With the release of popular competitive mobile games like PUBG and Fortnite on mobile, there is renewed interest in “gaming phones.” Devices like the Razer Phone and Red Magic are a bit more mainstream than old gaming-oriented devices like the Sony Xperia Play. They’re still normal Android-powered slates, but they have high-end specs and “gamer” design quirks. Asus is the latest smartphone maker to jump into this emerging market with the ROG Phone. This phone has all the bells and whistles — in fact, it has extra bells and whistles.
Internally, the Asus ROG Phone has similar specs to other high-end smartphones. There’s a Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM, 1 4,000 mAh battery, and either 128 GB or 512 GB of storage. The Snapdragon chip is slightly overclocked compared with the standard version in other phones (2.96GHz versus 2.8GHz). A 6-inch OLED panel dominates the front of the phone with a resolution of 2160×1080 and HDR support. It has an 18:9 aspect ratio like many new phones, so it’ll be more comfortable to hold than a Razer Phone, which has the same diagonal measurement. Although, it’s just a 60Hz panel as opposed to 120Hz on the Razer.
The ROG Phone starts showing off its gamer cred when you look at the array of ports. There’s a USB Type-C port on the bottom along with a dedicated headphone jack. Then, you get another Type-C port on the side of the phone, which is profoundly weird. This second port connects to Asus’ collection of wild gaming accessories. For example, you can plug in a cooling fan attachment that keeps your phone cool during extended gaming sessions. There’s also a desktop dock, complete with video out and multiple full USB ports.
Perhaps the strangest accessory is the TwinView Dock, which is a device that stores the phone in the top half of a clamshell case, while the bottom half houses a second 2160×1080 OLED panel. It also has controller-style grips, a fan, shoulder buttons, and a 6,000 mAh battery. It’s unclear what that second screen is for, though. Android apps and games don’t know how to utilize dual-screen devices. Asus also plans a more conventional game controller add-on with thumbsticks and buttons.
Even without the controller add-ons, the ROG Phone has more gaming controls than other phones. The device contains three ultrasonic sensors inside. In portrait mode, they detect squeezing to trigger actions (like HTC’s Edge Sense). In landscape, two of them act as shoulder buttons for use in games. The rest of the phone’s physical design is aggressively “gamer-ish” with lots of angular facets and an RGB logo on the back.
Asus doesn’t have a price or a launch date for the ROG Phone yet. It estimates some time in Q3 of this year, but it won’t even ballpark the price. I’d imagine it will be quite high. It’ll probably really own in PUBG, though.
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