As expected, Asus is getting into the gaming smartphone business with the introduction of the ROG Phone.

Among other things, the phone features an overclocked Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, a vapor cooling system, a set of programmable “ultrasonic AirTrigger” buttons, and a docking port (basically two USB Type-C ports) on the side that lets you connect the phone to desktop and handheld gaming accessories.

The Asus ROG Phone also features an 6 inch, 2160 x 1080 pixel AMOLED display with HDR support (thanks to a dedicated image processor), a 90 Hz refresh rate, and a 1ms response time.

While rival Razer was the first company to release a gaming-centric phone with a 120 Hz refresh rate, the Razer Phone has an IGZO LCD display. The ROG Phone has the highest refresh rate of any smartphone with an AMOLED display.

The phone has a 4,000 mAh battery, 8GB of RAM, supports up to 512GB of storage (but no microSD card slot), and features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor that runs up to 2.96 GHz (most phones with the chip have top speeds of 2.8 GHz).

Asus shared some preliminary benchmark results at today’s ROG event ahead of Computex, and while it’s usually a good idea to take those with a grain of salt, the company says it outperforms the competition in gaming and performance benchmarks.

In order to keep the phone from overheating, it has what Asus says is the first “3D vapor-chamber cooling system” in a smartphone, and it has a detachable “AeroActive Cooler” for additional cooling power.

The company says that helps keep performance from dipping as the phone gets hot. Among other things, Asus says you can run the same benchmark over and over and get consistent results, while some other phones will see the results dip with each successive run unless you take some time to let the phone cool off.

On the software side, there’s an X Mode option that frees up RAM, keeps apps from hogging it in the background while you’re gaming, and blocks notifications.

And the AirTrigger buttons on the side of the phone can be mapped to on-screen functions, letting you do things like run, jump, or shoot by tapping the side of the phone instead of placing your fingers on the screen.

The phone is also designed to work with a range of accessories including gaming headsets, game controllers, and docking stations.

For example there’s a Gamevice controller with a WiGig dock that lets you stream games to a large screen while controlling the action using game controller buttons that attach to the sides of the phone.

There’s also a mobile desktop dock that lets you use your phone with a mouse, keyboard, and monitor as if it were a gaming PC. And Asus is introducing a TwinView dock that turns the phone into a dual-screen handheld gaming device so you can view a game on one screen and a chat window (or anything else) on the other.

Asus says the TwinView dock could be used for live streaming, watching videos while you play, or even playing two games at once. The accessory also has a built-in battery so that the second screen doesn’t slash your battery life in half.

When you use the AeroActive cooling module, you also get an extra USB Type-C port and headphone jack facing downward. The idea is to make it more comfortable to use a phone for gaming in landscape mode by giving you ports in a spot that your hands aren’t likely to cover when you’re holding the phone. That way power and headphone cables won’t get in your way when you’re using the ROG Phone.

Other features include stereso front-facing speakers, dual rear cameras (12MP + 8MP), an 8MP front-facing camera, and a fingerprint reader on the back.

Oh, and it wouldn’t be a gaming device if it didn’t have customizable RGB lighting somewhere on its body. In this case, the logo on the back of the phone lights up and supports the ROG Aura Sync platform, allowing you to choose lighting effects, solid colors, and adjust the brightness. It’s completely unnecessary, but kind of cool.

Pricing and availability information will be available closer to launch.

 

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14 replies on “The ROG Phone is the first gaming smartphone from Asus”

  1. I like the idea but buying a switch and a honor 7x is a better idea overall if you want a phone and a gaming device, that’s $500 for both devices, probably cheaper than this and you get much higher quality games.

    This is designed for people who will be sitting down to play mobile games for hours at a time and not 10 minute fixes on the bus. At that point you might as well invest in a switch instead to play full fledged games. Fortnite is pretty much guaranteed to come to switch if you need a battle Royale game.

  2. Huge gamble here. Consumers who aren’t buying this? Owners of either a Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox, PC, gaming laptop, or a modern day smartphone. ROG peeps have the gaming gear already. Most gamers who will drool over these accessories and features likely have some type of robust gaming hardware already, along with an expensive smartphone in most cases. Great stuff here but it does appear like a very small niche which isn’t a good thing.

    1. Specwise, this is definitely something I’d be interested in for my next phone, but I bought an Asus phone once before and found myself wildly unimpressed with the software side of things. Between the bloatware and the lack of updates, I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to buy another.

      1. The ZenUI has undergone a LOT of stripping down. Update wise, I’m not sure who right now does more updates that ASUS to the Android versions. Your experience might be from their 2.0 offerings but they are 5 or 6 years into this now so call these new phone their 6.0 versions. This category is far to competitive for them to repeat mistakes or to ignore the consumer base. Both your issues are valid, albeit dated at this point.

  3. That gaming aesthetic…. Ugh.
    Also, I do not understand the point of a gaming device that uses a touchscreen as its primary form of input. I get that they’re selling a controller adapter with it and that you can get a bluetooth controller pretty cheap, but phones do not make good gaming device (with the exception of emulation).

    1. Yeah good point on the Bluetooth controller. If mobile gaming goes bigger, naturally the Bluetooth controllers that have the full spectrum of PS4 or Xbox One controls will hit the market which will no doubt threaten the success of these ROG Phone accessories.

  4. I really don’t get Android “gaming” phone. I mean most Android games are optimized for low-mid range devices and the device itself will become outdated in 1-2 years and obsolete in 3 years.

    1. Yeah, and Asus doesn’t have a great track record for Android updates, either. You’re pretty unlikely to get 3 years of updates for this phone.

  5. That looks like a glass back which is bad if you are trying to improve cooling.

  6. The benefit of an AMOLED display on a gaming phone is that you need to calculate the full 1080p picture, but because of the pen-tile matrix, only 2/3rd of it get’s actually drawn. So you are effectively taxing the hardware for FullHD and get 720p in return with some extra green subpixel details.

    1. I hope you’re not saying that you would rather own a LCD over an AMOLED display smartphone. Whatever you point is, you’re not saying that LCD > AMOLED correct? In that case I’m not sure what your point is.

    2. Surely even pen-tile AMOLEDs of this phone’s resolution have 3 x (2160 x 1080) LEDs though, right? Or are you saying that this 1080p screen is actually 720p or 2/3rds of 2160×1080?

      1. Nope, pentile screens are measured only based on it’s green subpixels. Both the resolution and the DPI values are based on the green. Meanwhile there are less blue and red subpixels. It’s not abig deal on a 5″ish FHD panel, but around 6″ you’ll be able to notice. Well, not while playing a fast game, you’ll have to look. My point is that in this scenario 1/3rd of the processing power is wasted on pixels that are not actually there. So if the whole point of the phone is max performance, the AMOLED is a strange choice.

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