ROG is starting to evolve and change its reputation of being a gaming-centric brand with its new smartphones. The ROG Phone 3 is a gaming smartphone at its core, but it is also equally capable of taking your everyday tasks and handling like a pro. We have spent some quality time with the ROG Phone 3 to understand its pros and cons, which will help you make a decision.
Before we get to that, let us quickly give you the pricing of the ROG Phone 3. There are two variants, one with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage costs Rs 49,999 and the high-end 12GB+256GB model is priced at Rs 57,999. So the question is if it makes sense to buy the ROG Phone 3 at this price point, where brands like OnePlus and Samsung have gained a strong foothold. Let's find out.
Design and display
Asus ROG Phone 3 is one of the biggest phone we've used in a while - that's considering iPhone 11 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Even though it's huge, the size matters. The tall orientation of the phone does make the difference here and offers an easy grip. Single hand use is challenging, especially if you're not using for gaming, but the software makes it easier.
The rear design of the ROG Phone 3 is unique and compelling. The illuminating ROG logo at the centre, sharp lines that draw attention to various portions of the phone like the camera and the free ROG case, which covers parts of the phone and leaves the rest to compliment the overall design will leave you awestruck. But if you've seen the ROG Phone II, this is not too different.
The phone has been designed keeping gamers in mind. The little things that make a huge difference are the USB Type-C charging port is not at the centre to make sure you get a firm grip while gaming even if the phone is plugged into the charger. There's no 3.5mm jack, but a USB-C adaptor in the box can help you connect your wired earphones. The lack of wireless charging might be a bummer to some, but that cool RGB logo is a worthy trade-off. The RGB lighting can be customised per your taste.
The air triggers on the phone are responsive, better than what we tested in ROG Phone II. The volume and power buttons are on the right side, easily within the reach of your thumb. Overall, the design of the ROG Phone 3 will impress you.
This brings us to the most important aspect of the design, which is its 6.59-inch tall AMOLED display. There's both good and bad here. The 144Hz refresh rate with HDR 10 support makes for an excellent viewing experience and playing games. We could even use the phone under direct sunlight and there were no challenges. But the thick bezels at the top and bottom of the display looks too last-gen. The only reason to tolerate those bezels is for those dual front-firing speakers, which often let us enjoy games and videos without plugging in any earphones.
The phone is quite thick and heavy, and those binge-watching sessions will be easily felt. The weight distribution could have been better as holding it for long hours watching TV shows while in resting position can leave your shifting positions and hands.
Performance and software
There's not a shred of doubt ROG Phone 3 is the absolute best when it comes to performance. You can test the peak of Android's capabilities in this smartphone. It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus with Adreno 650 GPU, 8GB RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 storage. The ROG Phone 3 gets a custom Asus skin on top of Android 10, which makes everything look unique and refreshing.
Since ROG Phone 3 is built around gaming, let's talk about how well it does just that. We tested PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile, Asphalt with highest graphics available and it ran with ease. In fact, those air triggers added to our advantage and that 144Hz refresh rate makes things absolutely smooth. If gaming is your core requirement, you cannot go wrong with ROG Phone 3. Also, the Asus X mode is like injecting the phone with steroids.
But is just a gaming phone? Not at all. ROG Phone 3 can handle multitasking with ease, switching between emails, social media, calls, video streaming and listening to music - all on either 4G or Wi-Fi. The cellular range and Wi-Fi range is excellent. There were stutters or lags during the entire period of review.
The front-firing speakers are loud and make gaming and multimedia consumption a delight. There is no phone with speakers as great as on the ROG Phone 3.
ROG Phone 3 is an overall package for gamers and movie buffs.
There are three themes, two game-centric ones and one to bring back the good-old Android feel, which served a nice refreshment after having used the ROG theme for so long. The in-display fingerprint sensor and face unlock also work as expected.
ROG Phone 3 has a triple rear camera with 64MP IMX686 as the main sensor, 13MP with 125-degree wide-angle lens as secondary and a 5MP macro lens if you really wish to get those close-up shots. On the front, there's a 24MP selfie camera, which does a good job when clicked outdoors. The edge detection in case of portraits under indoor lighting will chop off the ear and hair strands.
The rear camera configuration might feel average for some, but it is more than capable of producing some decent images. We found the photos shot in daylight to be surprisingly good, with natural colours, excellent details and balanced dynamic range. Even the low-light mode was able to get you out of tricky situations in the dark with a decent shot. Just don't expect Pixel-level results.
Portrait shots also turned out to be on point, with edge detection and detailing of the subject. The macro shots are not as great as expected. The ROG Phone 3 has come a long way from ROG Phone II in terms of camera and finally levels up with competition so it no longer can be deemed just blind gaming phone.
Check out some camera samples to be a judge of the camera performance yourself:
Topping it all off with a 6,000mAh battery is like a heavy dessert after a satisfying buffet. Binge-watching TV shows on Amazon Prime Video was never an issue. But it surely helped to have those extra bars during a gaming marathon, when that last match on PUBG never really was the last. If core gaming is not your thing, you can go two days on a single charge with moderate use and one day with heavy use (binge-watching/gaming for hours together). So the battery is not really the concern here if you can get comfortable with 240-gram block.
ROG Phone 3 supports 30W fast charging, which we wished to have been faster, especially in the high-end model so spending nearly Rs 9,000 isn't solely for a RAM and storage upgrade. Looks like Asus is keeping some feature reserved for ROG Phone 4.
There are a lot of things going in the favour of ROG Phone 3. The pleasing design, RGB light to set the gaming mood right, 144Hz smooth display, useful air triggers for gamers without spending extra on third-party accessories, long-lasting battery, great speakers and a beastly performance make for great convincing points to spend the top dollar for this phone. But the phone is not devoid of flaws - in terms of weight, cameras being decent as compared to rivals, and charging speed could have been better.
If you ask us, ROG Phone 3 is still the go-to flagship for gamers. With the cameras improved from prevues generation and other noticeable upgrades, ROG Phone 3 is easily one of the top 5 flagships you can buy in 2020.