Smartphones have achieved the ridiculous degree of market penetration they’ve thanks in no small half to their common utility: Whereas within the not-too-distant previous you may need carried round a separate MP3 participant, recreation console, PDA, flashlight, and any variety of different equipment along with your cellphone, having all this performance baked into one gadget is what helps make the general-purpose smartphone so interesting. However recently we have been seeing the emergence of extra specialised telephones, and simply probably the most seen phase there was hardware focused at players. At present we’re taking a look at simply how profitable a type of efforts has been, as we evaluation the ASUS ROG Telephone.
Introduced underneath the ASUS Republic of Players sub-brand, the telephone is a marked departure from an organization lengthy related to much less formidable, affordably priced hardware. And whereas we absolutely anticipate ASUS to maintain on producing such ZenFone handsets, it is nonetheless very thrilling to see what the producer can do when it pulls out all of the stops, aiming to ship a feature-rich, no-expense-spared gaming telephone.
Design, hardware, what’s within the field
Someplace alongside the road, “gaming” hardware developed its personal aesthetic: darkish supplies and harsh angles, offset by blooms of colourful, rainbow lighting. You see it in PC towers, you see it gaming mice, and the ROG Telephone absolutely embraces this similar design language. Whereas fashions just like the Razer Telephone 2 danced across the edges of that scheme, the ROG Telephone throws conventional phone-design restraint to the wind.
We see hints of this round entrance, with parts just like the telephone’s angular, copper-colored stereo speaker grilles, however it’s the again panel that basically takes this look and runs with it, that includes a mixture of glass and composite supplies, circuit-board-esque “traces” dancing throughout the panel, a six-sided fingerprint scanner, and a glowing RGB LED ROG emblem lifeless middle.
Have enjoyable feeling round for the off-center USB port whenever you’re not wanting.
It isn’t simply the look of this telephone that is uncommon, although — from the options current to the format of widespread parts, the ROG Telephone is one handset clearly strolling to the beat of its personal drum. For one, the telephone contains a uncommon off-center USB port, with the first USB Sort-C interface shifted over to the left aspect of the handset’s backside edge (reverse a three.5mm headphone jack on the best). There’s nothing capital-w flawed about that placement, however it requires that you simply far more consideration when plugging in to cost.
You will discover we stated “primary” USB port there, because the ROG Telephone additionally sports activities a singular side-mounted interface designed principally to be used with equipment — and chief amongst these is the snap-on AeroActive Cooler that comes with the telephone. The connection seems to be like two Sort-C ports subsequent to one another, with one coloured ominously orange to remind you that when connecting single cables, you must use the opposite one.
We’ll speak extra concerning the Cooler quickly, however the enlargement port itself is just a little oddly designed. It is usually coated by a rubber cap when not it use, and doubtless for good cause: the broad side-by-side port format is fairly uncovered and positive appears desperate to refill with mud and particles. In a transfer that is equal elements good and disconcerting, the ROG Telephone ships with a pair backup covers for the port. We like that we’ve them available, however their presence additionally appears to concede that ASUS is aware of we’re simply going to lose them, one after the other.
The ROG Telephone’s enlargement port (and one of many three covers it comes with).
Above that enlargement interface on the ROG Telephone’s left edge we discover its SIM tray, and whereas it gives dual-SIM help, it sadly doesn’t carry out double-duty with microSD enlargement. Regardless that ASUS presents as much as 512GB storage, that is nonetheless a disappointing oversight, particularly for a telephone so in any other case superb for media consumption. However even with that omission, there’s nonetheless one very fascinating trick baked into the handset’s edges: a set of three ultrasonic “buttons.”
Dubbed AirTriggers, we discover two of those sensors on the highest and backside of the appropriate edge, and one on the underside of the left. Throughout regular telephone utilization, the 2 backside AirTrigger sensors pair as much as act like HTC’s Edge Sense or the Pixel’s Lively Edge, letting customers squeeze the handset’s physique to set off customizable actions. Perhaps the extra fascinating mode is engaged whenever you flip the ROG Telephone on its aspect for some landscape-orientation gaming, and the 2 right-edge AirTriggers effectively grow to be console-style L and R buttons. We’ll circle again to how nicely they work in only a second.
ASUS is not making an attempt any notch fanciness with the ROG’s display, and that is simply high quality. When your focus is on giving players the perfect visuals potential, there isn’t any cause to let bezel-vanity get in the best way of of issues. As an alternative we get a pleasant, huge, rounded-corner 6.Zero-inch AMOLED panel. Viewing angles are alright, sustaining colour accuracy till about 45 levels off-center, however the actual star right here is the 90Hz refresh help, making the display really feel vibrant and responsive.
General the telephone’s solidly constructed, feels good to deal with, and whereas its design will not be universally interesting, we can’t deny that this factor simply oozes fashion. Particularly when you configure the rear emblem with the color-changing, pulsing show of your selecting, the ROG Telephone turns into an actual attention-grabber. The one difficulty we might characterize as an outright mistake is the utter lack of any type of water resistance. For the telephone’s meant makes use of, that falls in need of being a deal-breaker, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a security internet we might strongly choose to have once we can get it.
All advised, the ROG Telephone ships with its AeroActive Cooler, the HyperCharge adapter with USB Sort-C cable, a pair alternative enlargement port covers, SIM device, and its documentation — no headphones.
Software program, efficiency, battery
Usually I hunt down telephones with interfaces that development in the direction of inventory Android as intently as attainable, however the extra I exploit the ROG Telephone with its customizations and complex setup choices, the extra I am liking what ASUS has put collectively right here with its ZenUI.
Unsurprisingly, the spotlight of the software program is on gaming options, and the important thing to accessing most of these is the telephone’s Recreation Genie interface, a aspect panel that may be pulled out from the display edge when wanted. These controls supply fast entry to shutting off distracting notifications, and supply instruments for simply recording or streaming gaming periods.
That is additionally the place you faucet into the facility of the AirTrigger ultrasonic buttons. Since video games aren’t simply going to acknowledge these controls by default, you’ll be able to assign them to on-screen buttons by dragging circles over these UI parts you need to faucet. Then once you contact the related AirTrigger, the sport responds simply as in the event you’d tapped that “shoot,” “jump,” or no matter button on the telephone’s display. The entire system works fairly nicely, with minimal latency and responsive haptics. We simply want the AirTriggers themselves have been spaced somewhat nearer to the handset’s corners, requiring much less of a attain.
One of many telephone’s three edge-mounted AirTriggers.
One other main element of this game-centric interface is the Recreation Middle, accessible each instantly and thru Recreation Genie. Right here you will get an summary of telephone stats like out there RAM, system temperature, and CPU and GPU speeds. You will additionally discover controls for adjusting the looks of the rear RGB LED emblem, establishing profiles for particular video games, and controlling the conduct of the AeroActive Cooler fan. And entrance and middle there is a outstanding “X Mode” button claiming to spice up gaming efficiency.
With 8GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 845 operating at as much as almost 3GHz, it is no shock that the ROG Telephone is a efficiency beast. X Mode is meant to take full benefit of that by liberating up RAM and letting the SoC run wild, and in our checks it did end in a measurable improve in velocity. However it additionally will get the telephone operating a bit scorching — AeroActive Cooler to the rescue?
Properly, perhaps not. If you pop on the Cooler it is meant to make use of its fan to wick away extra warmth from the telephone’s again panel. Despite the fact that utilizing it covers up the ROG emblem, the Cooler’s obtained it personal color-changing insignia on board, and provides a second headphone jack for comfort. You possibly can manually set the fan velocity within the Recreation Middle, or let auto mode do the be just right for you.
That sounds nice, however we discovered the Cooler to not fairly reside as much as expectations, and in some checks even noticed the telephone run hotter with it hooked up. Relying on the way you maintain the telephone, your arms might get in the best way of its vents, and we fear the contact between Cooler and telephone simply is not robust sufficient to attract away sufficient warmth. That stated, perhaps it simply wants some extra aggressive fan-speed administration.
We want the clip-on AeroActive Cooler did a greater job truly cooling the telephone.
Whereas operating lots of video games at full efficiency will take a toll on battery life, the ROG Telephone is properly outfitted to deal with them. The four,000mAh battery will hold the handset working at decrease utilization ranges for days between expenses, and the included ASUS HyperCharge adapter actually can refresh that cost shortly, topping issues off in properly beneath an hour.
For a telephone that does not actually emphasize its cameras as a major promoting level, the imaging capabilities of the ROG Telephone are all types of satisfying. We have got a 12MP foremost digital camera with OIS, joined by a 8MP 120-degree wide-angle shooter. And up entrance there’s an 8MP selfie cam.
Whereas the software program’s nothing out of the odd, it manages to supply some properly balanced, well-exposed photographs. The primary 12MP digital camera is extra profitable than the wide-angle choice, however even that is not dangerous. The depth-effect portrait mode is practical although suffers from the identical kind of edge-recognition glitches we all the time see; the front-facer makes its personal try at bokeh with barely much less success.
With regards to primary point-and-shoot operation, although, the ROG Telephone’s digital camera could be very a lot as much as the duty. As long as you keep away from catching the telephone’s glowing rear emblem in any reflections, you are not going to run into any main hassle. It isn’t so good that we would advocate ASUS’s telephone solely for its digital camera, nevertheless it’s one of many gadget’s constructive attributes.
Cellular Desktop Dock
ASUS provides quite a few equipment specifically crafted for the ROG Telephone, and within the strategy of our assessment we took a take a look at the Cellular Desktop Dock. This unit acts as a landscape-orientation cradle for the handset, interfacing via the identical aspect port because the Cooler, and provides a ton of latest connectivity choices.
These embrace an Ethernet port, a bunch of USB three.1 ports, HDMI and Show port connections, and even an SD card slot. You need not dedicate any hardware to this setup, both, as you’ll be able to join your monitor and USB enter units by way of pass-through cables to your PC, letting you turn them over to the ROG Telephone solely when docked.
Whereas we did not spend a boatload of time utilizing the handset in this mode, our impressions thus far are constructive, particularly when it comes to the interface — you possibly can customise keyboard keys for recreation enter fairly equally to how AirTriggers are arrange, serving to with titles not designed for keyboard help. The software program’s additionally sensible sufficient to swap between display mirroring and utilizing the telephone’s show for a standing panel.
The Cellular Desktop Dock can be a pleasant addition to your ROG Telephone setup, have been it not for the prohibitively excessive $230 price ticket. Gaming on an enormous monitor and with correct peripherals is good, however we’re unsure it could possibly demand this steep of a premium.
Do you have to purchase it?
Sure. This does not make sense as a every day driver in your common smartphone consumer, however in the event you’re the kind of one that spends extra money on new GPUs than well being care, whose PC is outfitted with extra LEDs than a Christmas tree, and whose mouse has sufficient protrusions and sharp corners to rely as a weapon, you in all probability already acknowledge the ROG Telephone as being marketed on to you.
And you understand what? ASUS places out a reasonably strong providing for players trying to begin treating cellular titles as significantly as these launched for consoles or PCs. Granted, it is an costly telephone, and one which has some limitations not seen in additional mainstream fashions, however it’s additionally not so eccentric as to discourage you from utilizing this as your main gadget.
The efficiency is there, the options are there, and — once more, whereas we understand it isn’t for everybody — there is a robust sense of design to the telephone. In the event you can abdomen the $900 worth of admission, and particularly for those who’re prepared to take a position much more in equipment just like the Cellular Desktop Dock, extra-screen TwinView Dock, Gamevice console controls, or the wireless-display WiGig Dock, ASUS presents a compelling answer for taking your smartphone gaming to the subsequent degree.
- You’re keen on gaming and do not thoughts spending quite a bit to get the most effective
- For its distinctive, eye-catching design
Do not buy it:
- You want your telephones modern, streamlined, and with face-filling screens
- Water-resistance is necessary
- You need one of the best worth you’ll find in a flagship
The place to purchase
ASUS ROG Telephone 128GB — $900
ASUS ROG Telephone 512GB — $1100