Besides dominating the gaming laptop market, ASUS sub-brand ROG has also established a strong presence in the mobile gaming landscape with it’s own line of specialized gaming smartphones targeted on Android mobile gamers.
The new generation’s ROG Phone 5 is the best testament for the company’s ongoing commitment towards mobile gamers, bringing along new upgrades and features that are aimed to further elevate the gaming experience of it’s users.
Here, we aren’t talking about those usual stuffs like cameras and mobile processors alone, but rather features like shoulder buttons, high screen refresh rate and touch sampling rate, cooling system, battery life, as well as support for peripherals.
These are features that are vital for mobile gaming, and are things that we don’t usually see among mainstream devices that include other equally expensive models say the OPPO Find X3 Pro (Review) and Vivo X60 Pro (Review).
However, are these additions enough to justify it’s S$1,499 (US$1,133) asking price in Singapore? Let’s find out in our ASUS ROG Phone 5 review!
Design That Impresses
As usual, it’s pretty easy to tell that the ROG Phone 5 is a gaming-centric phone with a quick glance, thanks to it’s futuristic design elements like the signature ROG logo at the back which dons a highly-customizable RGB lighting.
However, compared to it’s predecessors, the new ROG Phone 5’s design is comparatively more subtle probably because the company aims to target the phone towards more mainstream users this time round.
Despite that, the ROG Phone 5 is still undeniably among the coolest-looking phone we’d seen so far, especially for it’s Storm White variant which we’d received for review. This variant comes with a glossy white finish which is contrasted by it’s blue colored Power Button and SIM slot to make the color pops.
Sporting an overall dimension of 173 x 77 x 9.9mm, the ROG Phone 5 is slightly larger than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Review), but certainly feels premium and sturdy on hand courtesy of it’s Gorilla Glass back which gives the back panel an additional layer of protection against accidental drops or scratches.
Though the ROG Phone 5 may be slightly heavier than majority of the phones in the market, but you probably wouldn’t feel the weight that much when holding the phone with both hands during gaming – and is especially true when you get overly engrossed in the game.
Coming to the front side, the ROG Phone 5 features a large 6.78” display that’s completely free of hole-punches or notches of any sort, in order for users get to enjoy every single inch of the display during gaming.
Speaking of that, it’s front display is equipped with an AMOLED panel that offers an ultra-sharp FHD+ screen resolution topped with 144Hz refresh rate which makes the entire UI and animations feel buttery-smooth.
Like any of the top-end devices, the ROG Phone 5 also carries support for HDR10+ playback, as well as 111.23% DCI-P3 and 106.87% NTSC color gamut coverage that deliver a rich and true-to-life graphical experience for its users.
Most importantly, the screen can also gets really bright with it’s impressive peak brightness of 1,200 nits which ensures the screen remains clearly visible even directly under harsh sunlight. That basically gives you the freedom to enjoy gaming anytime, anywhere, even at your favorite outdoor café.
Of course, having a top-of-the-line display doesn’t mean anything if it’s cracked. That’s the reason why it’s front display had been reinforced by the new generation’s Gorilla Glass Victus to improve it’s durability, as well as shielding it against accidental drops or scratches.
Performance & Gaming
At the helm, the ROG Phone 5 is backed with the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 mobile platform which is also adopted by pretty much all it’s key competitors like the Black Shark 4 Pro, Nubia Red Magic 6 Pro and the Lenovo Legion Duel 2.
On a day-to-day usage, the Snapdragon 888 chipset is an absolute overkill – but that’s something most of us probably wouldn’t mind about. Multi-tasking is a breeze on the ROG Phone 5, especially when it’s coupled with 16GB worth of blazing-fast LPDDR5 RAM which makes app switching felt almost instantaneous.
Even when talking about more resource intensive tasks like high-res video editing or real-time gaming, the overly maxed out specs of the ROG Phone 5 certainly gives the phone more than sufficient horse power to excel in these aspects too.
That’s largely thanks to it’s built-in Adreno 660 GPU which is capable of delivering 35% faster graphics rendering as compared to the Adreno 650 GPU in last year’s Snapdragon 865+ chipset that powers the ROG Phone 3 (Review).
However, having an ultra-fast processor with plenty of RAM isn’t enough to complete the package for a true immersive gaming experience since the phone could potentially be slowed down due to thermal throttling.
So, to take care of that, ASUS had also garnished the phone with an advanced cooling system under the hood consisting of a 3D vapour chamber and graphite sheets to dissipate heat much more effectively.
On top of that, you can still purchase an additional pocket-sized external cooling fan dubbed as the ActiveAero Cooler 5 which can be easily clipped to the back of the phone to bolster it’s cooling efficiency.
What’s interesting is that the ROG Phone 5 actually comes with a dedicated port along the right-edge (as seen in the image above) of the phone that can be used to connect peripherals like the ActiveAero Cooler 5.
Aside from all the performance-boosting features, the ROG Phone 5 also brings along other gaming-centric features like the ultrasonic shoulder buttons dubbed as the AirTriggers which can be easily mapped to any onscreen buttons for better controls.
If these aren’t enough for you, then you’ll probably be glad to hear that the device also supports the ROG Kunai 3 gamepad that offers you pretty much the same experience and controls as a traditional game-console gamepad.
Another feature worth mentioning is that the ROG Phone 5 offers an excellent haptic feedback which not only deliver a more entertaining gaming experience, but also makes day-to-day usage of the phone feels more interactive.
Rounding out the entire entertainment package will be none other than a pair of highly-capable, front-facing stereo speakers tuned by Swedish audiophile specialist Dirac – that brings you loud and immersive sound of high fidelity. Can’t deny, the ROG Phone’s 5 stereo speakers are by far the best smartphone speakers I’d came across.
I guess most of us could agree that cameras aren’t exactly the main focus of a gaming-centric smartphone. However, that doesn’t deter ASUS from equipping the ROG Phone 5 with a versatile triple-camera system that’s lead by a 64 megapixels (f/1.8 aperture) main camera, 12 megapixels (f/2.4 aperture) ultra-wide lens, as well as a 5 megapixels (f/2.0 aperture) macro camera.
In the default shooting mode, it’s main camera is capable in clicking flattering images with wide dynamic range as well as an amicable amount of details. Photos are generally taken with great exposure whether in a bright or low-light environment. Similarly, color reproductions of it’s main camera are pretty good too, rendering colors that are close to what we see in real life.
To assist with low-light photography, the ROG Phone 5 do have a pretty nifty night mode that helps brighten the scene, improving the color contrast and details within the photo. Surely, we won’t expect them to be the type of quality we get on camera-centric phones like the Huawei Mate 40 Pro (Review) or Vivo X60 Pro, but are compelling enough to post on social media.
For ultra-wide shots, it’s 13MP ultra-wide lens did a pretty remarkable job as well. It continues to offer a rich color profile with decent amount of details when cropping into the image. Most importantly, the phone also did fairly well in handling those undesirable fisheye effect that usually accompanies an ultra-wide shot.
Finally, it’s 5MP macro camera is also a nice addition for those who loves to take close-up photography of nature. It’s pretty accurate in terms of edge detection, therefore subjects generally appear to be well-isolated from the background.
As for those who loves snapping selfies, the ROG Phone 5 also has a 24 megapixels front-facing shooter that’s capable of clicking insta-worthy selfies that look natural and detailed.
Battery & Charging
To keep the phone running through the day, the ROG Phone 5 is blessed by a massive 6,000mAh dual-cell battery which can impressively get you up to two-days worth of battery life under normal usage condition.
Even when gaming under the highest graphic settings, the ROG Phone 5 nets over 5 hours of game time which is among the most enduring I’d seen among Android smartphones. Of course, under lower graphic settings, you can expect to squeeze out more than 7 hours worth of game time.
In fact, the ROG Phone 5 comes with a suite of intuitive tools that give you more control over it’s battery life which you can access via it’s pre-installed Armoury Crate app. For instance, you can pick from four different system modes including X Mode, Dynamic, Advanced and Ultra Durable.
Depending on your preference, X Mode offers the best performance and refresh rate at the cost of your battery life, while Ultra Durable gives you the most enduring battery life at the expense of performance and graphics.
Battery life aside, the ROG Phone 5 also carries support for a blazing-fast 65W charging which is a pretty significant upgrade over the 30W charging speed on last year’s ROG Phone 3. A full charge from 0 to 100% takes slightly less than an hour which is really quick considering it’s battery capacity.
Despite it’s hefty price tag, the ASUS ROG Phone 5 certainly worth every single penny from your pocket. With this amount of money, you get yourself perhaps the coolest-looking phone in the market that’s packed with some of the most powerful internals, alongside a suite of electrifying game-centric features which we don’t see among any of the mainstream phones.
As such, the ROG Phone 5 is a must-have device for mobile gamers who wish to take their gaming experience to a whole new level. Even if you don’t see yourself as a hardcore mobile gamer, the ROG Phone 5 is still one of the best options you should consider since the device easily holds up against any other flagship phones in almost every aspects.
For those who’re interested, the ASUS ROG Phone 5 is priced S$1,499 (US$1,133) in Singapore, and could be purchased via the ASUS official online store.