"We have a blocky design, and we have big bezels. All combined, it is actually a great advantage because we have a great grip where we still hold the edges without covering the speakers to have great sound," Blanchard said.
With this distinctive bulky design and bezels, Razer is "bucking the trend," said Matt Swider, a senior editor at technology news and review site TechRadar.
Both the new Razer Phone 2 and its predecessor boast the best screen refresh rate of any phone, at 120Hz. High screen refresh rates provide smoother experiences and allow for potentially quicker response times helpful in fast-paced games. Apple's iPad Pros have this feature, but even the newest iPhones are capped at 60Hz.
"The difference you see in a high-refresh-rate display is not just tied to gaming. You can see it with scrolling through a web page," said Vivek Gowri, a senior manager of hardware engineering at Razer.
Recent reviews of the Razer Phone 2 say the model builds on its predecessor's strengths as a serious contender for gamers and multimedia users, but it fails to measure up in ways that may be more important to most phone users — for example, the improved screen brightness and camera are still lacking compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Google Pixel 3.
The Razer Phone's main competition in trying to grow a gamer phone market is the Asus ROG Phone, which became available for pre-order on Oct.18. It is the first phone released by the Taiwanese company's Republic of Gamers (ROG) gaming hardware brand. Like the Razer, the ROG phone looks significantly different from an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, starting with a focus on how a phone should be designed when it is going to mostly be held horizontally.
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"Based on our observation, the vast majority of people game in landscape mode, so we had to think about how to accommodate the different ports," said Vivian Lien, chief marketing officer of Asus North America and the head of global marketing for the ROG brand.
Asus decided to add additional side-mounted ports that can be used for charging, docking and plugging in headphones so gamers can hold the sides of the phone more comfortably. Another new feature is the ultrasonic "AirTriggers" — extra programmable touch points on the edges of the phone screen that serve the same function as game-controller buttons when held horizontally. (Physical game controllers can be attached to the sides of the phone.)
"Games require certain controls, so we started to think about what we can offer to add in the controls people are accustomed to, but without adding all the extra complexity," Lien said.
Asus is selling a variety of accessories for the phone that cost up to several hundred dollars each, including a "TwinView Dock" that adds another screen (for $399.99), a "Mobile Desktop Dock" that can connect the phone to a computer monitor in order to game with a mouse and keyboard (for $229.99).
"A lot of gamers don't game on one device only. It's about this interoperability between their devices on the go and the device they use primarily in a stationary environment," Lien said. "The ability to control their own gaming experience is one of the most appealing things about the ROG phone."