ASUS ROG Phone 3 Review – Android Gaming Monster

We know flagship smartphones tend to offer powerful hardware, top-notch design, and worthy cameras, but what happens when they are combined with gaming features? ASUS top-of-the-line smartphone, the ROG Phone 3 appears to be the same, a flagship-grade powerhouse with gaming features, a perfect gaming rig for smartphone gamers. Let’s dig into more details about the phone in our ASUS ROG Phone 3 review.

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ASUS ROG Phone 3 Specifications

  • Display: 6.59-inch AMOLED screen, 144 Hz / 1 ms Refresh Rate, Full HD+ Resolution (2400 x 1080 pixels), Delta-E < 1, 650 nits outdoor-readable brightness, 1,000 nits peak brightness, Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection
  • Software: Android 10 with ROG UI
  • CPU: 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ octa-core SoC (3.1 GHz)
  • GPU: Adreno 650
  • Memory: Up to 12 GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • Storage: Up to 256 GB UFS 3.1 storage, no microSD card slot
  • Main Camera: Triple cameras (64 MP + 13 MP + 5 MP), 64 MP primary sensor + 13 MP ultra-wide sensor + 5 MP macro sensor
  • Selfie Camera: 24 MP selfie camera
  • Others: AirTrigger 3 pressure sensitive buttons, on-screen fingerprint scanner, X-Mode
  • Connectivity: 5G network, Wi-Fi 802.11ax (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz), Bluetooth v5.1, GPS/A-GPS, USB Type-C
  • Battery: 6,000 mAh battery with 30W fast charging
  • Price: ₹49,999 (8 GB + 128 GB), ₹57,999 (12 GB + 256 GB)
  • Availability: Flipkart.com

Design, Display, & Build

Speaking of the design, the ROG Phone 3 is primarily focused on gaming aspects, hence the design you see is quite different from the regular phones. ROG stands for Republic Of Gamers and the ROG series exists a long way back, we have seen the ROG branded laptops and now the ROG Phone seems to be inspired by the ROG gaming laptops.

The design is premium and all glass, the back is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, a slight gimmick of the ROG resemblance. There you see a ROG logo at the back, you won’t see ASUS branding and thus, it separates it from the ASUS smartphones. You might get attention from the crowd just because of its looks, this is something unique you don’t usually see in regular Android smartphones.

The side frames are metallic, and the overall build quality is pretty much strong and solid. It’s not compact, it’s bulky and on the heavier side (240 grams), it may not be comfortable for those looking for a compact device and want to carry around as a daily driver, but the looks are aggressive and highly appealing.

Thanks to the ergonomic design, the smartphone is easy to hold especially when gaming or using it in a landscape mode, there are two USB ports, one at the bottom which is slightly shifted to the left, not at the middle, and the second USB port at the right side in the middle.

What is really surprising is its 144 Hz refresh rate AMOLED display, sized at 6.59 inches, the screen is what makes it the king in its class. Currently, there are smartphones with a refresh rate of 90 Hz and 120 Hz in the flagship mobile category. In addition to that, it has a 270 Hz touch sampling rate, 25 ms touch latency, and Delta-E value less than 1.

Speaking about the design trait, the front side has no curved display like you see in some top-of-the-line flagships like Samsung Galaxy S20 or OnePlus 8 Pro, and you also don’t get the trendy punch-hole camera or pop-up camera design. It has the standard bezels on the top and the bottom that are noticeable, not a completely bezel-less design.

The backside has a horizontal triple-camera setup with 64 MP as the main camera, 13 MP as the wide-angle camera, and the 5 MP for macro shots. You will find a dual-LED flash right beside it and a single camera of 24 MP on the front for selfies.

Other design features include the RGB light panel at the back with Aura Sync support, AirTrigger 3 pressure-sensitive buttons, quad microphones, dual front-facing stereo speakers with dedicated amplifiers, and accessories that can be hooked up for better gaming experience.

Software & User Interface

The ROG Phone 3 runs on the Android 10 with ROG UI on top. The user interface seems pretty much stock with additional tweaks by the ASUS, the security here is 1st July 2020. The interface uses a darker theme by default to accompany the gaming environment.

Moving to the user interface of the phone, you can clearly see there’s no resemblance to the stock Android, the icons, widgets, and fonts are different, however, this seems to be an icon pack customization since the overall UI functions as stock, the settings page, the notification shade, and other options on the phone remain to be very similar to the one you see on stock Android.

ROG UI includes a number of gaming tweaks and apps such as X-Mode, Mobile Manager, AirTriggers 3, Game Genie, Display customizations, Twin Apps, Safeguard, OptiFlex, built-in gestures, screen recorder for recording games, and so on. The apps we found preinstalled on the phone are Netflix, Facebook, and Messenger, while two more apps are there which comes from ASUS – Armoury Crate and ASUS Data Transfer.

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X-Mode Turned On

Aside from these, you can customize the UI from the settings, you can change the refresh rate from the display settings – 60 Hz, 90 Hz, 120 Hz, 144 Hz depending on your use, this also plays a role in extending battery life, the lower the refresh rate, the longer the battery life. As it’s an AMOLED display, you can take advantage of the Always-on Panel that allows you to check date, time, notifications, and other basic details in standby mode without unlocking the phone.

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Hardware, Performance, & Gaming

What powers the ROG Phone 3 is Qualcomm’s flagship chip, the Snapdragon 865+ SoC running at 3.1 GHz clock rate. The Plus in its name indicates that it’s the overclock variant of the Snapdragon 865 with a little tuning in the CPU and GPU for faster speeds and optimizations.

This seems to be the most powerful gaming-oriented smartphone in the country as far as we know. The hefty specs offer up to 12 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256 GB UFS 3.1 storage, however, there’s another variant with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB storage that hasn’t launched yet in India.

Take a look at the benchmarks below, the ROG Phone 3 is clearly on the list of top-performing Android smartphones. The Geekbench 5 scores 979 points in single-core CPU and 3,351 points in multi-core CPU. Geekbench 5 tests also show 3,609 points in the GPU benchmark. Right below is the Androbench storage benchmark that shows speeds going as high as 1735 MB/s read, and 717 MB/s write.

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The gaming performance is top-notch, we played several games on full graphics settings, thanks to the Adreno 650 GPU and the smooth 144 Hz display, the gaming experience is extremely amazing.

Once you install the new games, it automatically adds to the Armoury Crate which can be triggered by the app at the bottom on the Home screen. You can also open the Armoury Crate by pressing the AirTriggers both simultaneously. The X-Mode tweaks the system to churn out maximum performance from the CPU and GPU so that your game receives as many resources.

The Armoury Crate allows you to tweak the game settings which include performance tuning, touch tuning, display tuning, and network tuning. You can set Level 3 as the maximum performance level which requires you to attach the AeroActive Cooler 3 accessory to effectively dissipate the heat.

About the heating and emissions, there aren’t any major heating issues with the phone, it remains cool as far as you are not charging and using the phone. Under hardcore tuning, you can customize the temperature control (the thermal throttle threshold), the CPU usage, and the GPU usage. For advanced gamers, the Advanced option below will let you finely tune nearly every CPU parameter exposed by the kernel.

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Cameras

For its cameras, you don’t get a huge camera setup with a tele lens, zoom lens, and all, but a regular triple-camera setup at the back which initially may seem to be okay for a moment as the midrangers offer quad cameras. But to be honest, the cameras are worthy and reliable, for a gaming-oriented device, you don’t expect much from its cameras, but this one here is mighty when it comes to the camera performance.

The cameras on the backside offer a total of three sensors, 64 MP as the main camera with f/1.8 aperture, 13 MP ultra-wide-angle camera with f/2.4 aperture, and the last being a 5 MP macro camera for taking close up shots. That’s it, no tele lens or zoom lens, no additional portrait or depth camera. The front has a 24 MP selfie camera for selfies and video calls.

The main 64 MP camera uses Sony’s flagship camera sensor, the IMX686 utilizing the Quad Bayer’s tech and it’s close or equivalent to the IMX689 found on the OnePlus 8 Pro. You do get a few camera modes here, Night mode, Pro mode (both photo and video), Slow Motion (480 fps), Motion tracking, and up to 8K of video recording. The camera quality seems reliable, take a look at the shots we captured from the ROG Phone 3’s cameras.

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ASUS ROG Phone 3 Camera Samples

Battery Life

On the battery side, the ASUS ROG Phone 3 offers a massive 6,000 mAh battery life which can give you long hours of gaming. The 6,000 mAh battery can keep you going even in the longest hours of gaming. There are custom battery modes available that allow you to extend the battery life further. You can expect the battery to run up to 2 days even with light to moderate gaming on it.

The phone has a unique side charging design and supports fast charging of 30W Quick Charge 4.0 and Power Delivery 3.0. You get a charger rated 10V and 30A which is equivalent to 30W. Aside from this, the ROG Phone 3 also supports reverse charging of up to 10W.

Verdict

The ROG Phone 3 can be an ultimate gaming machine for hardcore smartphone gamers, everything from its 144 Hz display, gaming-focused UI, the added AirTrigger 3 touch buttons, dual front-facing speakers, all play a vital role in playing games.

In addition to that, the Snapdragon 865+ performance is surprisingly fast, every game you throw at it will run seamlessly, the ROG Phone 3 has enough power to play games at maximum graphics settings. For the price of Rs 49,999, the ROG Phone 3 is ideal for gamers and gaming enthusiasts.

Rivals

Strength

  • Ergonomically designed and solid build quality
  • RBG light at the back
  • Fast 144 Hz AMOLED HDR10+ display, 270 Hz touch-sampling rate
  • Top-notch performance (3.1 GHz Snapdragon 865+), as much as 16 GB RAM and 512 GB storage
  • Two pressure-sensitive gaming controls (AirTrigger 3)
  • Impressive cameras, whopping 8K video recording
  • Reliable battery life
  • Two USB Type-C ports, reverse charging
  • Dual front-facing stereo speakers (dedicated amplifiers)
  • Other perks (Quad microphones, GameCool 3 cooling system, Multiple antennas, 5G ready)

Weakness

  • Bulky
  • No dedicated headphone jack