The ROG Phone from ASUS is another ‘gaming’ phone focusing on a high-refresh-rate screen, RGB lighting, and custom-cooled components. ASUS ROG Phone has also given a couple of hardware and software tricks that improve the gaming experience.
Unlike the similarly gaming-oriented Razer Phone 2, however, ASUS has designed the ASUS ROG Phone to scream, ‘I’M A GAMER’ in its aesthetics and software choices, which really turns us off. The ASUS ROG Phone ends up feeling like a polarising experience and not my first choice for a gaming phone.
The Best Gaming Hardware?
You might have heard that Asus picked the “world’s fastest speed-binned” Snapdragon 845 chips for the ROG Phone. Spoiler alert: That means absolutely nothing in day-to-day use. I’ve never felt like any flagship phone released within the past year had a problem running the most intensive games or computational loads, and the ROG Phone is no different. But if you’re the type of person who needs the absolute best parts in your phone, then the ASUS ROG Phone checks that box.
In fact, the experience of using the ROG phone isn’t defined by its hardware—it’s the software where it falls flat. But before we get to that I do want to cover a couple of standout hardware features.
First off is the beautiful 90Hz AMOLED screen, a real winner and a huge plus to the overall package. The rich colors and deep blacks are everything you’ve come to expect with an AMOLED—images just pop off the screen. The 90Hz refresh rate is equally fantastic.
If you compare it to the 120Hz LCD of the Razer Phone 2, it’s a trade-off: Would you rather have vibrant colors and true blacks or a higher refresh rate? The differences matter in both games and daily use. I personally found myself missing the 120Hz more than the AMOLED—perhaps because there are already great AMOLED screens out there, but no other 120Hz options.
Another place where the ROG Phone shines is its ports. In addition to a headphone jack (a must for gaming), you have a second USB-C port for charging on its side when gaming in landscape orientation. Throw on the AeroActive Cooler, and you get a second headphone jack on the side as well. In 2019, when ports are becoming a thing of the past, I felt spoiled indeed, even if I had to throw on an optional accessory. Razer should take note.
Moving to some of the hardware choices that don’t make sense to me, let’s start off with the design. When I first saw the phone I kinda dug its futuristic gamer aesthetic. Once it was in my hands the look and feel of it took hold and I was disappointed. The fake ‘aerodynamic’ cooling system forces the phone to feel asymmetrical in my hand – in a bad way. There is also a rubber plug for the side ports when the AeroActive Cooler hasn’t plugged in which adds yet another weird texture when inserted, or a sharp edge if you lose it or forget to put it in.
Speaking of the AeroActive Cooler, it’s no surprise that this included fan does little to actually cool the system and is practical to use only if you are in landscape mode. That’s OK— I didn’t expect much from it other than port accessibility. But if you do decide to use it for small sessions, don’t forget to store that rubber stopper carefully. Half the time I was worried I’d lose the rubber piece and have to deal with the sharp edge for the rest of the day.
Back to the design, it was just too aggressive for me, mostly due to the copper accents and the weird cut-outs for the fingerprint sensor and camera. This is obviously a taste thing, but it meant that the fingerprint sensor was in a weird spot and didn’t have a familiar shape for me to find without looking. The distinct look lost its appeal once I had to use it.
Coming to the camera, then the ASUS ROG Phone has a dual camera set up at the rear which consists of 12 MP Sony IMX363 Primary Camera with F/1.7 Aperture paired with 8 MP 120 Degree Wide Angle Camera, Phase-detection Autofocus, 4-axis OIS, EIS and LED Flash. Talking about the photo quality of the ASUS ROG Phone, then the Phone performs pretty well. But don’t expect too much from this phone, ASUS ROG Phone in terms of picture quality is just average and it can’t compete with flagship devices.
Photos taken from the ROG Phone can be said decent, it was not too good to leave people to say ‘WOW’. The photos looked good on the phone as the display is really good, but when the photos were transferred to my MacBook the photos lacked colors and were looking dull.
ROG Phone has some problem with the sharpness of photos, the photos didn’t come out very well in terms of sharpness. In terms of detailing, it’s really poor for its price plus dynamic range was very limited in ROG Phone. Turning on HDR mode helped and there was some dynamic range after it.
As mentioned above the secondary camera is a 120 Degree Wide Angle Lens, so I took a shot with that, below is the wide angle photo. As you can see there is barrel distortion effect in the photo. For quality, this secondary camera performs the same as of the primary camera and has the same lack in detail, lack in dynamic range.
Gaming on the ROG gaming phone
So when it comes to gaming on the ROG Phone, it did great even during long sessions. However, most current flagship phones can keep up, especially for a casual mobile player like me. This isn’t like the PC, where you can get more by being on the bleeding edge. Most of the games I play don’t push phones to their limit because they have to worry about the lowest common denominator.
When I’m gaming in something more intensive, like Vainglory or Fortnite, I’m more worried about my battery life than my response time. But like my coworkers like to point out, you buy the Lebron James Nike shoes to feel like a great player, not because you can take full advantage of them—and that analogy holds up here.
There is one notable difference. Having the charging port on the bottom of the phone when in the landscape was a game-changer and something that can benefit a player of any game. And when the AeroActive Cooler is attached, you get access to a headphone jack as well, which is a glorious thing! So forget about CPU speeds and give me practical things like a charging port that isn’t sticking into my hand.
I’d also like to point out that the Air trigger was way more valuable than I thought they’d be. It’s relatively easy to set up for each game and made a huge difference in shooters like PUBG Mobile and racers like Real Racing. I was worried they would be hard to trigger or find on the surface, but it was mostly seamless and something I wish could be used on more phones that feature ‘squeeze’ type functionality.
For Rs. 69,999, the ASUS ROG Phone gives you for what you paid. However, I wish if the accessories were included or it costed less. The phone performs really well and there was no lag in gameplay. The camera performance could have been better for this price. Overall if you want portable gaming and don’t want to carry those bulky gaming laptops then its a good buy for you.
TECHTURF Rating 8/10
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