By Azeemullah and Sarmad Sameer
The oh-so-niche mobile gaming market might finally have gotten the savior it so desperately needed. Asus, which is already quite a force in desktop gaming, is launching the first gaming phone in its lineup.
Called the ROG Phone, the phone is as different as possible compared to the company’s understated ZenFone devices. It may also be one of the first gaming phones after the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play to come with actual gaming controls, something which shows the extent of Asus’s ambition.
Design & Display
Being a gamer-oriented phone, it features a dark and “gamer-y” design which resembles gamer accessories such as headphones and gaming mice.
The rear is more interesting than the front, it features an RGB (to boost FPS /s) ASUS Logo on the rear cover alongside vents for cooling. On the front there are two aesthetically designed speaker outputs, both on the top and bottom bezel, while most of the body is glass. There’s Corning Gorilla Glass, front and rear, on top of an aluminum frame.
The display, an AMOLED panel, is an impressive FHD (1080 x 2160) unit with an aspect ratio of 18:9. But it’s not your ordinary day-to-day smartphone display, it’s a gamer-oriented one that has a refresh rate of 90 Hz for smoother animations and a response time of 1 ms. You may think its unnecessary or who needs all that. However, once you use it at 90 Hz, going back to 60 (normal phones) seems like a massive downgrade.
It measures 6-inches diagonally, has a 108.6% DCI-P3 color gamut, and supports HDR.
The audio has also been enhanced, courtesy of DTS Headphone:X™ 7.1 virtual surround-sound and 24-bit/192Khz playback.
Pressure Sensitive Zones & Other Goodies
Just like HTC’s EdgeSense, the ROG Phone also comes with pressure sensitive zones that can be squeezed to issue a mapped command. You can squeeze its edge to launch “X Mode” that turns the UI red and optimizes gaming by shutting down background tasks.
The top and bottom edge also have one, for landscape mode, called “AirTrigger”. For supported games, you can map a certain function to the virtual trigger and use it while gaming in landscape orientation.
Xiaomi’s Black Shark phone came with a gaming controller module, it had its own joystick, trigger, and buttons to simulate console-gaming on a smartphone.
Asus is taking it up a notch, and aside from its own connectable gaming controller, has introduced a number of different modular gaming accessories for the ROG Phone. These modules can be connected to the phone via a docking port at the side.
It comes with an AeroActive module, that connects to the side-mounted dock, and sucks out heat from the exit vents using its fan. The fan starts rotating when users put the phone in X Mode, by squeezing the respective pressure sensors. It also comes with its own Type-C and 3.5 mm headphone ports, gamers can plug-in their charger and headphone in these ports while gaming so that the wires don’t get in the way.
Then, there’s a GameVice controller, which provides physical gaming controls for your PUBG sessions. Coupled with the WiGig accessory, they can be used to beam your gaming sessions to a larger display.
Mobile Desktop Dock
Then, there’s the Mobile Desktop Dock, which allows you to game on a monitor, using keyboard and mouse. Finally, there’s a TwinView Dock, which adds a second display (same specs as the ROG Phone’s AMOLED panel), speakers, haptic-feedback and a 6000 mAh battery.
Pricing of any of these accessories or the phone, for that matter, is not known. However, they are set to go on sale during the third quarter of this year.
Hardware & Storage
Gaming devices always come with top-notch hardware, the ROG Phone is powered by an overclocked Snapdragon 845 processor, that runs at 2.96 GHz. Other non-gaming smartphones come with 2.8 GHz Snapdragon 845 instead. As you’d expect, RAM size is 8 GB while the graphics department is run by an Adreno 630.
Inside, it also supports vapor cooling, dubbed “GameCool” that sucks heat away from the chipset and distributes it equally throughout the internals. It comes with a massive 128 GB of internal storage, or if that isn’t enough, Asus also offers a 512 GB variant. No microSD card slot.
The cameras here are the same as those on the ZenFone 5, with a 12 + 8 MP camera setup on the back with PDAF and a LED flash. On the front is a single 8 MP shooter. No mention of face unlock.
The battery capacity of the phone is set at 4000 mAh, with support for Asus’ 20W HyperCharge tech.
As mentioned earlier, the prices haven’t been announced yet. The phone will hit the markets around 3rd quarter this year along with the above mentioned accessories.
Asus ROG Phone Specifications
- CPU: 2.96 GHz octa-core Kryo 385
- GPU: Adreno 630
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- OS: Android 8.0 Oreo
- Networks: 2G, 3G, 4G LTE
- Fingerprint scanner
- ultrasonic AirTrigger sensors
- Dual front-facing stereo speakers with smart amplifier
- DTS Headphone:X™ 7.1 virtual surround-sound
- 6.0“ 18:9 (2160×1080) AMOLED
- 90Hz refresh rate with 1ms pixel response time
- 108.6% DCI-P3 color gamut
- HDR Support
- RAM: 8 GB
- Internal: 128/512 GB
- Card slot: TBA
- Primary: 12 MP + 8 MP, LED
- Secondary: 8 MP
- Connectivity: 3 x USB-C, 802.11 AD with WiGig, headphone jack, NFC
- Battery: 4000 mAh; 20W HyperCharge (QC 3.0 supported)
- Price: TBA