Review: Razer Kishi V2 refines the “gamepad that clamps to the phone” concept

Het is geen Razer-apparaat, tenzij het naast een aantal aangepaste RGB-verlichting staat, toch?  Goed nieuws: de Razer Kishi V2 bevat <em>zero</em> dazzling lights, which we prefer here at Ars Technica.”/><figcaption class=

enlarge It’s not a Razer device unless it’s next to some custom RGB lighting, right? Good news: the Razer Kishi V2 includes zero bright lights, which we prefer here at Ars Technica.

Razer

In the years since the phrase “don’t you have phones?became a Blizzard mocking meme, I found myself honestly playing more video games on my smartphone. (But not Diablo Immortalwhich spawned the meme.) In particular, Xbox Cloud GamingGoogle Stadiaand other cloud gaming services shine as options on my phone when wifi or 5G reception is decent.

While certain games on these services have on-screen buttons as options, I don’t play with anything less than a physical gamepad. Until this month I trusted a standard slim 8Bitdo gamepadespecially when traveling, but this required a plastic harness from phone to gamepad — and, gosh, those things fall apart when tossed in my bags. There must be something better right?

Enter the Razer Kishi V2† On the somewhat steep price of $100, this gamepad to clip onto your phone is not recommended for anyone who does not regularly play console-like games on their phone. But it’s closer to earning that value than Kishi’s 2020 version

A brief introduction to the last generation of Kishi

The original Kishi model from 2020. Can you see all the plastic on the bottom?  That makes it difficult to connect certain smartphones.
enlarge The original Kishi model from 2020. Can you see all the plastic on the bottom? That makes it difficult to connect certain smartphones.

Razer

Technically, the first Kishi is even older. Razer’s debut Kishi model was a rebrand of the Gamevice gamepad, which launched in 2017 for the iPhone 6 generation. When Razer and Gamevice collaborated on a controller, it came in two versions: Android, with a USB Type-C port, and iOS, with a Lightning port.

In either case, users are expected to turn their smartphone sideways and then plug it half way into the gamepad’s port. Pull the other half of the gamepad and a tension-based mechanism makes it stretch to fit over the other side of your phone. Once fully clamped, you’ve got a makeshift Switch-esque option for your smartphone: joysticks, triggers, and “bumpers” on either side, a D-pad on the left, and an ABXY button array on the right.

Kishi V2 (top), Kishi V1 (bottom).
enlarge Kishi V2 (top), Kishi V1 (bottom).

Sam Machkovech

Like other Gamevice controllers, the best perks of the 2020 Kishi V1 were sturdy joysticks and an easy-to-fold split design so you could clip the halves together when disconnected from a phone to make it easier to carry in a crowded bag. to fit. But the rest of the buttons left me quite unmoved; the voltage on the analog triggers felt cheap, and the D-pad and ABXY button array were mushy.

Worse, the first Kishi’s retractable strap system adds a certain amount of plastic bulk that isn’t compatible with some phone models (particularly the “camera bump” found on newer Pixel phones) or doesn’t extend far enough to accommodate larger smartphones. support.

A Different Kind of Portable Gaming “Switch”

A look at the high resolution of the Kishi V2.
enlarge A look at the high resolution of the Kishi V2.

Razer

The Kishi V2, which was made this month without the intervention of Gamevice, resolves every complaint on the above list (with the exception of the fact that only an Android model is available as of the time of writing). My favorite part of Razer’s new model is an upgrade to click microswitches, which, frankly, aren’t common enough in modern gamepads. If you’ve ever used a Neo Geo Pocket, you know exactly what I’m talking about: they are responsive and noticeably loud.

This leads to a dramatic improvement in responsiveness and comfort for the D-pad, ABXY array and bumpers. As someone who likes to pack a few favorite 8- and 16-bit games on an Android emulator, I’m happy to report that the thrill of tricky 2D platforming challenges in the likes of Mega Man benefits from the balance of size, distance and pressure movement of these new buttons. Kishi V2’s analog triggers have also been revised, and while they’re nowhere near the satisfying standard tension of an Xbox or PlayStation gamepad, their somewhat hollow, squeaky feel is a marked improvement over the tense-yet-weak. triggers of the first Kishi.

A photo to clarify my point about the distance between the ABXY array and the joystick;  Kishi V2 compared to a Switch Joy-Con.
enlarge A photo to clarify my point about the distance between the ABXY array and the joystick; Kishi V2 compared to a Switch Joy-Con.

Sam Machkovech

Despite liking the improvements to the buttons, I have a nitpick. The Kishi V2’s ABXY array is 1.5mm closer to the joystick on the right than the same setup on a standard Nintendo Switch Joy-Con. As a result, an adult-sized thumb can expect to accidentally touch the right stick of the Kishi V2 while concentrating on old-fashioned ABXY button taps – unless you twist your thumb placement to compensate. This tweaking felt a bit unnatural to me, and I could see this being a deal-breaker for certain hands, but I still prefer Kishi V2’s ABXY use case over the original Kishi.

I also prefer the Kishi V1’s joysticks, which are a wee bit smaller than what you’ll find on an Xbox gamepad, but otherwise copy the thumb feel and tension of those chunky joysticks. Kishi V2’s joysticks look and feel identical to those on a Switch Joy-Con, down to the tiny notches in each cardinal direction. Until now, they have been fully usable in first-person shooters that require careful aiming and frequent joystick clicks. But my testing hasn’t been extensive enough to determine whether Kishi V2 owners should expect mechanical failures similar to the dreaded Joy-Con drift problem.

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