There is no denying the fact that Asus knows gaming better than any other brand. It has a thorough experience of making quality gaming products and continues to innovate in the PC components, peripherals as well as notebook categories. Last year it ventured into the gaming smartphone space by launching a behemoth of a phone. Not only did the company give it beefy specs but also the Republic of Gamers or ROG branding. The ROG Phone was definitely unlike any gaming smartphone on the market, with an edgy design and high-performance package, splashed with a variety of add-on accessories.
This year the company refined the concept and brought the ROG Phone II. While it still comes with top of the line features, Asus has played a smart game with the pricing. Unlike the original ROG Phone, which launched with a price tag going upwards of Rs 60,000, the successor has been launched for Rs 37,999 for the base variant and Rs 59,999 for a higher-RAM and storage variant.
Now this phone is all about the best, top of the line specs, and on paper it is clearly the most maxed out phone on the market. So you get a Snapdragon 855+ chip, up to 12GB of DDR4 RAM and 512GB of UFS 3.0 storage, a 120Hz AMOLED display, 48-megapixel dual cameras, and a massive 6,000mAh battery. Let that sink in.
TRUE GAMING PERSONALITY
As for the design, you still get flashy looks but it's more refined and toned down this time. The copper equipped fin on the back is more subtle now, and the glass back feels more polished with reflective angular lines running down it. Unmistakably, it still looks like a gaming phone. Also, the overall footprint has increased, and it's a big phone! Like it's really tall, hence I was forced to use it with two hands, and that 6,000mAh battery just pushes up the weight so it’s heavy too, at about 235 grams. The phone still manages to offer a 3.5mm audio jack with two USB Type-C ports, just like the first ROG Phone.
FASTEST AMOLED DISPLAY
The display is the fastest on any phone out there. The 6.6-inch AMOLED panel offers 120Hz refresh rate. You can also step down to the screen refresh rate to 60Hz or 90Hz modes. The company says that the touch sensor has a sampling rate of 240Hz and with some special optimisations on Android itself, the company has managed to achieve a lower touch latency than the iPhone XS Max. This translates into a super smooth and a very satisfying experience. In fact, it took me a while to actually get used to how quick the screen reacts to touch. It also supports 10-bit HDR and is rated to offer 108-percent DCI-P3 color space and perfect color accuracy of deltaE < 1. Now as far as sharpness is concerned it looks great, even though its a 1080p panel, and colours are good if not the best. You can fine tune them in the settings to make them pop. In terms of quality, there is hardly anything to complain about other than the resolution, but that response rate is something that I have not seen on any other phone. The display also incorporates a fingerprint sensor, which works well, but it felt slow compared to other phones especially the OnePlus 7T.
BEAST WHEN IT COMES TO PERFORMANCE
The handset is powered by the latest Snapdragon 855+ chipset, which comes with an overclocked Adreno 640 GPU at 675MHz as well as a minor bump to the CPU speeds. For heat dissipation, Asus has put vents that take away the heat from the vapor chamber to the external vents. There is also a new AeroActive Cooler II which is which no longer bundled in the box but it is claimed to be four times quieter (24dB) and offers improved cooling on the outside of the device. Sadly we didn’t get to test that out.
The base variant of the phone offer 8-gigs of RAM and 128GB storage, but if you want to go all out then there is 12GB RAM variant with 512GB of storage. Of course that’s going to cost you a lot more. It is noteworthy that Asus is using UFS 3.0 storage standard which means read-write speeds are faster than ever, giving a boost in the overall performance of the phone and bringing justice to the Snapdragon 855+ chipset. Performance is amazingly fast, even on the base variant. In my experience this phone has been one of the fastest, snappiest and most responsive ones I have ever used. Apps load really fast and stay in the memory for quick access.
In my opinion, this phone offers the best gaming experience. The tall screen gives enough real estate to enjoy your content, and the device is highly optimised to deliver flawless performance when running games. I didn’t notice even the smallest of issues while playing PUBG Mobile or COD Mobile at the highest settings possible. Sure, the 90Hz and 120Hz is still supported on limited games, but it is future proof and if really want to experience high frame rates, then Asus has a whole list of games supporting the high refresh rate. In terms of temperatures, I didn't notice any unexpected heating. Sure, the phone gets warm after a long gaming session, but doesn’t get unbearable.
As for the software experience, Asus is offering an option to switch between a near-stock Android experience with ZenUI and a gaming-focused ROG UI. You can set this up when you first boot up the phone, and is a great option if you don’t want flashy icons and a heavy layering on top of Android. The ZenUI is the same as what we saw on the Asus 6Z (ZenFone 6) and is definitely close to stock Android in terms of looks, kinda like OxygenOS. But you do get a tons of customisation options like an inbuilt-dark mode or unleashing ‘X-mode’ that bumps up the phone’s performance, especially when gaming. Then you have the Armoury Crate app which is like a one stop shop for all your gaming needs letting you optimise gaming performance, control the lighting effects on the rear LED-lit ROG logo, check the phone temperatures, and a lot more. I think Asus took a good decision by offering two different UI options.
CHUNKY BATTERY LASTS ALL DAY WITH EASE
There is a massive 6,000mAh battery which is claimed to offer up to 7 hours of non-stop PUBG action. In my testing I found it to be beyond expectations. With the screen set to 120Hz, I used the handset all day which included 1-2 hours of gaming, some music streaming on Spotify, checking emails and some text chatting. I was left with close to 50 percent charge. Which means that it can easily last all day and if you push down the refresh rate to 90Hz or 60Hz it should technically last you two full days.
As for charging the giant battery, the phone supports 30W fast charging which Asus calls ROG HyperCharge. Sadly it only comes with an 18W charger in the box. The high capacity charger is being sold separately. The handset also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 and 3.0 and USB Power Delivery 3.0. Depending on the what charger you use, it can take an hour and a half to two hours to fully juice this up.
Asus has also updated the cameras on the ROG Phone II. The primary camera is similar to what was seen on the Asus 6Z barring the laser autofocus system. So you get a main 48-megapixel camera using the Sony IMX586 sensor, with an f/1.79 aperture lens and PDAF while the second camera uses a wide-angle lens with a 13-megapixel sensor. At the front there is a 24-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 aperture lens.
Now I don’t like to stress much on the camera performance on a gaming phone, but I was surprisingly satisfied. The camera on the ROG Phone II can take some really detailed pictures in broad daylight. HDR mode works really well to deliver vivid looking shots and overall you can get accurate colours. The wide-angle camera is a nice addition although there are inconsistencies with very little distortion. Shooting in low-light, especially landscape shots, isn’t very impressive as there is visible noise. The night mode can help a bit, but the details are mostly lost.
Other notable features include dual speakers on the front with DTS:X Ultra support, which have larger chambers to make them 2.5-times louder than the first-gen ROG Phone. They are definitely one of the best speakers on a phone. Then you also get improved AirTriggers which now allow you to rest your fingers on them and with a recent update, now let you perform a swipe action. In my experience, these work really well and even improve your gameplay, provided you get used to them.
The ROG Phone II is clearly the best phone on the market right now if you care about gaming. Asus has thrown in almost every feature possible to grab the attention of gamers and alike. Performance is top notch, the display is excellent when it comes to response times and refresh rates, there is a big battery so you can keep on going through the day, and all of that is packed in a design that screams of gaming even when you look at it from a distance. If I am nitpicking, the only flaw this phone might have as that it is a bit glossy, though the unique case helps in offering some grip. Other than that, this is just a big phone and can put some strain on your hands after 30-40 minutes of gameplay.