ASUS ROG Phone 5 – A Beast in your Oversized Pocket
The concept of a gaming phone is still something new to me and I feel like I’m not the only one in that boat. I grew up in an era where my first phone was the indestructible Nokia 5110 and gaming on it consisted of Snake and that’s it. That start has always shaped my vision of what phones should be. For the longest time, my attitude towards phones has always been work first, play second. But in recent times that has started to change, thanks in large part to mobile games becoming more like their console brethren and the fact I can now play a host of Xbox games on the go thanks to xCloud and Gamepass. So now that gaming has all of a sudden found a place on my phone, is a gaming-focused phone the next logical step? Well, I have been taking the ASUS ROG Phone 5 for a spin for the last few weeks to find out.
The first thing that is immediately obvious is the massive size of the phone. This is a big boy and easily the biggest phone I have ever used. This is clearly to give games as much screen space as possible but it does mean that things can get awkward. If you are like me and just shove your phone into your pocket, this might be an issue, especially if you want to add some sort of protective case to it. That being said it is a sleek unit that is sure to impress with its design choices. Simple things like having the charging port on the side of the phone so you can charge while playing in landscape mode, to the ultra-clean lines and curved edges. The final flourish of gaming LEDs on the back are not as obnoxious as they could have been but nevertheless screams that this is a phone designed for the Twitch generation.
Setting up the phone was an entirely pleasurable experience. Sure you have to go through the usual Google hoops to set up android, but it is made as painless as possible with a handy app that can be downloaded from the Play store. Once all my settings had been transferred across, the phone then decided to really surprise me with an absolutely delightful AR experience that set up the gaming features and introduced me to the device. Was it a novelty? Sure, but it was still the most enjoyable experience I have ever had setting up a phone and props to ASUS for thinking of it and implementing it in such a fun way.
Using the phone day-to-day is just what you would expect from a high powered Android phone. Everything is snappy, customisable and clean. The phone comes with very little in the way of bloatware, nothing there to get in the road or “try” and be helpful (hey there Bixby.) Just Android in a very pure form. The only custom apps on the phone are game related and all make sense considering the phone’s primary purpose. The camera is also fantastic and even though I am no photography expert, I feel like this is at the very least equivalent to the best camera’s that android phones offer, if not better.
Now it is time I moved onto the main reason this phone exists, games. I have to give it to ASUS, they have thought about the brief in great depth and included a host of simple changes to the standard phone to making gaming that much easier. From the aforementioned charging port placement, the inclusion of a 3.5mm jack for standard headphones, to the apps that allow for tweaking to improve things like lighting and battery usage, it is clear that ASUS put a lot of research into what would make life easier for folks who want to use their phone as a games console.
When it comes to playing games, this beast does exactly as advertised. The large screen size and responsive touchscreen make playing traditional mobile games a breeze and when you add a controller to the phone it really does begin to sing. Playing controller supported games and Gamepass titles was a real joy and I spent a lot of my time with the phone playing Forza Horizon 4 in bed which is honestly what life is all about. The phone also includes a few different control methods including motion control and sensors that can detect fingers pressing on the phone’s frame, creating a welcome alternative to tapping on the screen. Gaming does come at a cost to the battery life though, which is to be expected. Heavy gaming use dramatically reduced the time between charges, but in saying that the battery still lasted longer than other gaming devices like the Nintendo Switch so it compares favourably when thought of in that light.
I was also given the chance to play with two of the accessories that ASUS has created specifically for this phone, The Aircooler DS and the Kunai 3 Gamepad. The Aircooler DS is a nifty little clip-on device that not only provides a cooling fan for those long gaming sessions, but it adds buttons that can be used in-game, an extra headphone port and a kickstand to make watching media easier. It is a little bit awkward to carry around with you on your day-to-day travels but it makes sense if you play a lot of games sitting on the couch while you ignore the TV in the background. The Kunai 3 is much like many mobile-specific gamepads, in that the phone slots in between the left and right thumbsticks. The button layout is essentially the same as an Xbox controller including the asymmetrical thumbsticks. The build quality is great and it feels like it could take a serious beating. A device like this is the perfect way to play xCloud titles and if that is your main desire with this phone you should totally grab one.
Now here comes the stinger, the price. This is not a cheap phone by any means. The ROG Phone 5 is going to set you back around 1500 clams at your nearest JB HIFI so you will really want to make sure this is what you are after in a phone. That being said there is no doubt that the ROG is a high-quality product that really takes the concept of a “gaming” phone to a new level. There are lots of smart features and subtle touches that make the experience of playing games on a phone much more enjoyable. For me, the size of the phone is perhaps the biggest issue and people who are a bit rough on phones might want to think twice because the addons won’t work if the phone is in a protective case. That being said, if you don’t balk at the price and really want a phone that is as close as possible to the consoles under your TV, the ROG Phone 5 is without doubt a great bet.
Weight and Dimension
239g,173.00 x 77.00 x 9.90 mm
Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 888 5G Mobile Platform
Qualcomm® Adreno™ 660
6.78″ 20.4:9 (2448 x 1080) 144 Hz / 1 ms Samsung AMOLED. Corning® Gorilla® Glass Victus. Delta-E < 1
Main Camera : Sony® flagship IMX686 64 MP image sensor – 1/1.73” large sensor size, 0.8 µm pixel size. F1.8 aperture.
24 MP. 27mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
Symmetrical dual front-facing speakers with Dirac HD Sound
7-magnet stereo speaker with Cirrus Logic amplifier for louder, deeper and less distorted sound effect
Hi-Res Audio up to 384 kHz / 32-bit for 3.5mm output
High-end ESS DAC 9280AC Pro for lossless sound output
AudioWizard with multiple listening profiles
Quad microphones with ASUS Noise Reduction Technology
8K UHD (7680 x 4320) video at 30 fps for main rear camera
4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video at 30 / 60 fps for main rear camera, at 30 fps for second rear camera
1080p FHD video recording at 30 / 60 fps
720p HD video recording at 30 fps
3-axis electronic image stabilization for rear cameras
Time Lapse (4K UHD video)
Slow Motion video (4K at 120 fps; 1080p at 240 / 120 fps; 720p at 480 fps)
Take still photo while recording video
Supports Qualcomm® aptX™ Adaptive and Snapdragon Sound technology
Bluetooth® 5.2 (HFP + A2DP + AVRCP + HID + PAN + OPP)
Dual slots: 5G*+5G or 4G dual-SIM / dual-standby support
Slot 1: 5G/4G/3G/2G Nano SIM card
Slot 2: 5G/4G/3G/2G Nano SIM card
*5G services are only supported in 5G network-enabled locations in 5G-ready countries.
Ultrasonic sensors for AirTrigger 5 and grip press
6000 mAh (typical) high-capacity battery, supports Quick Charge 5.0 and PD Charging
Output: 3.3-21V 3.25A, supports up to 65W QC5.0 / PD 3.0 / Direct Charge adapter
USB power adapter (65W)
In the Box
Documentation (user guide, warranty card)
Ejector pin (SIM tray needle)
USB power adapter (65W)
USB-C to USB-C cable