$ 399 Razer Edge tries to make Android gaming tablets happen

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Enlarge / The new (not old) Razer Edge.


After trying for years with gaming phones, the next big product category hardware manufacturers are trying to make happen is apparently “Android gaming tablets.” You basically throw a Nintendo Switch into a photocopier, load Android on it, and hope users will be content picking through Android games and the growing (shrinking?) Collection of cloud gaming services out there. Logitech kicked things off with the G Cloud Gaming Handheld last month, and now Razer is throwing its hat into the ring with a new Razer Edge handheld. This was teased last month and got a full unveiling over the weekend, and there are actually some interesting specs to go over.

First off, a major differentiator for Razer over the Logitech handheld is that the Razer has active cooling. Razer neglected to show any internal pictures, but the 10-mm-thick body and six vents on the back make it look like there’s some decent heat dissipation going on. Even if Razer slapped a normal phone chip inside, a fan would probably make it outperform any phone, thanks to not having to instantly throttle. Razer and Qualcomm say this is the first device with a “Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Gaming Platform” SoC, but that seems to just be marketing fluff rather than any new technical development.

The back, featuring a lot of cooling vents and shoulder buttons.
Enlarge / The back, featuring a lot of cooling vents and shoulder buttons.


Qualcomm’s page on the new G3x Gen 1 doesn’t provide any technical details, a major red flag that suggests there’s nothing here worth bragging about. Razer only says the chip runs at 3 GHz. Unofficially, we can pick through the Geekbench listings for some details. The chip codename “Lahaina” means this should be a rebranded Snapdragon 888 SoC, Qualcomm’s flagship smartphone SoC from 2020. That would make it a 5 nm chip with one 3 GHz Cortex X1 core, three 2.42 GHz Cortex A78 cores, and four 1.8 GHz Cortex A55 cores. Those frequencies are all reported from Geekbench, and they’re all normal compared to the phone version, meaning this chip didn’t even get a frequency bump. Again, though, the phone chips throttle extremely quickly, so the fan should give this product decent sustained gaming performance not found on a phone. It seems like Qualcomm just didn’t want to admit it’s shipping a 2-year-old chip in this device.

The 2-year-old chip will help get the price down from the usual $ 1,000 Android phone, but all of these gaming tablets are going to have a tough time competing with the Nintendo Switch at $ 299 (and $ 199 for the Lite version). Other specs include a 6.8-inch, 2400 × 1080 OLED display at a whopping 144 Hz, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 5000 mAh battery. There’s a MicroSD slot, 3.5 mm headphone jack, USB-C port, 5 MP front camera (no rear camera, it’s a tablet), and Wi-Fi 6E compatibility. The $ 400 version is Wi-Fi only, and a second SKU, the Verizon-exclusive “Razer Edge 5G,” promises Sub 6 GHz and mmWave connectivity for an undisclosed price. This is partly pitched as a portable cloud-gaming device, so cellular access would let you play it away from home, though it will incur a large data bill.

Unlike the Logitech tablet, the controllers are not permanently attached to the Razer Edge. Razer just built a normal tablet and threw a clamp-on gamepad into the box, the “Razer Kishi V2 Pro.” You get two analog sticks, ABXY face buttons, and six (!) Shoulder buttons: digital L1 / R1, analog L2 / R2 triggers, and unique “M1 / M2” buttons, which are small little nubbins next to the L2 trigger.

The Razer Kishi V2 — the non-Pro version — is already a standalone product. Ars Tech Culture Editor Sam Machkovech reviewed it earlier this year and seemed to like the controller hardware while dinging the device for janky configuration software that didn’t allow for button reprogramming. The Pro version fixes one of Sam’s complaints — the lack of a headphone jack — and adds “Razer HyperSense haptics” for audio-powered rumble. The “Razer Nexus” controller software, with a rough 2.6-star rating on the Play Store, still seems bad.

We doubt it’s a coincidence that Razer and Logitech landed on the same product idea a month apart. The puppet master for both companies is probably Qualcomm, with reports last year indicating the chip company was experimenting with Nintendo Switch-like Android devices, including showing off a “Gaming Reference Device” to a few partners. It seems like some OEMs took Qualcomm up on the offer and decided to commercialize the product idea. With Qualcomm’s huge base of partners, don’t be surprised if more of these devices show up. The Razer Edge ships Q1 2023.

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