The ROG brand name, short for Republic Of Gamers is ASUS’ premier gaming division that creates powerful beasts that is designed with gamers in mind. Everything they do is gaming centric. So far though they have only gone and done PCs and PC peripherals. Now they jumped on the mobile bandwagon and introduced the ASUS ROG Phone.
The ASUS ROG Phone is one of the most anticipated smartphone of 2018 if not the most anticipated gaming focused smartphone so far. From launch and spec sheet we know that the gaming smartphone is built with a very special edition of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 that can be pushed even further to heat the smartphone up faster and kill its battery quicker. The result is a faster performing CPU and GPU that is optimised to run any sort of games as smoothly as it can. That is also why you get two big ventilation holes at the back of the device.
Unlike any other gaming smartphones as well this thing is built for an experience. The box that this comes in really adds value to the unboxing experience of this beast of a thing. That weird triangular box thing is a behemoth of smartphone boxes. It is at least two times larger than the average smartphone box like the ASUS ZenFone 5. It is unique though and that is the name of the game. The Malaysian version is also supposed to have its case bundled in the box. The one we have here though does not.
When you open the box, it is quite obvious where they want to put your attention at. The device is placed face down which also means that you see the back of the device first. That may not be a bad thing though; it is quite a looker. The glass back that is interrupted by a sharp angular cut that feels like aluminium is beautiful with the ROG-ish pattern underneath. The fingerprint sensor and the dual-cameras’ housing are even shaped in an asymmetrical hexagon to match that sharp, edgy, angular look that the design has.
Pick it up and you will feel its heft. It is heavier than plenty of the average smartphones out there. It is thicker too, to accommodate the cooling mechanism that this thing needs. The power button feels a little low on the side of the body which takes some getting used to. The device feels good in the hands, no doubt. The only issue now is the odd lump that the aluminium plate creates. It is not uncomfortable, it is more uncanny and weird since smartphones these days stick to a single material at the back.
That said though this is, in our opinions at least, one of the most exciting looking devices in the market. With all the sharp angles and cut-offs, mixed with the rounded edges of the glass back, the black aluminium frames, some orange accents here and there, the RGB in the shape of the ROG eye, the full ROG branding, and the circuitry decor; this could look really messy. It does not though, it looks properly good; odd, but good. The only issue here is probably the off-set fingerprint sensor, which is already nitpicking.
The start-up sequence is one of the best things about turning this smartphone on. If you owned or used an ROG PC before it is instantly recognisable. It is also adds one additional cool point to the ROG Phone.
The Android 8.1.0 Oreo on the ROG Phone actually looks pretty much stock except for the whole theme of it. It is ROG’s very own overlay software on top though with their very dark theme that suits that gaming look. The setting up process is pretty much general until they ask you to activate Air Triggers, which activates the X Mode. In layman terms that is the gaming mode where everything is turned up to 11. Means you pretty much get maximum power in maximum attack mode to ensure your games run as smoothly as a hot knife through butter. You know you are in that mode too because everything on the display now has a red accents.
The Full HD+ display looks crisp and nice with really poppy colours on first impressions. We found the settings for the refresh rate and turned it to 90Hz making every look extra snappy and smooth. This display paired to the DTS Headphone X should make it a real gaming treat. I personally did not try the gaming aspect within the 24-hours though due to the busy schedules.
Battery life is actually nothing short of impressive. This device actually lasts a whole day even with all the first set ups and all the other downloads going. That was one thing that caught us off guard. The fast charger works exactly it is supposed to. The nice thing about this device is also why people might want to buy it in the first place; side charging. You can pull out a silicon sleeve to uncover a side port that you can use to either charge your smartphone or attach your included cooling fan to the smartphone which has a USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm jack anyway. That also means no more holding your smartphone awkwardly in gaming sessions or even when watching Netflix.
The first 24-hours with this little beast has been nothing short of impressive. It is easily one of our most impressive devices within our short 24-hours of using it. The camera may be ripped off a ZenFone 5 which means low-light performance might be an issue. We have yet to test the cameras though, but who cares about the camera when you use this smartphone. All you want from this device is the ultimate portable gaming machine. On that front, it seems like the ROG Phone fits the bill. Should you buy this smartphone? Wait for the full review and find out.
Also published on Medium.