ASUS ROG Phone Review: Blistering Performance, Intelligent Design
ASUS ROG Phone: Supercharging Snapdragon For Gaming
Do you even game on your phone, bro? Sorry, we'll slap ourselves silly for the obnoxious comment, but it's actually a valid question. Some people primarily use their phone to snap pictures for posting on Facebook and Instagram, while others go old school and -- gasp -- make actual phone calls with their handset. The ASUS ROG Phone does both of those things with aplomb, but it was really built for playing games first and foremost.
Purpose-built gaming phones are a relatively new thing, at least to the extent that they are starting to become popular. There have been attempts to capitalize on this concept before, like when Nokia tried (and failed) to grab the attention of gamers with its N-Gage devices. Sony made a more spirited run with its Ericsson Xperia Play, otherwise known as the PlayStation Phone, but it wasn't until recently that gaming phones presented themselves as viable alternatives to the standard flagships that come out every year from the usual players—Apple, Samsung, LG, and so forth.
So, what constitutes a gaming phone? We are blazing a new trail here, so there is no set criteria, but if someone were to draw up a blueprint, it would undoubtedly include a high-end display with a fast refresh rate. The ROG Phone certainly delivers on this front—it boasts a large 6-inch AMOLED screen with a 2160x1080 resolution (18:9 aspect ratio), 90Hz refresh rate, and 1ms response time. That's not on par with the 120Hz screens found on the first and second generation Razer Phone models, but is a definite step up compared to non-gaming phones. It also features HDR support with a 550 nits brightness rating.
We'll dive into the display and overall design a bit later, but first, let's have a look at the pertinent specs...
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo + ROG Gaming X Mode UI|
|Display||6" AMOLED (2160x1080, 18:9), 90Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, 550 nits brightness, HDR|
|Cameras||12MP dual pixel + 8MP wide-angle (rear), 8MP (front)|
|Processors||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (Specially Binned) @ 2.96GHz, 64-Bit octa-core, Adreno 630 graphics|
|Memory & Storage||8GB RAM, 128GB UFS2.1 storage
|Dimensions & Weight||6.25 x 0.34 x 3 inches (158.83 x 8.65 x 76.15 mm) / 7.05 ounces (200 grams)
|Media & Audio||Dual front-facing speakers
|Battery||4,000 mAh w/ AI & scheduled charging for battery protection|
|Wireless & Location||802.11ad Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Network||World-wide network/carrier compatibility
|Sensors||Rear fingerprint, Face recognition, Accelerator, E-Compass, Gyroscope, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Ultrasonic sensor for AirTriggers and grip press|
|Ports||USB Type-C, 3.5mm audio, dual nano SIM|
|Materials||Metal frame, Corning Gorilla Glass 6
|Other||AirTriggers w/ advanced haptics, AeroActive cooler, Side-mounted USB-C connector, Dual smart amplifiers, Qualcomm 4.0 Quick Charge, Aura RGB lighting
ASUS supercharges its ROG Phones with cherry-picked Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 silicon that is "specially-binned" to run at 2.96GHz, up from the chip's default 2.8GHz clockspeed. For graphics, it leans on the familiar Adreno 630 GPU, and a vapor chamber cooling system keeps these critical components from getting too hot under the collar.
The ROG Phone is generously stuffed with 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 512GB of onboard storage (we received the 128GB model). We would have preferred if ASUS had split the storage levels into 256GB and 512GB models because there's no expandable storage option, though to be fair, 128GB is still quite a bit to work with, even for a mobile gaming device.
Other specs are what you would expect to find from a flagship handset, like dual cameras on the rear, a bevy of sensors (including a fingerprint sensor on the rear), modern wireless connectivity (802.11ad and Bluetooth 5.0 in this case), and a capacious battery pack (non-removable, as is the trend these days).
There is some fun stuff to cover here, so let's jump right into the ROG Phone's design and features...