GAMING TO THE NEXT LEVEL – ROG Phone Full Review

We finally got our hands on the ROG Phone and we were able to use it as our daily driver to provide you a more in-depth discussion of what is dubbed as “the smartphone that will change the game”. Read on below for our full review!

First, as a refresher here’s what the ROG Phone has to offer to every gamer out there.

Display 6.0″ 18:9 2160×1080 AMOLED 90Hz; 1ms response time, 550nits brightness
108.6% DCI-P3; 10,000:1 contrast ratio.
Capacitive touch panel with 10 points multi-touch
Gaming HDR & Mobile HDR supported
Processor 2.96 GHz speed-binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 10nm, 64-bit Octa-core Processor
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 630 GPU
Memmory LPDDR4X 8GB RAM
Storage UFS2.1 128GB / 512GB
Sensor Accelerator, E-compass, Proximity, Hall sensor, Ambient light sensor, fingerprint sensor, Gyro, Ultrasonic sensor
Main Rear Camera Sony flagship IMX363 12MP dual-pixel image sensor – 1/2.55″ large sensor size, 1.4µm large pixel size
f/1.7 aperture, 6.25x light sensitivity in low light photos
26.6mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
6p lens, 78.2° field of view
0.03 seconds phase-detection AF
Second Rear Camera 120° wide-angle camera
12mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
Front Camera 8MP
f/2.0 aperture
24mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
84° field of view
Video Recording 4K UHD (3840×2160) video at 30 / 60 fps for main rear camera
3-axis electronic image stabilization for rear cameras
Slow Motion Video (1080p @ 240 fps)
Speaker Dual front-facing speakers
5-magnet speaker with dual NXP 9874 smart amplifier
Microphone Triple internal microphones with ASUS Noise Reduction Technology
Wireless Technology WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 & 5 GHz, WiFi direct
WLAN 802.11 ad 60GHz (32 antennas)
Bluetooth 5.0
SIM Card Dual SIM dual standby
Slot 1: 2G/3G/4G Nano SIM card
Slot 2: 2G/3G/4G Nano SIM card
OS Android Oreo 8.1 (Android Pie 9.0 via System update)
Battery 4,000mAh
NFC Support Yes
Dimensions 158.83 x 76.16 x 8.3mm
Weight 200g

GAMING-CENTRIC DESIGN

The ROG Phone is a combination of metal frame and glass with the aggressive and modern design of ROG gaming laptops being carried over as well on it. The unsymmetrical placement of the camera and fingerprint sensor, as well as the engraved graphics on the back and side, looks so out of this world for a smartphone. But still, a beauty for us knowing that it is a gaming centric smartphone.

ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE

You know it is dedicated to gaming when brands take innovative steps to adapt to gamers. Like what they did with the USB Type-C port. It’s a hassle when you find yourself in the middle of the clash and then there goes the Type-C cable sticking out on the bottom side of the phone. With the ROG Phone having the side-mounted ports dedicated for Type-C or the AeroActive Cooler, gaming is hassle-free!

The ROG logo branding is located as well at the back and it has RGB lighting which supports Aura sync. This allows you to synchronize your ROG Phone with other peripherals that have Aura Sync.

Based on all the smartphones that have gotten into our hands, the ROG Phone is the first one to be overclockable. This can be done by opening the Game Center app, selecting a game profile, and adjusting the CPU clock speed depending on how much power you think the game needs to run smoothly. This is a plus for the ROG Phone as it lets gamers to manually set the clock speed and take full advantage of its 2.96 GHz speed-binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU for a smoother gaming experience. Although, such processing power generates so much heat on the ROG Phone while gaming. This is as we’ve experienced it on our own. But thanks to the detachable AeroActive Cooler, it helps in the heat dissipation for a maintained framerate.

Here are some benchmarks we did with the ROG Phone.

The first screenshot shows the benchmark results of the ROG Phone with X-mode turned OFF. The second one is with X-mode turned ON (as shown by the “X” logo on the status bar). The third screenshot shows X-mode turned ON but this time with the AeroActive Cooler attached. We do not know what happened here but it shows a decreased result even after several tries. It could be that the AeroActive Cooler doesn’t have any bearing with the performance rather than just aiding with cooling.

DISPLAY

ASUS have decided to use an AMOLED display for the ROG Phone. With 108.6% DCI-P3 color gamut, the colors on the screen appears to be much richer and vivid compared to others smartphones. It also takes advantage of the fast 90 Hz refresh rate and 1 MS response time. Although not the highest compared to IGZO-IPS displays which can go up to 120 Hz, ASUS says it is still the highest refresh rate for an AMOLED display.

There are a few advantages and disadvantages of using AMOLED for a gaming smartphone. One advantage is that it consumes lesser battery juice and the disadvantage is that it is also prone to screen burn. One that you do not want to have on a P49,995 gaming smartphone! But unfortunately this is inevitable especially if you really intend to use the ROG Phone for longer gaming. Screen burn is not an issue of the ROG Phone but rather of the AMOLED display, which means this is also present to smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy and Note series.

LONG-LASTING BATTERY LIFE

The ROG Phone packs a 4,000 mAh battery to keep you gaming for longer hours. We expect it to run out of battery within 2 hours of gaming knowing that the ROG Phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, although battery efficient, it is overclocked to 2.96 GHz making it more power hungry especially when running games with the best graphics quality. But, surprisingly the ROG Phone surpassed our expectations and managed to stay longer for more hours of gaming.

Also related: ROG Phone initial impression & unboxing

ROG PHONE USER INTERFACE

The UI of the ROG Phone is very similar to what the current ZenFones are pre-installed with. ASUS just changed its name to ROG UI (ZenUI for ZenFones) which we think is lame and is where the phone lacks some “brainstorming”. The ROG UI is still bearable but we hope ASUS will develop a better System UI that will fit a gaming smartphone, that is if there’s another ROG Phone coming out.

INNOVATIVE ULTRASONIC AIRTRIGGERS

No doubt, it’s the AirTriggers that made the ROG Phone innovative and built for true gamers (not to mention the full eco-system of accessories which will be featured here soon!). The AirTriggers gives full control to gamers by allowing you to map virtual keys over a games’ on-screen controls. This is very beneficial to gamers who play FPS games like PUBG. When in portrait mode, the two AirTriggers on the left and right also serves as the pressure sensor to activate X-mode.

GAME CENTER

The Game Center is the equivalent mobile app of ROG Armoury (ROG laptops), here you can check the live status of your CPU, GPU, RAM, and Storage. You can also customize your game profiles here where it allows you to set the CPU clock speed per game. The RGB Aura synchronization, fan speed, and even the customization for the AirTriggers are also found in the Game Center.

GAMING & PHOTOGRAPHY IN ONE

It’s not just for gaming, it also excels in the photography division. Before the release of the ROG Phone, many end-users were expecting that ASUS will just focus on its ROG gaming DNA and will leave the camera performance behind. But it’s not the case here as the ROG Phone also shoots good photos with its Sony IMX 363 12MP dual-pixel image sensor combined with a 120° wide angle camera.

VERDICT

ASUS really did well on the ROG Phone as it really level up your gaming experience – thanks to their innovative features and design. The ROG Phone also seemed to be perfect but still there are a few aspects to improve or to reconsider in building their next gaming smartphone.

If you are really into gaming, the ROG Phone is the best investment for Php 49,995 (128GB ROM/8GB RAM) or Php 61,995 (512GB ROM/8GB RAM). But if you are a casual gamer, definitely this smartphone is not for you. There are lot of options out in the market that can suffice your gaming needs but of course without the innovation found in the ROG Phone.

PROS:
  1. Game Center provides control over each game profile
  2. Overclocked Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  3. The 4,000 mAh looks small for a gaming smartphone but it is actually enough for the ROG Phone
  4. The AirTriggers are very beneficial for FPS gamers
  5. 90 Hz refresh rate feels really different over 60 Hz
  6. Innovative features and design
CONS:
  1. Prone to screen burn
  2. The glass back panel can easily shatter when dropped

Post Author: Patrick

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