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Asus ROG Phone review: More than a flagship smartphone
Every gaming smartphone is a flagship smartphone, but every flagship smartphone is not a gaming smartphone. A gaming smartphone is a device with state of the art SoC (CPU, GPU) more RAM, better thermal solution, and lastly a striking design, which distinguish it from the typical smartphone.
- Vivid high-refresh rate OLED display
- Speed-binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC
- Dual front-facing stereo speaker setup
- Fast charging
- no microSD card slot
The Asus ROG Phone is the first gaming device from Asus with well-known ROG (Republic of Gamer) branding. I have been testing the smartphone from the last few days to find the justification for the Rs 69,999 price tag. Is this the smartphone that you should consider as your next smartphone or the first gaming smartphone? Let's find out.
Display: 2160 x 1080 pixels FHD+ 90Hz refresh rate
SoC: Qualcomm Speed-binned Snapdragon 845 with Adreno 630 GPU
RAM: 8 GB
ROM: 128 GB
Primary camera: 12 MP + 8 MP (Super wide-angle)
Selfie camera: 8 MP
Battery: 4000 mAh with fast charging support (30W)
Water resistance: IPX4 splash proof
Cooling solution: 3D Vapor-Chamber Cooling
Sound: Dual stereo speaker setup
Lighting: ASUS Aurasync RGB Lighting
SIM slot: Dual nano-SIM slot
The Asus ROG Phone is one of the unique looking smartphones in the market. The amalgamation of the glass and metal build gives a unique look to the smartphone and also offers better heat dissipation.
The Asus ROG Phone has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor with a dual camera setup flushed inside the body with no visible camera bump. The volume and the power buttons are on the right side, whereas the special DOC connected (dual type-C port) is on the left side, which can be used to attach accessories like AeroActive Cooler.
The back panel of the ROG Phone is made using Corning Gorilla Glass 5 with ASUS Aurasync RGB Lighting (activates in boost mode). Overall, the Asus ROG Phone might not be the best-looking smartphone in the market, but it is one of the unique looking devices for sure.
Display and sound
The Asus ROG Phone, hands down has the best display that I have seen in the recent past. The ROG Phone has a 6.0-inch OLED display with 18:9 aspect ratio, offering 2160 x 1080p resolution, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
The display offers 1ms response time with 90Hz refresh rate. As a matter of fact, the Asus ROG Phone is the world's first smartphone with an OLED display to provide 90Hz refresh rate. Going a bit more into technical aspects of the screen, the phone offers 108.6% DCIP3 coverage with 100000:1 Contrast Ratio. The display also supports FHD HDR content on various video streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Videos, thanks to Widevine L1 certification.
Coming to the real-world applications, due to the higher-refresh rate display, I was able to notice smoother animations compared to every other smartphone (with 60Hz refresh rate). I also played some games which offer ~90fps, and I thoroughly enjoyed the gaming on the ROG Phone.
The smartphone has a dual front-facing stereo speaker setup with a dedicated 3.5 mm headphone jack with DTS:X 3D surround sound support. I have to say; the ROG Phone has the best sounding speaker on any smartphone (in terms of loudness and sound clarity).
The Asus ROG Phone has an 8 MP selfie camera on the front and a dual primary camera setup with a 12 MP RGB sensor and an 8 MP Super wide-angle lens. The camera setup on the ROG Phone is identical to the Asus ZenFone 5z, the affordable flagship smartphone from Asus.
With respect to hardware perspective, the Asus ROG Phone has the Sony IMX 363 sensor, which is being used on the Google Pixel 3. The sensor offers an f/1.8 aperture with optical image stabilization, which helps to capture steady shots and videos in the low-light environment.
Coming to the actual camera performance, the ROG Phone can capture good looking images with great details in the daylight condition. What amazed me is the fact that the camera performance on the ROG Phone is identical to the ZenFone 5z, which costs 1/3rd of the price of the ROG Phone.
The images taken on low-lighting conditions tend to deteriorate in color and details. In some instance, the camera struggles to capture enough details, again with contrast to other high-end smartphones at this price point. In fact, Poco F1 can take better pictures in low-light situations compared to the ROG Phone. Same goes for the selfie camera as well, which works like a charm in the well-lit environment, and struggles in the low-light condition.
The ROG Phone is definitely not a premium camera smartphone. As the phone has potent hardware, the company could further improve the camera performance via software updates.
Without a doubt, the Asus ROG Phone is one of the most powerful Android smartphones with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC. The smartphone is powered by a speed-binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, where the four high-performance cores are clocked at 2.96 GHz with Adreno 630 GPU.
Do note that the Adreno 630 GPU on the Asus ROG Phone with 710 MHz frequency, identical to the other smartphones with the standard Snapdragon 845 SoC.
Asus has created a new profile to enhance the gaming performance of the ROG Phone, called X Mode. X Mode is similar to the game-boost mode, which is generally found on other smartphones, which free-up the CPU, GPU, and RAM and channelize everything to the game or app that is opened at the time.
I ran a couple of benchmarks with X Mode turned on, and there was a slight improvement in the overall performance of the device, with respect to CPU and CPU. However, I did not notice any kind of difference while playing graphics intensive games like Asphalt 9, Critical Ops, and PUBG.
AeroActive Cooler, which comes in the retail package does help the device to cool-down faster while playing games. However, as the AeroActive Cooler has a fan, it does consume a bit of a battery.
Here are the Geekbench results with X Mode and without X Mode. On single core CPU performance, the device scores 2531 on X Mode and 2483 points on normal mode.
Here are the AnTuTu results with x Mode and without X Mode. The ROG Phone scores an overall score of 254695 points on X Mode and 252504 points on normal mode. With respect to GPU performance, the devices score 126122 points on X Mode and 126061 points on normal mode.
The Asus ROG Phone, without a doubt, can play any Android game with flying colors. However, most of the Android games offer 30fps, and Critical Ops was the only game that provides 90fps performance for utilizing the true 90Hz refresh rate display on the ROG Phone.
The ROG Phone has a massive 4000 mAh battery. The speed binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 does impact the battery performance, where I ended up charging the device at least twice a day with normal usage (surfing web, YouTube, and social media).
Battery life should not be an issue on the ROG Phone, as the device supports super-fast 30w fast charging, which can refuel the battery from 0 to 100% in less than 80 minutes. Playing games and running CPU intensive apps does not impact the charging speed, which is again a highlight of the smartphone.
Keeping aside the gaming-phone concept, the Asus ROG Phone is a perfect flagship smartphone. IPX4 water-resistance certification, super-fast charging, 3.5mm headphone jack with a dedicated DAC, faster chipset with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage are just some of the highlight features of the smartphone.
However, the smartphone misses out of some of the features, which could have made the Asus ROG Phone, the best Android smartphone. Here are some of the features that I would like to see in the next generation ROG Phone.
- microSD card slot
- Up to date Android OS (still running on Android 8.1 Oreo)
- Improved camera performance
- Improved battery life
A gaming smartphone powered by Android OS cannot get better than the ROG Phone at this point. It has the fastest chipset (at the time of launch), one of a kind OLED display with 90Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. The smartphone ships with AeroActive cooling add-on, which helps to sustain peak performance for an extended period of time.
Though the ROG Phone is a perfect gaming smartphone, there are no games on Android eco-system, which can take benefit of the state-of-the-art hardware specs that the ROG Phone offers. Yes, at this point of time, the ROG Phone is one of the fastest smartphones in the market, and this equation is going to change in the next few weeks, especially after the launch of smartphones with Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, which offers better performance and battery life compared to Snapdragon 845 SoC.
Asus ROG Phone is for those, who require the absolute performance, a dynamic design, and a bunch of other features which no smartphone offers. However, if you are looking for a smartphone that just performs like the ROG Phone (95%), then smartphones like Poco F1 and even the Asus ZenFone 5z seems like the right choice.
Asus ROG Phone is a no-compromise gaming smartphone. Go for the ROG Phone for the absolute performance.