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    ASUS ROG Phone II Review: The Definitive Gaming Smartphone

    While the ASUS ZenFone series have been relatively silent in the Philippines, ASUS is backing a different kind of beast this year. Fresh off the success of the well-received ASUS ROG Phone, the imaginatively named ASUS ROG Phone II has quite the shoes to fill in the fast-growing gaming smartphone industry.

    ASUS ROG Phone II

    ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 855+ 2.96GHz (Speed Binned)
    Screen6.59-inch AMOLED, 10-bit HDR, 2340 x 1080, 120Hz, 600nits, DCI-P3, Corning Gorilla Glass 6
    RAMUp to 12GB
    OSAndroid 9.0 Pie with ROG UI
    Rear Camera48MP + 13MP Ultrawide
    Front Camera24MP
    Storage512GB UFS 3.0
    NetworkDual-SIM, 4G LTE
    ConnectivityWiFi 802.11ad 60GHz 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB Type-C, 3.5mm audio jack
    Battery6,000mAh, 30W ROG HyperCharge
    OthersFace Unlock, In-Display Fingerprint Scanner, AirTrigger II, Dual Vibrators, Dual NXP TFA9874 Audio

    Unboxing

    Like its predecessor, the ASUS ROG Phone II comes in an angular triangle box that’s supposed to be aggressive and can stand as a piece of its own. Inside the packaging is a 30W power plug, a braided USB Type-C to Type-C cable, the AeroActive Cooler II and its kickstand, a couple of extra USB Type-C covers, and a bumper case.

    The ASUS ROG Phone II is also compatible with a range of accessories for a better gaming experience. Here’s a list of available accessories as well as their respective prices:

    AccessoryPrice
    Aero CasePhP 995
    AeroActive Cooler IIPhP 2,995
    Lighting Armor CasePhP 2,495
    ROG Phone BagPhP 2,495
    Professional DockPhP 4,995
    ROG Kunai GamepadPHP 6,995
    Mobile Desktop Dock RevisedPhP 10,995
    ASUS WiGig Display Dock (Champion’s Super Pack Exclusive)PhP 13,995
    TwinView Dock IIPhP 14,995

    Design and Features

    There are some significant differences between the ASUS ROG Phone II and the original ROG Phone but they share a similar design aesthetic. The screen has been upped to a 6.59-inch 2340 x 1080 AMOLED screen that’s capable of displaying 10-bit color and DCI-P3 color space.

    Aside from a larger footprint, the ASUS ROG Phone II’s display can now produce up to 600nits of brightness, which is plenty enough for most people. The brand has added a Corning Gorilla Glass protection to protect the smartphone’s rather beautiful display.

    Thanks to the AMOLED display, colors on the ASUS ROG Phone II pop with saturation and detail. Blacks are deep without any significant bleed when the display turns black. Its 600nits brightness capabilities also help with usage whenever we’re playing games or using the smartphone outside.

    ASUS is improving the refresh rate on the ROG Phone. Instead of 90hz, the ROG Phone II now comes with a 120Hz refresh rate. This is almost on par on most gaming monitors nowadays. Aside from making the whole UI smoother, this will also improve on your overall response time since every frame is delivered faster to the user.

    Though the buttery smooth display is indeed an advantage over a 60Hz display, not every game takes advantage of the fast display. At this time, there are more than 165 games that can run at 120fps. You can check out the official list to see if you’re favorite games can take advantage of the ASUS ROG Phone II’s display.

    The ASUS ROG Phone II doesn’t come with a notch or a punch-hole design but instead follows the traditional design of yesteryear. This means that that there are significant top and lower chin on the smartphone. Since there’s now extra space, ASUS is able to fit two stereo speakers at the top and bottom as well as a 24MP front-facing camera at the upper right.

    The rear of the ASUS ROG Phone II remains almost unchanged from its predecessor. The back is still shiny flanked by an RGB-lit ROG logo. The aggressive angular design of the rear is a reminder that this device was made for gaming.

    While its competitors are getting more and more invested in multi-camera setups, the ASUS ROG Phone II sticks with a rather traditional two-camera design. The main camera is a 48MP shooter and is backed by a 13MP ultrawide.

    AirTrigger buttons makes a comeback on the ASUS ROG Phone II. Located at both sides of the device, both buttons can be configured as replacements for on-display prompts. This will allow for a cleaner and more ergonomic gaming experience especially when the action becomes hectic.

    The ASUS ROG Phone II comes with three USB Type-C ports: one at the bottom and one at the side. The AeroActive Cooler II can be plugged in via the side where it populates one of the USB Type-C ports and acts as a 3.5mm and USB Type-C connector for the other.

    Playing with the AeroActive Cooler II on the device is a bit more comfortable since the cables for charging and earphones are now located at the bottom instead of the sides when oriented horizontally.

    User Interface

    Despite the darker and more aggressive design of the ASUS ROG Phone II’s user interface, there’s very little in the way of innovation. It’s pretty much the ZenUI with an ROG twist. Bog-standard options are available such as gestures, swipe-down for notifications, and side-by-side screen for apps.

    The only real difference in the ASUS ROG Phone II in terms of user interface is the Armoury Crate. The Armoury Crate Pretty much handles every gamer-centric features that this smartphone has. Lighting can be configured to several lighting modes as well as synchronization across devices.

    Sensitivity of the AirTriggers can be modified via the software. In addition, fan speeds of the AeroActive Cooler II can be tuned depending on your preference.

    Camera

    As mentioned, the ASUS ROG Phone II sticks to the dual-camera philosophy found on previous ASUS smartphones. In this case, the back is populated by a 48MP main camera and a 13MP ultrawide while the front comes with a 24MP selfie camera.

    The 48MP main camera of the ASUS ROG Phone II can be a bit inconsistent. Some photos tend to be a bit under saturated while others are natural-looking. Despite the rather drab color, the tiny details are preserved thanks to the camera’s large pixel count.

    The 13MP ultrawide angle secondary camera at the back performs a bit better than its predecessors. A more details are preserved due to the increase of the pixel count while colors are punchy and not overly saturated.

    Performance and Benchmarks

    This is where the ASUS ROG Phone II really shines. Clock speeds can reach a whopping 2.96GHz thanks to the speed-binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+. The smartphone also comes with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of UFS 3.0 storage.

    Faster clock speeds usually more heat for the chip to produce and that’s no different with the ASUS ROG Phone II. Running benchmarks without any additional cooling will produce noticeable heat at the backside of the smartphone. This is even before activating “X Mode” which is basically boosts the performance of the device.

    This massive heat production is why the brand implemented a 3D Vapor Cooling Chamber on the smartphone. In tandem with the AeroActive Cooler II, the smartphone is able to keep consistent performance without thermal throttling.

    In terms of benchmarks, the ASUS ROG Phone II is the highest-scoring smartphone that we’ve had to date. This is including other flagship smartphones in the market that we have been able to get our hands on.

    The ASUS ROG Phone II pretty much blasts every benchmark we can throw at it. In PCMark Work 2.0, it managed to reach a score of 13348 while AnTuTu barely had any chance to slow down the device allowing the device to reach a score of 500,544.

    Battery Life

    A beefy chip requires a ton of power to operate. This is why the ASUS ROG Phone II comes with a massive 6,000mAh battery. Due to the rather large battery, the device is a bit thick and heavy compared to other flagships.

    Despite the large battery, the device is still a power-hungry device. We ran PCMark Work 2.0 Battery Test where the smartphone was able to last around 15 hours. Prior to the test, we set the smartphone to have medium brightness and volume and turned down the refresh rate to a more manageable 60Hz.

    Turning on the 120Hz display will significantly reduce battery life but its trade-off most people would probably be willing to take just for the buttery-smooth graphics that it offers. If that’s not enough, the device can be charged for around 2 hours thanks to the 30W charger that it comes with.

    Conclusion

    The ASUS ROG Phone II can be a divisive smartphone. It is one of the most powerful smartphones out there in terms of sheer processing performance and gaming experience. It is also lacking in other departments such as camera performance.

    Let’s get it out of the way, the ASUS ROG Phone II is not a smartphone for everybody. It’s not a smartphone for photographers nor those who want a daily driver that will perform well in all aspects.

    It is, however, the definite gaming smartphone of this year. With top-notch performance that rivals no other and a 120Hz screen to display all the gaming goodness, the ASUS ROG Phone II can give the best gaming experience in a smartphone yet.

    Priced at PhP 49,995, the ASUS ROG Phone II perhaps isn’t the wisest smartphone to buy in the market. But with tons of quality of live improvements in gaming, tons of peripherals to dial-in your preferred experience, as well as an unparalleled performance, we’re still giving the ASUS ROG Phone II the Hungry Geeks Approved seal.

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