When gaming phones showed up this May 2018 at Computex 2018, ASUS shocked the whole Computex showroom in how the company was able to latch on a gaming-oriented phone.

Our first impressions give the ROG phone its glory and beautiful packaging. The ROG phone is definitely a stunner in first looks, its visual identity of being part of the ROG family is unmistaken but does it have the right to called a “Gaming” phone? Here’s our full review

ROG Phone Specifications

Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (Binned) 2.96GHz
Screen 6.0-inch FullHD+, AMOLED, 90Hz, 108% DCI-P3, HDR
RAM 8GB
OS Android 8.1 Oreo
Rear Camera 12MP f/1.8 + 8MP f/2.2
Front Camera 8MP f/2.0
Storage Up to 512GB
Network 4G, LTE
Connectivity Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, A-GPS, USB Type-C
Others + Accessories Vapor Chamber Cooling, TwinView Dock, WiGig Dock, Desktop Dock
Battery 4,000mAh, Quick Charge 3.0

Packaging 

From the box itself, the ROG phone isn’t any ordinary phone as its encased in a triangular hexagon that rolls out to reveal three segments, the phone, aero active cooler dock, and the charger, manual and braided Type-C cable.

What’s interesting in the package is the level of detail ASUS has given to the product. Gone are the white plain box of other smartphone brands you’ve always seen and welcomed into a new dimension of packaging. Honestly, this is one of the best packagings I’ve seen on a smartphone in a long time. Given our hands-on for phones, unboxing has been a delight with the ROG phone.

Design

Just one look you will see the ROG phone is a different guy among the pack, at the strong lines and neat but clean Mayan patterns similar to ROG laptops are dominant at the back. The highlight is the horizontal orientation of the ROG logo along with the unorthodox shape of the glass back as its accompanied with a plastic section with two grills looking like a vent.

Upon holding the ROG phone is a unique feeling, its just…premium with a sense of style. Now using a gaming phone for the first time is quite a feeling, we’ve experience ROG products before such as laptops, motherboards, heck even a router but never to something this small and personal.

Holding the ROG phone with its metal sides are solid and sturdy, the concave shapes make a great groove along with the uneven back to feel. We’re actually glad that we’re knowing that we’re actually holding the phone at the right orientation without holding it, as compared to phones with dual sided mirror finishes.

The bottom contains the primary USB Type C for charging with a headphone jack, nothing special here.

But the left side contains another dual Type-C slot for the expansion pods of the ROG phone, it serves for the accessories such as the aero cool dock and other accessories like the gaming controller etc. The grooves are actually quite sharp so make sure to put back the rubber cap if you’re not using it.

Don’t forget to NEVER plug in a Type-C charger at the orange pin port or else you might brick your ROG Phone forever. We suddenly remember years before like the PadFone had a special port like this for the tablet attachment, seems ASUS is a leader of expansion docks until now.

But with all the speculations last 2014 of a ROG gaming phone, I’m finally glad to see the “Republic of Gamers” print at the back of the phone officially printed. Along with it is the ROG logo with of course Aura sync.

The front contains the dual front firing speakers and the 6″ 18:9 aspect ratio display. Yes, no notches here are the company focused on gaming and its a pleasant sight to see as a refreshing sight among 2018’s notch flooded smartphones. With gaming on-hand, ROG Phone focused on the proper aspect ration of laying space for your thumb while gaming.

The Screen is a must standard today

What’s amazing is the visuals for the ROG Phone, at a 90hz screen refresh rate its ability to do fluid speed transition similar to the iPad Pro 120hz, something that you still rarely see in smartphones today. Plus, its even AMOLED with a full HD resolution for clarity, we’re glad that ROG opted a full HD resolution instead of a 2k screen as its much better for the battery and barely gives a difference with the naked eye.

Playing games can be forced to 90Hz refresh rate using the ROG Center, it enables to push the applications to push more rendering and thus give a prediction of each frame to become more fluid. In our experience with Ragnarok Mobile, it is completely different as compared to any other smartphone or even to the iPad Pro.

While not all games right now are even more than 60Hz in refresh rate, we belive that the demand for this kind of mobile gaming will be bigger this 2019. For now, Free Fire which is a partner of ROG is the best game you’ll be able to us without hiccups.

The Gaming Experience

With the great visuals, fast processor, ridiculously loud front firing speakers and ergonomic handling alone is enough to impress serious gamers, or even power users alone.

We’re impressed with the air triggers where ROG was able to squeeze every feature for the benefit of gaming. With the pressure-sensitive sensors for acting as L1 and R1, we think its a great addition to differentiating ROG Phone further to the pack.

The Binned Snapdragon 845 might sound amazing, but it doesn’t give a punch to be noticeable as mobile games till now aren’t that heavy in requirements. So far, mobile games today haven’t fully maximized graphics cards to its potential thus, we would like to see how the ROG Phone will be able to take care of future games.

Simply put, gaming with the ROG phone is bouncier, more immersive, and even eye-catching thanks to that RGB ROG logo at the middle. We just feel more powerful, confident in gaming knowing that you’re holding a technological marvel meant for gaming.

Battery Life and Charging

Sleek enough, the 4,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 can give the ROG phone juice for almost a day. Though the Snapdragon 845 processor is already reputable to be power efficient, we think ASUS’ Zen UI just have enough features going that takes a toll on the battery.

Charging takes more than 1 hour and 30 minutes in our time with the ROG Phone, while mostly leaving the house 8am and already depleted by 6pm is an unpleasant sight. Hopefully, ASUS can address this issue with more efficient battery management through software updates.

More importantly, how’s gaming time? We were able to squeeze 3.5 hours of Ragnarok Mobile with the Aero Cool attachment before asking for a charger, but mind you that this is with the attachment. So we guess it can jump to 5 hours or more with just the phone itself.

Signal is ridiculous

When in places where other phones doesn’t have signal like basement parkings or even high rise buildings, the ROG Phone was still able to get a decent 3G signal for light messaging. A good indication that until now that ASUS phones have great signal receivers, it might not be a big deal when you’re in the metro but this is usefull in places like provinces.

ROG X UI is still Zen UI

The ROG Phone has a special interface that matches the vibe of the phone, it even has a special ROG Game Center to monitor the phone’s statistics and even activate X mode by squeezing the air triggers for better performance.

But we can’t help out but compare to ASUS’ ZenUI which is plagued with slowness and imperfections. We think the same still runs here especially with out short battery life, we hope ASUS can simply adapt a cleaner UI with an efficient processing for a better battery experience.

Aero Cool Attachment

One of the attachments the ROG phone includes is the Aero Cool attachment, it’s mean to increase intake of air for better cooling at the back. But there isn’t any intake towards inside the phone, meaning its just cooling the exterior of the phone.

The bottom part even still has the glowing ROG logo to keep the aesthetics complete, but the question is…is it even working? We shall say yes in a way, one is that its good in the hands especially at long sessions of gaming as it also cools your hand. On the other hand, it draws up too much battery power that we were only able to do 2.5 hours of non-stop gaming via Ragnarok online and fire strike.

Initially, it sounds gimmicky, but I should say its 50-50 here. For cooling the phone it’s rather minimal, but more of giving additional airflow for the hands while gaming and a better grip while at it.

We’re glad to see that ROG is taking care of every step of the way as even the Aero Cool attachment is updated in software.

The camera is secondary but still important

When gaming is on the focus, the camera department is, fortunately, isn’t left out by ROG since this phone surprisingly can shoot good photos. The 12MP f1.7 dual pixel main rear camera and secondary 8mp wide angle camera are a delight in combination, even night shots are good.

This is just the Start of True Gaming Smartphones

There is no doubt that the ROG phone can do gaming, we can vouch for that with a no-brainer, but it exceeds the expectations for a 2018 phone with all the combinations such as the 90Hz screen, Air Triggers, Accessories and even the ergonomics behind developing this phone.

Overall, the ROG phone is a tough decision to a phone compared like to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but with gaming in-mind or even as a fan of the ROG then you’re in for a treat that not even Huawei, Apple, Samsung can provide right now.

We say, don’t simply compare apples to apples the ROG phone against the mass market flagship phones of 2018. ROG is the right company to lead the gaming pack for mobile gaming this 2018, but we think the market is still young for smartphone evolutions like this including the Philippines and it will take some time before mobile gaming can truly emerge as the next big thing like selfies or videos.

This is why we give the ROG phone our 100% Gaming Smartphone award, it’s definitely a leader of its own league and a trendsetter in how the gaming smartphone should be.

So for Php49,995, the ROG Phone is yours with 8GB RAM and 128GB Storage, while a more premium option of Php61,995 for Php8GB RAM and 512GB Storage.

What we love

  • 90Hz AMOLED Screen
  • Unique and well thought of design and packaging
  • Gaming-centric features
  • ROG Branding
  • Great signal antennas
  • Quick Charge is widely capable

What can be improved

  • UI can still improve battery management
  • Sharp edges in the dock slot
  • Said to be Corning Glass Protection 6 but feels like 5
  • Battery Life is average

Additionally, ASUS and ROG with their gaming direction and the new ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 is a good addition but still needs the purpose of what’s a good “Gaming” among other phones. Simply put, other smartphone brands can simply copy ASUS with specs, design-like, but what can they do that other brands can’t, that what ASUS needs to prove this 2019.

 

 

 

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