Asus ROG Phone 2 Review: One Mean Mobile Gaming Machine

It’s not much of a surprise to see the mobile gaming scene growing at a faster rate, and not to mention more publishers are opting to invest more in the said platform. This also means that hardware brands, specifically smartphone brands are upping their level to have a line of smartphones designed for an optimized gaming experience. And there here comes Asus making another return to the smartphone scene to release their second reincarnation of the ROG Phone that promises to put your gaming into overdrive. We did a test run on the ROG Phone II and see if this is what you would need to have the ultimate mobile gaming experience.

Before we begin, let’s take a look at the rundown of the technical specs of the ROG Phone II

Dimensions                        6.73 x 3.06 x 0.37 in

Weight                                 240 g

Display                                  AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors

1080 x 2340 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio

OS                                          Android 9.0 (Pie), ROG UI

Chipset                                 Qualcomm SDM855 Snapdragon 855+ (7 nm)

CPU                                       Octa-core

GPU                                       Adreno 640

Memory                              12GB RAM

Storage                                512GB

Rear Camera                      48MP

F1.79 aperture

6p lens

79° field of view

2nd Rear Camera             13MP, 125° ultrawide camera

Front Camera                    24MP

F2.0 aperture

27mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera

77.9° field of view

Wireless Connectivity    WLAN 802.11ad 60GHz

Bluetooth V 5.0 (EDR + A2DP), support aptX and aptX HD

Wi-Fi direct

NFC

Battery                                                 6000mAh

 

The Design

The ROG Phone 2 has this aggressive design for a futuristic look that screams “I’m a gaming device” all over it. Up in front, you have the six and a half-inch AMOLED screen with the two stereo speakers upfront, on the back it has the dual-lens rear camera, exhaust vents and the ROG logo with its Aura RGB lighting effects. Weighing at around 240 grams, the ROG Phone 2 can be a bit heavy from your typical flagship smartphones. It still has the 3.5mm audio port for those who still want to use their wired headsets for their gaming or just listening to music, 2 USB Type-C ports on the bottom and left side where it functions as a port for accessories that can be attached to the smartphone.

 

Hardware

Boasting a Snapdragon 855+, the ROG Phone 2 wouldn’t be having trouble running any kind of apps. The Adreno 640 GPU ensures that all games can be played at the highest graphical settings and at the optimal framerate. The drawback for the smartphone is the lack of expandable storage as it lacks any slots for the micro SD, but to make up for it the ROG Phone 2 features large internal storage starting with 512GB. The 12GB RAM seems like overkill as you can run multiple apps at once without any signs of lags and slowdowns, but just like in high-end PC rigs, it’s better to have more RAMs.

The AMOLED screen features HDR display for more vibrant colors along with the 120Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time, making it an optimal display for games. It also has the Gorilla Glass 6 to ensure the screen is well protected from scratches and bumps that could easily leave the screen cracked or shattered. When playing in landscape mode, users can access the AirTrigger buttons that mimic the functions of shoulder/trigger buttons of game controllers, providing a great alternative control scheme for first-person shooters or other action games.

It has both the front and rear camera for those who like to do daily selfies or taking Photowalk sessions when they are taking a break from gaming. The rear camera features a 48mp and 13mp dual-lens with dual-LED flash for those high quality and ultra-wide photos, on the front, there is the 24mp lens for selfie shots or even for Livestream game sessions.

From the package, it comes with the AeroActive Cooler II external fan attachment and the AeroCase3 phone case. The AeroActive Cooler II provides a quick cooling solution to the ROG Phone 2 for heavy gaming where the phone can heat up quite fast depending on how demanding the game for processing power, it also features the customizable Aura RGB effects for its front and back. A pass-through USB Type-C port and extra 3.5mm audio port can be found below the cooler for access to charging and better placement for the audio jack of headsets when playing.

Despite having a lot of accessories to customize the game experience, it is also its drawback. With some of the accessories ranging from PhP 10,000 and above, the investment for these accessories may somewhat be worthwhile to other devices instead such as another smartphone, PC component or a game console, and owning them is only optional, the initial accessories included in the standard package are already enough to enhance the game experience on the smartphone.

 

Software

It runs on an Android Pie operating system with a custom ROG user interface, where all the nifty features of the latest Android OS are already included. There are some apps that optimize the experience for the games that you will be playing on the phone, the Armory Crate allows users to customize the ROG Phone 2’s performance that they would see fit. You can increase the processing power of the phone for the games to perform faster, adjust the fan speed of the air cooler attachment or even set up a custom Aura RGB lighting effect whenever the game is launched, you can also create a profile for each game so it will automatically activate the saved settings when the game runs. Game Genie is an app toolbox that lets you toggle settings on the fly while playing, it allows for custom mapping for the AirTriggers and macro commands, as well as taking hi-resolution video capture of your gameplay, there are also settings to disable calls and alerts while playing.

 

Comparing with the first ROG Phone

At the first glance, it will be hard to see any differences with both the ROG Phone and ROG Phone 2 in terms of appearance, but upon closer look, the ROG Phone 2 is larger and heavier along with a redesigned back body. In terms of performance, the ROG Phone 2 has an upgrade for its processor with the Snapdragon 855+ and Adreno 640 for its GPU (the first ROG Phone has an overclocked Snapdragon 845 and Adreno 630), plus a 12 GB RAM upgrade and a beefier 6000mAh battery as compared to the 8GB RAM and 4000mAh from the predecessor. However, upgrading from the first ROG Phone is difficult to justify as most of the essentials in gaming are quite the same with the newer version

 

Performance

Testing out the ROG Phone 2 on benchmark apps, it showed incredible results when compared to other high-end Android phones. As for graphical performance, it can run any games with ease thanks to the Adreno 640 chip. Booting the phone and launching apps is seemingly fast

We tested several games on the ROG Phone 2 and there were no games that had trouble running. All were set to its highest settings and with the screen’s refresh rate at 120Hz, the majority of the games are all in the highest framerate with only rare occasions for it to drop below 30fps due to the software limitations and not with the phone itself. Performance on the screen was impressive, you can see the difference in fluidity when having a 120Hz screen as compared to the conventional screens in most smartphones to date.

Despite the weight, using the phone feels comfortably well on your hands when playing, along with its size, griping your fingers on the AirTriggers feel natural as if it was an actual game controller. In terms of heating concerns, the ROG Phone 2 can heat up quite fast especially for high demanding games, it can reach up to 55 degrees Celsius which can be uncomfortably hot for the phone itself when using. The included AeroActive Cooler can help dissipate the heat and reduce the heat temperature to cool off the body, which makes it bearable to use for hours.

 

For non-gaming tasks

Aside from being a mobile gaming device, the ROG Phone 2 can handle well as your all-around smartphone. The dual-lens rear camera provides decent quality photos even on low-light scenes, video recording is also decent as it can record hi-res footage from 1080p HD to 4K UHD in 30 or 60 frames per second. Thanks to the AMOLED screen, you can enjoy videos with high-quality display and colors. The stereo speakers produce great audio that does feel flat like in most phones thanks to the well-placed speakers in front of the screen.

Battery life is impressive thanks to the large 6000mAh capacity as it can survive a full day without the need for recharging if you don’t play many games for a prolonged period. Going around with the WiFi always active and with the AURA RGB on the whole time, and the occasional web browsing, music streaming, and photo-taking sessions, it still has enough juice for another day.

 

Overall

The ROG Phone 2 has a specific target market, and they are the gamers that can invest big for their gaming gear. Packing a whopping PHP 50,000 price tag, it will be hard to convince gamers with a tight budget to invest on a flagship phone-level pricing. Another oof factor is the expensive accessories, though entirely optional, they are still a neat addition for hardcore gamers who want to have the optimal performance in their gaming. Overall, in terms of performance and game optimization, the ROG Phone 2 tops them all.

It’s definitely a smartphone designed purely for the maximum level of gaming and obviously targeted towards high-end gamers, the ROG Phone 2 is a must for any gamers with a big budget. Though it still has the essentials as an all-entertainment smartphone, consumers who can invest in a high-value device will opt for this phone so they can have the best mobile gaming experience.

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