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Asus ROG Phone 5 Review: Boon To Hardcore Mobile Gamers
The Asus ROG Phone 5 is the latest flagship smartphone that offers top-tier hardware and an interesting design, unlike any other smartphone in the market. This is the 4th Gen gaming smartphone from the brand and is also one of the first smartphones to pack the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC in India.
- 144Hz refresh rate display
- 6000 mAh battery
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC
- No microSD card slot
- No wireless charging
- No IP rating
With a starting price of Rs. 49,999, the ROG Phone 5 is not that expensive compared to flagship smartphones from Samsung, Apple, and even OnePlus. So, how does this phone perform under normal day-to-day experience? Here is the full review of the Asus ROG Phone 5.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Design: Fresh And Unique
Though the ROG Phone 5 is not as unique as the Galaxy Z Fold 2, it does have a few characteristics that make this a unique-looking device. One can easily spot the ROG Phone 5 from a distance with its illuminated ROG logo, which is my favorite part of this phone.
Like most smartphones of this price tag, the ROG Phone 5 is constructed using two pieces of glass with a metal frame in between. In my experience, I felt that the phone is extremely slippery and it is almost impossible to use this device in this hot summer without a case. Luckily, the phone did come with a case that offers a good amount of grip but doesn't do much when it comes to protection.
The ROG Phone 5 weighs 238grams, which makes it bulky and heavy. Before testing the ROG Phone 5, I was using the iPhone 12 Pro and the OnePlus 8, which feels much lighter when compared to the ROG Phone 5. This is mainly because the ROG Phone 5 is a much bigger smartphone when compared to the aforementioned devices, and it also has a much larger 6000 mAh battery.
If you want a phone that feels light in the hand, then don't even consider the ROG Phone 5. However, if you bother about the specs and performance and a couple of grams don't bother you, then the ROG Phone 5 is a stellar device.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Display: Best In The Business
If you wonder the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the OnePlus 9 Pro has the best display on a smartphone, you will be shocked to know that the Asus ROG Phone 5 has a whopping 144Hz refresh rate display. Yes, the screen resolution of the ROG Phone 5 is less than the S21 Ultra or the OnePlus 9 Pro. However, most users (including me) won't be able to distinguish between the two when looked at these devices through naked eyes.
Even the specs of the ROG Phone 5 are overwhelming, as it is a 10bit panel, capable of producing 1billion colors with a peak brightness of 1200nits. The display offers a peak refresh rate of 144Hz with 2448 x 1080p resolution with a delta-e value of less than one, making it a color-accurate panel.
The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6 Victus. During our ten days of usage, we didn't notice any scratches on the screen even without adding a screen protector. The display is HDR10 and HDR10+ certified, and we were able to play HDR videos on platforms like Netflix and YouTube.
It is also an always-on-display with an embedded fingerprint sensor, which works like a charm. Unlike most modern smartphones, the ROG Phone 5 has slightly thicker bezels with no punch hole or waterdrop notch. This is one of the reasons the company was able to offer a powerful stereo speaker setup.
The real-world performance of this display was as impressive as the specs sheet. Overall, the ROG Phone 5 has a great display for both content consumption and gaming, and it has everything that I expect from a display on a flagship smartphone of 2021. To know more, watch our dedicated video.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Audio: Loudest Speakers On A Smartphone
Asus has been nailing the audio system since the inception of the ROG Phones, and the ROG Phone 5 takes it to the next level. The device has a true stereo speaker setup, capable of offering a rich sound output, which can even put some of the laptop's speakers to the shame.
The ROG Phone 5 gets very loud, and even at 100 percent volume, the sound didn't get distorted. On top of that, the brand has also resurrected the 3.5mm headphone jack, so, yay! However, I was not able to use the 3.5mm headphone jack, as all I have is either Bluetooth earphones or the USB Type-C earphones, and the retail package does not come with a headphone.
If you love watching videos and movies, listening to music with an open speaker, then, the ROG Phone 5 is great indeed and it easily surpasses the sound loudness and quality of the iPhone 12 Pro and the OnePlus 8.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Gaming Features
The Asus ROG Phone 5 has two capacitive trigger buttons, which can be programmed to do multiple things on a game. This means, your fingers won't cover the screen while gaming and offers an immersive gaming experience.
The device has a proprietary connector pin, which can be used to connect accessories like AeroActive Cooler 5, keeping the device's temperature in check using an active cooling solution, and it also comes with two physical trigger buttons, which gives a gaming controller like gaming experience.
I just got to experience the AeroActive Cooler 5 for a single day, and I didn't notice much of a difference while gaming with and without the cooler. However, a hardcore mobile gamer will appreciate things like this, but it is not just my cup of tea, and I am happy with the touch screen input.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Cameras: Not A Camera Oriented Smartphone
The ROG Phone 5 has a triple camera setup, and it borrows the 64MP primary camera sensor from the Asus ZenFone 7 Pro. The primary camera is paired with a 13MP ultra-wide angle lens with a 5MP depth sensor, which seems unnecessary on this smartphone. There is also a 24MP selfie camera at the front, with support for 1080p video recording.
The primary 64MP camera takes some great shots in the day-light situation, and the same applies to the 13MP ultra-wide angle lens too. However, the color science of the ultra-wide-angle lens is slightly on the saturated sight, and the images might look. You can check out the camera samples of the ROG Phone 5 here.
Even the 24MP selfie camera can take some great shots without any hassle, given there is an adequate amount of light. Overall, the camera performance is good, but it is no on par with the regular flagship smartphones. When it comes to videos, there is no OIS here, and the phone does support EIS. Hence, you need to have a steady hand or a gimbal to shoot stable videos on the ROG Phone 5.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Performance: Flagship Experience
The Asus ROG Phone 5 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC with up to 18GB RAM (on the Ultimate edition) and 512GB internal storage. The model that I tested was a regular version with 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB UFS 2.1 storage. If you are new to Android smartphones, any smartphone with these specs is considered a flagship smartphone in 2021, and the ROG Phone 5 fits the bill perfectly.
On Geekbench 5, the device scores 806 points on single-core and 2853 points on multi-core CPU performance. Similarly, the device scores an average frame rate of 34.40fps on the 3DMark wildlife test and an average frame rate of 70.80fps and 38fps on graphics test one and graphics test two on 3DMark slingshot extreme test.
Do note that, the first test was rendered at 1440p, hence, getting more than 30 frames-per-second indicates that the ROG Phone 5 is an excellent performance. These numbers also indicate that the phone can handle most Android games without any issue. Be it the Aspahult 9 or the COD: Mobile, we had no issues when it comes to gaming performance.
We played plenty of games on ROG Phone 5, and COD: Mobile was one of those games when requires high resources for smooth gameplay. Here is a video explaining the gaming performance of the ROG Phone 5, where, we played COD: Mobile for more than 15 minutes.
With this experience, we got to know that the ROG Phone 5 can handle extreme gaming without any issue. When we started the game, the temperature was at 33 degrees with an average fps of 59. After more than 15 minutes of gameplay, the temperature went up to 46 degrees centigrade. Even with the increase in temperature, the device was able to main that average frame rate of 59, which indicates that the ROG Phone 5 is a smartphone made for gaming.
The gaming experience on the ROG Phone 5 was good, but I was also getting a similar gaming experience on phones like the iPhone 12 Pro and even on the OnePlus 8. This hardware on the ROG Phone 5 will age gracefully, and it could be seen in the coming years, where, the device should be able to offer the same kind of performance at least for the next two years.
Even outside the gaming, I didn't notice any lag or stutter on the ROG Phone 5. I used the device with the display refresh rate to set to 144Hz, and I was able to notice the smoothness it offers on apps like Twitter and Facebook, especially while scrolling through these apps.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Software Experience: Stock Android Experience With Gaming Centric Optimisations
The Asus ROG Phone 5 ships with Android 11 OS with an almost stock-like user experience. The device comes with two themes, and these themes make these devices completely different. The gaming-centric theme has an aggressive look with red accents and sharp edges all over the UI, whereas the stock-Android like theme gives the ROG Phone 5 a pixel or Android One-like experience.
Though I appreciate phones with stock Android looks, I always went back to the gaming theme on the ROG Phone 5, as it suites with the overall design of the phone. There is also a dedicated performance mode or X mode, which offers better performance. However, it comes at a cost of battery life. When the X mode is enabled, it locks the screen refresh rate at 120Hz, although the device has a 144Hz refresh rate display.
If you fancy an Android smartphone with a stock Android OS with a top-of-the-line specs sheet, then, the ROG Phone 5 is a great device. The company has optimized the OS and it works smoothly with minimal stutters and lags in the system-wide UI and operations. On top of that, the device will get an Android 12 update too.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Battery: All-Day Battery Life
The ROG Phone 5 has a massive 6000 mAh battery with support for up to 65W fast charging via the USB Type-C port. However, the smartphone ships with a 30W fast charger. In my testing, I didn't use the charger that came with the phone, as I was able to fast charge the ROG Phone 5 using my laptop's 65W USB-PD charger.
The 6,000 mAh battery on the ROG Phone 5 might not last as long as the other phones like the Realme C25 or the Redmi Note 10 Pro, as the phone has a much powerful processor to power. However, on most days, the device easily lasted for an entire day even with heavy usage. On top of that, there are two USB Type-C ports and either of them can be used to charge the device.
There are also a few more features like direct power input, which directly supply the power to the phone bypassing the battery, which reduces the heating while gaming. If you are afraid of harming the battery health due to fast charging, there is also an option to set slow charging speeds, which should help to sustain the battery health of the ROG Phone 5.
When I reviewed the ROG Phone back in 2018, the only issue that I have with that device was the battery life. The device hardly laster for half a day and the brand did fix it with the 2nd Gen ROG Phone 2. Overall, the device does offer a great battery life without compromising on performance.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Calling And Networking
Calling worked just fine on the ROG Phone 5 with both Airtel and Jio network, and the network reception was similar to the iPhone 12 Pro. I mostly used this device with WiFi and I was able to get that 50Mbps download speed offered by my ISP. So, the ROG Phone 5 can also be an excellent day-to-day phone for gaming and multitasking.
I was able to stream content, play online games like COD: Mobile without any issue on the ROG Phone 5. Do note that, the device also supports 5G networking and WiFi 6, offering every sort of next-generation wireless connectivity options.
This time around, the Asus ROG Phone 5 comes in multiple options, where the high-end device costs up to Rs. 79,999 and offers 18GB RAM and 512GB internal storage. In my experience, I feel the base variant that costs Rs. 49,999 with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage and the mid variant with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, which costs Rs. 57,999 offers a better value-for-money proposition.
With the starting price of Rs. 49,999, the ROG Phone 5 is one of the most affordable Snapdragon 888 SoC powered smartphone in the country (OnePlus 9 also costs the same) and when compared to the OnePlus 9, the ROG Phone 5 is leaps and bounds ahead of it in terms of features, design, performance, and battery life.
Even if you keep the gaming aspect aside, the ROG Phone 5 is an excellent flagship smartphone of 2021, that delivers on almost all the aspects of a high-performance smartphone. Yes, the device does not have an IP rating or wireless charging. However, those are some of the compromises that one should make to get features like a 144Hz refresh rate display and the best sound speaker on any smartphone.
If you have a budget of around Rs. 50,000 and looking for a smartphone with great battery life, performance, and a large high-refresh-rate display, go for the ROG Phone 5 and you will not be disappointed. However, if you want a phone that's light and thin and offers the same kind of performance with slightly better cameras and in-hand feels, then, phones like the OnePlus 9 are worth considering.