Asus ROG Phone First Impressions: The most gamer-friendly smartphone out there

The Asus ROG Phone is the most feature packed and also the most unique looking device out there.

Asus has finally announced its gaming-centric smartphone called the ROG Phone in India and it definitely does signal that the country's audience has become mature enough to entertain gaming smartphones. The onset and success of PUBG Mobile along with the likes of Asphalt 9 seem to be one of the main reasons that Asus thought of bringing the ROG Phone to India. It is a device unlike any other in the market and I did get to spend some time with it. The Asus ROG Phone has been launched at a price of Rs 69,999 and here are my first impressions.

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Build, Design and Display

Right off the bat, I would like to point out that the Asus ROG Phone happens to be the most aggressive looking smartphone that I've ever laid my eyes on. It clearly mimics the design of the many gaming laptops with two inlets that not there for aesthetics but are actually in place to cool down the phone during intense gaming sessions.

The ROG symbol on the phone's back is RGB lit and can change colours. There are two USB type-C ports, one placed at the bottom and the other at the side. The one on the side has been included to let you charge your phone, while you game in landscape mode so that the chord does not interfere with the grip. This USB-C port can also be used to attach the many accessories that Asus provides separately for the phone.

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design of this smartphone so that it appeals to the niche gamer audience.

On the side, there is another very cool feature called Air-Triggers, which are just two pressure sensors on the top and bottom of the phone's right side. These air triggers can be mapped in-game and they act as an extra set of buttons which can give you an advantage in a game such as PUBG. Personally, I felt that the air triggers were a bit slow to respond but I have yet to test them out thoroughly.

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

While the phone is feature packed, it does not feel that heavy or thick to hold. Inside, the phone also boasts of a vapour cooling chamber,  which is supposedly in place to deliver better performance. I will have to put this phone through the grind to find if it makes a difference in comparison to regular flagships.

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus ROG Phone with TwinView Dock. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

On the front, we see dual-speaker grills with a 6-inch 18:9 HDR-enabled AMOLED panel with a 90 Hz refresh rate. The high refresh rate does make for smooth and lag-free gaming while the reproduction of 108 percent of the DCI-P3 colour gamut on the display does bring out amazing colours. The dual front speakers happen to be pretty loud for a smartphone, which made for an immersive gaming experience during my brief hands-on.

Chipset, Storage and OS

What is a gaming phone without the highest rated performance features? Asus has actually gone into overkill mode and included a new and modified Snapdragon 845 chipset inside the ROG Phone. This SD 845 has been overclocked to give a max clock speed of 2.9 GHz, as opposed to 2.7 GHz on the normal one. Now I haven't made any comparisons of gaming on a regular SD845 and the over-clocked SD 845 on the ROG, but my full review will definitely have that.

Asus ROG Phone with TwinView Dock. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus ROG Phone with TwinView Dock. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus has included 8 GB of RAM and 512 GB of internal storage with the option of increasing the storage using a micro-SD card. In my short time using the phone I could see that the phone can handle opening multiple apps at the same time without breaking a sweat. The high internal storage means that the phone is indeed capable of storing many games. Again my full review will give the intricate details on the performance side of the phone.

The OS has actually been designed to ease your gaming experience on the device. There is an 'X-Mode' which gets activated when you squeeze the phone. This frees up RAM and clears cache to give you a smooth gaming experience and opens up a whole new window for performance customisations. Apart from that, there are a ton of other cool gaming options that I couldn't get a full measure of during my short time with the device, but my full review will detail all of them.

Asus ROG Phone X-Mode. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus ROG Phone X-Mode. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Talking about the OS on the phone in general, it looks to be quite stock, with minimal bloatware and Android 8.1 Oreo as the base. The animations looked smooth and the wallpapers looked quite exquisite and on point to what many gamers would prefer. More about that in the full review.

Camera and Battery

The camera is not perhaps the most important thing on a gaming phone and it is the same with the ROG Phone as well. Asus has employed the same camera that we have earlier seen on the Asus ZenFone 5Z, and since that camera impressed us there, I'm sure that it will be up to standards on the ROG as well.

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

The battery is one big important feature of a gaming smartphone and the ROG Phone does not come short. The phone packs in a massive 4,000 mAh battery which supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 4.0 feature. As mentioned I did not exactly spend a lot of time with the device, but I did manage to play on the phone for about 20 minutes and found that the battery had only drained by about 8 percent. A full review will show how long the phone will actually last.

Conclusion

Is the Asus ROG Phone any special from a regular premium Android smartphone?

With its huge price tag and niche appeal, there will certainly not be many buyers for this phone. But for those who really are into mobile gaming, this really looks to be a device which promises a lot. What makes this phone different from the rest are the sheer amount of peripherals that Asus has cooked up, which range from a dock to connect a keyboard, mouse, a 4K display to a split screen attachment, which will let you play and simultaneously stream the game as well.

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Asus ROG Phone. Image credit: tech2/Kshitij Pujari

Peripherals aside, the ROG Phone is the most feature-packed and also the most unique looking device out there. But since most other Android smartphones can run these games well, the main question here is, whether the ROG Phone can add to the gaming experience that the competition is already capable of.  And this is why I recommend that you wait for my review before you take the leap and buy one.

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