Asus unveils the ROG Phone

Gelo Gonzales
Asus unveils the ROG Phone
It carries an overclocked Snapdragon 845 chip and key design tweaks differentiating it from conventional smartphones

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan’s Asus makes a strong play for the mobile gaming hardware market with their announcement of the ROG Phone, a high-performance smartphone designed for the mobile gaming enthusiast under their gaming brand ROG. 

The phone marks the entry of ROG – a brand that up until now has been known for their gaming laptops – in the smartphone scene. Asus announced the phone at their pre-Computex ROG presentation Monday, June 4. Computex is the biggest annual computer expo in Taiwan, and among the most attended in Asia. (IN PHOTOS: The ROG Phone

The ROG Phone boasts flagship specs, but has been visibly tuned to appeal to more serious gamers on mobile. Headlining it is a modified Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip whose clock speed has been upped to 2.96 GHz from the standard 2.8 GHz.

The standard 845 is found in phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S9, Asus’ own Zenfone 5Z, and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. The ROG Phone is the first to carry this faster version of the 845, which has obvious benefits for a phone’s gaming performance. (WATCH: Asus’ ROG pre-Computex presentation for 2018)

To address the additional heat that a faster processor may produce, Asus says that cooling is a key design component for the phone. It uses what it calls a 3D vapor-chamber cooling system, which boasts a heat dissipation area that’s 16 times larger than standard systems, said to result in 60% higher CPU cooling efficiency. Asus touts that this cooling technology gives the 845 the room to operate with the boosted clock speed. 

Physically, the phone is very flashy. While most phones have a back that’s mostly a smooth, flat surface, the ROG Phone features a layered back with what appears to be multiple panels, and a dynamic design language mimicking its big brother ROG laptops. The design language seeps into the user interface, which boasts a bold-looking high contrast red and black theme.

One key physical design that’s also differentiating it from conventional smartphones is the addition of a charging port on the left side of the phone, in addition to the charging port at the bottom where it’s usually found. The additional port on the left side is Asus’ solution to the problem of having a charging cable dangling from the side when playing in landscape mode. With a port on the left side, it’s moved to a space that’s mostly free when in landscape mode. 

Asus is also preparing an ecosystem of accessories for the ROG Phone including a Twinview dock that lets you plug in an ROG Phone into a device for a dual-screen setup reminiscent of the Nintendo DS; a mobile desktop dock; a WiGig dock that allows users to cast their games on a TV and attach joysticks to the phone a la Nintendo Switch; and an “aeroactive” cooler for additional cooling.

WIGIG DOCK. The WiGig dock lets users cast games to a TV, and comes with the joystick attachments.

Other gaming-centric features include a display with a faster-than-usual refresh rate (90Hz), response time (1ms), and contrast ratio (10,000:1). The display is also full HD with HDR display. It also features vibration for physical feedback when gaming; and “air triggers” that essentially give the phone an additional two trigger buttons on the upper left and right corners of the phone.


(Disclosure: Asus sponsored the trip to Taiwan where the event was held.)

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.