It’s been a while since Razer introduced the Razer Kishi, a device that turns your smartphone into a Nintendo Switch-like device, offering traditional gaming controller functionality for a smartphone.
Although the original Kishi wasn’t perfect it did its job and I loved using it. There were a few issues with it though with the buttons lacking a satisfying click we all prefer on our gaming devices, along with the difficulty in fitting some smartphones into it. The Kishi V2 addresses these concerns and more and although not as compact as the first iteration it is a great device, well worth the investment.
The design and fit
The new Kishi V2 comes with a bridge or backbone now, foregoing the smaller, more portable spring loaded mechanism which was difficult to pull apart and get back together at the best of times. The new bridge is spring loaded allowing for a stable controller which is easy to insert your smartphone in to. The bridge creates a much more stable and sturdy controller feel with very little ”give” in the whole ensemble (including phone).
The V2 supports phones up to 175mm tall and an unlimited width – the width was capped on the first version. Razer also says that slim cases can be accommodated, and they include 2 different sized bumpers to ensure a stable fit. While they say that, my relatively slim OPPO Find X5 Pro case did not work with it – the USB-C connection was not long enough to connect into the phone properly.
The controller does offer USB-C passthrough charging of your phone while gaming through the port at the bottom of the right side of the controller. There is no audio passthrough though so you cannot connect a wired headset to the USB-C port and have it function. Bluetooth is your only option for audio if you don’t want those around you disturbed by your gaming.
The Kishi V1 struggled to fit my Pixel 6 Pro and the Find X5 Pro due to the lengths and camera bumps but the V2 offers no issues there at all with much more allowance for device size when inserting it.
Inserting the phone is also a lot easier with a simple push with one end of the phone opening out the bridge spring. You then carefully insert the USB-C port into the charging port of your phone. Version 1 required a lot more fiddling to get it right and felt like it would snap the USB-C connector given the unsteady nature of it.
Buttons and feel
The Kishi V2 feels a lot more ergonomic in the grip of your hand with a textured grip allowing for a better feel in the hand.
The X, Y, A and B buttons are more tactile now, offering a nice click when using them, something that does make a difference when gaming with it. Other buttons include a standard D-pad, two joysticks, two mappable buttons (next to the triggers), shoulder/trigger buttons and screenshot and share buttons.
Razer has actually brought the same microswitch button and d-pad technology from their Wolverine V2 consoler controllers to the Kishi V2 so it is no surprise that they are better in every way including “actuation responsiveness, comfort and tactile feedback.”
The layout is basically an Xbox-style controller split in two with a spine connecting the two halves. To insert your phone you push the top end away with your phone and carefully insert the USB-C plug of the Kishi V2 into the USB-C port of your phone. This process is a large improvement over version one with there being a lot of give and unwanted flexibility in the first version.
Using the buttons is, well, it’s no Xbox controller but still decent. The joysticks do feel a bit loose at times but the more I used them the better I got at controlling them. The buttons offer less travel to them and a nice click sound when pressed, unlike the mush from the first version, making it easier to activate them. This includes the D-pad which has less travel than the first version and a decent audio response when using it – much easier than last time.
Razer has a new app called Nexus which allows you to bind the various controls of the controller globally but compared with the dedicated app in a gaming phone such as the ROG phone it lacks some individual customisation of controls that would be nice to have.
The Nexus button on the controller also did not take you back into the Nexus app while gaming for most games which would have been nice. The Nexus button just opens the Razer Nexus app once you have connected the controller.
Overall the Nexus app is a tad disappointing, especially the suggested games section – it does not include the actual game they showed the game off to us in the briefing, Streetfighter – but the app is relatively new and they are apparently continuing to work on it. It can only get better and more useful.
You would hope that they are continually developing it, especially ahead of their iPhone version release later this year.
My mobile gaming is fairly average but using this controller it improved out of sight. The ability to easily control the games with buttons we all know and love makes for a much more enjoyable experience. No longer do your fingers get in the way of what is on the display as there is no longer a requirement for on-screen activation of buttons with your fingers.
With the USB-C connection rather than a Bluetooth connection there is an “ultra-low latency” which you can definitely notice when playing a fast-paced game.
Razer state that the Kishi V2 is compatible with cloud gaming providers Xbox Gamepass, Nvidia GeForce Now and Google Stadia and with remote play such as Steam Link, Xbox Remote Play, Parsec and Moonlight. I tested the Kishi V2 out using the Xbox Cloud Gaming (Xcloud) and it worked great with the mapping in the streamed game able to be matched, and used, on the Kishi V2. Unfortunately I was unable to remap these buttons but that is apparently an issue with the cloud gaming.
The Razer Kishi generation one was a decent controller but it was a first-generation product with some issues. The Kishi V2 improves by fixing most of these problems such that it is now near perfect. The app is still first version and needs a lot of improvement but the controller itself makes gaming a breeze. Control your game without your hands and fingers getting in the way of the display. Unencumbered mobile gaming at its finest.
If you are serious about your mobile gaming then the Razer Kishi V2 is for you. There is both an Android (USB-C) and an iPhone version but the iPhone version will not be available to purchase until later this year. You can buy the Android version now from Razer or from Scorptec for $169.95 — If you like gaming on your phone go out and grab one, I highly recommend it.