Razer's Project Linda turns your phone into a laptop

It's been the dream of smartphones for well over a decade, and basically every attempt so far has been a failure. Razer is now giving it a shot and, to be honest, Project Linda is the best version of "your phone is also your laptop" that we've ever seen. It might even be good enough to actually work.

Let's just say up front that this is a prototype. Razer likes to do this thing where it rolls out a concept product (like a laptop with three 17-inch 4K displays) to gauge interest and get feedback. Since this isn't a final or complete product we're not going to talk too much about specs or price or availability. What Razer Project Linda is, however, is the fullest and best realization of a dream of mobile computing.

Project Linda is a shell for the Razer Phone, turning the high-powered device into an Android laptop. But unlike past attempts at this concept, which have almost universally used a middling laptop design and poor cabled or wireless phone connection, Razer designed Project Linda to accept the Razer Phone into a cavity carved out where a traditional laptop's trackpad would go. It connects via the USB-C port, with a plug that mechanically (and loudly) sticks into the phone for power and data — and to simply hold it in place. The high resolution display of the phone becomes the trackpad, flanked by a pair of smartphone speakers — that can easily rival most laptops — that are now pointing right at you. There's even a slot carved out along the front to provide easy access to the phone's side-mounted fingerprint sensor.

The laptop shell itself is based on the highly regarded Razer Blade Stealth, with a similar compact and spartan design. Project Linda sports a 2560x1440 120Hz 13-inch LCD and a full-sized Razer keyboard complete with customizable Chroma lighting. The laptop shell offers a USB-C port, USB-A (in signature Razer neon green) and a headphone jack, plus 200GB of storage and a large 53.6Wh battery capable of recharging the Razer Phone 3-4 times. It all lands in a package that's 2.76 pounds.

The software is filled with eye candy, but also concerns over app support.

There's still a lot for Razer to sort out. We were told that it wants to add touchscreen support as well as HDMI-out for hooking up to even bigger displays. But those things are pretty simple. The bigger hurdle here is the software. Android isn't very well positioned to make use of a 13-inch display, and just doesn't offer robust support for this kind of dual-display system, so Razer is having to build that itself with its relatively small Android team. The current concepts that Razer showed us have a more desktop-like interface that makes better use of that extra screen, plus a few ideas that it has for using the Razer Phone's display as a secondary source of information when you have a wireless mouse connected.

Beyond all of Razer's own work just to make Project Linda's core operations a reality, apps (and more importantly for Razer, games) would also need to support the dual-display system. That's going to require an API from Razer for developers to implement in their apps — a big ask for the small (if dedicated) Razer Phone user base.

That's assuming that Project Linda ever sees production. Over the years several of Razer's "Project" concepts have moved into reality, but not all of them make the jump. And if it does, we have no idea what price you'll be looking at, though knowing Razer and the penchant for going all-out, it won't be cheap.

When the Razer Phone was announced, its 8GB of RAM seemed like overkill. But when hooked up to a laptop like this with intentions for higher-performance applications, it doesn't seem so ridiculous now. We want to see this evolve and become a reality.

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • What happens when you get a phone call ?
  • Do you really have to ask that?
  • Obviously yes, since it's not that well implanted
  • I've heard it comes with an optional head-strap for hands free calling!
  • Any Bluetooth or wired hands free device should work as well as a gamer's headset with a mike
  • On-screen pop-up telling you the call's coming in, and you could just take it from the laptop via speakerphone or headphones. But yeah, that's one of those things that's going to need more time to sort out.
  • Thought so. Thanks
  • Nobody makes phone calls anymore.
  • i find this very interesting, whereas previously the Razer phone was only sort of on my radar, if this becomes a reality it will shoot to the top of my list
  • Of course if it ever comes out it will cost so much that it leaves you wondering why you wouldn't just buy a nice Chromebook instead
  • Or a real laptop
  • I don't think the real means what you think it means.
  • Is it not real ?
  • Without being disingenuous we all know what he means.. a laptop running the latest windows with the hardware power close to a normal (no frills) tower PC. Honestly this is the kind of implementation I always envisioned Microsoft vying for when they worked towards making a single OS for all hardware form factors.. I wished their Mobile version was as compelling as Android.. The fact that Android and Windows require very different CPU Architectures to operate makes this dream impossible.
  • Not anymore. Lenovo just released a full Windows 10 tablet running on a Snapdragon 835
  • Didn't the Atrix do this already?
  • Very very poorly, yes.
  • Yes, and I miss my lapdock.
  • Yes, like others said they did it poorly..the phone docked behind the screen I never understood then why they didn't use the phone as the touchpad. Seems Razer realized the same thing. Also remember the atrix wasn't all the powerful, it was pretty specced at the time of release though.
  • And the Superbook: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andromium/the-superbook-turn-your-s...
  • Cool prototype. Not at all for me, though
  • Pointless... Assuming a consumer would eventually upgrade their phone... You would be tied to the device soze to fit the Chromebook shell.... What, create a Chromebook shell that requires the phone to supply CPU? The Samsung DeX is/was also a solution in search of a problem too. I'm guessing Samsung will abandon the DeX as they roll out Smartview and their internet of things plans. It's early.... And early adopters often get burned.
  • I agree that it's a long shot, but I wouldn't call it pointless. Innovation depends on companies like Razor trying out concepts like Linda. Sometimes, solving a challenge can organically lead to new and better ideas that you might never have considered. If you've got the resources to do it, there's nothing wrong with saying, "what if we had a laptop with three screens"" or "what if your phone became the touchpad in your laptop?" Concepts are great. Half-baked products reaching market are not.
  • This is cool.... If it ran a operating system that I cared about on a laptop. If it could run chrome os then I'd be a bit more interested. The other issue is will it work for the next couple of generations. I don't care about looking into a certain design language, I just want support for a few years. Using the screen as the trackpad is genius in my opinion though.
  • You can run Chrome on Android ... ChromeOS = Chrome + under-layers.
  • This. I want a device like this that will support whatever phone I am using for the next few years.
  • This what the Lumia 950 should have done.
    If the case is cheap as the work is being done on the phone, this should be a winner
  • Yes. Microsoft quit the mobile market at the wrong time. They should have realised the potential of Continuum and backed it more.
  • nothing will ever satisfy the Android users, full of toxic community. This is a genius idea, made for PRODUCTIVITY, something most broke android users know nothing about. All they care is about GAMING, GAMING, GAMING.
  • Man, its 2018. Are we still trying to hate on people because of their preferred mobile os choice?
  • Some of us do care a lot about productivity and little for games. As in life, insulting a very large group of because a few of them don't see things your way can have a very bad outcome.
  • The real problem with this concept has not been solved with this iteration. If you need something that acts like a laptop, you get a laptop, not something that look like a laptop, but costs more and has limited capabilities. For something like this to catch on, you must somehow be able to *replace* a laptop (or tablet) without needing a laptop-like piece of hardware. Maybe it'll be VR-type glasses or a projector with simulated (or real) keyboard and mouse, but it won't be this. The question about what OS it should then run is really secondary.
  • Time to acquire Remix OS team.
  • If Google allowed, just make phone Chrome OS compatible. Run Android apps in ChromeOS.
  • For 10 years now, I have had this shell design in mind. It just made sense, in a lot of ways. Use the phone for the trackpad, because it's already one.
    I should have patented it
  • They could produce this without the cutout for the phone, but it would mean other phones could be used with it. I agree that using the phone as a touchpad and speakers is pretty clever, but a trackpad and pair of speaker would probably cost less than the engineering to make the phone a part of the design. In terms of usability, I did use my phone as a laptop for a month or so when our company was transitioning. HDMI out to a 22 inch monitor, and a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and I was good to go. I had word processing and spreadsheets and email, and Nine is a better email app than MS Outlook! Just out of curiosity, wasn't DEX supposed to do this?
  • DEX does this, but the dock is expensive, plus you need a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I would personally find it hard to commit to DEX without knowing if I'll actually like the user experience. I really like that Razor is willing to try new things, but I agree with you that added costs of a trackpad and speakers probably aren't worth the complexity of this concept.
  • It has been produced without the cutout. It is called the Superbook by Sentio. Has not shipped yet, but hopefully soon. What I like is that I only have one device to update and replace. When I get a new phone, I get a new laptop as well! I also will not need to sync files and apps as you really only have one device, your phone. The 'laptop' is just a peripheral with a keyboard and screen.
  • Palm Folio all over. Nothing new here.
  • I could see this being a great push if used in conjunction with NVIDIA GEFORCE online streaming service.
  • I cant see this taking off.. Power users want a powerful laptop, mine weighs 1.3kg, 16GB DDR4RAM, 2GB Graphic card, 512 GB M2 SSD, 14" bezeless display. If I want a low powered device I can just use my android tablet, I have a bluetooth keyboard if I want to type an essay on it ( I dont), but for high powered video editing, topographic map manipulation, DSLR photographic editing etc chromebook style devices wont cut it. granted low powered chromebooks can do most of what "most" people are purported to do, but they haven't taken off well. If google could make an Android phone with Chrome OS work just as well and put it in a cheap shell like the one pictured, it might take off. But Razor wont make it cheap. Interesting the Chinese arent doing something in this line.
  • I like it. It's ambitious and cool.
  • My latest HP Desktop has an i7 processor, 24 gig of ram and now a 500 gig Samsung SSD, and I don't think that I would find that much power on something like this. It might be OK for someone that just has simpler things to do. I have a Samsung S6 smart phone and don't think that I would like to depend on that for either a Laptop or Desktop. I'm sure quite a few people would like something like that, but will be interested in seeing the full specs when it is actually released.
  • While your rig may be great for quantum physics modeling or other um... more complicated things, it's less than optimal in the mobile realm which is the focus of androidcentral.com
  • https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andromium/the-superbook-turn-your-s... The Razer one certainly looks nicer, but if this Kickstarter thing ever actually ships (it's Kickstarter, so of course it's delayed) it'll work with my current phone, and (hopefully) my next one as well.
  • I like that they're innovating, but this doesn't seem logical. How is this different than my current phone and current (and more powerful) laptop? You will still need to carry each of them around to get use out of it. What is it actually improving? If this type of hardware is still being made in 4 years I will be surprised. Should I replace my phone and notebook at the same time each year or two now?
  • Everything on one device, and not having to pay extra to the phone company to have a 4G enabled laptop sound like good enough reasons to me.
  • Cant wait to see how it works