The new ROG Phone 5 has just been announced and it looks like ASUS might have a winner in their hands. That is, if you don’t mind the clunkiness that comes with the territory of a gaming phone.
But size aside, in a world where smartphone prices have well and truly gone barmy, the ROG Phone 5 seems like a great bargain given its feature set. ASUS has also introduced two more variants: the ROG Phone 5 Pro and ROG Phone 5 Ultimate.
The ROG Phone 5 probably won’t be mentioned in the same breath as the Galaxy Ultras of the Android world whenever the topic of ‘best smartphone’ comes up, but the ROG Phone 5 is no doubt comparable. But here’s a summary of the reasons why this phone could be one of the best we see this year.
1. Sheer processing power
Under the hood, there’s the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G SoC for the fastest processing power available to the Android platform. It also has an upgraded GameCool 5 cooling system which is also unique in its arrangement: the processing unit is placed right in the middle of the phone and a slim 3D vapour chamber and graphite sheets are used to dissipate heat.
The central placement of the SoC also enables the new Aeroactive Cooler 5 clip-on fan to sit squarely on top of the CPU for more direct cooling. ASUS claims this reduces surface temperature by up to 15 degrees Celsius, while CPU can be lowered by up to 10 degrees. Through their internal testing, they clocked up 742776 points on Antutu (16GB RAM and 256GB configuration). With the cooler attached, you can even overclock the ROG 5 further, though honestly there’s no reason to.
2. Top-notch display
On the display front, ASUS is ponying up the cash to put in a 144 Hz / 1 ms AMOLED HDR10+ certified Samsung display. And for the interest of gamers, it has a 300 Hz touch sampling rate and ultra-low touch latency (24.3 ms). This makes slide touches more responsive as well. There’s a Pixelworks i6 visual processor as well, which is like an upscaler of sorts, but for HDR. It’s supposed to make colours more vibrant and minimise colour bending and black crush. Top tier display stuff, check.
3. Very capable audio
The ROG phones have always boasted excellent speakers that are loud and clear and we have no reason to believe this edition will be any different. The new ROG Phone 5 features two large, front-facing dual 7-magnet speakers, and they certainly look huge if the presentation graphics are anything to go by. The headphone jack also makes a return, and this time they are powered by an ESS headphone DAC. Sabres are top-notch stuff and we should expect the ROG Phone 5 to deliver if you choose to use good ol' wired stuff.
4. Long battery life
If you’ve ever used any of the ROG phones, you’d know that this phone is a monster when it comes to battery life. The ROG Phone 5 retains its massive 6,000mAh battery, but with some upgrades. Firstly, it now supports fast charging with a 65W HyperCharge adapter and takes just 15 minutes to charge to 50 per cent. Secondly, with the SoC in the centre, the battery is split into two 3,000 mAh cells, and the placement helps thermals as well.
5. Nice touches you don’t really need but are good anyway
AirTrigger 5, the ultrasonic touch-sensitive buttons, now feature 10 gesture movements for additional gaming control options, while Haptic Audio adds a slight vibration for button presses, which their version of the Dual Shock experience. Not quite sure which mobile game demands that many controls, but there’s room to get creative.
Meanwhile, the ROG Phone 5 Pro and ROG Phone 5 Ultimate feature a colour ROG Vision display; it’s an LED array on the back that shows animations with a novel rear matrix display similar to the Zephyrus G14. You can program customisable animations in response to a variety of system and in-game events, such as a useful charging indicator when the phone is placed face down. It looks cool without being too loud.
6. Its sole weakness isn’t that lame
The new ROG phone retains the Sony IMX 686 sensor (and the camera array) from its predecessor, which is kind of a bummer for a flagship-class phone. The sensor has been proven to be competent but not particularly exciting considering that half the story for new flagship phones lies in the cameras. Asus points out that the IMX 686-based camera on the Zenfone 7 Pro won Markus Brownlee’s annual readers' camera blind test as a reminder you don’t have to feel like you’re losing out if you don’t have the latest and ‘bestest’. Which is true up to a point. So long as your camera is half-decent, you can still take compelling pictures since there are so many other factors involved. I suppose the same could be said for processors, but let’s just conveniently gloss over that…
Local prices have not been announced yet, but here’s a rough idea from the international announcement:
ROG Phone 5 €799 (8GB 128GB), €899 (12GB 256GB), €999 16GB 256GB
ROG Phone 5 Pro €1199 (16GB 512GB)
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate €1299 (18GB 512GB)
The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate will come in a matte white, and a world-first 18 GB of RAM. It’s sheer overkill. But that’s pretty much why the series has always been great.
The RG Phone 5 will be available for pre-order starting from today till 22nd April at a retail price of $1,499. Pre-order purchases will be bundled with a free ROG AirTrigger 5 worth $69.
Sales on ASUS Online Store, ROG Experience Store Bugis, and selected authorised retailers will commence from 30th April.
Availability for the ROG Phone 5 Pro ($1,699) and ROG Phone 5 Ultimate ($1,799) will be announced at a later date.