Review: ASUS ROG Phone

A phone for hardcore gamers? How is that even a thing you ask? Well, it is as a lot of people do play games on their phones. And Fortnite has made gaming on your phone huge. Thus it cannot be a surprise that ASUS who are serious about gaming came out with a gaming phone called the ASUS ROG Phone. Here’s why it’s a gaming phone:

  • 6″ 90Hz FHD+ AMOLED screen
  • 128GB of storage
  • Overclockable SnapDragon 845 CPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • Dual SIM (Nano), 4G LTE on both slots
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint reader
  • Headphone jack
  • Two USB-C 3.0 ports
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Dual rear-mounted 12-megapixel camera
  • 8-megapixel front camera

Those are some over the top specs. But so is the design. Visually, the ROG Phone either going to look really cool, or it going to look over the top. And ASUS is likely fine with that. The metal sides have hard-line edges all around, and an RGB ROG logo that changes colour every few seconds can be found emblazoned on its rear. The latter that you can turn off. It has customisable “AirTrigger” keys on its top-right side. These are programmable capacitive controls that you can use for gaming. There is a secondary custom USB-C charge port on its bottom left side. The idea here is that you can charge your device whilst gaming, without the cable interfering with your grip. The front-facing speakers prove excellent for the gaming experience.

The 6-inch, 2160 x 1080-resolution AMOLED screen that supports HDR is another key selling point. It is stunningly good. The use of AMOLED tech meant that blacks are significantly deeper than any LCD screen. Colours uniformly looked vibrant without being oversaturated.

The phone runs a heavily customized version of Android 8.1.0, and like the phone’s physical design, the UI has been tweaked to push a number of game-centric features to the forefront of the OS. If you plan to use the phone primarily for gaming, then you need to pay attention to Game Center. Game Centre is the command centre, where you can check CPU and GPU temperatures, clock speed, create profiles for each app, adjust the phone’s fan speed, RGB lighting colour, and pick which will run at the higher 90Hz refresh rate. The feature works well enough and has a similar UI to Asus’ desktop overclocking suite, which means PC gamers will instantly feel at home.

Performance is another area the ROG Phone excels at. Thanks to all the overclocking tricks, playing everything from PUBG to Banner Saga 2, Fortnite and Asphalt 9 were a total non issue. In fact, I would hazard to say that this is the fastest phone I’ve ever tested as I could not find anything that would make it hiccup.

One very unique thing that the ROG Phone has are accessories that are available to make your gaming experience better. These accessories are:

  • The desktop dock offers more precise control, allowing you to connect the phone to a monitor, mouse and keyboard to play games and open Android apps on the big screen. If the peripherals are attached to a PC then you can also switch between mobile and PC views, although I didn’t get to try this during my demo.
  • The TwinView dock adds a second AMOLED display, physical shoulder buttons and more powerful haptics. I did not try this during my demo.
  • The Gamevice Control is for couch gaming. It’s an attachable controller that makes the phone look like a Nintendo Switch. I did not try this during my demo.
  • The AeroActive cooler is the only add-on that doesn’t cost extra and is bundled with the phone. It’s designed to aid the device’s already impressive cooling system, stopping the phone overheating using a secondary fan. It came in handy to keep the phone cool when I cranked up all the settings to push the ROG Phone hard.

Now over to the cameras. Asus has loaded it with a pair of the ROG Phone’s dual rear-mounted 12-megapixel sensors. The lack of a zoom secondary lens is a little odd, but it works. Here are some photos that I took with said camera in a variety of lighting conditions:

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The pictures are pretty good with a healthy amount of detail. One thing that I did notice is that in auto mode, it boosts the lighting levels a bit more than it should. But other than that it was a pretty good camera with a quick shutter and lots of options for those who want to control things themselves.

Finally let’s get to battery life. It will last all day, but you’ll be on fumes by the end of the day. But you’re not buying this phone for battery life so for the target audience, this is a total non issue. Another thing that makes this a total non issue is that it has fast charging on board. I was able to take it from 20% to full in 45 minutes.

As for price, I found the ASUS ROG Phone on Amazon for $1,479.00 CDN. Not cheap, but this isn’t your typical phone as it is complete overkill for most. But having said that, it’s going to have a limited target audience who will leverage the capabilities this phone. And that’s fine if you’re ASUS. Thus if you’re in the target audience, this is your phone. 

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