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[REVIEW] ASUS ROG Phone – Future Gaming Phone is Here!

Was fortunate enough to get our hands-on with the 2018 most talk about Gaming smartphone, ASUS ROG Phone. This is the first gaming phone by the company under their PC Gaming brand, ROG that stands for Republic of Gamers.

Let’s begin with a 1-minute unboxing video in Cantonese;

Here’s my review of the ASUS ROG Phone;

Display

It sports a 6-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 that translated to 2:1 screen ratio. This is not a normal AMOLED panel as its features HDR support, 90Hz refresh rate with 1ms pixel response time.

The display has a 108.6% DCI-P3 Wide Color Gamut and contrast ratio of 10,000:1. It is protected with Corning’s latest generation Gorilla Glass 6.

Design

There are no smartphones out there that have such bold and aggressiveness design. It has the ROG design language with sharp lines and RGB light on the ROG logo. Even the fingerprint sensor, camera and exposed copper heat spreader (which they called it Vapor Chamber) give a distinctive serious gaming phone looks.

The back is covered in glass and curved edges for a better gripping. The 8.7mm thickness phone is packed with 4,000 mAh battery and has only 200gram in weight.

It has dual front-facing stereo speakers that have the latest NXP 9874 amplifiers and supports 24bit/192KHz Hi-Res Audio. The dual front sound speakers are surprisingly loud and clear. It also capable to produce 7.1 surround sound experience with headphone via the 3.5mm audio jack.

On the right side of the phone is the hybrid dual SIM card and connector for the bundled AeroActive Cooler kits. The cooler kits are compact and provide not only cooling to the device with the inbuilt fan but it also gives an additional USB Type-C port and headphone jack. This is very convenient when we are using the device in landscape it allows us to charge the device while connecting to your preferred headphone just right at the bottom.

While on the left side features “Air Triggers” that function as shoulder button or trigger when we held the device in landscape. It’s programmable that enabled the user to map whatever function while playing a game.

There are actually three of this Air Trigger that uses ultrasonic sensors, the third sensor is at the bottom left that lets you “Squeeze” the phone to quickly launch apps (similar to HTC U11/U12+)

Performance

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is the newest and most powerful Android Flagship SoC for 2018. It’s based on 10nm (2nd generation) process with 8x Qualcomm Kryo 385 CPU cores and Adreno 630 GPU.

ASUS ROG Phone is powered by unique speed-binned Snapdragon 845 with higher clock speeds at 2.96Ghz, where the normal Snapdragon 845 only clocked at 2.8GHz. This makes ASUS ROG the most powerful mobile processor among all other Android Flagship devices out there. It also paired with 8GB of RAM as standard and fastest storage technology, UFS 2.1 which can have sequential read more than 750 MB/s.

The configuration gave some hefty amount of RAW power. No surprise that the ROG Phone beats all others Flagship including Mi Shark, OnePlus 6, Mi 8 and also Note9 (Snapdragon 845) on the AnTuTu benchmark test.

Gaming Experience

Let’s begin with the high frame rate and refresh rate of the AMOLED screen. It offers a noticeably better visual experience compare it to conventional IPS or Super AMOLED display.

The ROG Phone has this “X Mode” that can be enabled by a long squeeze of the device in portrait mode and it will free up all the RAM and give the maximum performance from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor.

The problem with long-hours games playing would lead to thermal-throttling due to high temperature especially on flagship processor. The bundled AeroActive Cooler is not a gimmick, it helps to cool the phone when you’re gaming for long sessions.

The shoulder button/triggers are one useful feature for gaming without the need for additional accessory or an external controller for more control keys. They are fully programmable that allowing the user to map whatever input/function.

Throughout the game tests, the ROG Phone scored flying colors. There are no hiccups/lags and gave high frame rate gameplay thanks to the powerful CPU and GPU.

Software

The ASUS ROG Phone running on Android 8.1 Oreo and uses ASUS ROG Gaming UI that still have some ZenUI’s DNA like the ZenMotion. The overall UI is fairly stock without much bloatware. It comes with ROG Gaming Center apps that show what’s frequency on the CPU and GPU, also the phone temperature and more.

Audio

This probably the loudest smartphone out there today. The dual front-firing stereo speakers not only loud, but it also comes with “Smart Amplifier” that can sense the speaker unit in real-time in order to dynamically increase efficiency while also protecting the speakers.

The 3.5mm audio jack is equipped with DTX Headphone with 7.1 surround sound and Hi-Res Audio support.

Cameras

Although it’s a gaming-centric phone, ASUS didn’t renounce the camera. It has the same setup as the ASUS ZenFone 5 with dual rear camera setup; 12-megapixels f/1.8 aperture lens and an 8-megapixel ultra wide angle lens. The front camera is an 8-megapixels f/2.0 aperture lens.

A.I. is made available on the ROG Phone just like on the ASUS ZenFone 5/5Z. It will recognize object and sceneries followed by providing you the best camera settings for best photo capturing.

Here are some photos were taken with the ASUS ROG Phone;

(click on the image for high-resolution viewing)


Standard 12-megapixel wide angle


8-megapixels wide angle


Close up with indoor low light environment


Standard 12-megapixel wide angle


Standard 12-megapixel wide angle


Standard 12-megapixel wide angle under low light environment 

Portrait mode

Battery & ASUS HyperCharge

The 4,000 mAh does give a very good screen-on-time (SOT), 6 hours plus on normal daily usages like some social apps, calls, music and some light games.

ASUS’s HyperCharge power brick gave a 30W charge is able to give 50% battery from 10% in just 22 minutes. That’s impressively fast for a 4,000 mAh battery device.

Verdict

Gaming-focused phones are becoming more of a thing when mobile gaming evolved from PC and console to mobile. ASUS is one of the companies that took the biggest step in achieving this. It may be a niche product that so far no other can offer the same.

The ASUS ROG Phone received a consistently positive impression, from good-looking design, great display, and outstanding performance. It may not be everyone phone but if you are a serious mobile gamer, this is what you should consider.

Not forgot to mention, ASUS is committed and serious with their Gaming Phone by releasing all the accessories for the ROG Phone including ASUS Professional Dock, ASUS GameVice, ASUS Mobile Desktop Dock, Limited Edition ASUS ROG Suitcase, ASUS WiGig Display Dock, ASUS TwinView Dock

It’s available now for pre-order over at Lazada Malaysia, Shopee Malaysia and as well all ASUS authorized dealers. It’s priced for RM 3,499 for 128GB variant and RM 3,999 for top-tier 512GB storage.

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