The "1-Minute" Review
- No wireless charging
- No microSD support
ASUS has established a solid reputation for high-performance gaming in the laptop and PC markets under their “Republic of Gamers” (ROG) label. Now, with the gaming phone market heating up, they’re trying to duplicate their success and offer a compelling mobile experience tailored to gaming enthusiasts.
Does their new release -- the ASUS ROG Phone -- check all the needed boxes? Let’s see what reviewers are saying...
If you want a phone that will stand out from the crowd, the ASUS ROG Phone fits the bill. It uses an aluminum chassis and Gorilla Glass 6 back to provide a durable, sturdy feel. But the hexagonal camera and fingerprint scanner -- not to mention the RGB-lit ASUS ROG logo in the middle -- give it a very “pro gamer” feel.
Along the top edge of the phone, you’ll also find touch-sensitive AirTrigger buttons that mimic gamepad buttons and allow you to map controls to any part of the screen and keep fingers away from your display during intense gaming moments.
Overall, reviewers found little to complain about. The glass back is durable, the design feels great in the hand even if it’s a little unusual, and the weight is acceptable for slipping in your pocket or holding for extended gaming sessions.
TechRadar says, “Asus has managed to keep things in intuitive positions, so a fumbling finger will land on the scanner without any issues.”
Around front, you’ll find a six-inch 1080-by-2160 pixel AMOLED display. Reviewers loved the contrast and vibrant colors on offer. The 90Hz refresh rate and HDR support provided buttery smooth gaming with details that popped.
While there are larger bezels compared to many top-tier phones, reviewers felt this helped the gaming experience by avoiding accidental inputs and allowing you to firmly grip the phone.
While most of 2018’s top-tier phones used the octa-core Snapdragon 845 processor, ASUS has gone one step further by overclocking the processor to 2.96GHz and pairing it with 8 GB of RAM.
Despite these tweaks, reviewers mentioned no issues of overheating or the phone getting warm to the touch unless you were charging and playing at the same time. Even then, it was warm… not uncomfortably hot.
Gizmodo says, “The ROG Phone’s performance is as good as it gets for a Snapdragon 845-powered device.”
While the phone might look futuristic, it’s running a slightly dated version of Android -- 8.1 Oreo. However, reviewers felt that ASUS’ software changes were nice and provided a ton of extra functionality you won’t find in other phones.
The star of the software is a suite of gaming-focused features including in-game recording and streaming integration, recordable macros, and on-screen hardware stats.
Android Central notes, “Game Mode on the ASUS ROG Phone is nothing like anything you've ever used before. The software has dozens of features for you to tweak, from notification bothering you to how fast you want the CPU to run and what apps are allowed to continue living in memory when you game.”
The phone ships with a generous 128GB or 512GB of storage. However, unlike many Android competitors, the phone does not allow you to expand storage with a microSD card. So if you plan to play multiple games or like reassurance, the 512GB model is likely the best choice.
For a phone designed for gaming, the cameras received decent reviews. The phone features rear 12MP and 8MP cameras with an 8MP front-facing shooter. The rear cameras include optical image stabilization and an ultra-wide lens mode.
Overall, it impressed reviewers in well-lit conditions. While low light shooting wasn’t a strong point, many reviews noted that even a little light could improve shots and that noise and grain were slow to creep in.
TechAdvisor UK summed up opinions well, saying, “While photography is ok, there's nothing to write home about here.”
Cutting-edge performance does no good if you can’t keep a charge. Fortunately, the 4000mAh battery with two USB Type-C ports and fast charging wowed reviewers with some of the longest run-time tests they’ve seen to date.
While there is no wireless charging, the phone includes a second USB Type-C port on the side to let you charge while you hold the phone in landscape mode for less cable clutter while gaming.
If you’re watching videos or listening to your favorite music, the front-facing stereo speakers offer plenty of volume without distorting. However, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a game, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack.
If you don’t mind the price, reviews for the ASUS ROG Phone are great. It will not be everyone’s style, but the aesthetic is unique, and the phone delivers on its many promises.
TechRadar says, “... it’s a blooming good smartphone. If you like the design, you get a great HDR 90Hz AMOLED screen, a snappy UI, tonnes of storage, power in spades and excellent battery life.”
Android Central declares, “... the ROG Phone isn't just a great gaming phone, I think it's the only real gaming phone. And the new standard by which every other gaming phone is judged.”