Asus is an underdog in the premium smartphone business, but the ROG Phone series deserves much more attention than it gets. Continuing the game-changing tradition in the premium phone industry, Asus unveiled the latest ROG Phone 2 (ROG Phone II) to reimagine what a smartphone can do, not just in the gaming space, but in overall aspects.
ROG Phone 2 is a marked improvement over its predecessor, the original ROG Phone, giving fans a much-needed flagship despite seeing incredibly great phones from rivals. From OnePlus 7 Pro to Realme X and Redmi K20 Pro, we've been treated with the best flagships on an approachable budget. What ROG Phone 2 offers is beyond imagination, but the pricing of the phone, which is yet to be revealed, will be a key factor in the phone's success.
Asus conducted a closed-door demonstration of ROG Phone 2 to give early hands-on experience with the phone. This helped us understand the true potential of the latest flagship, as experience trumps looking at the specs. But here's a look at what the phone has to offer before we jump to our first impressions:
ROG Phone 2: Key specs
Display: 6.59-inch Full HD+ AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate, Gorilla Glass 6
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus (2.96GHz)
GPU: Adreno 640
RAM: up to 12GB
ROM: 128GB/512GB UFS 3.0
Camera: 48MP+13MP primary, 24MP front-facing camera
Battery: 6,000mAh with 30W HyperCharge support
UI: Android Pie-based ROG UI
Add-ons: In-display fingerprint sensor, Ultrasonic AirTrigger sensors, NFC, Type-C, 3.5mm jack, dual front speakers with DTS:X Ultra, ARCore
Everything about the ROG Phone 2 is beautifully crafted to perfection. From that iconic ROG logo illuminating at the back to razor cut design and handy grip, Asus as excelled at the level of commitment towards its ROG Phone-series. From the brief time I got to spend with the ROG Phone 2, I was convinced by the overall design and the form factor, making it suitable for playing games, binge-watching media and just using it as a smartphone on a day-to-day basis.
The glass sandwich design gives the phone a premium feel. The 6.59-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate and lowest-ever 49ms touch latency for that extra fluidic user experience. The display supports 10-bit HDR and has a Gorilla Glass 6 protection. After having experienced OnePlus 7 Pro's 90Hz display panel, the ROG Phone 2's 120Hz display is I feel the benchmark for upcoming flagships. Played a brief session of PUBG Mobile and it felt smooth, real smooth, thanks to the game's upped support for 60Hz refresh rate.
At the demo, Asus showed how the ROG Phone 2 is built from the ground up, right from the aluminium chassis to the positioning of vibrating motors (2 of those) and a massive battery. Asus surely didn't cut any corners for its ROG Phone 2.
The interesting aspects of the phone's construction showed how Asus is tackling the heating problem with a three-layer thermal cooling system in place. There is a 3D vapour cool system, heat sink and vents on the back cover for heat dissipation to maintain a cool temperature. If that's not enough, there's an external fan, which can be bought separately, that fixes at the back of the phone to prevent thermal throttling. I tested the fan and it's so silent you'll hardly notice its presence.
Like the original ROG Phone, the new flagship comes with improved AirTriggers, which are actually positioned comfortably within the reach of index fingers. They recognise touch as well as swipes and they work great during intense gaming sessions. Adding more value to the phone, Asus added four microphones with independent noise cancelling, 5 magnet speakers with DTS X support on external stereos, a 3.5mm headphone jack and 4 Wi-Fi antennas located in different positions so you do not block signals at any point in time.
The thoughtful integration of so many features is simply brilliant. Each feature has a practical value rather than just being a gimmick, which users tend to use occasionally.
ROG Phone 2 also comes with a dual rear camera setup identical to Asus 6Z (Review), combining 48MP and 13MP 125-degree wide-angle lenses and on the front is a 24MP snapper. What really surprised me is that the phone packs a 6,000mAh battery, but it feels so compact and light you'll have to see it to believe it. The weight is spread out evenly to give users a comfortable grip and I didn't even feel the phone was too thick. It weighs 240grams and measures 9.98mm at its thickest point.
If you're worried charging 6,000mAh battery would take forever, you'll be at ease with the inclusion of ROG HyperCharge 30W fast-charging support. According to the company, the phone can charge a 4,000mAh worth battery out of 6,000mAh in less than an hour. We will be testing it out, just like other parameters of the phone, during our review.
We are keen to test out the performance bit of the ROG Phone 2 as it is the first one to come with Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset clocking at 2.9GHz instead of 2.84GHz. The graphics are also enhanced with Adreno 640 (675MHz), which is 15 percent more than Snapdragon 855. Based on my brief time with the phone, I felt the ROG Phone 2 can handle anything you throw at it with ease.
After spending some quality time with the ROG Phone 2, I'd only scratched the surface. Asus wants to position the ROG Phone 2 as a flagship smartphone with the added advantage of uncompromised gaming and it appears to have nailed it. For core gamers, there two main accessories - backward and forward compatible - launched alongside ROG Phone 2. They are:
TwinView Dock II: Adds a secondary display, also with 120Hz/1ms touchscreen, a cooling fan and an independent 5,000mAh battery supported by fast charging.
Kunai Gamepad: Fancy Nintendo Switch? ROG Kunai Gamepad transforms the ROG Phone 2 into a Switch with controls on both sides and the smartphone acting as a display. It has been designed in such a way that it can fit on the TwinView Dock II as well and give you ultimate gaming experience.
These accessories surely add value, but again, the pricing will determine their success in India. Will ROG Phone 2 make the cut? We have to wait and find out.