We have seen more than a handful of gaming phones emerge since last year, and the 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.
Asus perseveres with the same ideology this year, except that it has drastically cut the price – thus making ROG Phone 2 equally appealing to both gamers and mainstream buyers who’d favor a premium phone with uncompromised performance.
Do we finally have a perfect gaming phone? What extra does ROG Phone 2 have to offer to consumers who aren’t particularly fanatical about gaming? Sit back, relax and read on to find answers to all such questions in our detailed ROG Phone 2 review.
- Asus ROG Phone 2 Price and Specification
- Rog Phone II Review: Design and Build
- Rog Phone 2 Review: Display
- Asus Rog Phone II Review: In-Display Fingerprint Sensor and Face Unlock
- Rog Phone II Review: Performance and Software
- Asus Rog Phone 2 Review: Battery and Audio
- Rog Phone II Review: Camera
- Asus Rog Phone 2 Review: Verdict with Pros and Cons
Also Read: OnePlus 7T Review
Asus ROG Phone 2 Price and Specifications
|Model||Asus ROG Phone 2|
|Display||6.59“, 19.5:9, 2340×1080, 120Hz/1ms AMOLED; 240Hz response time, Corning Gorilla Glass 6, 10bit HDR|
|Software||Android 9.0 Pie-based ROG UI|
|Processor||2.96GHz octa-core SD855+ with Adreno 640 GPU|
|Battery||6000mAh with Quick Charge 4.0 fast charging|
|RAM||LPDDR4X up to 12GB RAM|
|Storage||UFS3.0, 128GB or 512GB|
|Rear Camera||48MP+13MP (125-degree)|
|Dimensions and weight||170.99mm x 77.6mm x 9.48mm; 240 grams|
|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 Review: 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.
You can customize the RGB ROG logo at the back to glow with incoming calls, incoming notifications, during phone calls, etc. via the Armory Crate app.
Asus says that the ROG 2 has been designed for landscape use – which is how most AAA games are played. Also to support gamers, the width has been restricted to 78mm and there’s GameCool II system that has an advanced 3D vapor-chamber, heat spreaders and cooling pads to effectively dissipate heat from inside to the outside of the phone.
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 (and LED notification light). 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. Air triggers also enable ROG Phone 2 to detect squeezes and to then summon Google assistant.
All that tech and the 6000mAh battery make the ROG 2 bigger and bulkier, even when compared to the first ROG Phone. The heft is well balanced though and if you are open to big phones it’s highly probable that you’d love the ROG Phone 2. I, for one, am not comfortable with big phones but still, I can’t help but be enamored by the way ROG Phone 2 feels in hand. This phone is surely a head-turner if there ever was one.
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. The case is simply brilliant. It’s thin, light, and protects the phone without concealing all that’s cool with the design. This new approach should ensure that the accessories you buy shall remain compatible with the future generation of ROG phones. Moving forward, 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.
ALSO READ: Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro Review
ROG Phone 2 Review: Display
The 6.59-inch AMOLED display on the ROG 2 has a 120Hz refresh rate 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.
Users can choose between 60Hz, 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate. Higher refresh rate makes scrolling and screen transitions smooth and the impact is more noticeable when you switch from 60Hz to 120Hz. We compared the 120Hz smooth scrolling to that on 90Hz OnePlus 7T screen, and the difference is hard to realize.
There are a number of titles that support 120Hz and you can access the list directly from the Armory crate app on the ROG Phone 2.
The ROG Phone 2 screen is most color accurate at 60Hz. Color accuracy for higher refresh rates is expected to improve with subsequent updates. There are a number of display color profiles to choose from, but the ‘Standard’ and ‘Cinematic’ are the only two worthy options that we could bear to live with.
The ROG Phone 2 has an always-on display widget and system-wide dark mode to compliment gorgeous AMOLED blacks. The phone also supports HD and HDR streaming across Netflix and Prime videos.
ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Review
ROG Phone 2 Review: In-display fingerprint sensor and Face unlock
We can live with moderately fast fingerprint sensors, but the ones that are inconsistent and require reattempts get our goat. The ROG Phone 2 is the first Asus phone to include an in-display fingerprint sensor and thankfully the sensor is fast and very consistent. If you really need to compare, then yes, it isn’t as snappy as the one on the OnePlus 7T.
The Asus ROG Phone 2 also has Face Unlock, but this is a two-step process and requires you to swipe up after waking the screen using the power key. The UI feature that shows notifications on the lock screen after it recognizes your face is quite useful.
ROG Phone 2 Review: Performance 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+, which has the top core clocked at 2.96GHz and brings in 15% graphics improvement.
The current-best Qualcomm SoC aided by Snapdragon Elite gaming suit, high-quality UFS 3.0 storage, and LPDDR4x RAM is hardware attributes you may also find on mainstream phones like OnePlus 7T. What helps ROG 2 standout is the elaborate cooling system within that shall help stretch the high performance through long gaming sessions, low touch latency screen, dual-zone haptic feedback, the option to add modular accessories, and the granular control in the Armory crate app. Also, the UFS 3.0 storage on the ROG Phone 2 is faster than the UFS 3.0 storage on the OnePlus 7T.
For gaming, Asus ROG Phone 2 has an X mode that realigns all system resources for maximum gaming performance. The Armory crate lets you save game profiles, access all games in one place (library), and configure gaming controls, air triggers, and Aura Sync lighting. There are also controls to set maximum and minimum clock frequency for every core and the GPU, thus allowing you to squeeze maximum performance without rooting!
When you open your games via Armory crate, you can also monitor temperature, disable interruptions, and a lot more by swiping on the left edge and accessing Game Genie.
Needless to say, gaming performance was simply outstanding. The body gets hot rather quickly, but things remain cool on the inside and there is no throttling even with extended gaming usage.
The ROG UI running on the phone is based on Android 9.0 Pie. The software is well designed, feature-rich and stable. However, if you prefer something more understated, Asus is adding an option to switch to regular, close-to-stock Zen UI (same as on Asus 6Z).
Asus ROG Phone 2 Benchmark Scores
|AnTuTu (X mode, 120Hz)||3,96,385|
|AnTuTu (X mode, 60Hz)||3,99,200|
|Geekbench 5 single-core||772|
|Geekbench 5 multi-core||2280|
|3D Mark Sligh Shot Extreme OpenGL ES||6273|
|3D Mark Sligh Shot Extreme Vulkan||5477|
ROG Phone 2 Review: Battery and Audio
The stereo speakers on the front are loud enough to sweep you off your feet, and the quality of the audio is awesome! When we first tried them, we were stunned and truly impressed. The ROG Phone 2 also retains the headphone jack and you can enjoy high-quality audio with your favorite analog headphones.
Asus adds a very useful equalizer and the phone supports all high-quality Bluetooth transmission standards like aptX HD, aptX adaptive, aptX TWS+, LDAC, and AAC.
In the interest of gaming, 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.
The exact mileage will depend on how you use your phone. Features like 120Hz refresh rate screen and X mode weigh down the battery longevity but not so much as to warrant a frugal or conservative approach. Really, this is the most battery you can expect on a mainstream phone today.
Asus bundles only the 18W with the base variant. We could charge the battery from 10 percent to 90 percent in around 2 hours 20 minutes using a 25W USB PD charger.
ROG Phone 2: Camera performance
Asus uses the same rear cameras as on the Asus 6Z, and the image quality shall remain similar – which should perhaps be fine considering the price. The ROG Phone 2 has a 48MP primary sensor that you’d be using most often, paired with a 13MP wide-angle shooter. Unlike the 6Z, this camera module doesn’t flip to the front, but you get a decent 24MP camera for selfies.
The camera quality is similar to what you get on most mid-range phones including the OnePlus 7T. Images clicked in daylight have ample details and wide dynamic range. Colors are punchy and dynamic range is wide.
The camera can lock focus quickly and is reasonably good with edge detection in portrait mode.
The ROG Phone 2 performs reasonably well in properly lit indoor settings.
In tricky lighting, colors often appear washed out and motion blur creeps in more frequently.
Lowlight shots are decent enough, but nothing to write home about.
The selfie camera does a fine job in proper lighting.
So, overall, the camera on the ROG Phone 2 is about as good as other mid-rangers, but can’t outperform flagships from Google, Apple, Samsung or Huawei.
ROG Phone 2 Review: Should you buy it?
The Asus ROG Phone 2 is a beautiful beast and this is certainly an outstanding option for Android gamers. Of course, if your gaming needs aren’t as hardcore or niche, all this power might just be overkill.
So, how good is the ROG Phone 2 from the perspective of a gaming Luddite or a mainstream user?
We’d say it turned out to be surprisingly impressive. I am not much of a hardcore gamer and I sure as hell detest bulky phones. Even then, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the new ROG phone. In a sea of trend-chasing Android phones, the ROG Phone 2 is something so uniquely different that it’s just irresistible.
We understand why Asus wants this to also be seen as a phone for mainstream users. The design really stands out, there is no notch, the stereo speakers are awesome, battery mileage is excellent, and the well-calibrated high refresh-rate screen adds to the charm. Ultimately, most of the technology on our phones is about making us feel good and holding that much raw power in our hands, packaged in a head-turning body definitely makes us feel good.
The only mismatch is the camera. The ROG Phone 2’s camera can compete with other mid-range phones in the same league, but it’s still not as consistent or as pleasing as what you can get from Samsung, Google, or even Apple phones lurking in the adjoining segment.
As far as hardcore gaming enthusiasts go, the ROG Phone 2 should be extremely exciting and covetable, no matter what the price.
- Ergonomic design that stands out in a good way
- Outstanding gaming experience
- Stereo speakers are really, really loud
- 120Hz AMOLED display
- Armory Crate App is well designed and quite useful
- Battery mileage
- Only 18W fast charger with the base variant
- Mediocre camera performance
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