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This is the ROG Phone 5, the successor to the ROG Phone 3 which in my opinion was the most unique Android smartphone that I’ve ever come across. You can check out my full review if you’re interested in that, but now here we are in 2021 with the ROG Phone 5, not the ROG Phone 4 because four is an unlucky number in China.
Either way this phone just goes to show how far ASUS can push innovation in a completely different direction. Basically, they decided to make a smartphone with the fastest CPU, ,RAM capacity that is larger than most people’s laptops, the fastest screen, a unique design, a mind-blowing audio experience, and some cool accessories that will enrich the gaming experience.
This year they came out with three models, the ROG Phone 5, the 5 Pro, and the 5 Ultimate which is a limited edition. Now all of of these models share 90% of the features, except for the design IDs, storage configs, and some accessories that are omitted out of the box. What I’m going to do is walk you through the Top 5 features that make this phone stand out from the competition.
I’m going to start things off with the design. The ROG Phone series has always maintained an aggressive gamer aesthetic throughout the whole body, but they have actually come a long way since the very first ROG Phone. They are still trying to make it recognizable like every other ROG product whether it’s a keyboard, a laptop, a desktop PC or just accessories. With the base model you get this glossy black finish with an embedded dot matrix design and an illuminated ROG logo that looks really nice. They have also added a few touches of red accents here and there. The attention to detail, even with the SIM card tray is well thought out.
If we switch to the limited edition, ASUS just took things to a whole new level. The entire back comes in the satin white finish, along with these embedded black railings that give the phone a cutting-edge vibe. I also the subtle teal accents, it looks really unique in my opinion. They have also implemented a monochrome PMOLED display, and they call it ROG Vision.
Basically it allows the user to customize an image or text to their liking with different effects, and it turns on depending on what you do with your device. If you get an incoming phone call it will show you a cool animation, and if you are charging it will show the battery percentage and the progress, or if you connect an external accessory it will show its respective image, which is pretty cool. ASUS isn’t trying to stick to the basics like every other the smartphone, this is certainly gonna spark a conversation with people around you just because of how cool it looks.
The Size & Triggers
With that being said, from a usability standpoint it does get a little bit challenging because it’s really massive. Here it is in comparison to the Galaxy S21, which in my opinion is the perfect size to handle, but with the ROG Phone 5 even if you have big hands like myself you will struggle to use it one handed. It is also an eyesore when you have this thing in your pocket, especially if you’re wearing jeans. Now if you’re using this phone in landscape mode you wouldn’t have to worry too much about handling because you have both hands supporting the device, and there are some bezels at the top and bottom they will give you something to hold on to. Plus you do get the Air Trigger 5 feature, which is basically 2 sensors on the edge, and they are fine-tuned compared to the ROG Phone 3 for folks with smaller hands. Also the settings can sort of be tweaked through Game Genie, which is built into the Armory Crate software. It’s nothing really new compared to the ROG Phone 3, they have just refined some of the features with that functionality. The side-mounted ports have been redesigned, so instead of a proprietary dual USB-C layout you now get a single USB-C port and recessed pins for external accessories to clip onto, which I will go over them shortly.
The next big feature is the display. You are getting a 6.78-inch Full HD screen that supports a refresh rate of 144Hz, but on top of that you also get an insanely fast 300Hz touch sampling rate for fast response times when you are interacting with the content. I was instantly able to see the difference, especially compared to the S21, so this is definitely a bonus if you’re a hardcore mobile gamer, which this phone is clearly tailored towards. They have also improved the brightness levels from the ROG Phone 3 from 650 nits to 800 nits, which I’m sure will come in clutch during outdoor sessions.
It’s also colour accurate since every phone comes factory calibrated and it covers more than 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut. When you pair that with an AMOLED display the visuals are simply beautiful. Just like the ROG Phone 3, you are still getting an in-display fingerprint sensor on the ROG Phone 5, and unfortunately I did not have the greatest experience with it. It just fails to register my fingerprint most of the times, and it’s pretty slow as well which is unfortunate.
Next up is the audio experience with the ROG Phone 5. They have actually decided to bring back the 3.5mm headphone jack, which I’m sure a lot of people will appreciate, especially e-sports gamers considering that the ROG Phone 3 lacked one. They have also taken the extra step to implement high-res audio output with a built-in ESS Sabre DAC that can easily power headphones with an impedance of up to 600 ohms, which is just bonkers.
On top of that, they have actually added custom EQs within the software where it can fine tune your audio levels depending on your preference and you can switch between different genres. It’s honestly customization taken to a whole new level, and it’s something that I still wish some smartphone manufacturers would implement. Then there are the dual front-facing speakers, I think it’s safe to say that ASUS has set the bar when it comes to delivering the best sound quality for a smartphone. I mean the orientation is just perfect, the bass is filling with excellent fidelity in the trebles, I think this is a great setup for a portable home theater experience, especially if you are watching Netflix or YouTube or just gaming in general. I just wish that every smartphone had this sort of setup, but you do get that drawback of those top and bottom bezels, but I think that is completely okay.
The Batteries – Yes, Two of Them
The next cool feature added to the ROG Phone 5 is the battery configuration. Now this one has two separate 3000mAh batteries for grand total of 6,000mAh, and it actually charges them simultaneously when you plug it in. On top of that, they have implemented 65Wh Hyper Charge, which means you can juice up the device to 70% in just 30 minutes. Honestly, for a battery that size it’s pretty amazing. Now they did go back to the drawing board to redo the thermal and battery design to make it more efficient and safe to use. They have actually done this by using MMT, which stands for Middle Middle Tab technology, and that essentially charges the battery from the middle instead of the bottom, which lowers temperature rise when you have this thing plugged in. They have also built-in some software optimizations for the battery under the Battery Care tab. You can enable slow charging, which is limited to 18W, and you can set charging limit for less battery wear over time. You can also schedule charging if you want to keep the battery percentage lower overnight so that you’re not putting any wear on the battery by leaving it a 100% for hours while you are sleeping.
You see for phone that packs the fastest SOC – in this case the Snapdragon 888 – 12GB of RAM (or 18GB on the Limited Edition model), and a 144Hz display, having a larger battery is crucial to power all that madness. As a result this thing is guaranteed to last you long enough for your intense gaming or content consumption needs. I have been having some trouble trying to kill this thing in a single day with a few hours of gaming, and of course my usual routine of smartphone usage, so that definitely says something good about its endurance.
Accessories & Awesome Gaming Setup
The last feature I want to cover are the accessories that complete this whole portable gaming setup. Having played around with these add-ons for a while I think I’ve come to realize that this is the proper way to game. Check out the Kunai 3 gamepad that comes bundled with a protective case for easier transportation. In it you have the controller and the charger base built-in, along with a grip that attaches to the whole unit itself for a comfortable experience and a bumper that allows the user to detach the left and right controllers from the charging base, and attaches to the phone itself, transforming this whole thing to handheld mode.
Now I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not a super hardcore mobile gamer, but I do love racing games and I have been playing a lot of Asphalt 8 during my leisure time. It’s just so refreshing to interact with the game using proper joysticks and physical buttons instead of just using touchscreen and tilting the phone back and forth. Not only do you have something comfortable to hold on to, but you get these buttons and there aren’t not any distractions happening while you are looking at the display. It just elevates that gaming experience, and it enables you to focus on what you’re doing.
Now you can also use the controller in Bluetooth mode when you attach it back to the charging base, but personally I prefer this handheld style. What is also cool is that you can also attach the Aero Active Cooler by simply clipping it on and it works flawlessly. You can also adjust the fan speeds to Armoury Crate, and they actually designed this phone in such a way that the processor is right in the center where it makes direct contact with that air active fan cooler to dissipate the heat in a more efficient manner. Overall it’s clear that they have really thought about this really well, and there are no limiting factors.
I actually came up with an interesting idea for someone who is super hardcore into mobile gaming, because with this whole crazy setup you are definitely going to run out of battery at some point. I thought maybe if you add a portable battery solution – something that supports 65Wh – you can simply use the side mounted USB-C port, which is still accessible with the Aero Active Cooler attached, and you now have yourself this awesome portable ultimate gaming setup. I think it’s so unique and so cool that this is probably going to be my mobile gaming setup moving forward. Now we do have to mention that not all games have support the controller, you actually have to go through mapping them manually, which works in some instances and in other cases it is just really difficult to get it working.
Nevertheless, if you find the games that work natively with this controller it’s such an awesome experience, and I just can’t cope back to using the smartphone itself. That is how spoiled I have become with this setup. So that pretty much wraps up my Top 5 features about the ROG Phone 5. Let me know what you all think about this phone, and if you find any of these features really cool and unique compared to the competition. If you’re a hardcore mobile gamer I want to know your thoughts about this, is it something that you would consider as your next purchase or an upgrade? I’m really curious to know.