Asus ROG Phone first impressions: The first gaming smartphone from Asus is a beast

Asus ROG’s first gaming smartphone comes to India. Here are our first impressions of the ROG Phone.

Asus ROG Phone features a 6-inch AMOLED display with 18:9 aspect ratio.
Asus ROG Phone features a 6-inch AMOLED display with 18:9 aspect ratio. (HT Photo)

Asus revived a long-lost gaming smartphone craze in India with its new ROG Phone. Asus ROG Phone is the company's first gaming smartphone from its gaming division, Republic of Gamers (ROG).

Asus ROG Phone isn't the first-of-its-kind but the first to hit the Indian market. Its competitors include the Razer Phone and Xiaomi's Black Shark Helo. Games like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite have boosted mobile gaming with companies introducing gaming-focused features on its devices.

There are smartphones like Xiaomi Poco F1 and Honor Play which come with LiquidCooling and GPU Turbo respectively, for an enhanced gaming performance. Most smartphones these days also feature gaming mode. With the ROG Phone, Asus takes smartphone gaming to another level.

Prior to its official launch in India, we got to spend some time with the ROG Phone. Here are our first impressions of the Asus ROG Phone.

In terms of design, the ROG Phone is wrapped in 2.5D Gorilla Glass 6 up front and 3D Gorilla Glass 5 at the rear. Glass-bodied smartphones are known to attract fingerprints but the ROG Phone is a fingerprint-magnet.

I had to wipe the phone screen and back panel almost every two-three minutes during my usage. Since it's a gaming smartphone and meant for long hours of intensive gaming, smudges could be a hindrance.

Asus ROG Phone features 3D Gorilla Glass 5 at the rear.
Asus ROG Phone features 3D Gorilla Glass 5 at the rear. (HT Photo)

Another area where Asus has put extra efforts is keeping the smartphone temperatures cool. Its internals comprise a carbon cooling pad, copper heat spreader and 3D vapor-chamber. Asus is also giving an AeroActive Cooler for extra cooling with the smartphone. You strap the AeroActive Cooler on the phone through the side-mounted port. Once you plug it in, you can hear the fans and the cooling starts instantly.

The side-mounted port features a USB Type-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack for comfortable gaming in landscape mode. The same module is found at the bottom panel. With headphone jacks disappearing on smartphones, Asus wants to give users additional ones. Asus ROG Phone has dual front-facing speakers and dual smart amplifiers. You can toggle through different audio modes for speaker output. The smartphone can get pretty loud which is a delight for gaming and entertainment.

Probably the coolest feature of the ROG Phone is the ultrasonic AirTriggers. Many users must have read and watched videos about it, but experiencing it is a different feeling after all. There are three AirTriggers for landscape and portrait gaming. You can customise the controls for different actions.

PUBG Mobile on the Asus ROG Phone.
PUBG Mobile on the Asus ROG Phone. (HT Photo)

We were demonstrated PUBG Mobile with the controls set for shooting, scope and punching. Once you press on these AirTriggers you get haptic feedback similar to the gaming controllers. This feature gives users additional controls on games like PUBG Mobile. It also eliminates the need of external accessories like gaming pads.

Overall, my brief experience with the ROG Phone was exciting and interesting. The ROG Phone pioneers as a gaming smartphone, but the company portrays it as a flagship smartphone as well. Under the hood, the ROG Phone runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 processor paired with 8GB of RAM. There's a 4,000mAh battery powering the phone. In comparison to existing flagships, the ROG Phone lacks in the camera department.

It has the same camera setup as Asus' Zenfone 5Z which is a 12-megapixel Sony IMX363 sensor and an 8-megapixel 120-degree secondary camera. For its price, the Zenfone 5Z offers good photographic experience. But for a smartphone like the ROG Phone, a little more would have been better on the ROG Phone.

With the fast-growing craze for smartphone games, it will be interesting to see how the ROG Phone fares in the Indian market.