In a market where many smartphones come with similar hardware and features, it’s difficult to differentiate your offering from the competition. However, Asus has managed it with the ROG Phone series so far, and the latest to join the gaming-centric series is the ROG Phone 5, which we are looking at today.
The ROG Phone 5 is tall, heavy, and has a design similar to its predecessors. The clean front has 25% thinner bezels and is dominated by the large display sans the camera notch, while the glass back features a dot-matrix illuminated ROG logo and a triple camera setup. Both the front and the back glass are protected with Corning Gorilla Glass. The front boasts the latest Gorilla Glass Victus while the rear is protected by the older Gorilla Glass 3. The shoulder button-like AirTriggers are placed on the right alongside the power and volume buttons; side-mounted Type-C, accessory connector and SIM slot on the left-hand side and another USB Type-C and 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom. Despite the height and weight, the phone feels good, albeit slippery. Asus bundles an Aero Case in the retail package.
The Asus ROG Phone 5 has a 6.78-inch Super AMOLED display that supports 2448×1080 FHD+ resolution and comes in with some interesting features to elevate the gaming and multimedia experience. The screen is amazing to look at with its vibrant colours and contrast and is HDR10+ certified, which lets you enjoy the HDR content. The phone has a fast 144Hz refresh rate for gamers with a 1ms response time, 24.3ms touch latency, and 300Hz touch sampling. Technical jargons aside, the screen ensures the player has the upper hand during a fast-paced gaming session over others.
The ROG Phone series comes with the best available SoC in the market and it’s no surprise that Asus has gone with the best in the market today – the Snapdragon 888. Coupled with 8GB or 12GB LPDDR5, the phone’s speed and responsiveness are clear. There’s no external storage, but Asus packs 128GB or 256GB of internal UFS 3.1 storage that enables better IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) performance and adds to the phone’s speedy nature. Connectivity-wise, the ROG Phone 5 supports 5G (which is non-existent in India right now) and you can take advantage of the Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard for a stable Wi-Fi connection and HyperFusion technology that lets you connect to a Wi-Fi and mobile network and route the data via the best connection.
The phone’s 6000mAh battery — which is two 3000mAh batteries connected — is more than enough to last a day with moderate use. Asus claims to have two batteries with MMT tech that helps to keep the temperature in check and reduces battery degradation. The ROG Phone 5 supports a charging speed of up to 65W, but Asus bundles a 30W charger along with the phone. To prolong the life of the battery, the phone also comes with software innovation like custom charging the battery to a certain limit, trickle charging and scheduled charging.
The audio on the ROG Phone is known as GameFX. The system is equipped with two front-facing loudspeakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack and support for Hi-res audio. The loudspeaker output is good but gets unexpectedly loud when you increase the volume over 80%. It’s not a major issue, but the volume jump from the previous level to the current one is uneven.
The ROG Phone 5 comes with a triple camera setup – 64MP main sensor, 13MP ultra-wide and 5MP macro. On paper, this seems like a good combo, but the phone’s camera performance is underwhelming. You can take passable shots but expect little from it. The front has a 24MP sensor for selfies.
But how capable is ROG Phone 5 while playing games? To put it short, very well. The phone handles graphics and processing requirements without breaking a sweat and sustains high performance because of the improved thermal structure underneath. But it’s the software customisation and AirTriggers that gives the phone an upper hand. Software features like X-Mode and Armoury Crate offer customisation, right down to per-game settings, display and macro buttons and AirTriggers, mimicking the shoulder button response like in a real gaming controller.
There’s also the choice of accessories like the AeroActive Cooler 5 that comes with a fan and physical AirTrigger buttons, the ROG Kunai Gamepad 3 for the phone or a ROG clip to attach an Xbox or a PlayStation controller. The accessories have been the mainstay for the series, but compatibility across ROG Phone generations is inconsistent.
Incremental is a word that comes to mind while describing the ROG Phone 5. It’s a phone that does not disappoint when it comes to its promised performance (except the camera). However, it is also a phone that can be skipped if you own the previous ROG Phone because the advantages are minimal. The ROG Phone 5 starts from Rs. 49,999 for the base variant in India and Rs. 57,999 for the 12GB+256GB variant.