note that the older MacBook Air which is still on sale with a 5th-generation (Broadwell) 1.8GHz processor, which is in no way faster than the 2023 MacBook Air. We can see this causing some confusion among some consumers though.

Benchmarks

Clearly there is a humungous leap from the old MacBook Air to the new model, but just how does the 2023 MacBook Air stand up to the other Macs on sale right now?

In the Cinebench Open GL test we saw 35fps, in comparison to 39fps on the 2023 13in MacBook Pro and 25fps for the 2023 MacBook. In the Unigene Valley benchmark the 2023 Air got a score of 311 to the 2023 MacBook’s 267 and the 2023 13in MacBook Pro’s 448. When we ran the AJA Systems test we were surprised that it didn’t perform well in terms of write speed, while read speed was good.

The 2023 MacBook Air has a 50.3‑watt‑hour lithium‑polymer battery. Apple says battery life is “all-day” which is basically up to 12 hours. In fact you should be able to get 13 hours of iTunes video, according to Apple, more than enough for a transatlantic flight.

In our video loop test, the Air managed 10 hours and 45 minutes which is a solid result but there are laptops out there that can go longer.

Connectivity & Audio

As we mentioned earlier, the fact that Apple is still selling the older MacBook Air is interesting because it shows that the company recognises that it needs to have a machine on offer that maintains the older USB-A port.

The new MacBook Air has only two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone jack. Thunderbolt 3 comes via a USB-C connector and can be used for charging and to connect DisplayPort screens too. You’ll be able to power a 4K display or run an eGPU from one of those ports.

If you are considering moving from an older Mac laptop to the new MacBook Air you will need to consider how much of a pain it will be to move to USB-C/Thunderbolt. An  adaptor costs £19.

We’d say that the Thunderbolt 3 ports are a useful addition but the lack of USB will be especially annoying for people who don’t want to fork out for an adaptor. The SD card reader is also gone which will frustrate photographers and the like.

Another issue to consider: we currently use an external screen with our Mac laptop, which we plug in using a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adaptor. Buying an adaptor to use a screen with a MacBook Air can be complicated as you need to specify not only what type of adaptor you are looking for, but whether it is male or female.

You are better off buying one of Apple’s adaptors because in our experience if you use a non-Apple adapter it might not work – although our problem here is that Apple doesn’t sell a USB C to to DVI adaptor. We are hoping that this Arktek offering works (£9.99). We also have a VGA monitor available so we are going to try out the Belkin USB-C to VGA Adaptor when it arrives (Apple sells it so we have some confidence it should work, although it’s £29.95). Hopefully one of these will work – we’ll update this when we receive them.

We also expect that there will be a few people mourning the loss of the trusty Magsafe power port that meant that if you tripped over the cable it would pop out without sending your Mac crashing to the floor. You may also miss the SDXC card slot that was on the older MacBook Air, but how many people use an actual camera these days?

Price & Availability: Feeling flush

Note that this model is now discontinued and you won’t find it on sale anywhere unless it’s a refurbished unit. Even the 2023 model is now scarce and even then, the MacBook Air 2023 starts at just £999 and comes with a number of upgrades.

There’s really no reason to be buying a previous-gen MacBook Air unless you really can’t afford the latest model.

At the time of launch, we’d been lead to expect the new MacBook Air to cost less than £1,000/$1,000, but prices for the 2023 started at £1,199/$1,199 with the model with extra storage costing £1,399/$1,399.

Verdict

We’re so happy that Apple has revived the MacBook Air. We were convinced that the company intended to remove it from the line up in favour of the MacBook. In fact, by updating the MacBook Air, Apple has thrown the regular MacBook into an existential crisis: with the Air now becoming the perfect laptop for anyone who values portability, the MacBook really doesn’t have a lot to offer.

We’re not completely sold on the gold option – but that’s no big deal as there are two other colour options available. We love the fact that it’s made from recycled aluminium. And we congratulate Apple on reducing the dimensions while still making a laptop that looks like the trademark Air.

Plenty of upgrades are welcome including the Retina display, new internals, Touch ID and more. Just be aware the change to USB-C might be quite a shock if you’re new to it.

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