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We’ll just come out and say it right at the start: the ASUS ROG Phone is a fabulous phone for hardcore gamers thanks to its features and its capabilities.

Want to find out why we think so? Have we got the review for you then!

A gamers’ phone inside and out

The ROG Phone both looks the part and walks its talk.

Feast your eyes on the ROG Phone’s exterior. This phone features sharp, angular lines that wouldn’t look out of place on ROG’s own laptops. Out back, it’s got a distinctive diamond-shaped camera lens and oblong offset fingerprint scanner, as well as open copper heat vents and sinks. This is the GameCool vapor-chamber cooling system; it enables this phone to be pushed hard without heating over (more on this feature later). Shades of Apple; the ROG Phone also boasts an ROG logo that lights up thanks to RGB lighting, but also can be set to pulsate and do other things via the same ASUS Aura sync app that takes pride of place in other RGB products. The phone comes in just one color, black.

You’ll also note that the ROG logo and monicker are set on the side. The expectation of course being that this phone will be used quite a bit for gaming and will of course be in landscape mode during most such instances.

This is distinctive style that communicates to the world, loudly and clearly, what this phone is all about. The ROG Phone was made to be ogled and no mistake.

But what about the features? You’ll be impressed, ASUS has kitted this unit out really well too.

First up we look at the ROG Phone’s display. It dazzles – it’s a 6-in AMOLED affair with some awesome features – how about 2160 x 1080 pixel resolution, 108.6% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage, and 90Hz refresh rate with 1ms response time? The last is quite impressive, it means that the phone’s display refreshes 90 times every second to minimize blurred motion and boost response times, a first for an OLED phone. Lastly, it’s not quite an edge-to-edge screen – you do get something of a forehead and a chin, but those make it easier to use while gaming.

And how about the ROG Phone’s internals? It boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset overclocked to 2.95GHz; configured Adreno 630 graphics; 8GB (!) of RAM and 512GB of internal storage. (Buyers also get 100GB free space on Google Drive for a year.) You might be forgiven for thinking that this phone was a laptop were you hearing about it from the specs perspective.

Let’s make a quick return to the ROG Phone’s exterior because there are a couple more features we want to highlight for you. First up, ASUS also saw fit to build in what it refers to as AirTriggers – two programmable ultrasonic ‘buttons’ that give gamers more options by simply tapping each of the top corners of the device when it’s being used for gaming in landscape mode. Really innovative and very useful.

Next, you also get an awesome speaker set; this phone’s copper-colored speaker grilles look terrific and are really loud; you can crank them up pretty high and they’ll still sound awesome. Third, you also get two (yes, two) USB-C ports; one on the bottom and one on the side so you can choose where you want to plug in and prevent the wires from messing up your game.

Camera-wise, the ROG Phone’s snappers are really overshadowed by its gaming features, but it isn’t chopped liver – an 8MP front camera and a 12MP + 8MP dual rear camera (120-degree wide angle) with LED flash, as well as the usual ASUS AI photography features and PixelMaster camera modes.

How about the battery life? No scrimping here, the ROG Phone mounts a 4,000mAh battery that lasted us around 15 hours on the average, with moderate amounts of time spent gaming!

And, yes, this phone does come with a 3.5-mm headphone jack of its own – gamers rejoice!

Awesome accessories

We also wanted to highlight the accessories ROG Phone buyers can avail of.

One is a separate extra fan called the AeroActive Cooler that comes in the box and can be slid on when a gamer runs the phone extra hard and/or for a long while – say, half an hour without taking a break. The Cooler also boasts an ‘X Mode’ setting that allows the phone to free up all background RAM for gaming and run at its highest speed for longer than usual when a game is being played. It also comes with a USB-C port as well as a 3.5-mm headphone jack of its own.

The ROG Phone can also work with ASUS’ Mobile Desktop Dock, which is a display dock which lets the phone be used like a desktop PC – it has a display port, 5.1 speaker output, Gigabit Ethernet, a whole lot of USB ports, and other features too. There’s also a TwinView dock that has its own display to offer more options for multitasking and gaming, as well as haptic feedback features, a cooling mechanism, and a 6,000mAh battery. Lastly, the WiGig dock boasts a low-latency Wi-Fi connection that lets users project what’s on their screen to big-screen TVs without needing to use wires.

How does it run?

The ROG Phone runs very well, thanks for asking. Its superpowered specs and awesome accessories make it a bona fide gamers’ phone – full stop. Never once did we feel that our test unit lacked power or couldn’t do what we wanted it to. Every single game we tried on this phone played without a hitch or stutter, and we fell right into playing them. Truth be told, at a certain point in our tests, we ended up forgetting that this was a mobile phone!

The ROG Phone is great to hold, most especially in landscape mode, thanks to its curved bezels and sides. It sits in the hand very nicely and isn’t uncomfortable to use even for long stretches of time – crucial for a gaming phone. And we particularly loved the AirTriggers – a real innovative solution that just makes this phone more enjoyable to use. With the AeroActive Cooler on, the ROG Phone becomes a bit bulkier and clunkier, but the Cooler really does work during those times when you really want to push the phone.

And we never got the feeling that the ROG Phone was compromised as a phone due to all the concessions ASUS and ROG built in for gaming. This phone is perfectly happy to purr along and be used as a mobile phone. We just had the feeling that there was plenty of power to spare for very much more demanding tasks – which is indeed the case!

The verdict

If you’re in the market for a gaming smartphone, you owe it to yourself to check out the ROG Phone. It’s seemingly been designed from the ground up to offer no less than a fabulous gaming experience, and it also excels as a regular smartphone too. To return to a phrase we used earlier in this review, it really does look the part and walks the gaming talk like few other phones can!

 

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