Asus ROG Phone 3 Review: Smartphone Gaming, Personalized
The ROG Phone 3 is the third iteration of Asus’s gaming smartphone, a niche that has been carefully carved (with a handful of others, of course) to serve a growing community of smartphone enthusiasts and gamers. Basically a gamer. Lending the ROG brand to the device must increase confidence in the PC segment for the gaming machine. And among the many well-connected flagships capable of delivering excellent gaming performance, the ROG Phone 3 includes these minor, but notable features that make smartphone gaming a remote car option for anyone considering it a preferred weapon.
The ROG Phone 3 comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+, the same flagship found in the SoC OnePlus 8 Pro, but the Kryo 585 Prime Core has been speed-bin to run at 3.1GHz instead of 2.8GHz. The Snapdragon 865 + also has the same Adreno 650 GPU, but is tuned to run 10 percent faster. At the top end of smartphone computing, these numbers may not mean much for the average jockey, but for a gamer, they are certainly something to be proud of.
But that’s not where the feature-list ends, and it’s important to list them before starting the review, because in the end, it’s the features that set this smartphone apart. These are the air trigger, and a 144Hz AMOLED display with 270Hz touch sampling and 25ms touch latency. Any PC gamer will tell you that the fastest CPU and GPU are just a part of the whole setup. Display and peripheral are equally important. The same goes for ROG Phone 3 when it comes to smartphone gaming.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Benchmark Analysis
With the interior, Asus ROG Phone 3 is definitely the most powerful smartphone you can buy now. Our unit was running on Snapdragon 865+ with 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB UFS 3.0 storage and was able to outperform all other Android devices launched this year. There is also a variant with 16GB RAM which we assume will post higher scores on the benchmarks.
ROG Phone 3 has a software tweak that unleashes higher computing power from Snapdragon 865+, called X mode. This is a performance-enhancing mode which is triggered when you start the game to get better performance. Turning on X mode during benchmarks also gives higher scores. And the difference is quite significant.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Gaming
Everything about the design of the ROG Phone 3 is unprepared for everyday use. It weighs like a brick and looks huge in front of its contemporaries, but every little decision you make about ROG Phone 3 starts to make sense when you start playing a game. Asus offers perhaps the most personalized gaming experience on a smartphone and achieves it using a four-way approach –
1. Weight and dimension adds a vice-like grip when placed in landscape orientation for gaming. There’s an extra USB-C port on the side for charging while gaming, and front-facing speakers that you can probably pronounce the most on a smartphone. And then there’s AirTriggers.
2. AirTriggers are not new to the ROG phone lineup, but they have changed. You can now map up to four functions with two shoulder buttons, and even restrict one function to speed control. It takes time to get used to the full suite of power, but once you do that you have a lot more space to shoot and aim your thumbs. Airtriggers are also instantly responsive, but my only group is that you can’t control their hepatic intensity, which is a little more intense.
3. However the 6.59-inch AMOLED display is the most impressive. It’s not like the 144Hz refresh rate that gives you the edge, but the quick response time that makes it the best gaming smartphone to use in competitive situations. The ROG Phone 3 has 270Hz touch sampling and 25ms touch latency, and using the touchscreen while gaming is an obvious advantage, if you can learn to perfect it. Like AirTriggers, touch sensitivity is much higher in default settings. For Call of Duty: Mobile, I had to dial touch and slide sensitivity from Armory Crate to control this sensitive entity.
4. Armory Crate is the most unique weapon in the arsenal of this phone. This is an app that garages installed games, giving you statistics and recordings, and a place to save performance for each individual game in death. This is a place that will be instantly familiar to ROG PC and laptop users, showing CPU, GPU, temperature values. Here, you can tune in to every aspect of gaming performance – CPU and GPU core frequencies, thermal thresholds, schedules, governors and more. These settings can be saved as presets and can now be shared with fellow ROG Phone 3 users.
Combining the four aspects, what you get is the most spectacular gaming performance from ROG Phone 3. The hardware on the inside doesn’t give it an edge, but on the outside it is more than just the things you touch and feel on the smartphone – such as displays, trigger buttons and unique design elements that provide an edge over others.
Ironically though, the ROG Phone 3 refuses to be benchmarked by the Gamebench application that we use to record frame rate data in real-time. This is probably because X mode kills background processes just to focus on the game I was playing. However, we relied on in-game matrix displays to measure the frame rate of delivered games, and most popular games such as Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile, Real Racing 3, Infinity Ops, and Likes are top notch hits without any comprehension. Drop to frame
Asus ROG Phone 3 Durable Performance
The thermals, however, were a little higher. A slight underestimation. The phone was able to go up to 82 degrees while running AnTuTu with X mode on, becoming almost untouchable. And the phone takes 30 seconds to return to temperatures below 50 degrees. Not surprisingly, Asus has locked the Level 3 X mode until the AeroActive cooler accessory is attached to the phone. This phone is hot like crazy. The space just below the camera module has become unbearably hot after the Battle Royale match on PUBG Mobile. Still, it doesn’t seem to affect performance, much less.
The ROG Phone 3 CPU throttled only 89% of its maximum performance after 45 minutes of running the throttle test. In the same experiment, the OnePlus 8 Pro throttled 75% of its maximum performance. This means that the ROG Phone 3’s heat removal system works to keep the machine running despite all the heat generated. And with the help of aeroactive cooler accessories, the surface temperature can be controlled.
Asus ROG Phone 3 software
When set up, ROG Phone 3 offers two UI options – Asus’s gaming-flavored Apex theme or the classic stock Android theme. The built-in interface is basically stock Android without any additional third party apps. And within this stock framework, Asus has included the Armory Crate where I spend most of my time. It’s an exciting work in progress and we’ve already talked about some of the things you can do with it. Beyond that, the ROG Phone 3, like any other stock Android smartphone, with fast transitions, Google Discover feeds on the home screen, and the overall light, no-frills feel of Vanilla Android.
There are a few bugs like background app crashes, and occasional stuttering and goal reset in games, but I’ve been using the phone for over a week now, there have already been two updates to fix some issues. The ROG Phone II took its own sweet time to get an update on Android 10, but the speed at which Asus is fixing the bugs in the ROG Phone 3 is getting faster.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Camera
The ROG Phone 3 is a smartphone designed for gaming, but Asus has spent good resources on camera setup, although it is clear that this was not a high priority. The Poco X2 has a 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor, a primary camera with f / 1.8 lens, another 13MP ultraviolet lens and a 5MP macro lens. The front has a 24MP selfie shooter housed in a slim, bezel.
During the day, the camera is decent enough. The 64MP primary camera took some good shots at sunset, but lacked the dynamic range and vibration significantly compared to the OnePlus 8 Pro. Even at night, when shooting using night mode, the images are not too bright and, to be honest, you can get better images from other flagships available in this price range.
Honestly, we haven’t taken too many samples so far, as Asus has warned us about an upcoming update to improve the camera’s performance. So we’ll look at this section again in a few weeks for more detailed feedback.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Battery
Part of my daily use of the ROG Phone II as a driver was the insane battery life I got from the phone when I was out at launch events and shooting. The phone, when not used for gaming, lasted more than a day. With the same 6,000mAh battery, the ROG Phone 3 is no different. Even at the 144Hz refresh rate, the ROG Phone 3 lasts more than 29 hours on a single charge. And that was with my endless benchmark run, gaming and binging top gear episodes. For a better idea, play 15 minutes of Call of Duty: Mobile’s battery is reduced by 4 percent, while 30 minutes of Indian Matchmaking (enough for eyes and mind) viewing charge is reduced by 5 percent.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Design
The ROG Phone 3, when used as an everyday driver, seems heavy and unusable due to the form factor, especially when you feel comfortable using a tall and thin phone. But ROG Phone 3 is not for those users. As we have said before, every little thing on a smartphone seems logical when you hold it in your gaming grip.
That being said, Asus has reduced the aesthetics of the ROG Phone 3 compared to its predecessor. It’s still fairly the same size and weight (kept to ensure the back is compatible with new accessories) but the gaming aesthetic is more muted. However, the RGB-light ROG logo on the back is just as prominent. I would have preferred a few more LED light strips on the body, but suffice it to say I would say business.
The frustrating thing is that the 3.5mm headphone jack is gone. What you’ll get instead is a USB-C dongle for connecting wired earphones and the only reason to get through this hassle is that ROG Phone 3 supports high-race audio.
Asus ROGP Phone 3 Display
The 6.59-inch panel is the focus of attention on the ROG Phone 3. It does not have a modern punch-hole design and is rather thin, but has significant bezels on the top and bottom. The old-school form helps to grip the factor, preventing the palms of the hands from being accidentally touched. And the 144Hz refresh rate is by far the fastest on a smartphone display, but it can’t immediately be separated from the OnePlus 8 Pro’s 120Hz panel. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, the quick touch sampling rate and low touch latency make it the most responsive panel I’ve used before. It is very fast for typing, swiping and scrolling.
The big screen is also quite good for streaming movies and shows, thanks to its HDR support for major streaming platforms. However, it’s not as bright as the OnePlus 8 Pro, or even the ROG Phone II, which has crossed the 1000 nits mark in our lab, which is quite disappointing.
The last row
I think so far we have widely demonstrated what this smartphone is capable of doing in terms of gaming. Every component of the smartphone has been decided keeping gaming in mind. With a highly responsive display, sophisticated hardware, AirTriggers, and loud audio, Vanilla offers an unfair advantage over other players using smartphones. It’s not that you get better frame rates from the popular games on this phone, but the most noticeable, shooting and moving ROG is the most responsive on the phone 3.
So, despite having all the horsepower inside, you can’t race the ROG Phone 3 in an automobile; Because the Android gaming ecosystem offers only a two-lane highway to drive this beast. Despite the unrefined power, the ultimate experience offered by ROG Phone 3 is like any other Android flagship of 2020. We’ve heard that Google Stadia is ready too, but until the service is extensively developed or launched for use (or both), the ROG Phone 3 may feel a little overwhelmed, but for good reason.