Overclocked Snapdragon 845 with Vapor Chamber Cooling, a 90Hz HDR AMOLED Display, 512GB Memory, 4000mAh Battery and accessories which actually work? Take my money!
Not long ago at Computex 2018, ASUS stole away the show with announcement of its first gaming-focused ROG Phone. The ROG Phone is ASUS’s answer to the Razer Phone, which has a 120Hz Display, Snapdragon 835 and an abysmal camera. Our comparision showed that the Xiaomi Blackshark was a much better buy even though it was priced at a lower rate. With release of the ROG Phone, people who seek gaming features, media consumption or pure monstrous performance with great battery life in a phone now have a more expensive & an actual better option compared to Xiaomi’s Blackshark.
Let’s have a look at what it has to offer.
The display used is a 6-inch 2160x1080p AMOLED Panel with a 90Hz Refresh Rate and 18:9 Aspect Ratio. This is the sweet spot in between high refresh rate and display quality. The Razer Phone had a 1080p 16:9 IGZO 120Hz Display and even though the display still looked pretty amazing, it’s no comparison to an AMOLED Display. It has a 108.6% DCI-P3 Color Gamut Coverage, 1ms response time and HDR Support. So yes, the display is absolutely breathtaking on this one. Although the resolution isn’t as high as compared to the Galaxy S9, iPhone X and other flagship phones, high-resolution displays over 1080p don’t really give a noticeable difference in the quality of the display.
In terms of performance, the Asus ROG Phone blows every single Android phone ever released out of the water with it’s Snapdragon 845 SoC overclocked to 2.96GHz. They manage this feat with a Vapor Cooling Chamber inside the phone. And if that wasn’t enough there’s a fan accessory attachable to the phone, but more on that later. It has 8GB DDR4X RAM, plenty for pretty much anything and for graphics the SoC has the Adreno 630 GPU.
This phone is more than capable of handling any game out there – seriously, no app or game has been able to take full advantage of the Snapdragon 845’s power let alone an overclocked variant. But it’s nice to know that this phone is pretty future-proof in the performance department. The SoC is supposedly binned (special) and is exclusive to the ROG Phone. That’s how it manages to be have a clock speed 200MHz higher than other ‘normal’ Snapdragon 845 SoCs.
Design, Camera and Audio
For design, ASUS has focused the aesthetic theme on gaming. It weights 200 grams, 11 more grams compared to the Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus. The dimensions of the phone are 158.8 x 76.20 x 8.6 mm, surprisingly not much bigger compared to other flagship phones. There’s glass on the back protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and the sides are made up of aluminium. The glass back also features a fully customisable ASUS Aura RGB Lighting with the ROG Logo and it looks insane.
It has a dual 12MP + 8MP camera setup at the back with the 8MP sensor being a 120-degree wide angle one, and the front camera being a 8MP one. We’ll have to wait for extensive testing to find out if the camera is good, but it seems promising and will surely be better than the Razer Phone.
Overall the phone seems to be built like a total tank, but waiting for build quality tests will actually tell if the phone has good build quality. It has a USB 3.1 Type-C connector, 3.5mm Headphone Jack with DTS Headphone:X support and the side has 2 more USB-C Ports for the crazy accessories this phone has. The front-facing stereo speakers sound amazing with ample loudness and clarity.
Also, the phone has triggers at the top left and right of the phone which can be customized in the software to do certain actions like ‘attack’ or ‘aim down sight’ in games. This also acts like a ‘shutter button’ in the Camera app! The sides of the phone are squezable and it activates a ‘X-Mode’ – more on that below.
Battery & Software
For software, the phone runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and has a ROG Gaming UI on top of it. It has a X-Mode which we talked about earlier and it disables notifications, background processes, raises minimum CPU clock speed and priotizes the CPU to focus on the game’s process.
There’s a 4000mAh battery on the ROG Phone which lasts an entire day and beyond, and supports Quick Charge 4+ which gives the battery around 60% charge in just 30 mins. The Galaxy S9 Plus is just 0.1mm less thick and 0.7mm shorter and has a worse battery; really makes me think if this little difference in size present in most flagship phones is worth the sub-par battery. Not much to say here, the battery has ample juice for the phone’s monstrous specifications and it charges quickly as well.
Finally, we have the accessories. These are what truly put the ROG Phone in the crazy realm. The first one is the auxilary cooler with a AeroActive Coooler, increasing heat dissipation in the phone, further lowering the temperatures and it’s inclusion won’t even make you worry about thermal throttling. It connects through the left side double USB-C accessory ports. This accessory also helps with orientation – it gives you an option to charge your phone and connect headphones in a way that it doesn’t block out your grip.
The second accessory is the display attachment, called the Twin View dock. When you put your phone in, it gives you a second display for tons of different purposes like looking at your Twitch Stream Chat, more controls on the game, or just another display for looking at movies while texting. It also has a SD Card slot, USB-C Out, and a 6000mAh battery which charges your phone while you use it for gaming or anything else. This isn’t included in the box unlike the previous accessory.
That brings us to the third and last accessory – the mobile desktop dock. You can dock your phone in this and get a ton of I/O including Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI, some USB Ports, and a headphone jack. These allow you to connect your phone to a display, mouse, and keyboard and essentially play any game out there with keyboard & mouse accuracy. The software helps you map certain functions of the game on your keyboard. This is one hardcore accessory!
Pricing, Release Date and Final Thoughts
ASUS hasn’t yet released the actual price of the ROG phone. But considering it as a phone competing with the Razer Phone, it can be expected anywhere from $700 to upwards of $1000. The ROG Phone is supposed to release this year, that’s for sure but we don’t know when. During the press event held on 4 June 2018, the best people got was ‘to be released shortly’, so I do expect the phone to launch in a month or so.
The ROG Phone is amazing. It doesn’t compromise on things like camera, battery performance and overall build size like other gaming phones – it’s very similar to the Galaxy S9 Plus in size. This phone can actually work as a daily driver while also appealing to those who game a lot. If priced well around $1000, the phone will be very successful.