Some of the popular notions about gaming smartphones are that they are expensive, weird looking and too bulky to carry around. But that's not true anymore, at least in the case of Asus ROG Phone II, which is breaking the gaming phone stereotype.
Asus recently launched the ROG Phone 2 in India starting at Rs 37,999 for the 8GB+128GB configuration, whereas the high-end 12GB+512GB model is priced high at Rs 59,999. We have been using the base and affordable variant of the ROG Phone 2, which is likely to attract the masses rather than the high-end model, which will find its niche among performance-hungry users.
In our first impressions about the ROG Phone 2, we noted that Asus has nailed it on the design front, challenging the popular notion that gaming-centric gadgets needn't be practical for day-to-day use. Of course, the ROG Phone 2 has its own gaming elements, but it doesn't get in the way of elegant and practical daily use. Since we've covered most of the design aspects in our previous article, we now would like to shift focus to the things that likely matter the most to buyers.
This is where the big money is. ROG Phone 2, touted as the gaming smartphone that it is, doesn't compromise on the performance. The Armoury Crate in the phone, where all games are stored and powered up with high efficiency and smooth functioning, brings out the best gaming experience. We had the Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile on the device for testing purposes and not once we were disappointed with the gameplay.
ROG Phone 2 handled heavy performance apps with ease and having settings like the X-Mode only adds more stars to the gaming experience on the device. The dedicated Air Triggers 2 are more responsive than ever and worked in our favour in both the games. There's a slide menu while running the game, which gives quick access to various game-related settings, like locking brightness, activating Air Triggers, live-streaming, screen recording, network diagnostics and much more. Overall, gaming on ROG Phone 2 couldn't be better.
Given how efficiently ROG Phone 2 handles high-GPU games like Asphalt and PUBG, there was little doubt other day-to-day apps would have any problem running. From streaming endlessly on Amazon Prime Video, multitasking between multiple apps at once, browsing the internet at optimum speeds, to handling tasks as basic as calls and video conferencing was a breeze on ROG Phone 2.
tall-display with noticeable bezels on the top and the bottom seems to add to the height of the phone, but the presence of dual front-facing speakers make up for their presence. One of the best things I personally loved in the ROG Phone 2 is just how good the front speakers are, whether you are gaming or watching videos in a busy room or street. Finally, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack, which finally allowed me to connect my gaming headset.
Even though the handset came with Full HD+ display, I didn't feel I was missing out on much as the 120Hz refresh rate made everything so smooth. There is no room for criticism in the ROG Phone 2 as far as the performance is concerned.
ROG Phone 2 is a battery behemoth. With a massive 6,000mAh battery, ROG Phone 2 manages to survive longer than any premium phone we've used of late. But what really struck me is the evenly-distributed weight, making the phone surprisingly lighter than what I had expected. As for the battery life, you can easily go for 2 days on a single charge. But when we tested with heavy users in mind, the ROG Phone 2 lasted 24 hours with an on-screen time of more than 7 hours. This involved playing games, for at least two hours, streaming videos and TV shows, calls and constant IM usage along with social media browsing. The display was set to 120Hz for the entire duration of the review, but users could bring it down to extend the battery life.
As impressed as I was with that ever-lasting battery, I couldn't help but cringe on how long it would take to charge the phone. With a 10W charging adapter in the box, Asus doesn't do full justice. But there's a 40W fast charger available for Rs 1,999, which we felt like a mandatory accessory if you really don't have much time on your hands to sit for more than 2 hours while the battery charges to full.
While some might think a gaming phone doesn't do much on the camera front, ROG Phone 2 will prove you wrong. It might not be the best camera phone out there, even in its price range, but it surely doesn't draw major criticism. With a dual-camera setup at the back, combining 48MP and 13MP 125-degree ultra-wide-angle lenses, the results are acceptable.
ROG Phone 2 manages excellent shots during the day and dramatic wide-angle shots. There's no noticeable distortion on the edges of an ultra-wide shot, but the quality doesn't quite match the images shot from the primary lens. The colours are well balanced and details are retained responsibly to produce sharp images. In low-light, the camera's Night Mode does a fairly decent job, but the grains are not eliminated entirely in challenging lighting conditions.
The selfies are taken care of by a 24MP sensor, which produces fairly decent photos to satisfy your needs. The selfies shot on ROG Phone 2 are more bright than vibrant, which might match the taste of few. There's a portrait mode in the selfie camera, which does a good job even though there were some inconsistencies in differentiating the subject in the foreground with the background.
Check out some samples straight out of ROG Phone 2 camera roll:
ROG Phone 2 comes with an in-display fingerprint scanner and a Face Unlock feature, both of which work to the best of their capabilities and match the industry standards. There were no inaccurate readings by either of the security features, making it easier to unlock the device with a glance or a tap.
The secondary Type-C port on the left side of the phone is used for accessories, which is a thoughtful integration to attract gamers. The UI is clean and has a near-stock experience with the perfect ROG theme to attract gamers. The animations are quick and the overall UI doesn't lag or go unresponsive. Of late, Asus' software game is at its top, which is reflected in the ROG Phone 2.
There are some features worth checking out in the ROG Phone 2, especially the AudioWizard to fine-tune the audio output, X Mode, System Lighting to light up the ROG logo at the back, Air Triggers, which can be customised to your pressure touch, and more.
Is it worth buying?
This is the biggest question in the end. Despite offering some of the most unique and useful features, is ROG Phone 2 worth buying. After only spending a week with the phone, we are convinced that it is not just a gaming smartphone, but it can also be of great use for non-gamers. There's so much in ROG Phone 2 that one can benefit from and the pricing of the 8GB+128GB variant is one of the great reasons why it's a no-brainer flagship.
The areas where Asus struggles is the brand presence of ROG in the Indian smartphone market. OnePlus is highly popular in the premium smartphone category and Asus ROG joins the league. Convincing OnePlus buyers to go for ROG Phone 2 is going to be a hard sell, mainly because of the former's brand presence and likeness towards it. But ROG Phone 2 makes for a great value phone if you do not consider a high resale price and the lack of brand presence in India.
When we say a great value purchase, we are talking about the 8GB+128GB model at R 37,999 as the 12GB+512GB is priced too high at Rs 59,999. You get all the features of the high-end variant, except for the extra RAM and storage. So, we'd strongly suggest the base model over the high-end one.