Razer Kishi V2 review: New design, frustrating issues

With the Kishi mobile controller, Razer was launched in mid-2020 and has successfully turned phones into fake Nintendo Switch consoles. It has introduced a smart design that places your phone in the middle of two controllers. Not to mention, it was a more enjoyable console-like way of playing mobile games, as well as cloud streaming services such as xCloud, Stadia and more. Now, with the $ 99 Kishi V2, it looks like Razer’s goal was to get a leg up on a competitor who did everything better on the first try: Backbone.

The company’s one-stop miracle after Kishi launched an even more amazing portable console for the iPhone is over, $ 99 for the spine. It had a simpler, more ergonomic design, more functionality, and an interface that avoided a complete console operating system. It made playing on the phone a more bodily experience, making Kishi’s value proposition weaker and less interesting in comparison.

So with the Kishi V2, Razer decided to drop the first-generation design for something terrible Equivalent to a single spine. There’s not much here that Razer can take much credit for. The V2 has a simple, spine-like design and the same type of retractable drawbar mechanism that allows you to unlock your phone in a separate console setup. The shoot button in the game is here on the left, along with the setting button on the right there is a new button that takes you to – yes – Razer’s own spin on the game console called Nexus. You do not have to use it, but it is there.

There are a few important advantages that the Kishi V2 has over the spine console. Most importantly, the Kishi V2 is designed for Android. There will also be an iOS version later in 2022. Backbone (disappointed) did not make a copy of its console with USB-C unless you calculate that paying subscribers will connect it to your Android device with a Lightning-to-USB-C cable. If you play mobile games with complex operating systems, the new Razer model has two additional programmable shoulder buttons – one on each side. It can be reset in the Nexus app.

Each side of the console has a programmable macro key that can be useful to you.

And while the Backbone design has reached its limits with the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s giant camera hump (with free 3D-printed transformers to make it work), the Kishi V2 has adjustable rubber inserts to extend compatibility with Android phones. expanding and varying camera sizes bump – even those in thin cases. The full list of supported phones includes both Razer phones; Samsung Galaxy S8 to S22; from Galaxy Note 8 to 20; Google Pixel 2 to 6; and “many other Android devices”. It supports devices up to 11.5mm thick, including the camera bump – I was surprised I had to make the Pixel 6 so thin (yellow) An official Google portfolio to make it relevant.

Razer Kishi V2.0

I had to take the Pixel 6 skinny cover off to fit.

Razer Kishi V2.0

These replaceable parts allow multiple devices to fit on the Kishi V2.

Overall, the fit and finish of the Kishi V2 are good, but the new features – both in the Nexus app and those physically on the console – are less expansive and polished than what is available on the Backbone’s One.

Inside the Nexus, which could not start with more than half of my push-button attempts, you will see a bare console panel that can act as a game launcher for those I have installed. Scrolling through the app reveals game suggestions for each genre, indicating how poorly the game is selected on Android compared to iOS, or how poorly Razer has formatted it. As a game discovery tool, I would say that Nexus is probably a bit worse than just browsing the Google Play Store, and it really is less than an excellent experience.

The Razer Nexus app (left) is much less appealing than the Backbone experience.

In the app, you can start a live broadcast via YouTube or Facebook Live. If you want to take a screenshot or video, you can do so with a dedicated button for these features on the left. Despite this, there is always a severe lack of on-screen feedback or haptic feedback, especially with screenshots or video. For example, after holding down the screenshot button to take a video, I have no idea if it was recorded before opening my Google Photos library. A simple screen message (a small Cast icon appears in the Android notification toolbar during screen capture, but is easy to miss) or a slight vibration can do the trick. It’s the little things that Spine got right a few years ago that make it frustrating to use the Kishi V2.

Razer has turned its face buttons into the same kind of mechanical click switches that are in the Wolverine V2 console. And even though I liked them on the larger console, I did not like how they felt here, more than I had expected. The journey is superficial, the click is very subtle and requires very little force, if I hold a button down during intense gameplay, it does not provide enough feedback to tell me if I am making a push. It almost reminds me of using one of the keys on Apple’s dreaded butterfly keyboard with dust in it.

Razer Kishi V2.0

Side view of Spine Profile One (left) and Kishi V2 (right). Kishi rear triggers provide more suspension.

Razer Kishi V2.0

Similar, but not quite. The buttons on the spine hang down a bit and it feels like a traditional console.

The Kishi V2 offers pass-through charging via USB-C, so you can keep your phone charged by plugging a cable in the bottom right of the handle, just like the previous version. I suppose I might be in the minority of reviewers who stink over this, but I really wish Razer had built a 3.5mm jack for wired listening. Unfortunately, audio delay is still an area where Android inexplicably lags behind Apple, and it’s often strange that Razer doesn’t have one, especially since Backbone has it.

The Kishi V2 looks like a device made to prove that Razer will not take it from a beginner to the gaming area. It took a surprisingly long time to release her rebuttal, which is a good thing. Forget the Backbone One for a moment, the improved design and thoughtful features of the Kishi V2 make it one of the best portable touchscreen controls for Android users. But in its current state, the little thing that makes the Kishi V2 unique does not overshadow how better the first Backbone product is.

Photograph by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

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