Razer Kishi V2 evaluation: new design, annoying issues

With Kishi Mobile Controller Launched in mid-2020, Razer has succeeded in turning the phone into a fake Nintendo Switch console. It offers a clever design that clamps your phone in between the two controllers. Not to mention, it’s a more comfortable, console-like way to play mobile games as well as cloud streaming services, like xCloud, Stadia, etc. Now, for the $99 Kishi V2, Looks like Razer’s goal is to outshine a competitor that did better than all of them on the first try: Backbone.

One company’s one-of-a-kind wonder came after Kishi launched an even more formidable mobile controller for the iPhone, $99 Backbone One. It has a simpler, cleaner design, more functions, and a full-fledged console-like interface. It turned mobile gaming into a more realistic experience, making Kishi’s value proposition a lot weaker and less interesting by comparison.

So with the Kishi V2, Razer decided to ditch its first-generation design for something very similar to Backbone One. There’s not much here that Razer can get much credit for. The V2 has the same minimalist design as the Backbone and the same kind of pull-to-extend mechanism to let you place your phone in its split controller. The in-game shutter button is here on the left side, along with the options button on the right, and there’s a new button that takes you to – yes – Razer’s own spin on a game console called the Nexus. It’s not required that you use it, but it’s there.

There are some key perks that Kishi V2 has on Backbone’s controller. The important point is that Kishi V2 is made for Android. There’s also an iOS version arriving later in 2022. Backbone (annoyingly) hasn’t made a version of its controller with USB-C, unless you count that subscribers to the paid service. its possible connect it to your Android device with a Lightning-to-USB-C cable. If you play mobile games with complex control schemes, Razer’s new model adds two more programmable shoulder buttons – one on each side. They can be remapped in the Nexus app.

Razer Kishi V2

Each side of the controller has a programmable macro key, which may be useful to you.

And while Backbone’s design reaches its limit with the massive camera section of the iPhone 13 Pro Max (it provides a free 3D printing adapter to make it work), Kishi V2 includes adjustable rubber pads to extend its compatibility with Android phones and their different camera bump sizes – even those in slim cases. Full list of supported phones including Razer phones; Samsung’s Galaxy S8 to S22; 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 section – I was surprised to have to take the Pixel 6 out of its thinness (and yellow) official Google case to make it relevant.

Razer Kishi V2

I had to take the Pixel 6’s slim case off to fit it.

Razer Kishi V2

These interchangeable pads allow more devices to fit the Kishi V2.

Overall, the Kishi V2’s fit and finish is good, but its new features – both in the Nexus app and the physical ones found on the controller – are less comprehensive and polished than what’s available. on Backbone’s One.

In Nexus, which can’t launch with more than half of my button presses, you’ll see a blank panel that can act as a game launcher for the apps you’ve installed. Scrolling down through the app brings up game recommendations for each genre, which highlights how much worse the selection of games on Android than on iOS or Razer is at managing them. As a game explorer, I’d say the Nexus could be a bit worse than just browsing the Google Play Store, which is already a less than stellar experience.

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

Within the app, you can start streaming through YouTube or Facebook Live. If you want to take a screenshot or record a video, you can do so with a button dedicated to those functions on the left side. Even so, there’s still a lot of lack of on-screen or haptic feedback throughout, especially with screen recording or video. For example, after pressing the screenshot button or holding it to record a video, I don’t know if the command is registered until I open my Google Photos library. A simple screen notification (the little Cast icon that appears in Android’s notification toolbar during screen recording, but is easy to miss) or a small vibration could have done the trick. It’s little things like that, which Backbone had two years ago, that made Kishi V2 uncomfortable to use.

Razer has switched its facial buttons to the same type of clicky, mechanical switches found in the Wolverine V2 . Controller. And while I like them in the larger controller, I don’t like how they feel here more than I expected. The scrolling is shallow, the click is so subtle and requires so little force that, if I press a button down during intense gameplay, it won’t provide enough feedback to tell me if I’m pressing or not. . It almost reminds me of using one of Apple’s dreaded butterfly keyboard switches with dust clinging to it.

Razer Kishi V2

Side view of Backbone One (left) and Kishi V2 (right). Kishi’s rear trigger provides a bit more movement.

Razer Kishi V2

Similar, but not quite. The Backbone’s handle is lowered a bit, making it feel more like a traditional controller.

The Kishi V2 offers USB-C charging, so you can charge your phone by plugging the cable into the bottom right of the grip, just like the previous version. I suppose I might be among the few reviewers to do this, but I really wish Razer had included a 3.5mm jack for wired listening. Sadly, audio lag is still an area where Android is inexplicably behind Apple, and it’s odd that Razer didn’t include a bug, especially since Backbone did.

The Kishi V2 feels like a device made to prove that Razer won’t take it down in the gaming space from a novice. It took a surprisingly long time to come up with a rebuttal of it, which is fine. Leaving the Backbone One aside for a bit, the Kishi V2’s improved design and thoughtful features make it one of the best plug-in-and-go mobile controllers for Android users. But in its current state, the small things that make the Kishi V2 unique doesn’t overshadow how much better Backbone’s first-generation product was.

Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

Leave a Comment