RoG Phone 3 was announced officially a few days ago, and it is glorious!
So, I’ve had this phone for maybe two days and I haven’t been able to spend as much time with it as I would have liked. But the time I did spend has been pretty fantastic! It’s smooth as butter, the display looks great, and it has some of the best speakers I have heard on a phone, ever, I think. And of course the backlit logo just screams ‘GAMER’ in the best ways possible, which, on a side note, is very nice of ASUS that they provided a handy toggle on the notifications panel to turn it off.
Let me get the specs out of the way real quick, because people much smarter than me will be able to give you a much better picture of what all the fancy processor models, and camera sensors mean.
So, on the highest model, it’s got
- 12 GB RAM
- 256 GB Storage
- 6.59”, 2340×1080, AMOLED, 144Hz display
- 3.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 with 5G capabilities
- ROG GameCool 3 multi-level cooling system (which is a fancy way of saying you can game on it endlessly)
- 6000 mAh battery with fast charging
- Dirac-tuned ROG GameFX audio system with 7 magnet stereo Hi-Fi sound-system (and it shows)
- AirTrigger 3 with Dual Partition and Motion sensor input
All in all, It’s pretty buff. One of the things that caught my ears were the speakers.
It’s got speakers on both ends of the screen facing forward that let you listen to stuff even if you’re holding the phone in landscape. So your hands don’t actually muffle the sounds.
On full volume, they are more than enough to watch a movie through, even when the phone is kept 10 feet away.
There are a few caveats though. The volume doesn’t seem to scale well with the volume slider, with it being almost inaudible when the slider is only half-way down. But this is something that will probably be fixed in a future update, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Another thing that’s great about the phone is the refresh rate. At 144 Hz, it is the smoothest phone on the market right now. That combined with the 25 ms touch latency, and 18 ms slide latency make for one of the smoothest experiences where it often felt like the phone responded before my fingers touched the screen.
And just to put 25ms into perspective, it takes about 4 times as long for your eyes to blink.
Another thing that was an experience were the Air Triggers. While it doesn’t actually have any buttons, the haptic feedback makes them feel as close to one as possible, I think. They were responsive and fluid in all the right ways, and new to RoG Phone 3, I could actually partition, essentially making a proper controller layout with a bumper and a trigger on both sides.
Also a feature of the new RoG, is the motion button. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t quite get the hang of it. While it says that you only have to shake your phone to use it, it was more strangling that got the job done. I would have loved it if it was more Heads-up style flick-down-to-use sensor. But alas, Maybe they’ll fix it in the update.
Now, everyone knows this thing is a gamer’s dream, and as such, they have something called X-Mode that optimizes for game performance, silences calls, clears RAM, deletes cache memory, and a bunch of other things that make your gaming experience as seamless as possible.
I didn’t have the phone setup as a main device, so it didn’t have any of the clutter that you typically associate with your phone, so I couldn’t tell you how much the X-Mode impacted the gameplay since I seemed to be getting the same frame rate both in and out of X-Mode. And to be fair, is a complement, really. Another thing they’ve added to complement gameplay experience is the Game Genie.
It’s a nifty little sidebar that allows you to customize things about the X-Mode, like changing the alerts that are silenced, brightness locks, and whether it should use your mobile data only or wifi as well. This is also the place where you customize the Air Triggers, and the Motion Buttons. It has the ability to let you start a live-stream on YouTube. It lets you record your screen, display real time-info. And surprisingly, set up macros where you can define gestures that will execute at the tap of a button, display a cross-hair as well! It is definitely a fine addition to the whole gamer thing. And I found myself using this a lot. Mostly to set up the triggers and see the real time info, but a lot nonetheless. And you know what else is a fine addition to the gamer thing? Batteries. We love ‘em.
And this one boasts a pretty good battery! And from what I tested in the two days, it lives up to it. I let the phone be for an entire day on half battery and it barely dropped 10% by the next day. Which is pretty good. They also have quite an extensive Settings section for battery life, and performance. With the ability to set up schedules, a max-charge amount, and different power saving profiles to increase the durability and longevity of the battery, they’re clearly looking out for the consumer. So that you don’t have to go about buying a new phone every six months.
Another thing I felt when I picked up the phone was its weight. It sits at a mighty 240g, and you can feel it. It’s not really a deal breaker though, considering the bulk of processing it can handle, and not to mention the cooling system it’s got going on. Now, I feel I should mention the average temperature where I’m at goes close to 40 degrees, so I wouldn’t hold the phone accountable for heating up as much as it did while I was playing. But it did heat up while I was playing. Not to the point where I could fry an egg on it, but to the point where it was definitely too hard to ignore. The heating issue also depended heavily on the type of games I was playing. Alto’s Odyssey? Card Thief? No worries. PUBG? Asphalt? My hands burn.
Which brings us to; the games available that utilize the phone. The android gaming market is rife with games that push the boundaries of what is possible in the palm of your hand, and you will find plenty that test your device as well, but I couldn’t find one that could test this phone. And this is partly because games in the android market are made to run on as many devices as possible, and most devices don’t have the capabilities that the RoG has, and it is partly because I could never get a game to run on above 90fps. I don’t know why, I had the fps limiter turned off, I tested on multiple games, even light ones. Yet, games like PUBG and Fortnite barely ran over 30fps. Most maxed out at around 90. And I think one or maybe two went as high as 120. But none that I played utilized the whole 144Hz that the phone boasts. Again, I’m not sure if it was due to a setting I had missed, or due to the games themselves, but the games that I would have liked to see working as smoothly as possible, did not.
They looked amazing though. The screen is pretty great, if a bit reflective. Very reflective, actually. Even at full brightness, it was difficult to use the phone outside without staring at my beautiful eyes. The large display, packed to the brim with pixels with minimal bezels, makes it very enticing. But at the same time it battles with its heating. It could have had a brighter display, but that would have come at the cost of battery drain and further heating issues, and maybe that smooth 144Hz refresh rate.
They seem to know their market very well. People who don’t like to go out very much, and thus don’t need to face the wrath of the sun wreaking havoc on their beautiful phone displays. This phone so far has been an exemplary model of good design choices; which are more about cutting back, than giving in.
This phone is definitely a give-and-take scenario. A lot of things in this phone are perfect if all you have to do is sit inside, and play games all day, which seems perfect for the world at large right now. But at the same time, you give up on a few conveniences that make the ‘smartphone’ experience a little rough around the edges. The screen is great, if reflective; the refresh rate and latency is brilliant; the camera is brilliant; the speaker, oof (in all the good ways); the size, manageable, but a little too weighted; the design, elegant and most definitely gamer-like; and the battery, exemplary. A lot of the issues I mentioned can, and will, probably be fixed in future updates.
All in all, if you think you have the moolah, and the need for speed, go for it.