Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro review
Design and accessory compatibility
It's hard to mistake a ROG Phone. And this is still true for the ROG Phone 6. Though with that said, five iterations in, its styling is very different from the original ROG Phone. Asus has clearly been working towards less bold and eccentric looks overall. Gradually toning down the "gamer" aesthetic, if you will, on most of its ROG Products, including phones.
This is not a new trend either. We consider both the ROG Phone 3 and the ROG Phone 5 already stealthy enough to confidently take into a boardroom. Asus has arguably continued to tone down the look further still. The bold lines and geometric shapes are still there, and so are all logos and gaming slogans, but the overall look is arguably more simplified this year.
Last year, Asus had a whole synergetic design thing going with its Zephyrus laptop line centered around dot matrix patterns, which is now almost absent on the ROG Phone 6 Pro and just hinted at on the vanilla and its light-up logo.
Speaking of back designs, this is a good place to properly look at all of the "visual extras" and distinguish between the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro.
The unit we have for review is a Pro model in white. It is the one pictured in all of our product photos.
The "DARE TO PLAY" RGB logo with a black background is present on both the vanilla and the Pro. It lights up in a full RGB spectrum and supports a number of effects. It can also be made to react to certain conditions like launching a game, charging or even double as a notification LED.
Speaking of notifications, there is still an RGB Notification LED on the front side of the ROG Phone 6, above the display, as well. It is great to see that Asus doesn't think one is a substitute for the other. Plus, this is such a rare feature that it is practically extinct.
Besides the small RGB "DARE TO PLAY" logo, the regular ROG Phone 6 also has a larger ROG RGB logo on its back. It supports a number of lighting effects.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro gets the real threat with the ROG Vision display that replaces the RGB ROG logo on the back of the device. It is a full-color display, unlike last year when the Pro got a monochrome version and color was reserved for the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate. Like the logo, the display can be used to react to certain events. Six different scenarios are available, like receiving a call, starting a game or charging.
You can use it to display both static images and animations. Those are available via download from Asus repositories, or you can make your own using a built-in editor. Asus has expanded its previous animation collection and now has over 60 different designs to choose from.
If you've been a fan or, better still, owner of ROG Phones for some time now, then you definitely know about the extensive and unrivaled accessory ecosystem Asus used to offer alongside these phones. The past tense is unfortunately critical here since Asus essentially broke compatibility with its coolest accessories like the TwinView dock or the WiGig adapter with different past iterations of the ROG Phone.
The ROG Phone 6 is very close in size to the ROG Phone 5 and 5s - 173 x 77 x 10.3mm and 239 grams. That means that you can expect some level of cross-compatibility for certain accessories. Though seeing how the list has gotten so short, we might as well talk in specifics.
The new AeroActive Cooler 6 is specifically designed for the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro. It also comes with its own bumper case for those phones in the box. On that front, Asus has promised to eventually bring a version of the cooler for, the older ROG Phone 5 and 5s. One that connects over its POGO pins rather than Type-C and is the appropriate shape.
The Kunai 3 Gamepad itself is essentially unchanged except for the fact that now it can be bought in a white color aside from the original black, and if bought in a ROG Phone 6 variant, comes with the appropriate bumper case. The joystick itself can still be used with older ROG Phone models, as well as like a regular Bluetooth HID or wired controller.
That about covers all of the "cooler" accessories still up on offer. In case you were wondering which cool addons got defunct last year with the noticeable change in size and shape going from the ROG Phone 3 to the ROG Phone 5, here is a table for those as well.
The ROG Clip is alive and well and apparently compatible across the board. It allows you to clip the ROG Phone to your favorite console controller like a PlayStation or Xbox one. Both clips come in the box.
The Asus Professional Dock is not on the official supported list, but expectedly, it still works with the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro. It is just a good Type-C hub, and it makes sense you can carry it forward. Or alternatively, you can also choose a similar third-party hardware solution to get things like HDMI out, power and ethernet in and some USB ports with the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro.
Overall, we have to say that Asus has more or less put an end to the unparalleled accessory ecosystem of old., losing one of its really impressive industry advantages in the process. We get that it was always excessive, impractical and with very limited appeal and an even smaller user base. Still, it was something that made ROG Phone uniquely ROG Phone and over the top. It will be missed.
Of course, there is still the AeroActive cooler, to which we will devote a separate segment. Head on over to the performance page for that.
Build quality and materials
It comes as no surprise that the ROG Phone 6 Pro is an incredibly well-built and sturdy device. Let's start with the highlight here - both the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro finally have an official ingress protection rating. Granted, it's just IPX4, which basically means the phones are certified to survive splashes of water. Still, it's better than nothing, and we do get it. Ingress protection is hard, especially with extra ports and huge speakers like on the ROG Phone 6.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro is basically built like a rock and features an extremely rigid middle frame, with practically no flex, sandwiched between two glass surfaces. On the back - there is a nicely-rounded sheet of Gorilla Glass 3. The black finish on our review unit looks great and, thanks to the frosted white finish, doesn't really show fingerprints. It is smooth and provides little grip, making the ROG Phone 6 Pro a very slippery device while being held and while lying on a table. A case is highly recommended. The front is covered by Gorilla Glass Victus.
Thanks to its curved back, the ROG Phone 6 Pro sits very comfortably in your palm. As long as you have a fairly large one, that is. It is a chunky phone, no question about that. However, weight distribution is superb, and the phone is very well balanced. That's mostly due to the symmetrical internal layout and central-mounted chipset.
Cooling a phone is no easy task, especially when you cram the most powerful chipset around as Asus does for its ROG Phone models. The ROG Phone 6 Pro is no exception. The engineering approach to ROG Phone cooling has changed a lot over the years. Earlier models had large exposed internal cooling elements to more effectively dissipate heat and transfer it over to the surface and AeroActive cooler. The ROG Phone 5 did away with all that opting for a solid piece of glass on the back instead and no air ducts. That also included making some major internal changes, primarily designing a central-positioned motherboard sandwiched by cooling elements and flanked by two 3,000 mAh halves of the total 6,000 mAh battery.
In order to make it more understandable and approachable, Asus has broken down its cooling system on the ROG Phone 6, called GameCool 6 into "Short-time" (1-15 min), "Mid-time" (15-30 min) and "Long-time" (over 1 hour) gaming solutions. The manufacturer claims that GameCool 6 and its new 360-degree cooling system are the biggest updates to the ROG Phone cooling system.
The central-positioned motherboard and chipset internal design is the first line of heat management. It includes a boron nitride heat transfer compound (200 times the thermal conductivity of air) that sits sandwiched between the main motherboard and the RF board, which holds most of the radio communication hardware and is vertically stacked and connected to the rest of the hardware.
The dual-PCB design with a sandwiched interposer reduces the hardware footprint, among other things. The interposer acts as a bridge and a thermal transfer medium, leaving no air gap and no opportunity for heat to accumulate. Even this is already a pretty highly-engineered solution that Asus claims results in up to 10 degrees of overall heat reduction.
Next comes the "Mid-time gaming" solution, which consists of a redesigned 30% larger vapor chamber than last year and two massive 85% larger graphite sheets. One is meant to dissipate heat towards the back of the device, while the other towards the display.
Finally, there is the AeroActive Cooler 6, which is made to clip and sit right on top of the centrally-positioned motherboard and chipset, hence addressing the main "hotspot" on the phone. Not only does it help dissipate the internal heat outwards, but also keeps the back surface of the phone where your fingers touch up to 25-degree cooler.
We have a separate section on the new AeroActive Cooler 6 in the performance section, but needless to say, it is the most impressive piece of it of its kind from Asus thus far. On top of its four omnidirectional trigger keys, it is actually an active cooling element, and we don't just mean the spinning fan. There is a Peltier element inside - a thermal-electric element that uses electricity to make one of its sides cold and the other hot.
The AeroActive Cooler 6 can operate in four fan-and-Peltier power combinations, which we will also review. Spoiler-alert - we found it incredibly effective at its heat management tasks with real, measurable benefits to both performance and surface temperature. Using it with the ROG Phone 6 Pro effectively unlocks its full performance potential.
Finally, as we transition from internal design into controls, we have to mention that the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro have a new X-axis linear vibration motor, which promises 80% vibration acceleration while consuming 20% less power than previous models.
Asus is well known for its deliberate control design and placement on the ROG Phone line, with plenty of consideration for gamers and their needs. In no particular order, we can start with a great example in the signature Asus Side port. At its core, it is a convenient way of hooking-up extra accessories to the ROG Phone 6 and is placed in such a way as to be as least intrusive as possible.
Seeing how the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro is expected to spend most of its time in a horizontal orientation, doing heavy and battery-intensive gaming tasks, it only makes sense to have a cable or other attachment hanging out of the bottom side, where it won't interfere with your hands.
The side port itself has gone through quite a few design iterations, generally simplifying the construction. The ROG Phone 6 has finally managed to streamline this additional connection to just use a second Type-C port. There is no additional non-standard port beside it, and now for the first time, no POGO pins either. We personally love and applaud the change, particularly after being sorely disappointed by the usability and sturdiness of the POGO pins on the ROG Phone 5 and 5s.
The Type-C port, part of the Side port on the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro, is more potent than the other Type-C port on the bottom frame of the phone. While both handle charging just fine and support the same Asus HyperCharge/Direct Charge and PD + QC 5.0/3.0 protocols at up to 65W, the side port is USB 3.1 gen 2 in terms of transfer speed. That means theoretical speeds of up to 10Gbit/s. All the while, the bottom Type-C comes with a simple USB 2.0 data link. The side Type-C is also the way to get video out - DisplayPort 1.4, in particular. That means 4K@30Hz, 144p@75Hz or 1080p@144Hz without any chroma subsampling.
As we mentioned, this port will work just as well with the Asus Professional Dock as with most other Type-C hubs out there. It is also worth noting that the two USB ports on the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro share their specs and I/O capabilities with the older ROG Phone 5 and 5s. That's not meant to be any criticism since, even as they stand, these are miles ahead of the connectivity of your average smartphone.
Circling back to that second or rather first, depending on how you look at it, USB Type-C port, you will notice that it is also deliberately tucked away as far to one side as possible. The same goes for the 3.5mm audio jack, which made a return with the ROG Phone 5 and is still present. Both of these are placed so as to be as out of the way as possible.
The same goes for the 12MP selfie camera. It is pushed nicely to the side to make covering it up or smudging it during gaming that little bit more difficult. We also have to praise Asus for still finding space for the said camera in the now narrower top bezel and leaving the gorgeous 6.78-inch AMOLED panel uninterrupted by notches or punch holes. And let's not forget also managing to fit the two symmetrical and identical front-facing speakers.
While the top and bottom bezels surrounding the display are reasonably small, they are still very much present. Asus has always been very deliberate in its decision to have that empty space there, and for a good reason - comfort while gaming. You need a convenient place to rest your thumbs and avoid accidental touches. Asus originally slimmed these areas down for the ROG Phone 5, and having gamed on every ROG Phone thus far, we have to say that we would have personally preferred slightly bigger bezels.
While we did allow ourselves to be a bit nitpicky about the size of the bezels, there is still no denying that Asus continues to put a massive effort into the proper, functional and non-obtrusive placement of its hardware. There are three Wi-Fi antennas in the ROG Phone 6 positioned strategically to be hard to cover with your hands no matter how you grip the phone. Automatic switching between them ensures a consistent and stable connection. The same logic is applied to onboard microphones, of which the ROG Phone 6 has three. It is called the "Tri-Mic Noise Cancelling Array" and, again, is meant to prevent the possibility of covering all microphones with your hands.
Continuing our control tour with some more-traditional entries, there are a standard volume rocker and a power button right underneath that on the right-hand side of the device. Both are strategically placed to avoid accidental touches, which surprisingly left them in a convenient location for reaching with a thumb.
The in-display fingerprint reader is speedy and accurate. It is nothing special in hardware, just a regular optical unit. Still, this tech has matured nicely over the years. It also uses machine learning to improve over time. Plus, Asus still brings that extra bit of flair to it with a new set of unlocking animations.
For the last boring bit, we have a dual nano-SIM card slot on the ROG Phone 6 within an eye-catching accented cradle that takes a card on each side.
AirTrigger 5 and Ultrasonic buttons are where things get really fun. This supplementary control system has remained a staple of the ROG Phone line and has been continually evolving from generation to generation. Two ultrasonic sensors sit at the core of the experience. There are positioned on either end of the right side of the phone - pretty close to the top and bottom of the bezel , which has been the case since last year's ROG Phone 5/5s.
Asus justifies the position by claiming it is more convenient for users with smaller hands and shorter fingers, which makes sense on paper.
We get that comfort will be a subjective matter, but we personally find the current position a bit less convenient than what we had on the ROG Phone 3. Your mileage may vary, but using the sensors involves quite a bit of finger-flexing for us, especially if you separate the two sensors into halves and map each separately. Which is a thing you can do and could also do on the ROG Phone 5/5s and the 3, as well.
In fact, most of the base input types the system recognizes seem to be carried over from the ROG Phone 5/5s and the ROG Phone 3 before that. You can tap on the whole area on half of it, long presses, swipes and slides. Each of these can be individually and meticulously mapped to an on-screen control in-game for what is nothing short of a massive advantage. You can also get pre-made maps for many popular games and even skip some setup steps while still retaining access to an impressive array of tweaks to things like sensitivity, area, trigger distance and distance multiplier. It is an industry-leading system on a level of its own that no other manufacturer has even come close to matching. However, it is worth noting that Xiaomi now has its physical magnetic trigger system, with better tactile feedback but less functionality.
There are some differences in AirTrigger 6 functionality compared to AirTrigger 5 if we consider Rear Touch from the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate edition as part of the same system. These inputs are missing from the ROG Phone 6 Pro or the ROG Phone 6. Even so, the total number of mappable touch points in AirTrigger 6 is 14.
The total count gets better once you throw in the new AeroActive Cooler 6, which now has four distinct omni-directional physical buttons. That brings the total number of mappable inputs to 18. The same as on the older ROG Phone 5 Ultimate.
Then there are the new AirTrigger 6 gestures that didn't previously exist - Press and Lyft allows you to map two different actions for when you press the trigger down and then release it. Gyroscope Aiming is also new and more of a software thing. Now, a new mappable action allows you to quickly switch to a gyroscope aiming mode, which can be beneficial for some finer aim adjustments. As always, mapping can be used in any game out there.
Beyond in-game use, the AirTrigger sensors also provide squeeze detection during the general use of the ROG Phone 5. This aspect of the system is fairly versatile, as well. The phone can differentiate between a short and long press. They can also be assigned different actions depending on whether the phone is locked or unlocked. The list of actions for locked squeezing is understandably shorter and does not include just freely launching any app you want. From an unlocked phone, there are very few limitations to worry about.
You can also choose to only have the gesture active when the screen is unlocked if you are worried about accidental activation. A surprisingly precise force level slider offers another layer of accidental trigger protection. Playing around with this menu is also a great way to appreciate just how precise the Asus ultrasonic sensors are on a hardware level.
Then there are Motion controls which seem to be carried forward in their entirety from the ROG Phone 5/5s and are a few more in number than what the ROG Phone 3 could recognize.
If, for some reason, you feel like the ultrasonic mapping system does not provide enough inputs for your need, you can map the gestures to inputs, as well. For what it's worth, we did try to test a few of these out, and they did seem to work. Ultimately, though, we were way too overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to remember.
This is actually an ongoing trend with the ROG Phone line and the ROG Phone 5 - the sheer depth and scope of the available features and extras are enough to make anyone's head spin. That, however, is the sign of a good and versatile prosumer-grade tool, and we respect it for that. And if you don't plan on using these features or you are reluctant to fiddle with them, they stay out of the way.
In keeping with its pedigree, the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro is loaded for bear in the connectivity department. It is a dual-SIM phone with dual standby SA/NSA Sub-6 5G on both slots as well as DSDV LTE.
Beyond that there is support for Dual-Band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Wi-Fi 6 with three antennas. Wi-Fi 6E is also available for supported markets. You get a total of three Wi-Fi antennas with 2x2 MIMO support and intelligent seamless switching for the best possible signal. HyperFusion technology allows for simultaneous connection to Wi-Fi and cellular data and seamless automatic switching to the more stable of the two.
Local connectivity also includes Bluetooth 5.2 with HFP, A2DP, AVRCP, HID, PAN, OPP profiles and Bluetooth LE support. The ROG Phone 6 is one of the few devices out there supporting Qualcomm Snapdragon sound for superior wireless audio. It also has support for multiple major Bluetooth audio protocols, including aptX adaptive, aptX Low latency, LDAC and AAC.
There is NFC on board with card mode support. The GPS receiver on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 has dual-band support (L1 + L5) and covers GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS and NavIC.
In terms of other connectors, you still get a 3.5mm audio jack and a total of two Type-C ports. To reiterate, the Asus Side port is the more capable of the two, wired for USB 3.1 gen 2 data transfer up to 10Mbps and also carrying an alt-mode Display Port 1.4 connection.
In contrast, the bottom Type-C port is just wired for USB 2.0 speeds. Both support the same fast charging standards - Asus' own HyperCharge, sometimes called Direct Charge, which is entirely standard Power Delivery 3.0 with Programmable Power Supply (PPS) with additional support for Quick Charge 3.0 and 5.0.
- 22 Sep 2022
hey no worries, my rog 5 only last for 10 months before everything inside broke down. SIM 1, Vibrate, LR button, bottom speaker, fingerprint sensor all broken and fixed under guarantee. 2 months later most of the problem came back. no more guarantee....
- 03 Sep 2022
While you can't pocket a pc, I agree with you on the other features like sd card and jack. Gamer phones should be the last ones to remove them. There's too many apple wannabees for mainstream consumers already.
- 23 Aug 2022
It's great to people good response in the comments and smart people I know this should be obvious but mainstream people often don't realise The asu Rog 6 pro definitely over priced for it's specs The 2 android versions updat...