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Asus ROG Phone review: Hands on with the “world’s fastest” smartphone

The Asus ROG phone sets its sights on the mobile gamer, and is equipped with the fastest mobile processor yet

Incredible. Asus’ Computex keynote isn’t until later this afternoon, but I’m willing to bet that is how Jonney Shih – Asus’s irrepressible chairman – is going to describe the ROG Phone.

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If you’ve been clamouring for a smartphone that’s tailored to the needs of serious mobile gaming, Asus has come up trumps. It’s not just the company’s first Republic of Gamers branded smartphone, it’s also touted to be the fastest smartphone in the entire world.

Asus ROG Phone review: Specifications

Asus has worked hand in hand with Qualcomm to turn the ROG Phone into a one-of-a-kind gaming beefcake.

It’s taken the already stupendously fast Snapdragon 845 processor, selected only the fastest chips which are binned to reach 2.93GHz, then developed its own vapour chamber cooling system to keep it under control. With a 16 times larger cooling area, the result is a claimed 60% improvement in cooling efficiency over standard smartphone designs. 

And if you’re thinking of firing up the ROG Phone for an absolutely epic game of PUBG, then you’re in luck: you can adjust the fan speeds on the fly and use the clip-on Aeroactive cooler to give the Snapdragon 845 an extra cooling boost. (Make sure to scroll down the page for the skinny on the all the other ROG Phone accessories.)

  • 6in, 2,160 x 1,080 AMOLED, 18:9, 108.6% DCI-P3 coverage, 90Hz, 1ms response time, Gorilla Glass 6
  • 2.93GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, Adreno 630
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB or 512GB storage (expandable via microSD?)
  • IP68 dust- and water-resistance
  • 4,000mAh battery
  • 12MP rear camera, 8MP front camera (120-degrees)
  • 802.11ad Wi-Fi (5G 2×2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5, NFC, 
  • Price: TBC
  • Release date: TBC

A power-hungry smartphone like this needs a huge battery, and Asus has equipped the ROG with a mighty 4,000mAh battery. With Wi-Fi enabled, that’s enough for 11.5 hours of video playback, 40 hours of music streaming, and 7 hours of gameplay.

Asus touted its own ROG HyperCharge battery technology, too, which provides the best charging speed and experience, but the phone also supports Quick Charge 4.0 and USB 3.0 power delivery.

Asus ROG Phone review: Display

As you’d hope for a gaming-focused device, Asus has expended some serious effort on the ROG Phone’s display – not content with being the world’s fastest smartphone, the ROG boasts a super-fast AMOLED display.

The 2,160 x 1,080 resolution screen might not win any world records, but the 90Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time put it in a league of its own. And those stats haven’t come at the expense of image quality either, with a claimed 108.6% DCI-P3 coverage and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio.

It looks absolutely stunning in the flesh, with colours oozing off the screen and those lovely inky shadows and blacks that only AMOLED can provide. Partnered with that ultra low response time, there’s just not a hint of lag or ghosting anywhere to be found. It’s so slick, in fact, that it even looks smoother when you’re just flicking through Android’s menus and home screen. 

The icing on the cake? HDR support is also on the cards, with native support for the Amazon, Netflix and Youtube HDR standards, as well as the ability to convert SDR content to HDR on the fly – just like Sony’s Xperia XZ2.

Asus ROG Phone review: Design

No one is going to mistake the ROG Phone for one of its rivals. With bold geometric accents on the rear, flashes of orange and a customisable backlit ROG logo, this is one of a kind. And if it’s just not striking enough, never fear: you can customise the rear logo to pulse flash or glow in a variety of colours thanks to the integrated RGB lighting.

Amazingly, though, for such a power-packed phone, it isn’t horrendously bulky. Weighing in at 200g and measuring 11mm thick, even at its thinnest point, you’d expect it to feel like a small Snapdragon-powered breezebrick, but that’s not the case. The ROG feels perfectly manageable in the hand, and the slim bezels mean that the 6in screen doesn’t send the size soaring into silly territory.

Asus ROG Phone review: Accessories

Asus has gone for broke with the ROG Phone’s range of accessories. With everything from Wi-Gig docks for beaming games to your TV, to clip-on controllers and snap-on cooling, there’s plenty to get your gaming teeth into. And if you’ve been hankering for a smartphone which you can hook up to a big-screen gaming monitor, and get sniping with your keyboard and mouse in a game of PUBG – then the ROG Phone is going to be your dream come true. 

Aeroactive cooler: This clips onto the ROG Phone’s side and adds an extra fan to keep the Snapdragon 845 ticking over during longer gaming sessions. A pass-through USB-C port and 3.5mm jack provide audio and charging connections which keep out of the way while gaming.

Twinview Dock: This accessory turns the ROG Phone into a dual-display gaming handheld. An integrated 600mAh battery powers the second 6in display so you can livestream games via one display and play on the other, and extra haptics gives force feedback in games. Asus is also working with game publishers such as Freefire to utilise both screens for games.

Mobile Desktop Dock: Connect external monitors, keyboards and mice to your ROG phone, allowing you to flick between your PC and phone at will.

Gamevice for ROG Phone: Want more control without swiping away at the screen? Then Gamevice’s clip-on controller gives you a full mobile console experience.

Twinview Dock: Fancy playing games on your TV from the couch? The Twinview dock uses Asus’ Wigig docking and 802.11ad to provide Wi-Fi speeds of up to 4.66GHz. That means lag-free gaming on the big screen, and without a single wire in sight.

Asus ROG Phone review: Early verdict

Brutally fast and with an utterly gorgeous display, this is the finest gaming smartphone to grace the earth – if your idea of a great smartphone is one that’s ready for serious PUBG sessions while on the train, plane or on-the-go, then this was built for you.

It’s burly build and ROG-flavoured design will not be everyone’s cup of Oolong, but the kind of people this is aimed at just won’t care – the ROG Phone is over-engineered to perfection.

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