Asus has announced the ROG Phone 3, the ultimate gaming smartphone which competes directly with OnePlus 8 Pro. Is this the gaming phone to rule them all? Let’s find out in our Asus ROG Phone 3 review.
Asus ROG Phone 3 box contents:
1. Asus ROG Phone 3 handset
2. USB Type-C Cable
3. 18W fast charger
4. Aero Case
5. SIM Ejector tool
Asus ROG Phone 3 Specifications
|Specifications||ROG Phone 3|
|Display||6.59 inches, FHD+|
|Display Type||Super Amoled, 144Hz|
|Software||Android 10, ROG UI|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+|
|Front Camera||24 MP, f/2.0|
|Rear Camera||64 + 13 + 5 MP|
|Fast Charging||30W fast charging|
Design and Build
The ROG Phone 3 is a flagship phone made of premium glass and metal. As expected, you get the gamer style aesthetic here including a glowing led logo. The bold design elements are a bit more toned down and the finish is glossy (not matte).
One special touch on this ROG Phone 3 is the triangle accent on the back. It’s actually a window through which you can see the phone’s huge copper heatsink.
Form factor of the ROG Phone 3 is quite similar to last year’s model, just a bit thicker and heftier this time. But just like on the ROG Phone 2, there’s no IP rating. This fancy hardware is vulnerable to dust and water.
Gaming Accessories of ROG Phone 3
Asus is known for its extensive selection of gaming accessories for its ROG Phones, most of which you’d need to buy separately but you do get an aeroactive cooler 3 in the box. It’s a fan that attaches to help cool down the phone and your hands too.
Also, it doubles as a kickstand, you can reuse some of the accessories from last year like the kunai gamepad 2. The case and paddles don’t fit on the ROG 3. So you have to use it as more of a standalone bluetooth controller.
However if you really want to make the phone look like a nintendo switch, Asus has just announced their new kunai gamepad 3. Last year’s twin view dock 2 is fully compatible here as well and it gives you a giant nintendo sort of vibe.
Although in-game support for a dual screen is pretty scarce at the moment. You can find a couple of games that can shift to second screen.
Asus has just announced twin view dock 3 which works much the same way, but the second screen has a higher refresh rate.
Another accessory that you can use with the ROG 3 is the mobile desktop dock. It allows you to connect the phone to a TV or monitor and play your games on the big screen. You can use this with a controller or even plug in a mouse and keyboard which feel almost like cheating.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Review: Display
The ROG Phone 3’s display has seen some improvements over last year. Despite keeping the same size, it’s a 6.59 inch OLED panel with a 1080p resolution. But what makes it stand out is its super fast 144 hertz max refresh rate and 270 hertz touch sampling rate.
This means that moving objects should appear much smoother to the eye. You have options for 60, 90, 120 or 144 hertz which are enforced across the whole system where possible and there’s also an auto mode that will adjust the refresh rate based on the particular app.
The 25 millisecond touch latency means that the phone is quick, responsive and perfect for gaming. Even swiping around the display performed admirably in our tests.
You get the excellent contrast you’d expect from an OLED and max brightness is great. Up to around 460 nits of brightness with the slider and 720 nits in auto mode in bright conditions. New support for HDR10+ across the major streaming platforms is available in ROG Phone 3.
Fingerprint Sensor, Always on display
Like most phones you see these days with oled screens the ROG Phone 3 employs an under display fingerprint scanner for waking up and unlocking the phone. It’s quite fast and responsive.
There’s an always-on display, as well as a notification led up at the top. You can program the glowing logo on the back of the phone to shine for notifications, so when it’s time to check your phone you’ll know.
Speakers and Audio jack performance
The ROG Phone 3 has a dedicated front-facing stereo speaker setup which is very powerful. Each speaker has a 7 magnet design and an independent amplifier. Asus has partnered with the swedish audio company irac for the Phone’s cutting edge audio software which is specifically tailored towards gaming.
Certain sounds and frequencies like footsteps are amplified and there’s advanced crosstalk cancellation to have better separation of the channels for cleaner directionality and one of the coolest features is the bass boost.
The max loudness of the ROG Phone 3 speakers is a little less than the ROG Phone 2, but it’s not by much and the audio quality here is awesome.
There is no 3.5 millimeter jack on the ROG Phone 3 but there is a dongle included to plug in traditional headphones and there’s actually an audio jack on the aeroactive cooler fan. So if you have that attached you’re all set.
The ROG Phone 3 has plenty of storage on board and is of the super fast UFS 3.1 variety. You can choose from 128, 256 or 512 GB options. This isn’t expandable via micro-SD, though there is support for plugging in an external hard drive.
Asus ROG Phone 3’s user interface is based on android 10 and as you’d expect from a device marketed for gamers, it brings bold aesthetics with geometric shapes and contrasty colors and a ton of options related to gaming.
One feature that’s back from last year is the high performance mode, called X mode. When you toggle it, the UI transforms and the LED and the back lights up. X mode has different tiers and the highest performance level which only available if you have the fan plugged in.
If the gamer style UI isn’t quite your taste, there is also an option for a squeaky, clean and more traditional looking interface and themes. There’s something called powermaster which is a centralized place for managing app power consumption and charging options to increase battery life.
There are in-depth controls dealing with both screen recording and screen capture which is great for anyone serious about recording their gameplay.
Gaming features of Rog Phone 3
Speaking of gaming, one handy set of features on the ROG Phone 3 lies with the game genie. This is an in-game overlay that’s easily accessible by swiping on the edge of the screen. It provides quick access to a bunch of gaming related options like do not disturb, brightness or live streaming.
It can also enable a floating toolbar that displays performance stats, FPS and temperature. You also have key mapping options for the air triggers. The two touch sensitive areas on the corners of the phone that are great for games like shooters.
In addition to that, there are motion control options, key mapping for controllers and even macros. You can set up for input combinations. If you thought that was all you’re way off, there’s a whole gaming portal called the armory crate which on the surface is a convenient and cool looking hub for accessing all of your games.
One cool feature of ROG Phone 3 allows you to create a custom performance profile for each individual game or app. This includes CPU, GPU, screen refresh rate and temperature control. You can import and export these profiles and share them online too.
Within these profiles, if you want to go even further, you can enter advanced hardcore tuning. This lets you play with specific values for the phone’s internals. We’ve never seen this level of hardware control before without rooting the phone.
After comparing it to Oneplus 8 Pro, the ROG Phone 3 was faster and it made sense because you know they’ve packed so much inside the smartphone, for the best performance.
Now let’s move on to the phone’s actual performance. The ROG Phone 3 is powered by the newly announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chipset. This is the first time we’ve seen this ship and it’s the fastest you can get on android.
It provides support for 5G network speeds and compared to the regular 865, offers a 10% bump in clock speed of its prime CPU core, as well as an increased GPU clock speed.
As far as benchmarks go, the ROG Phone 3 does an excellent job, as you would expect it sits at the top of the charts. As far as CPU performance goes and as far as graphics tests go, it beats the rest of the android competition. Only falling short of apple’s hardware.
All in all, it’s not a night and day improvement over the regular Snapdragon 865, but it is quite noticeable. One interesting observation we had was that the X performance mode. It seem to boost the maximum performance scores or FPS rates very much.
The phone is already great at combating thermal throttling, thanks to its heatsink and fan attachment. But the X mode tweaks performance parameters and thermal tolerances to help make sure that after an hour or 2 hours of gaming, you don’t get some heat issues related slowdown.
Battery and Charging
Gigantic 6,000 mAh battery of ROG Phone 3 is one of the largest ones you can get on a flagship today.
ROG Phone 3 scored an impressive endurance rating of 120 hours in GSMArena’s battery life tests with its screen at the highest refresh rate.
By bumping the refresh rate down to a standard 60 hertz to you can get battery life of 133 hours.
Charging speed of ROG Phone is decent especially for such a big battery. With the 30W power delivery charger you’ll able to charge from 0% to 43% in 30 minutes.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Camer Review
It’s not all about the gaming, you might want to take the occasional picture too. The ROG Phone 3 is equipped with a triple camera setup on the back including a 64MP main cam, a 13MP ultra-wide cam and a 5MP macro camera.
The main camera’s photos come out in 16MP and these are perfectly decent. There’s plenty of detail and colors look natural. We did have some trouble with the HDR though, which is quite inconsistent. So dynamic range is sort of hit or mis.
You can capture photos at the full 64MP resolution, though this doesn’t offer as much benefit as you might imagine. There isn’t much more detail and the file size is huge.
Zooming is available and is advertised as lossless though it is a digital zoom taken from the main cam. At two times this looks decent with a surprising amount of detail. Though they’re a bit too soft to be called lossless.
Portrait shots coming from the main camera are very clean looking with nice subject detection and separation.
The 13MP shots from the fixed focus ultrawide cam are perfectly decent, but a bit on the soft. Close-up shots taken with the 5 MP macro cam are okay, the results are usable but the resolution is nothing impressive.
In low light shots, from the main camera were pretty good. They’re surprisingly low noisy, enough detailed and comes with decent dynamic range. There is a night mode supported here which you can set to be enabled automatically if the conditions are dark enough.
Depending on the particular scene, night mode can be surprisingly effective often managing to bring back a lot of detail from the dark shadows.
The ultra-wide cam’s performance is pretty poor in low light as expected. If you turn on night mode you may end up with a usable result. These take a long time to shoot and don’t expect anything mind blowing.
Selfies are taken with the 24MP front facing cam these 6MP shots are good, focus is fixed, but these tend to come out sharp with nice detail colors and dynamic range.
4k videos from the main cam can be taken in up to 60 fps and quality is quite decent. You get a good amount of detail with vibrant colors. The sharpening might be a bit overdone though there is even an option to capture video with this camera at 8k.
This mode has electronic stabilization (EIS) which we haven’t seen before. The quality here is great, you can shoot in up to 4k at 30fps with the ultrawide camera.
These are pretty good though the dynamic range is noticeably more narrow than the videos from the main camera even though there is no optical image stabilization (OIS) to be found on these cameras.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Review: Verdict
1. Great build quality.
2. Compatible with many of the ROG Phone 2 accessories.
3. AirTigger 3 ultrasonic touch sensors are very precise.
4. Superb AMOLED screen with HDR10+, 144Hz refresh rate.
5. Great battery life, even at full 144Hz, battery health is mind blowing.
6. Industry-leading speaker performance, complete with gaming-specific sound tweaks.
7. Fastest-available Snapdragon 865+ chipset.
8. Blazing-fast LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage.
9. Unrivaled accessory ecosystem.
10. Solid daylight photos, as well as low-light images.
1. No water and dust resistance.
2. No microSD, no 3.5mm jack.
3. HDR needs some extra work.
So that’s our Asus ROG Phone 3 review. From top to bottom, the upgrades it brings are pretty much geared toward improving the gaming experience.
You get a large and responsive high refresh rate, OLED display, a cool looking gamer style design, awesome stereo speakers tuned toward the audio.
You’d hear in games excellent battery life and a cutting edge chipset that can give high class performance over long gaming sessions.
There are a couple of nitpicks to be had here. First is the camera quality which isn’t flagship level, but for the gamers, I don’t think it’s such a high priority and it gets the job done.
The other thing I want to mention here is the focus on a super high refresh rate. The high fps is awesome for gaming, but since it’s up to game developers to enable it on their end, you’re never sure whether a game would support 144 fps or not.
The Play Store doesn’t make it easy to find the right game titles either, so you have to rely on info posted on forums online.
I think this phone offers an awesome premium gaming experience that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible on an android device. It’s not for everyone, but for the hardcore mobile gamers out there, the ROG Phone 3 deserves a recommendation.