We have seen more than a handful gaming phones emerge since last year, and Asus ROG phone was one of the most ambitious of the lot. The first ROG phone was perhaps also the most expensive one and that’s because ASUS choose to go all out and beyond instead of following a conservative or balanced approach, even if this meant being ahead of the existing gaming software for phones.
Asus perseveres with the same ideology for the ROG Phone 2 this year. The company claims that it has improved upon all aspects of ROG Phone and expects that the ROG Phone 2 will be equally appealing to both gamers and to mainstream buyers who’d favor a premium phone with uncompromised performance.
Asus recently showcased the new ROG Phone at a pre-launch briefing where we went hands-on and spent some quality time with it. Read on to know our Asus ROG Phone 2 first impressions.
Asus ROG Phone 2 Specifications
|Model||Asus ROG Phone 2|
|Display||6.59“, 19.5:9, 2340×1080, 120Hz/1ms AMOLED; 240Hz response time, 108% DCI-P3; 100,000:1 contrast ratio, Corning Gorilla Glass 6, 10bit HDR, SDR2HDR upscaling|
|Software||Android 9.0 Pie-based ROG UI|
|Processor||2.96GHz octa-core SD855+ with Adreno 640 GPU|
|Battery||6000mAh with upto Quick Charge 4.0 fast charging|
|RAM||LPDDR4X up to 12GB RAM|
|Storage||UFS3.0, 128GB or 512GB|
|Rear Camera||48MP+13MP (125-degree)|
|Other features||ARCore, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C, Customized connector, Dual-front firing speakers with DTS:X Ultra|
ROG Phone II Design and Build
The Asus ROG phone received polarized design reviews, but we’d say it was the best-designed gaming phone last year. The handset had those game-centric vibes and made an explicit statement without being gaudy. The ROG Phone 2 goes subtler while retaining distinctive ROG elements like sharp geometric lines, the polygon-shape camera system, and the classy RGB lit logo.
On the front, the ROG phone 2 has some gaming-essential bezels above and below its even bigger AMOLED display and makes good use of the space by adding stereo speakers. The audio gets really loud and that’s something all classes of users would appreciate.
The ROG 2 is crafted from solid metal and glass (Gorilla Glass 6 on the front) and has a new Vapour cooling chamber within. The Air triggers are now positioned closer to the outside edge and are more responsive.
All that tech and the 6000mAh battery make the ROG 2 is bigger and bulkier, even than the ROG Phone from the last year. The heft is well balanced though and, in our initial time with the device, felt quite manageable.
The handset retains the audio jack and still has two charging ports and this year both have Quick Charge 4.0 fast charging support. The fingerprint sensor on the rear has been replaced by a trendier under-display optical sensor – a first for Asus.
Apart from the phone, Asus has also refined gaming accessories and introduced a new gaming case into which these modules would fit. This new approach should ensure that the accessories you buy shall remain compatible with future ROG phones, as in future Asus will only have to make a new gaming case matched to any new ROG phone design and to current accessories.
Accessories include a cool modular ROG Kunai gamepad, Twin Dock 2, Aero Active Cooler 2, and more.
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ROG Phone 2 Display
The 6.59-inch AMOLED display on the ROG 2 has a 120Hz refresh rate for and 240Hz touch refresh rate resulting in extremely low claimed touch latency of 49ms. Asus says the pixel response time is just 1ms. All of this should make the screen very responsive and smooth – both of which are legit gaming advantages.
Of course, there are no 120fps games available on Android to take full advantage of the high screen refresh rate, but it’s expected of such gaming phones to give incentive to developers to build some. Asus is in talks with a few and you can expect one or two 120fps titles to be available by the end of this year.
Users can choose between 60Hz, 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate as well as between multiple color presets. The display targets 108% DCI-P3 gamut and Asus claims a high color accuracy with Delta e less than 1 when the display is set at 60Hz refresh rate.
ROG Phone 2 Performance Hardware, Battery, and Software
As expected, Asus uses the best available performance hardware at its disposal.
There is the higher bin variant of Snapdragon 855, Snapdragon 855+, that has the top core clocked at 2.96GHz and brings in 15% graphics improvement. Employing the best Qualcomm SoC aided by Snapdragon Elite gaming suit and high-quality UFS 3.0 storage and LPDDR4x RAM helps, but what should really help ROG 2 standout from other upcoming SD 855+ phones is the elaborate cooling system within that shall help stretch the high performance through long gaming sessions.
Also in the interest of extended gaming sessions, there is a mammoth 6000mAh battery inside that supports both QuickCharge 4.0+ and USB PD. Users will also be able to charge their phone while gaming without incurring any penalty on battery life in the long run.
This year users will get a choice between ASUS’s game-centric software and the regular close-to-stock Zen UI (same as on Asus 6Z). The ROG Phone 2 has several interesting gaming options listed under its Armoury Crate App, and we will be testing the impact these make through the duration of our full review later.
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ROG Phone 2 Camera Expectations
The camera wasn’t a ROG strong point last year and we don’t expect things to be any different this generation. Asus uses the same rear cameras as on the Asus 6Z, and the image quality shall remain the same.
The Asus 6Z camera is surely fine for the price, but the ROG phone will allegedly cost twice as much and compete in an entirely different league. Anyways, it’s still too soon to pass a verdict on the camera performance just yet. Let’s wait until we get to try the camera in our own space.
ROG Phone 2 First Impressions
The Asus ROG Phone 2 is a beautiful beast that has the panache you’d expect of a top-shelf gaming device.
We understand why Asus wants this to be seen as a phone for mainstream users. The gaming credentials, as impressive as they might be, still surpass the existing gaming software for phones by a healthy margin and thus might not justify the high cost from a pragmatic standpoint.
And if you judge it as a regular high-end flagship, you get a phone with excellent performance, a great AMOLED display with variable refresh rate, a mature software, and the convenience of never having to worry about running out of charge. At the same time, from this perspective, the mid-range camera and the extra-large footprint of the phone could count as a disadvantage for many.
As far as hardcore gaming enthusiasts go, the ROG Phone 2 should be extremely exciting and covetable, no matter what the price. We will still need to live with the ROG Phone 2 to know if it’s something we’d recommend, but for now, it seems like a step in the right direction.
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