[First Cut] Asus ROG Phone II: The Best of the Smartphone Gaming World
In the past year or so, smartphone gaming has gained tremendous popularity thanks to games like PUBG and Fortnite making their way to smartphones. As a result, phone manufacturers have been churning out gaming-centric smartphones with funky designs and RGB lights. Asus is one such brand who has a stronghold on the gaming segment with its Republic of Gamers branding for laptops and computers and when they launched the ROG smartphone last year, it offered everything one would expect from a gaming device. With the ROG Phone II as well, they seemed to have done exactly that, all over again.
Typical Gaming Design
If you’re a fan of classy and subtle design, the ROG Phone II is everything but that. It screams “gamer” right in your face and that’s not saying that the ROG Phone II does not look appealing. It stands out from the blue coloured glass gradients that we’ve seen too much of. If you’re a gamer, which you would be if you’re interested in this phone, you’re bound to love the design. There’s a bold ROG logo on the back which lights up in RGB colours when the gaming mode is triggered. There is even a slight vent on the side for what seems like heat dissipation.
The glass back is accompanied by a metallic frame which chamfers at the edges. The bottom houses a USB Type-C port on the side rather than at the centre to help with holding the phone better if you’re charging the phone while gaming. The headphone jack still stays, and gamers will certainly appreciate this inclusion. While the right side has the usual power and volume button combo, the left has a rubber flap covering 2 more USB Type-C ports used to connect accessories.
Accessories include a Twin Dock which adds an additional display attachment to help with multitasking, a joystick, an Aeroactive Cooler, and a Mobile Desktop Dock to connect the phone to your PC and play games using a keyboard and mouse pair. There’s an Aero Case that’s included within the box and is essentially a bumper case with cut-outs to attach the Aero Cooler.
The display is an extremely vital component of a good gaming smartphone and the ROG Phone II has one of the best and fastest panels out there. The 6.6-inch Full HD+ 10-bit HDR-enabled AMOLED display has a whopping 120Hz refresh rate which is the highest on a smartphone till date. You have to use the display to know how buttery smooth it feels! There’s no fancy cut-out or notch but that’s mainly because Asus has gone with a design that’s most functional to gamers since they are the target audience. While the display does feel gorgeous, there aren’t a lot of popular games that support the higher refresh rate yet.
There’s an in-display fingerprint scanner under the display which feels decently fast. The chin and forehead on this device are quite sizeable and for good reason. There’s a front-firing stereo setup which is ample loud. The bigger bezels also help to grip the device better while gaming.
Fastest Phone in the market?
The ROG Phone II runs on the binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ mobile platform and offers up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of UFS 3.0 storage. Just the kind of numbers you would expect to see on the spec sheet of a gaming smartphone. This configuration can run anything you throw at it with ease. If you want raw performance, the ROG Phone II is the one to go for.
The software is very close to stock Android with a dedicated dark theme and some gaming-centric features, and Asus is calling it ROG UI. Asus has included something they call the ‘Armoury Crate’ from where you can customize certain aspects of the phone like the RGB lighting, performance and battery profiles, have a quick overview of the thermals as well as CPU and GPU usage. You can also turn on the X-mode from here which snoozes all notifications and puts all other background apps to sleep and optimizes gameplay. The X-mode can also be activated by squeezing the phone thanks to the pressure-sensitive sides. The ROG phone II also has air triggers which essentially adds shoulder buttons to the phone which can be mapped to custom controls inside a game. Watch out for our full review wherein we’ll speak in detail about all these functions.
48MP Goodness here too!
Smartphone manufacturers seem to love the 48MP Sony IMX 586 sensor. We’ve seen phones right from the mid-range segment right up to flagships using the same sensor and the ROG phone II gets it too. We haven’t extensively tested the cameras, but initial impressions of both the primary and the secondary wide-angle shooters are quite good, especially considering the fact that this is a gaming-centric device. The front has a 24MP shooter for selfies.
The Asus ROG Phone II has a massive 6000mAh battery and if the numbers are anything to go by, this phone will offer you the best battery life on a modern-day smartphone. If you play PUBG for long hours on the trot, you’re going to love the ROG Phone II. The charger in the box, however, is just a QC 3.0 brick. Given the huge capacity, a charger with a higher wattage would’ve been better.
The Asus ROG Phone II is aimed at a niche category of hardcore mobile gamers and is certainly not for everyone. The display is crazy smooth and performance is unmatched and the cool gaming-related additions like air triggers, X-mode, RGB lighting and the host of accessories make it a compelling option for competitive gamers. If you’re serious about mobile gaming and your wallet allows for it, the ROG Phone II might just be THE phone to get. The ROG Phone II comes in two configurations: 8GB/128GB and 12GB/512GB and is priced at INR 37,999 and INR 59,999 respectively. It will go on sale in India starting September 30 on Flipkart during the Big Billion Days sale. For that price, the ROG Phone II absolutely slays the competition in terms of raw performance. Watch out for our full review which should help you make a better decision.