ASUS ROG Phone II Review: A Mobile Gaming And Battery Life Beast
ASUS ROG Phone II: Battery Life And The Verdict
Futuremark's PCMark for Android Work 2.0 Battery test takes workloads from the benchmark itself (image and video editing, email and web browsing) and scripts them in a loop that runs until battery levels drop below 20 percent. This test is more real-world in terms of its setup, because we calibrate display brightness on all devices to 200 Lux and the test then locks that display brightness in for the duration. In these tests, Bluetooth connectivity and Location services are disabled, though Wi-Fi and mobile data is left enabled as part of a traditional use case workload.
We were especially curious how battery life would shake out for the ROG Phone II. On one hand, there is a massively capacious 6,800mAh battery pack sitting inside, which is among the largest for a smartphone. But on the other hand, it's also equipped with high-end hardware and is a device geared towards gaming. Typically, gaming hardware does poorly when it comes to battery life—it comes with the territory (usually).
In this case, battery capacity actually wins the day in a shocking (albeit very much welcome) upset. When enabling X Mode, the ROG Phone II lasted 12 hours and 40 minutes in PCMark's battery life test. And when we disabled X Mode, battery life shot up to a staggering 16 hours and 30 minutes, putting it at the top of our chart. Granted, you can expect the battery to crap out much faster when playing games, especially at 120Hz. But for general purpose usage, the ROG Phone II brings plenty of stamina to the smartphone scene. Color us impressed.
The ASUS ROG Phone II is a beast of a gaming phone with ample battery life to boost. There is a lot here for gamers and power users alike to lust over, from the burly Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor and generous 12GB of RAM, to the mating of a blazing fast 120Hz refresh to an OLED panel. That latter bit is a new feat in the smartphone arena, and it gives ASUS bragging rights over the competition. There are other flagship phones with OLED panels, and some with 120Hz displays, but never before have both been offered.
We certainly appreciate the hardware that the ROG Phone II brings to the table, but what's equally impressive is the ecosystem ASUS has built around it. The custom software ties in nicely with what this phone is all about, which is playing games. Just as any respectable PC is going to have Steam installed, the Armory Crate and various related bits are useful additions to the ROG Phone II, giving users easy and thoughtful access to features and options that are directly related to playing games.
This extends past the phone itself, as ASUS offers a fleshed out assortment of accessories. It's a bit of a double-edged sword, though, because the add-ons are pricey additions to a phone that will already set users back $899. Going all-in means spending around an additional $1,100, though to be fair, some of the accessories are not gaming-centric. Still, it's a different situation than the PC, where less expensive peripherals exist.
Even without the add-ons, however, the ROG Phone II is an intriguing handset. Out of all the phones we have tested to date, it is the fastest overall. Sure, it was not a clean sweep, but it led the pack more often than not, and proved untouchable in graphics and gaming benchmarks.
We're less impressed with the camera performance. On its own, the dual rear cameras on the ROG Phone II take good enough photos for posting to social media, and if the lighting is right, a user could even print these out (especially after applying some post processing). But the ROG Phone II does not exist in a vacuum. Phone makers have been bringing their A-game in photography, with many phones wielding three and even four camera sensors. Compared to some of the other flagships out there, the camera performance on the ROG Phone II is good, but ultimately a step behind.
It's also a comparatively big and heavy handset, versus the recent crop of flagship phones. However, the ROG Phone II is unapologetically a gaming-first handset, and next to something like the Nintendo Switch, it's more nimble (as it applies to mobility). If that is what you are after, we have no reservation in recommending the ROG Phone II. On the flip side, if gaming is an afterthought, phones like the OnePlus 7T are a better bet.