Friday, December 9, 2022

Razer Kishi – Turn your phone into a handheld console > NAG

When it comes to mobile gaming you either love triggers or you hate them, I for one have never been a fan and would much rather play the way god intended, hand on glass. But there is another product on the market that is quickly replacing triggers as the must-have accessory… controllers. And rightly so, these cool gadgets turn your smartphone into a fully-fledged handled console, or gamepads as we like to call them. While we are limited to mobile games, for now, cloud gaming will soon hit our shores and that will be a game changer for your phone.

The Razer Kishi is a really cool game controller for Android that features a USB-C port and an expandable design that will fit most smartphones comfortably. I did find this design a little awkward to use, this is because the action to release the clips and unfold it feels odd. I found myself rather just twisting the controllers gently to release the back latch. This may be worth a design revision Razer, I think a twist to release design will feel like a more natural action when trying to load a phone. Better yet, use a slider so you can just pull the controllers apart. The Shaks D55 controller does this really well. The same is true when trying to fold back the Razer Kishi, you need to align two light gray tabs when you fold it back. You’ll eventually rely on muscle memory and this is not so much of an issue but still not a good design in my opinion.

Once unfolded, a stretchable band will keep the tension, ensuring a comfortable fit. You won’t be able to use the Kishi with a phone cover on, but this is pretty standard with most side-mount controllers. Also helping to keep your phone snug in place is a soft inner rubber that grips onto your phone’s top and bottom ends. But, sadly, this fit is rather tight, and depending on your phone’s thickness, may lift your phone’s screen protector after a few uses.

Once fitted though, the Razer Kishi looks and feels really good in the hand. My Xiaomi 11T Pro is quite big and fitted perfectly. In fact, this setup kinda feels like holding the Nintendo Switch, albeit much thicker and with a slightly smaller screen

The buttons and triggers also feel solid, as you’d expect from Razer. The joysticks have a bit of firmness and there is a solid click with each button press.

When it comes to gaming, the Razer Kishi really steps up. Playing the trifecta of mobile battle royale shooters, PUBGM, Fortnite, and Apex Legends yielded great results and even though I don’t usually game with a controller, it didn’t take long to adapt and really take to the new controller experience.

While mobile games work well with this controller, the Razer Kishi really shines when you pair it with cloud gaming. Using my trial AWG cloud gaming account I played Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Doom at my local pub, much to the amusement of those around me. Is this what the Steamdeck will feel like?

Of course, driving and fighting games work really well with the Razer Kishi, handing it to a few friends to try out, the sentiments all reflected mine: This thing turns your phone into a solid gaming device… especially once you have access to cloud- based gaming. If you are a mobile gamer who prefers controllers then the Razer Kishi will hit the mark.

Another feature on the Razer Kishi that I like is the pass-through USB-C port at the bottom of the controller, on the right controller, that allows you to charge your phone while you game. There are also two speaker holes that let audio from your phone’s bottom speaker through. You don’t need to pair the Razer Kishi via Bluetooth and you don’t need to install any software to make it. While there is an official Razer Kishi app, it just shows you what compatible apps you have, and helps you discover other compatible games. I would have liked to see some sort of custom button mapping capability but for now, you can only update the firmware via the app.

Apart from the issues I mentioned above, the Razer Kishi is a solid gaming peripheral and it really feels like it turns your phone into a serious gaming device. While this model is for Android phones only, iPhone gamers need not worry, the Razer Kishi is also available for your device. You can check out the iStore if you’d like to grab one.

At just over R2,200, the Razer Kishi may be a little expensive for most mobile gamers but it will become a good investment once cloud gaming hit our shores.

BOTTOM LINE

The Razer Kishi turns your phone into a fully-fledged gamepad. It’s not perfect, but offers a solid gaming performance and features great built quality.

PROS

Fits most smartphones

Buttons and triggers feel premium

USB-C passthrough

Fits in your pocket

CONS

Awkward to unfold

May damage your screen protector

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