Asus ROG Phone II first impressions: Going all out in the smartphone spec race

The ROG Phone II sports the world’s first true 10-bit HDR display panel that supports 1.07 billion colours


Gaming smartphones made their way into the Indian market quite some time ago, providing consumers with several options to choose from. One of the most prominent in that segment is the Asus ROG Phone, the second generation of which has finally arrived in the country following its launch in China.

 Asus ROG Phone II first impressions: Going all out in the smartphone spec race

Asus ROG Phone II. Image: tech2/Omkar Patne.

It’s laden with a lot of gamer-y aesthetics, including RGB lighting on the rear, just like in the previous version. While it could be a nightmare for minimalists, I didn’t find the design to be overwhelming. The device is certainly chunky considering the big display and the massive battery capacity. However, I got used to it after using the device for some time.

While it did feel bulky when held in one hand, it actually felt comfortable when I held the device with both hands in the horizontal position. The extra weight gives it a more ergonomic feel when you’re vigorously tapping and swiping on the screen during intense gaming sessions.

A true spec monster, in a good way

While designing the ROG Phone II, Asus probably made a list of the best hardware they could think off and decidede to stuff it all into a single phone. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ is a special edition of the SoC that offers a 15 percent increase in graphics performance. It also packs in 12 GB of RAM and up to 1 TB of UFS 3,0 storage, leaving no room for bottlenecks.

It comes with a 6.59-inch 120 Hz FHD+ AMOLED display that supports true 10-bit HDR, claiming to be the world’s first smartphone to do so. The device has a 240 Hz touch sampling rate with a 49 ms touch latency. For the brief couple of hours that I used the device, I was absolutely sold on the ultra-smooth refresh rate on the display. Games that support high refresh rates felt incredibly smooth, offering an enhanced gaming experience. You can switch between 60, 90 and 120 Hz from the Settings menu. Higher refresh rates will drain the battery faster, but then again, you get a huge battery.

For cameras, the rear panel has a dual-camera system with a primary 48 MP sensor and a secondary 13 MP ultra-wide sensor. On the front, there’s a 24 MP camera shooter. We didn’t get much time to take pictures outdoors but considering that it’s the same sensor from the Asus 6z, we are expecting some good results when we get the device.

There’s a massive 6,000 mAh battery packed inside that supports 25 W fast charging with support for Quick Charge 4.0. It retains a 3.5 mm headphone jack with dual front-facing stereo speakers and quad-mics for active noise-cancellation. For security, Asus has now opted for an in-display fingerprint reader.

An ecosystem of gaming accessories

The ROG Phone II already provides an advantage over playing hardcore first-person shooter games, but you can take things further by opting into its gaming accessory ecosystem. Not only do they work individually but multiple accessories can be combined together to form a sick-looking gaming contraption. I played some PUBG Mobile with and without the accessories. However, I couldn’t test any of the games that supported the 120 Hz refresh rate.

Here are the accessories that can be bought separately to work with the ROG Phone II:

  • AeroActive Cooler II
  • Aero Case
  • TwinView Dock II
  • ROG Kunai Gamepad
  • Mobile Desktop Dock
  • Pro Dock
  • WiGig Display Dock Plus
  • ROG Lighting Armor Case

I got to spend some time with most of the gaming accessories that you can check out in the video below:

Conclusion

Asus has managed to bring its ROG aesthetic into a smartphone yet again with the ROG Phone II. It maxes out on every aspect of hardware imaginable that initially actually looked like one of those wishlists of specifications I’d wanted on a smartphone. Although it’s being marketed as a gaming smartphone, it’s also one of the most powerful Android smartphones in the market currently. Looking at the specs of the display, it probably is the best out there and that's something I’m most excited about.

Being a spec monster with industry-first and unique features naturally means bringing in a high cost. Although that was the case with the original ROG Phone, the second edition changes the 'game' with its incredibly competitive price. At a starting price or Rs 37,999 for the 8 GB RAM + 128 GB storage variant, Asus is trying to give you the best that a smartphone is capable of in this year, some that not even the flagship phones out there offer. Stay tuned for our full review of the device that comes out in a few days.

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