By taking advice from other game controller designs and learning from the flaws of the original Razer Kishi, the Kishi V2 aims to elevate cloud gaming into the palm of your hands. And, while it does well in many areas, there are still some negatives to work on, especially considering the $99 price tag.
- Razer Nexus app
- Supported PC, Xbox and PlayStation games
- Extendable bridge
- Mark: Razer
- Platform: android
- Battery: N / A
- Connectivity: USB-C
- Headset support: Nope
- Programmable: Yes, via the associated application
- Additional buttons: Nope
- Great ergonomics
- USB-C connection
- Compatible with most Android phones
- Clamp isn’t particularly strong
First the Junglecat, then the Kishi. We now have a new and improved Razer Kishi V2 that was designed to take cloud gaming to the next level.
With the ability to take mobile gaming further than it’s been before, this game controller might make you think you’re holding a portable console in your hands.
Simplified phone holding
Unlike the original Razer Kishi, the V2 makes it much easier to place your phone in the controller. Previously, the Kishi used a locking system that made it difficult to fit your phone in, without the band falling down before you could insert your phone into it.
With the V2, all you have to do is pull one side of the controller that extends the bridge. From there, just place your phone, then adjust the controller if you want a tighter fit.
But, since the Razer Kishi V2 only supports a USB-C connection at the moment, Android users with a Type-C port are the only ones to benefit from the refreshed design. At least until an iOS version is released.
This is one of the few differences between the famous Backbone One controller and the Razer Kishi V2, which Razer seems to have taken a lot of inspiration from. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course.
Designed to be portable (mostly)
Although the Kishi V2 is basically a piece of plastic, it doesn’t look like it. It certainly has a more premium feel, but, thanks to the plastic design, it’s incredibly light at just 123 grams.
When you’ve taken out your phone, the controller fits easily in your backpack or even in a large pocket. If Razer had designed the Kishi V2 to fully retract, it could have been one of the most portable gaming controllers on the market. It’s a shame they missed that, but I wouldn’t consider that a deal breaker.
With rubber bumpers on each end, your phone won’t be scratched even when clamped. And while you can technically fit your phone and case into the Kishi V2, I wouldn’t recommend it because the USB-C port is a pain enough without fiddling with the extra thickness of a case.
If you’re familiar with the Nintendo Switch, then the Razer Kishi V2 resembles the Switch’s Joycons. In fact, I found them to be nearly identical functionally when I tested with the controller tester app by elron that can detect joystick sensitivity and dead zones. I moved both thumbsticks around to make sure there were no dead zones around the edge or in the middle. You can see the work in progress pictured above, with the green areas indicating where the controllers have traveled.
Under the right side of the controller, you’ll find a USB-C port that can be used to charge your phone while you game. It doesn’t support fast charging and there’s no 3.5mm jack – features that really should have been included considering the $99 price tag.
Since the Razer Kishi V2 is powered by your smartphone, you’ll likely need to be plugged into a power source if you want to game for long periods of time. If you’re at home that’s not a problem, but if you’re traveling it might be a problem. The lack of a headphone jack is also disappointing as it means you’ll experience at least some latency with wireless headphones or earbuds. You’ll need to use your phone’s speakerphone to avoid any latency, which makes it a less portable option if you’re traveling and don’t want to annoy everyone around you.
Compared to the original Kishi, the Kishi V2 features new touch button switches that take the game controller to the next level. These clickable buttons provide tactile feedback with every press, allowing gamers to feel as if every action has been successfully registered. And, the beauty is that this tactile feedback is applied to the D-pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, secondary buttons, mappable buttons, and shoulder bumpers.
The expected Start, Back and Share buttons are also present on the V2, but what sets it apart are the shortcut buttons that let you take screenshots and directly open the Nexus app. It looks like Razer put more thought into usability with this model, and it really shows.
With the new bridge mechanism, you feel like your phone is more securely clamped in the Razer Kishi V2. It also offers much more compatibility in terms of larger smartphones, with maximum supported dimensions of 11.5mm in thickness and 170mm in length. This covers models like Samsung Galaxy S22 series, Galaxy Note 20, Razer Phone 2, Google Pixel 6 Pro, etc.
The only real issue with the new design is that the USB-C connector is fixed in place. You will have to be very careful here. Controllers like the GameSir X2 offer a connector that swivels, allowing you to easily install and remove your phone without worrying about breaking the connector or damaging your phone’s USB-C port.
Razer Gaming Software
Rather than just designing a mobile gaming controller, Razer whetted our appetites by shipping the Razer Kishi V2 with included proprietary software called Nexus. This app not only controls the Kishi V2, but it acts as a hub for your mobile games, meaning you can access everything from one place. But, if you’d rather skip the app altogether, you can, as you don’t need Nexus to use the game controller.
From the app, you can stream directly to YouTube and Facebook, but it’s not designed for professional streamers due to the lack of Twitch integration, which seems like an odd omission. There are also a lot of quirks in the app that need work. For example, the first row of apps are just games that are already installed on your phone, whether they’re compatible with the controller or not. It’s really just a nifty way to browse your library of games and game apps, which could easily be improved with a few minor updates.
Still, the Nexus app seems to get fairly regular updates, and it’s currently the only way the Kishi V2 firmware can stay up to date.
What you can do with the Razer Kishi V2
So we know the Razer Kishi V2 is a mobile gaming controller, but what does it actually do?
It’s designed to mirror PC and console games to your phone with controller support to feel as familiar as a console. This is supported by the use of DIP switch buttons, programmable buttons, and the analog triggers you’ll find on a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S controller.
Using the Razer Nexus app, you can access your Kishi V2 supported games, in alphabetical order. You can also easily access other apps like Xbox, allowing you to play console games on your phone.
Essentially, the Razer Kishi V2 was designed to make cloud gaming an almost effortless experience. Granted, you can’t play every game on PC or console, but for those that are compatible, it’s truly immersive to have that console-like experience in the palm of your hands. Maybe he can scratch an itch while waiting for your Steam Deck
Is it worth buying the Razer Kishi V2?
If you don’t have a game controller for your phone yet, the Razer Kishi V2 is definitely an interesting gadget worth buying. Likewise, if you have the original Razer Kishi, the upgrade is well worth it. However, with the market being so competitive, there are plenty of other game controllers out there that either do things better than the Razer Kishi V2 or come at a cheaper price, which makes them much more beneficial.
The Kishi V2 is currently only available for Android, while other controllers like the PS5 DualSense, Xbox Core Controller, or even the 8BitDo Pro 2 support both Android and iOS devices.
But, if you’re not too in tune with the negatives, the Razer Kishi V2 is a worthy upgrade to your mobile gaming experience.