ASUS ROG Phone First Impressions & Hands-On

The ROG phone took center stage at Computex last week. The announcement stole the spotlight from before the event as it had the specifications to be a true gaming phone while hitting all the right notes when it came to everyday performance. We were lucky enough to get some hands on time with the Republic of Gamers Phone; to summarise the experince, it’s pretty darn good.

Designed for Gamers with Universal Appeal

The ROG Phone has all the design queues you’d expect from a piece of gaming hardware. It’s rugged with hard lines and angles. That said, the overall package will appeal to more than just gamers in every way. The overall design is clean, and has a finish that will ensure the phone stands out in everyway – and that’s not a bad thing. It has got a unique feel to the design that gives it universal appeal.

While the overalll design is universal, ASUS has thought long and hard about the design of the ROG Phone. The attention to detail from the design team is apparent in the small design flairs that embellish the phone. Lines that guide your eye and highlight the natural lines of the design are one of the most obvious. The lines give the ROG Phone a sense of adventure and life that many other devices on the market are lacking. This is juxtaposed by the  Republic of Gamers logo emblazoned on the back of the device. The fact that this logo has RGB functionality breaths life into the overall design of the phone.

That said, what’s important about a phone isn’t its look; it’s the feel and ergonomics of it. While the rugged design of the ROG phone may make the device look a little uncomfortable and clunky to hold, its actual feel is the total opposite. The phone sits nicely in the hand. Holding the ROG phone and manuevering around the interface in one hand is easy and comfortable. However, the size can be a little daunting to people with smaller hands. Haivng the phone heat up is also not really an issue thanks to the aesthetically cohesive vent system that in the ROG Phone.

The interface of ROG Phone is quite minimalist but is as gamer-centric as the rest of the phone. The design stays true to the aethetic of ASUS’s Republic of Gamers brand. Triggering between blue and red as the main colour depending on whether the X-mode is turned on. The skin runs atop Android 8.1 and comes with all the hallmarks that you’d expect from the operating system. Of course, these features are all skinned to fit the ROG brand.

Seamless Integrations into Peripherals

The ROG phone isn’t just a phone. It’s a device made for gamers to excel at mobile gaming. With mainstream titles such as PUBG and Fortnight entering the mobile space, they’ve carved out a niche which fits the ROG phone perfectly. In fact, the peripherals which complement the ROG phone make it quite the contender to give the Nintendo Switch a run for its money (if the mobile gaming market hits that level).

Be that as it may, the peripherals of the ROG phone make the device more compelling and more geared for gamers than any other phone out there. The first one, which we were informed, comes in the box for the ROG Phone is the AeroActive Cooler. This Cooler hooks into the phone via the side mounted USB-C port. It provides an extra boost of colling power which comes in handy when you’re playing resource intensive games. That said, the AeroActive cooler doesn’t just take up the USB-C slot. It allows you to hook into the charger for continuous power while gaming.

In addition to this, the ROG Phone is also compatible with the GameVice controller which clamps the device and connects to it viaq the USB-C port on the bottom of the device – yes, there is more than one USB-C per on the ROG Phone. The GameVice controller adds Land R bumpers, gaming buttons and analog sticks. It also plays nice with the ASUS WiGig receiver for streaming to your television. The response on both the phone and the TV are quick and seamless. In fact, it feels pretty natural for an add-on peripheral.

If that’s not enough, you can turn the ROG Phone into an NVIDIA Shield with the TwinView dock. This has to be my favourite peripheral for the ROG Phone. It not only adds another screen for play ala the Nintendo 3DS it also packs a 6,000mAh battery inside. So, the peripheral naturally charges the phone while it’s docked. That said, the second screen also needs power from the 6,000mAh battery.

If on the go gaming isn’t enough, you can plug the ROG Phone in for a full desktop experience. While this mode seems to need a little more optimisation, it definitely brings a desktop experince to mobile gaming. With the number of ports on the dock, you’ll be able to plug your USB keyboard and mouse into the dock.

Seems powerful, but it’s too early to tell

The ROG Phone has to be one of the best optimised phones for gaming. It’s nice to use and fits seamlessly into the hand. The speed-binned Snapdragon 845 is definitely a processor which brings a whole truck load of performance capabilities to the table. Paired with the 8GB of RAM and UFS 2.1 memory which comes with the phone, it’s hard to tell if there will be another viable competitor in the market for a long while. The phone is definitely a compelling option for those looking for power packed flagship class device.

That said, while the ROG phone gives quite the first impresion; it’s a little hard to say how well it will do in the wild. We’ll give you our full review once we have our hands on the device.


Also published on Medium.

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