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June 6, 2018

Hands-on: The Asus ROG gaming phone is a beast

by John_A

Asus isn’t known for its high-end phones. Traditionally, they’ve skirted the mid-range and attempted to bring a lot of value to the consumer at a lower price. That changed a bit with the ZenFone 5Z, which packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 among other high-end specs. While this seemed like a pretty beefy phone on its own, Asus has upped the ante with the announcement of the ROG Phone.

This is our Asus ROG Phone hands-on.

ROG, or Republic of Gamers, is Asus’  high-end gaming brand for their laptops and peripherals. This includes things like mice and gaming headsets, and — traditionally — flashy branding and RGB lighting. With the ROG Phone, Asus is bringing those aspects to Android. Not only does thing phone have flashy branding and RGB lighting, but it brings the specs to match.

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The Asus ROG Phone is sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 8 GB of RAM, a 4,000 mAh battery, and 128 or 512 GB of storage. This is a special edition of the 845 as well, which is overclocked to 2.96 GHz. The higher-end model takes the crown as the highest-spec’ed Android phone on the market today, beating out the previous leader, the OnePlus 6. This phone is also sporting a 90Hz AMOLED display, losing to Razer in raw speed, but arguably beating them in quality. AMOLED displays traditionally have much better color and contrast than LCD’s, and Asus’ model looked great in person.

The back of the device looks quite aggressive, with the glowing ROG logo stamped in the center being surrounded by sharp edges and exhaust windows. This phone screams “gamer” like no other phone we’ve seen before, and it matches very well with the rest of Asus’ ROG lineup. The rear cameras are dual 12 and 8 megapixel shooters and have some AR capabilities. Asus didn’t talk about these at all at the launch, so while they’re likely fine, they clearly aren’t the focus of this device. The front camera is 8 megapixels.

Display 6.0-inch, 18:9, 2160×1080, AMOLED with 90Hz refresh rate
CPU Exclusive Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip @2.96GHz
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 630
OS Android 8.1 Oreo with custom “ROG Gaming” ZenUI skin
Storage 128GB / 512GB
Rear camera 12MP + 8MP (120-degree wide-angle)
Front camera 8MP
Fingerprint scanner Yes
Battery 4,000mAh, USB Type-C, 20W fast charging
Speakers Dual front-facing stereo speakers with smart amplifier
Sensors Accelerometer, e-compass, proximity sensor, Hall sensor, ambient-light sensor,
fingerprint sensor, gyroscope, 2 x ultrasonic AirTriggers
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ad 2×2 MIMO
Wi-Fi Direct and WiGig 802.11ad wireless display support
Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC, 3.5mm headphone jack
Dimensions 158.8 x 76.2 x 8.6mm
Weight 200g

On the bottom of the Asus ROG you’ll find a USB Type-C port and a headphone jack, and you’ll find two more USB Type-C ports on the lefthand side of the device. While this may look a little strange, it’s made to accommodate the variety of accessories Asus is shipping with this phone.

Asus Rog Phone gaming smartphone in hands from behind in half case. Asus

The first Asus ROG Phone accessory is a heatsink that mounts to the back of the phone. This has a fan in it to keep the phone cool, and includes an additional USB Type-C port and a headphone jack so you can keep charged while gaming. This is extremely useful placement for a USB Type-C port, because it means you can charge your phone and use headphones while using your device in landscape mode. Because most mobile games are played in this way, it made a lot of sense for Asus to create this attachment.

The second Asus ROG phone accessory is a gamepad for the device which can stream wirelessly to your TV. This gamepad connects via the USB Type-C port on the bottom of the phone, and connects wirelessly to a special receiver inserted into your TV. This allows you to play on your TV as if you were using a wireless Nintendo Switch, and opens up quite a lot of possibility for couch gamers.

Asus Rog gaming phone being used with a PC setup. Asus

Asus is also selling a dock that helps connect your ROG Phone to any monitor. This opens up support for keyboards and mice as well, meaning you could play competitive mobile games with a full mouse and keyboard setup. Using this in competitive games could get a little controversial, but it’s great seeing the Samsung Dex getting some competition.

Asus Rog Phone gaming smartphone in hands from behind. Asus

The last accessory being sold alongside the Asus ROG Phone gaming phone is a screen-enabled shell device that effectively turns this phone into a high-end Nintendo DS. This peripheral is essentially a shell with a screen and triggers, and the phone can power this to enable a high-end gaming or emulation machine. This accessory is probably my personal favorite, because it gives your phone a complete second use case.

Pricing and availability of both the Asus ROG Phone and accessories has yet to be announced, but we’re sure it won’t be cheap. The ROG line has traditionally been very premium for Asus, and we could see them taking the same approach with this device.

Asus ROG Phone image gallery

What do you think of the Asus ROG Phone? Is it a true competitor to the Razer phone?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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