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Article | Gaming
REVIEW: The ASUS ROG Phone
Posted by Ralph Aligada on January 11, 2019

The ASUS ROG Phone is outrageous and over the top. Is there a place for it in today’s gaming market?

Our friends at ASUS Philippines sent us over the ROG Phone to play around with over the Christmas break. Needless to say, we were like kids receiving gifts from Santa Claus.

For reference, here are the specs of the ROG Phone we got to test out:
CPU: Snapdragon 845 (2.96 GHz)
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Display: 6-inch FHD, 90Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time
Rear Camera: 12 MP (f/1.8) + 8MP (f/2.2)
Front Camera: 8MP (f/2.0)
Battery: 4,000mAh
Price: P49,995

Physical Design:
ASUS’ R&D team prides itself in listening to its target market. They’ve always been at the forefront of gaming hardware innovation, and it’s quite obvious that this phone has the Republic of Gamers (ROG) badge incorporated all over it.

Aesthetically, it has more in common with gaming laptops than it does a typical smartphone. Let’s look at the obvious design elements that are geared toward gamers.

There are huge air vents carved in the back of the ROG Phone, designed to carry away heat from the processor.

Two orange speaker grills remind you that most games are played with a Smartphone on a horizontal orientation.

The Asus ROG logo lights up – pretty much like how it does on ROG laptops.
Hardware and Special Features:

Chipset
The ROG Phone is, at the moment, possibly the most powerful android phone in the market. It features a version of the Snapdragon 845 chipset that is capable of sustained clock speeds of 2.96 GHz, which is faster than the standard SD 845 chipsets you see on the Samsung Galaxy Note9 and even the ASUS Zenfone 5Z.

Mobile phone CPUs tend to be throttled and run slower when the phone’s temperature gets too high. The ROG Phone’s game cool system, coupled with the huge air vents, carry heat away from the processor, enabling the phone to run smoothly during gameplay.

Air Triggers
The ROG Phone’s sides and corners are pressure sensitive. This feature is unique to this ASUS creation, and from our tests, does two things: trigger the Asus X-mode, and functions as additional buttons in some games. While the air triggers are novel and while they do help in certain games, it is hard to use as an in-game tool primarily because it isn’t an actual physical button.

Press the sides simultaneously and the ROG Phone enters into X-mode, which is essentially the “gaming mode,” allowing users to shut off apps in the background to free up memory. This also gives users the options to max out CPU performance and enable in-game anti-aliasing. For the flashy ones, it also fires up the ROG logo at the back of the phone.

Cameras
The cameras on the ROG Phone may seem somewhat useless for the hardcore gamers. However, there is one unique feature of the ROG Phone that makes impressive use of them: the use of the front camera for streaming. The Game Genie not just allows users to have access to real time information about phone temperature and notification blocks. It also allows the user to utilize the front camera during gameplay, to stream directly on YouTube or Twitch! Impressive, especially for gamers who have branched out to streaming.

Screen
Perhaps the only part of the ROG Phone where it isn’t the market leader is the screen. The Razer Phone 2 is still ahead, with a 120Hz 1440×2560 display, versus the ROG Phone’s 90 Hz 1080×2160 screen. However the display still does more than enough to make the experience awesome.

Gameplay
The hardware and the software built by ASUS for the ROG Phone makes gaming on it a one of a kind experience. Of all the games I’ve played, Asphalt 9 would always serve as my go-to for gaming benchmarking (without using any benchmarking apps and tools).

I experienced absolutely no slowdown running Asphalt 9. The graphics were better than I’ve ever seen them, and this includes tests on iPhones and a Samsung Galaxy Note9. For users who are after the best mobile gaming experience, the ROG phone will not leave them wanting.

You Ain’t a Hardcore Gamer if You Don’t Have Peripherals and Accessories
The ROG Phone we received was the base kit, but it does have options for a few more accessories. Asus created this machine to be modular. You can add a set of controllers, a desktop dock, and a twin-view dock that gives users an extra screen. While we did not get to play using any of those add-ons, the ROG Phone did come with a separate aero cooler, which initially didn’t seem useful at all.

After a while though, I think I finally figured out what the separate cooler was for. It seemed to work at dissipating heat when the phone was being charged and played on at the same time.

Smuuuuudge!

It’s hard to nitpick when it comes to a phone that caters to a very niche market. I do, however, have one minor niggle. It’s the fact that the ROG Phone is a fingerprint smudge magnet! Doesn’t really bother that many people, but for users that prefer their shiny toys blemish free.

Final Thoughts:
The Asus ROG Phone has more in common with gaming laptops than it does any other smartphone. Comparing it to other smartphones in the same price range (the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Galaxy Note 9, and Oppo Find X come to mind) wouldn’t be right. Its design, internals, and software are all geared towards making a mobile gaming device; hence, it should be viewed as such. If you’re the kind of person that stresses out over phone temperature, frame rates, and the best gaming experience you can have on a smartphone, it’s a no-brainer to snap up the best gaming phone in the market today.

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