Mobile gaming is seeing something of a renaissance lately, and Razer wants to make the experience of gaming on a mobile device feel more like a handheld gaming device and less like a phone. That’s where Razer’s new Junglecat controller and Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds come in.
Junglecat Bluetooth Controller
The Junglecat is a great idea on paper, though it starts to get less interesting on further inspection. Let’s start with the design. This modular controller comes with an adapter that lets it act as an independent gamepad and a trio of custom cases that will let you attach the controller to either side of your phone to make it play like a Nintendo Switch. The controller is a Bluetooth Low Energy device that connects to your phone for mobile gameplay. It charges via USB Type-C and gives you up to 100 hours of game time off a single charge. Razer promises a low-latency connection and lots of sensitivity adjustments through the Razer Gamepad app.
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, the Junglecat’s compatibility is limited. Razer says this Bluetooth controller isn’t compatible with iOS at all. It is compatible with Android devices running Android version 8.0 or higher, as well as Windows 10 Bluetooth devices. Apple just added Bluetooth controller compatibility and the Apple Arcade service is getting all kinds of accolades, this seems like a strange decision. Further, the phone can only do “Switch mode” with a few phones. Only the Razer Phone 2, Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and Samsung Galaxy S10+ are supported by the included cases.
Razer hasn’t said whether iOS compatibility might be coming to the Junglecat in the future and isn’t talking about the possibility of additional cases. Considering that most mobile controller mounts involve putting your phone into an unwieldy, top-heavy cage hovering over your phone, the Switch-style grip is a stroke of genius… that most of us can’t take advantage of.
Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds
On the audio side, Razer is launching the Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds. These follow pretty closely in the footsteps of Apple’s AirPods, as you can see from the image below; it’s more like they’re stumbling on Apple’s heels, I’d say.
The Hammerhead earbuds are powered by Bluetooth 5.0. They get a range of about 10 meters (~32 feet) in ideal conditions and maintain an ultra-low 60-ms input latency. Syncing Bluetooth audio with on-screen video hasn’t always been easy. That low latency should help ensure that the buds stay synced with images and with each other. The buds, like the controller, charge over USB Type-C. They get about 3 hours of life per charge, with battery inside the included charging case offering another 13 hours. The buds take about 90 minutes to charge.
Razer is also trying to bring a little bit of that “Apple magic” to the Hammerhead buds. When you do take them out of their carrying case, they’ll automatically pair with your phone. The buds also feature touch-sensitive surfaces that let you manage calls and music and activate your phone’s voice assistant.
The controller is a great idea, but its dependency on an app will make its use limited. iOS is where many of the best mobile games are. Microsoft is launching Xbox mobile game streaming, and it’s unclear whether the Razer app will support that. The earbuds, on the other hand, are pretty appealing. The battery life is on par with many other true wireless earbuds, but with a more appealing price tag than many of its competitors.