Mobile phone gaming is still in a budding phase; we see that these handheld devices can potentially replace our immobile consoles and PCs, but it is too far for now. We saw the Razor Phone’s approach last year with bigger memory and better screen, but the device itself was not a complete phone due to its inferior cameras.
The story is different this time, ASUS is already enjoying a premium in Computex 2018 due to their ZenBook pro 15 launch, they now announced a phone under their ROG platform. ROG is the separate department of ASUS that especially works to provide gaming devices, we all know and love their ROG gaming laptops. The ASUS ROG Phone is the answer to the Razor Phone with prominent “gaming phone” like design, the best processor in the market and top of the line storage. Let’s see what it offers out of the box and how is it different from other flagships.
When you see a device from a distance, it looks like a sturdy gaming device that is seriously meant for sheer performance, but on a closer look, the device looks gorgeous. It has a dual glass design with Aluminum frame; Gorilla Glass protects the back of the device. We immediately see that flashy ROG logo at the back that has fully customizable RGB lighting, it has never been done in a smartphone, but we have never had a proper gaming phone before it.
The device is built specifically catering to the landscape orientation since most games have this orientation, the weird looking fingerprint scanner is due to this. The device is slightly thicker at 8.6mm, but that too is due to the vapor chamber cooling that will aid in keeping the device cool.
Other than the traditional power button and volume rocker there are two more pressure sensitive buttons, ASUS is calling them “Air triggers” since they require only 20grams of force to work. They can be used for any function that the user wants they can be mapped to certain buttons in the game due to the advance haptic engine that generates the nuanced vibrations for the feedback or they can be used as a quick start to open any app. These Air triggers are very well placed too, one of them is for landscape use, and the other one is for portrait mode use, thus aiding both types of games on a smartphone.
The top of the line specifications is the reason why it stands out in the league of flagships like iPhone X, Google Pixel 2, Galaxy S9. It has a custom designed overclocked QUALCOMM Snapdragon 845 SoC the four of the eight Kyro processor are clocked at 2.96Ghz faster than any other device that has this processor with Adreno 630 GPU; the 8GB LPDDR4X memory complements the SoC, so you can expect it to run multiple programs with greater ease. The device comes out in two configurations depending upon the storage 128GB/512GB; both are fast UFS2.1 storages, you can expect better boot up and loading times in games.
Regarding software, it is an Android device running Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, with ROG gaming UI skin on the top that gives the device the necessary performance adjustment to run the games efficiently. The squeeze feature we love in Pixel 2 is there but instead of opening Google assistant, squeezing the phone activates the gaming mode which they call “X Mode” that turns the cool Blue UI to ominous Red UI, it blocks extra processes and reserve the power for gaming. All of this is supported by 4000mAh battery that according to ASUS can provide at least 7 hours of gaming; the battery also supports fast charging it can top up 60% of the capacity in just 33 minutes.
All those flashy specifications are in vain if they are not supplied with a top of a line display, ASUS knows this, and as a result, we have the first smartphone display with 90Hz refresh complemented by 1ms response time, that will prevent those “ghost pixels” that was a problem in the Razor phone. The display is an OLED panel with FHD+ resolution (1080 x 2160). The display supports HDR and wider color gamut; it covers 108.6 percent of DCI-P3 color gamut which ensures true to life colors and 10000:1 contrast ratio will give dense blacks and truer whites. The display supports 10-point multi-touch and discrete image processing that will further aid HDR.
The cameras in the device are the same as found in ZenPhone 5 with a 12MP main sensor capable of recording videos in 4k, aided by an 8MP 120 degrees wide-angle camera that will help you capture those beautiful landscapes. The front camera is 8MP capable of recording videos at 1080P making it suitable for VLogging purposes.
The I/O we see in the ROD phone is unique, with common USB type C that supports 20W fast charging and a slightly uncommon 3.5mm headphone jack. Apart from these, it has two USB type C on the side that one is for charging purposes with 15W fast charging, while the other one provides the interface to connect the variety of docks that ASUS provides to further aid in gaming.
We have never seen the functionality of the dock in the smartphones, at least the kind of functionality that ASUS is providing to its customers, there are several types of docks that you can hook up with your device, below is the brief overview of some of them.
The only dock that will be present in the box is the additional fan that will hook up with the USB port on the side, it will further help in cooling the device, the fan covers the central area of the device in landscape orientation, while providing a headphone jack and another USB type C that will help in charging the device. This accessory is especially helpful since users have problems playing the games while charging the device due to the position of standard USB port in the devices. Above all, it also has the traditional fully customizable ROG logo.
The mobile desktop dock lets you hook up your phone with your desktop, it can support a 4k display through the gigabit WIFI channel, through this you can play the games such as PUBG to have the tactical and combat advantage over other players who have to play it using their phones, other than that due to the more than capable hardware of the device, it lets you use the software like Photoshop and Lightroom to do lightweight editing.
Then there is the WiGig Dock that allows two separate joysticks to attach to the making it a handheld console just like Nintendo Switch, the console like buttons help to play most AAA, racing and yes Battle Royale titles too with greater ease. Other than that, the 60Hz WIFI direct allows the screen to wirelessly connect with the nearby TV with no latency issues making the experience ever so enjoyable. It also aids the battery due to the inbuilt battery of the joysticks letting you play the games for a longer period.
Lastly, there is a TwinViw Dock that makes it a dual screen device, the functionality of which may be obsolete as ASUS cannot do much of it, it is the duty of the developers to make use of it. Nevertheless, we gave it a shot and found it helpful in some cases, like we were able to play the game on one screen while having a live broadcast on another screen. The secondary screen is the same FHD display, with additional 4000mAh battery that will aid the already present 4000mAh battery letting you play games for a very long time.
The ASUS ROG phone is the best phone, you can find in the market with custom overclocked Snapdragon 845, and a 90Hz screen that can make your gaming experience worthwhile. The pricing and availability of the device are not announced yet, but the specifications are indicating a price that will surely leave a huge dent in your Wallet. All in all, if you belong to the budding mobile gaming community than it is the phone for you and an example for many other smartphone manufacturers. With the reveal of such gaming-oriented smartphone, we are indeed closer to the era when smartphones will replace the immobile PCs or consoles.