You can play mobile games on just about any modern smartphone. But for the past few years a handful of companies have been vying to give you the best gaming experience on mobile devices with a combination of bleeding edge specs and features you didn’t know you needed at the time like high screen refresh rates, extra USB ports, high-performance speakers, and active cooling.

Some of those features eventually found their way to mainstream phones. Others have not.

The new Asus ROG Phone 5 has an aesthetic that screams gaming hardware, and some features like the RGB LED light matrix on the back of some models is unlikely to show up in mainstream phones anytime soon. But others, like the support for up to 18GB of RAM on select models? History suggests it’s just a matter of time.

The ROG Phone 5 goes on sale this month in select markets for about $950 and up, with higher-end ROG Phone 5 Pro and ROG Phone 5 Ultimate variants coming in April and May, respectively.

All three versions of the phone have a 6.78 inch, 2448 x 1080 pixel AMOLED display with support for 60 Hz, 120 Hz, and 144 Hz screen refresh rates. And all three models are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor paired with LPDDR5 memory and UFS 3.1 storage.

The phones all have in-display fingerprint readers, stereo front-facing speakers, two USB-C ports, a headphone jack, and three rear cameras. They all have touch-sensitive AirTrigger buttons on the sides of the phone, and

As you’d expect, the Pro and Ultimate models have some extra features – in addition to supporting more memory and storage than the standard ROG Phone 5, they have capacitive “Rear Touch” buttons on the back of the phone that give you a couple of extra buttons for interacting with games. And while the ROG Phone 5 has an RGB LED light matrix that can display the Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) logo, the Pro and Ultimate versions have small PMOLED “ROG Vision” displays on the back of the phone that can display graphics or notifications.

Here’s a run-down of some key specs for the new Asus ROG Phone 5 family:

ROG Phone 5ROG Phone 5 ProROG Phone 5 Ultimate
Display6.78″
AMOLED display
2448 x 1080 pixels
144 Hz
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM/Storage8GB/128GB
12GB/256GB
16GB/256GB
16GB/512GB18GB/512GB
Battery6,000 mAh
Charging65W wired
Cameras64MP Sony IMX686 primary
13MP ultra-wide
5MP macro
24MP selfie
AudioStereo front-facing speakers
Cirrus Logic CS35l45 mono AMP
ESS Sabre 92380AC Pro quad DAC
4 x mics with noise reduction
3.5mm headphone jack w/up to 384 kHz 32-bit output
USB1 x USB 3.1 Type-C (side)
1 x USB 2.0 Type-C (bottom)
Wireless5G
WiFi 6E
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC
GPS & GLONASS
ButtonsAirTrigger 5 (ultrasonic)AirTrigger 5 (ultrasonic)
2 x capacitive rear touch
AirTrigger 5 (ultrasonic)
2 x capacitive rear touch
Rear displayRGB LED light matrixRear Vision PMOLEDRear Vision PMOLED
SecurityIn-display fingerprint sensor
Dimensions173 x 77 x 9.9mm
Weight239 grams
ColorsPhantom black
Storm white
Glossy blackMatte white
Starting Price€799 (~$950)€1199 (~$1425) €1299 (~$1543)

Like earlier Asus ROG Phone models, the new phones are all compatible with a range of optional accessories, including:

  • AeroActive Cooler 5.0 clip-on fan
  • ROG Kunai 3 gamepad clip-on game controller
  • ROG Gaming Clip for attaching the phone to third-party controllers (including Xbox and PlayStation controllers)
  • Asus ROG Lighting Armor case with its own LED light matrix that can match the colors of the phone’s rear display
  • Professional Dock plugs into a USB-C port and gives you HDMI and Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and a USB-C port

Interestingly Asus says some older accessories including the previous-gen Mobile Desktop Dock and TwinView Dock (for dual display setups) are not compatible with the new Asus ROG Phone 5 series smartphones.

If you want to know whether the ROG Phone 5 is worth the relatively steep asking price, reviews are starting to roll in. Here are a few to get you started:

Asus ROG Phone 5

Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate

via Asus, xda-developers

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  1. See, this is the kind of phone that might justify getting a lapdock. It costs as much a decent laptop and the performance to handle at least basic laptop workflows, and supports external displays (the last three RoG phones did).
    As for the LED matrix, if it’s that entire triangular grid of dots, I’m sure it’ll be able do extra stuff to tell you what time it is and not just display the logo.
    I wonder how it is that ultrasonic air triggers are cheaper than capacitive ones.
    The 3.5mm headphone jack returning is kind of a big deal by the way.

    All these good points just make it more unfortunate that it’s subject to google’s tracking (unless it’s still as possible to root as the last three) and it’s still glued shut. If I’m spending that much on a phone, I’d like to make sure it’s viable six years later.
    It’s also so big that I’d need to replace most of my pants with ones that have a special phone pocket just to use this. Seriously, I couldn’t sit down with a phone that big in a conventional pocket! 160mm is the tallest I can handle!

    1. The air-triggers aren’t cheaper, but since they were a “gaming” feature on previous phones, they won’t remove it. The expensive models have extra capacitive ones because those are part of the rear-screen module.

      Headphone Jack they copped a lot of criticism for, hence, they’re back. They haven’t introduced a microSD slot, which is a Gaming Feature when you think about it. But there’s hope for it in the future if people keep complaining. The modules feel mostly like a gimmick, I’d prefer if they removed one of the USB-C ports if it meant the other could get upgraded to a TB4-port and perhaps allow us to do eGPU with an ARM phone. Also I wouldn’t hold my breath for ASUS getting good software support from the OEM or Community, it might happen but not very likely. The other thing is they lack User Removable Battery, nor do they compensate for it by having it IP68 waterproofing. There’s a slim possibility for IP68 in the future though.

      The phone is TOO stupid heavy, TOO damn thick, and also TOO large. They won’t do anything about it. I don’t have skinny jeans, but they won’t fit on my regular pants/jeans… so No Buy from me. They will fit into knee-pockets in Cargo/Utility pants (or inner jacket pocket) though I’d argue people aren’t looking to change their fashion for a smartphone. The controller also doesn’t fit into my pocket, nor most of the modules, so it is not that portable (ie Same Category as a Nintendo Switch or laptop = requires backpack). The old DS Lite was pocketable, but all the newer handhelds from them and Sony are little on the large size. I think the Razer Phone 2 and Razer JungleCat was a good concept as they’re the only pocketable Gaming Device as of recent.

      I won’t justify the price. They get away with it because the world is going mad, and iPhones are getting priced stupidly. The performance? Yeah, it’s good. I’d argue that having a phone power things (ie eGPU or LapDock) started a bit earlier with Cortex-A76 (or Apple A11) when they were challenging the Intel Core-M/i7-Y chipsets in performance.

      PS: A Gaming Phone truly needs a User Removable Battery, since the tasks it’s designed for suck up battery too quickly. It’s not solved by slow trickle-charging or Wireless. And it’s not solved by Fast Charging that heats up the phone/battery. And having those portable PowerBanks is much more clunky than a quick hot-swapping a deleted cell in for a new one. And since they’re pretty slim, people could keep 2-3 extra ones in their pocket like the way I used to back in 2014.