Asus ROG Phone review

GSMArena team, 21 December 2018.

High refresh rate OLED display

One of the defining features of any respectable gaming setup, be it portable or not is the quality of the display and consequently, visual fidelity. Rendering gorgeous frames with realistic detail colors and lighting means very little if the panel tasked with displaying It simply omits, distorts or misinterprets most of that graphics data.

Asus ROG Phone review

Razer understands that pretty well with its IGZO, 120HZ variable refresh rate mobile panels. High refresh rate simply is a game-changer, which is why Razer is still sticking with the tech, despite its high cost and extreme power hunger. Even with said shortcoming, Razer's purely visual gaming experience set the bar pretty high, So much so that frankly with said precedent in existence we kind of feel like any phone that dares to title itself "for gaming" has to at least try to offer something better than the sea of 60Hz IPS/OLED panels out there.

Asus does not disappoint in this department either arguably opting for a more versatile, if slightly less impressive in some regards solution than Razer's. The ROG Phone packs a 6-inch, 1080 x 2160 AMOLED panel. Nothing out of the ordinary thus far. The unique "unicorn" bit here is that it has a maximum refresh rate of 90Hz. 30Hz more than 99% of the handset currently out on the market. And believe us when we say that the visual difference in smoothness is perceivable.

Asus ROG Phone review

Unfortunately, the high refresh rate isn't something that can be experienced in any way other than in person. We can't capture it on camera and even if we could, you would need a high refresh rate display on your end to see it in action. Everything just looks smoother at 90Hz and the ROG Phone has plenty of horsepower to saturate that refresh rate in most games. Naturally, the UI is optimized as well and works at an almost rock steady 90fps. Even in day-to-day experience the 90Hz mode feels so much smoother than other devices that it kind of makes switching to anything other than a Razer Phone difficult.

Speaking of which, Razer does undoubtedly have higher refresh rates on their side and even more importantly - their refresh rates are variable, which makes every scenario stutter-free and even smoother. On the flip side, there is that whole battery-draining bit that we found to mostly be related to the variable refresh rate technology. The ROG Phone skips all that, opting for a toggle between either 90Hz or a conventional 60Hz, if you feel like saving on some battery.

But that's the other thing - since the panel here is OLED and there is no variable refresh rate tech sucking up juice, the impact of 90Hz over 60Hz in battery life is much less.

We also can't fail to mention the AMOLED bit of the equation. It has the distinct benefit of infinite contrast and true blacks, which no LCD can really attain. This makes it very well suited for multimedia. And, just to be clear, the higher refresh rate does not have any benefit for multimedia consumption, anyway. Still, gaming is where the two bits of the puzzle really come into their own. And mind you, high refresh rate OLED panels are really hard to come by on any consumer tech. Aside from a few exuberantly priced TV's, you just can find such an experience as provided on the ROG phone.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy Note9 (Max Auto) 0 658
Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Max Auto) 0.003 657 219000
Motorola Moto Z3 (Max Auto) 0 652
LG V40 ThinQ (Max Auto) 0.008 638 79750
Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Max Auto) 0 631
Xiaomi Mi 8 (Max Auto) 0.002 624 312000
Sony Xperia XZ3 (Max Auto) 0 620
Asus ROG Phone (Max Auto) 0 542
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 0.002 508 254000
Honor Play 0.414 470 1135
Motorola Moto Z3 0 464
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 0.314 461 1468
Asus ROG Phone 0 458
Xiaomi Mi 8 0 458
vivo NEX S 0 458
OnePlus 6T (Max Auto) 0 455
OnePlus 6T 0 453
Sony Xperia XZ3 0 442
Google Pixel 3 0 426
Oppo Find X 0 426
Razer Phone 2 (Max Auto) 0.403 426 1057
HTC U12+ (Max Auto) 0.214 389 1818
Razer Phone 2 0.401 380 948
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 0 376
Samsung Galaxy Note9 0 367
HTC U12+ 0.2 366 1830
LG V40 ThinQ 0.002 323 161500

Sunlight legibility is a particular strong suit of the ROG Phone panel. In fact, it is almost a chart-topper in our test database.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Apple iPhone XS
    5.171
  • Apple iPhone X
    5.013
  • Huawei Mate 20 Pro
    4.965
  • OnePlus 5T
    4.789
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
    4.768
  • Asus ROG Phone
    4.765
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    4.658
  • Samsung Galaxy S9
    4.63
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+
    4.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Note9
    4.531
  • Apple iPhone XS Max
    4.516
  • Sony Xperia XZ3
    4.502
  • Motorola Moto Z2 Play
    4.459
  • Oppo R11
    4.454
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • Oppo RX17 Pro
    4.434
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • Google Pixel 3
    4.35
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
    4.324
  • OnePlus 6
    4.321
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • LG V40 ThinQ
    4.256
  • Oppo R15 Pro
    4.251
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Nokia 8
    4.239
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (pre-update)
    4.234
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)
    4.22
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    4.148
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    4.147
  • OnePlus 6T
    4.138
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017)
    4.124
  • vivo V11
    4.113
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro (normal)
    4.096
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei P20 Pro
    4.087
  • Xiaomi Mi 8
    4.086
  • Meizu 15
    4.082
  • Nokia 6 (2018)
    4.052
  • Google Pixel 2 (pre-update)
    4.023
  • LG V30
    4.022
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • vivo NEX S
    4.012
  • Honor Magic 2
    4.01
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Pro
    3.998
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • LG G7 ThinQ (outdoor)
    3.978
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 8 (True Tone)
    3.957
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Oppo Find X
    3.954
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • OnePlus 5
    3.914
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 SE
    3.901
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Oppo Realme 2 Pro
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Oppo F3 Plus
    3.218
  • BlackBerry KEY2
    3.212
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    3.206
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    3.19
  • ZTE Nubia Z17
    3.159
  • Oppo R11s
    3.153
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Honor 8X
    3.113
  • HTC U11 Life
    3.108
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • HTC U11
    3.089
  • Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite
    3.087
  • HTC U12+
    3.085
  • Xiaomi Redmi S2 (Y2)
    3.077
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Oppo F9
    3.069
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 3
    3.061
  • Xiaomi Pocophone F1
    3.059
  • Huawei Mate 20
    3.052
  • Huawei Mate 20 Lite
    3.051
  • Motorola One (P30 Play)
    3.026
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL
    3.019
  • Sony Xperia XA1
    3.012
  • Motorola Moto X4
    3.012
  • Oppo Realme 2
    3.006
  • Sony Xperia L1
    2.994
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • LG Q6
    2.987
  • Huawei P10 Lite
    2.974
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
    2.966
  • Huawei P20 Lite
    2.952
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    2.951
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Sony Xperia XA2
    2.938
  • Oppo Realme 1
    2.932
  • Razer Phone 2
    2.932
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4
    2.92
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • Huawei Honor View 10
    2.896
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium (sRGB)
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia XZ Premium
    2.877
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Nokia 3
    2.871
  • Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium
    2.867
  • Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
    2.862
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Nokia 3.1
    2.837
  • Realme U1
    2.815
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Nokia 7.1
    2.804
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Honor 10 (Vivid)
    2.757
  • Nokia 2
    2.752
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Huawei Mate 10 (normal)
    2.742
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    2.737
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Huawei Honor 7X
    2.734
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (S625)
    2.714
  • Meizu M5
    2.71
  • Xiaomi Mi A2
    2.696
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    2.689
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • vivo V7+
    2.671
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Huawei Mate 10 Lite
    2.654
  • Oppo F5
    2.653
  • Doogee Mix
    2.642
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4a
    2.635
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Standard)
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Meizu M5s
    2.58
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Huawei P Smart
    2.563
  • Xiaomi Mi Max 2
    2.561
  • HTC U11+
    2.556
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5A (Y1)
    2.556
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • BlackBerry Motion
    2.494
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Xiaomi Mi 5X (Auto)
    2.417
  • HTC 10 evo
    2.407
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • vivo V5
    2.059
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Meizu MX
    1.221

For all its versatility and visual appeal, however, the ROG Phone's panel isn't without its faults. For one, OLED is kind of known to handle motion blur a bit worse than its LCD cousin. In really fast-paced games and with rapid camera pans you can sometimes notice this while gaming. Just to be clear, though, you can notice it if you really know what you are looking for and want to be a display snob about things. Plus, the panel Asus chose for the ROG Phone has really low pixel response times, as low as 1ms. So, chances are, unless you are comparing blur on the ROG Phone to that on a really high-end, adaptive-sync, high-refresh rate, IPS desktop display, the ROG Phone is going to come out ahead.

So, blur is mostly not an issue. That just leaves one major beef we have with the display in the ROG Phone - the colors. Now, this, again, is less of an isolated issue and more of a compromise of the particular Asus approach. The default color pallet looks quite a bit off. Reds are very overblown, which is fairly standard, but so are green and magenta, which is just an odd combination that makes for a strange tint. Fiddling with the available display tuning settings can bring the deltaE values down to an average of 3.9 and a maximum of 7.2, but you really don't want to do that.

Asus ROG Phone review

In every color mode other than the default "wide color gamut" one, everything looks really dull. So you are definitely better off dealing with the default deltaE of 7.4 average and 12.6 max. On the flip side, the ROG Phone does have HDR support, although the specs sheet lacks any info on particular HDR standards and certifications. Still, Asus claims it has some secret sauce working under the hood that converts SDR colors to HDR in games, making use of the full capabilities of the panel. Color-wise, these are pretty solid as well, with a 108.6% DCI-P3 coverage and 145% of the sRGB color space.

Battery life

The Asus ROG Phone packs a beefy 4,000 mAh battery - quite understandable, given its hardware, slight CPU overclock, various attachable accessories and overall gaming pedigree. The high refresh rate on the OLED panel is a particular concern when it comes to battery endurance. After all, this is the main culprit for the poor battery life on the original Razer Phone and the Razer Phone. Well, technically, we found that variable refresh rate is what likely sucked the battery dry at quite a pace on the Razer handsets. Plus, those have LCD panels. Whereas the ROG Phone is packing a more energy-efficient OLED unit and has a static maximum refresh rate of 90Hz.

Asus ROG Phone review

For the sake of thoroughness, we ran our battery tests twice, once in the 90Hz display mode and then again with a standard refresh rate of 60Hz.

It seems like the high refresh rate takes a toll of around 2 hours with screen-on web browsing test and a bit less with video playback. Our theory here is that since our test video is encoded at a standard 30fps and it is the only thing being displayed on screen, the ROG Phone is clever enough to realize what is going on and lowers its display refresh rate down automatically. Presumably, this happens after a certain time-out, which would explain the still elevated battery usage.

Asus ROG Phone review

Other than that, the two on-screen numbers themselves are pretty respectable, although far from great on an AMOLED display and a huge 4,000 mAh battery. As we anticipated, the high refresh rate does take its toll, but results still seem more reasonable than what we got on the Razer Phone 2 and its variable refresh rate, 120Hz IGZO panel.

Talk time is actually pretty high, but the standby numbers ended up on the lower end of the expected Snapdragon 845 spectrum. We made sure to re-test those as well, just to make sure, but the second run only confirmed our initial findings. This all added up to a solid, if not stellar battery endurance score.

Charging the hefty 4,000 mAh battery pack in the ROG Phone is actually pretty quick thanks to Asus' HyperCharge proprietary charging solution. So, using the bundled brick can get you from 0% to 100% in just about an hour and forty minutes.

Just as a reminder, that charger is actually very versatile - able to comply with both QC4.0 and PD3.0 protocols. If you don't have the stock charger at hand, the ROG Phone can take a QC 4.0 or 3.0 input as well. In which case a full top-off will take you around 15 minutes more.

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Asus ROG Phone for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty.You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Loudspeaker

The ROG Phone packs some serious loudspeaker hardware. Two beefy speakers on either end of the device, powered by two dedicated NXP 9874 amplifiers. As you can probably imagine, this equates to very loud and incredibly crisp sound.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Honor Play 68.3 73.8 75.8 Good
LG V40 ThinQ 68.2 74.1 77.4 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy S9+ 68.4 74.0 80.1 Very Good
Xiaomi Mi 8 68.1 72.3 82.2 Very Good
OnePlus 6T 67.2 72.5 84.5 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy Note9 71.2 74.9 80.2 Very Good
Oppo Find X 70.7 75.2 81.2 Very Good
Sony Xperia XZ3 (ClearAudio+) 68.0 75.3 84.0 Very Good
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 70.3 73.4 83.8 Very Good
Sony Xperia XZ3 71.0 75.4 82.9 Excellent
Google Pixel 3 77.5 71.7 81.1 Excellent
Xiaomi Pocophone F1 72.8 74.7 86.6 Excellent
vivo NEX S 71.3 74.5 91.0 Excellent
HTC U12+ (Music) 76.0 73.6 88.5 Excellent
Motorola Moto Z3 80.1 73.2 85.0 Excellent
Asus ROG Phone 79.0 77.5 84.9 Excellent
HTC U12+ (Theatre) 77.0 73.8 91.1 Excellent
Razer Phone 2 (Dolby dynamic) 76.7 77.7 87.7 Excellent
Razer Phone 2 78.2 78.8 86.9 Excellent

The sound stage and 3D audio effect achieved by the setup are pretty impressive as well. That comes courtesy of DTS:X Ultra 1.0, which is not only in charge of optimizing loudspeaker output but also headphones, boasting features like DTS:X 7.1 channel surround. The 24-bit DAC and aptX Bluetooth support are simply icing on the cake at this point.

Audio quality

The Asus ROG Phone has the potential to deliver arguably the best audio output in the market. It has super loud output both with an active external amplifier and headphones and all but one of the readings are excellent in both cases. In fact, it’s very rare to see a handset so unaffected by plugging in headphones.

However, the big issue is that the ROG has an equalizer applied at all times even if you disable the Audio Wizard functionality. The so-called headphones profile can’t be switched off and no matter what kind of profile you choose the frequency response will be far from ideal.

Some people like equalizers and we are all for that, but forcing one on everyone just isn’t cool. Worse yet, you are actually selecting profiles - specific brands and models of headphones or just “general” speakers, but you don’t really know what each of those does to the frequency response. You either have to trust Asus that they have selected the settings optimal for you, or play a very long game of trial and error until you find a profile that you like. And if you just want to listen to the tracks the way they were meant to sound - then you are entirely out of luck.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Asus ROG Phone+3.31, -3.68-93.893.60.00150.013-62.5
Asus ROG Phone (headphones)+3.06, -3.96-93.893.70.00650.041-91.3
Huawei Mate 20 +0.02, -0.16-92.192.00.00170.013-85.6
Huawei Mate 20 (headphones)+0.07, -0.07-92.192.40.00210.106-66.5
OnePlus 6T+0.03, -0.05-93.493.30.00100.0070-93.8
OnePlus 6T (headphones)+0.17, -0.15-93.293.10.00560.245-61.1
Sony Xperia XZ3+0.01, -0.02-91.293.20.00240.0080-88.7
Sony Xperia XZ3 (headphones)+0.38, -0.21-93.192.50.00490.233-61.7
Samsung Galaxy Note9+0.01, -0.03-93.793.70.00170.0074-94.1
Samsung Galaxy Note9 (headphones)+0.03, -0.02-93.693.50.00330.046-93.2
HTC U12++0.02, -0.15-94.394.30.00210.0069-94.3
HTC U12+ (headphones)+0.18, -0.13-93.793.60.00240.104-52.7

Asus ROG Phone frequency response
Asus ROG Phone frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Reader comments

  • Satya

Can we desktop dock for other applications than only gaming,like business, professional works, billing softwares etc/ can we use only the phone as PC with keyboard and mouse/ or with an external display/monitor without a PC.

  • Anonymous

Not worth it. I dropped my phone once and it was just about knee high and the display got broken. At first it was displaying some light in the screen but as time goes by it just displayed black screen. The touch sensor were still working but the disp...

Which 2020? Before or after Christ?