Asus ROG review: Pricey, but worthy smartphone for digital gamers on the go

Launched earlier this year in Taiwan, the Asus ROG smartphone recently came to the India market, becoming the first performance-centric gaming device aimed at the country’s niche gamer community. If you are fond of digital gaming, you might already know about the Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand. The Asus ROG phone has the same DNA that runs across full-fledged ROG-branded like laptops or desktops.

True, most flagship devices of the current generation are able to deliver good gaming performance. But the Asus ROG phone is as much about the overall gaming experience as it is about performance. Speaking of performance, even six months after its international launch, the ROG phone remains the most powerful Android smartphone in the market. It has Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip with a maximum operating frequency of 2.96GHz — that is 200MHz more than the regular Snapdragon 845 chip that powers most current-generation flagship smartphones.

Technical specifications
Display 6-inch fullHD+ (18:9 aspect ratio), Gorilla Glass 6
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Rear camera 12MP of f/1.8 aperture, 4-axis OIS, dual pixel PDAF and an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens
Front camera 8MP of f/2.0 aperture
Battery 4,000 mAh

What’s more, it’s not just the processor — everything in the Asus ROG phone seems to justify its gaming smartphone tag. The phone boasts a 6-inch AMOLED screen of fullHD+ (2160 x 1080) resolution, stretched in a tall 18:9 aspect ratio to show more on-screen content than the traditional 16:9 screens. The screen has a 90Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time which might go unnoticed during regular day-to-day operations but makes a visible positive impact during in-game sessions. The display also supports the high-dynamic-range (HDR) technology, which improves playback, especially for games like PUBG, by rendering dark areas that otherwise do not appear properly.

The Asus ROG phone has a pressure-sensitive chassis with active sensors on the lower left and right sides, and the upper-right side. In vertical orientation, pressing the lower left and right sides of the chassis simultaneously enables the X-mode, which optimises game-data processing performance and frees up the RAM to dedicate more resources to the game. Unlike in the vertical mode, when you hold the phone horizontally, the pressure sensors on the sides of the chassis (named Air Triggers) can be assigned dedicated actions in any game to improve the gaming experience. For example, in Asphalt 9: Legends, the left air trigger can be assigned the role of firing up the Nitro, and the right air trigger of changing lanes. This way, with speed boost and steering set to automatic, you can play the game without having to touch the screen.

The Asus ROG phone also has the Game Genie, which shows up as part of on-screen software-based navigation keys. When clicked, the Game Genie slides an on-screen pop-up with four modes — Lock, no alert, real-time info and lock brightness. Additionally, there are six key settings — speed up, air triggers, macro, record, live and display scaling.

The lock mode disables the navigation keys and makes it convenient to play games without the fear of accidently pressing the home, back or recent key. The ‘no alert’ mode disables and mutes texts and app notifications from appearing on the screen. It, however, shows incoming call alerts with caller information and contact number. The ‘real-time info’ mode shows a thin strip on the display with information such as CPU, GPU usage, temperature, battery percentage and FPS (frames per second) details. The lock brightness mode bypasses the automatic brightness setting. It fixes the brightness to a level so that you can continue playing game without display brightness changing based on ambient light conditions.

The speed-up quick setting in the Game Genie frees up hardware resources so that the game continues to run without any hiccups. Air trigger settings let you customise pressure-sensitive areas on the right side of the chassis (in-built sonic sensors) based on your preference or game. The macro setting records action and lets you repeat them automatically in game playback. Live setting allows you to live stream your gaming playback on YouTube, Twitch, etc.

There is a lot that has been made part of the Asus ROG to make it an all-rounder gaming smartphone, especially the accessories. The phone comes bundled with AeroActive cooler, which connects with the phone through secondary USB type-C port that is there on the left side of the chassis. The cooler brings down the phone’s on-surface temperature, making it convenient to play games for extended hours.

Though there is nothing to not like in this phone as a gaming device, it has a dual-camera set-up that does not go well with the phone’s premium tag. The camera supports artificial intelligence-based automatic scene selection, and it has several modes such as auto HDR and manual, but the overall imaging capabilities are mediocre and not in line with other premium offerings.

Priced at Rs 69,999, the phone seems to be on the pricier side. However, if you are a die-hard gamer and it’s not money that concerns you too much, the Asus ROG phone can be a delight for you. From HDR display to front-firing stereo speakers, pressure-sensitive chassis and especially designed gaming features make this a true gaming smartphones.


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