The Asus ROG Phone 2 certainly isn’t a beauty, but it performs like a beast

    Asus ROG Phone 2 assessment: The energy to vary your sport

    “The massively powerful Asus ROG Phone 2 will appeal hardcore gamers, or anyone who wants raw performance.”

    Beautiful 120Hz AMOLED display screen

    Long-lasting 6,000mAh battery

    Incredible processor efficiency

    Wide vary of equipment

    Brilliant for video games

    Design could not attraction to everybody

    No water resistance

    Niche viewers attraction

    Asus isn’t taking part in round with the ROG Phone 2. This is a critical gaming cellphone, heaving with energy and efficiency, with extra add-on elements than a brand new automobile. For the obsessive, Asus will even promote you an enormous ROG-branded (Republic of Gamers) suitcase with the cellphone and a mountain of equipment.
    However, as a substitute of solely focusing on players, Asus thinks three teams of individuals are going to lust after the ROG Phone 2. Fans of the ROG model who play video games for at the very least six hours per week; hardcore players taking part in for 16 hours or extra per week; and tech followers who needs a enjoyable, highly effective cellphone and desires to be part of a rising group. But can Asus obtain the virtually inconceivable and make a specialist cellphone that appeals to the less-committed tech lover? The reply is sure — if you will get previous the design.
    Made ya look
    Asus has retained the placing, particular person look of the unique ROG Phone for the sequel, with a number of alterations that make it slightly extra visually interesting. The offset fingerprint sensor has been faraway from the again and changed by an in-display sensor, and the faux vents on the again have additionally been taken away, making manner for a single, smaller, and practical vent. Reflective, angled traces give the again a sci-fi look, and it’s all slashes and cuts as a substitute of curves and minimalism.
    Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsThe cellphone is a loud-and-proud Republic of Gamers machine, proper right down to the RGB-lit ROG brand on the again. I adore it. It stands out, it doesn’t appear to be each different cellphone on sale, and the matte end is smooth, fashionable, and surprisingly immune to fingerprints. The copper accent on the working vent, the multi-color reflective highlights, and the RGB brand give it actual character. I perceive the ROG Phone 2’s design gained’t be for everybody, and a few will take into account it too “gamer-y,” however recover from this and embrace the design, and also you’ll personal a cellphone that gained’t be mistaken for every other.
    It’s actually huge, and at 240 grams it’s heavy too. The physique’s well-balanced, so it’s not awkward to carry, however you positively comprehend it’s in your bag or pocket. The RGB-lit brand needs to be manually activated and I really like the respiration impact it makes because it cycles by way of totally different colours. Weirdly, it doesn’t change off when you will have Do Not Disturb mode enabled, and that’s annoying because it lights up a darkish room. The aspect buttons are simple to find and press, though the off-center USB Type-C charging port is tough to search out at nighttime, not like conventional ports which are centrally mounted.
    You get a 3.5mm headphone jack, and on the left-hand aspect of the cellphone is a second charging port, made for once you maintain the cellphone in panorama orientation so the cable doesn’t intervene with gameplay. It’s lined over with a rubber grommet that’s determined to be misplaced the second you’re taking it off, because it’s not connected to the cellphone in any respect. Also, the directions inform you to solely use one of many twin USB connectors underneath the grommet, besides it’s not clear on the cellphone itself, and I can by no means keep in mind which one it’s with out going again to test.
    The copper accent on the working vent, the multi-color reflective highlights, and the RGB brand give it actual character.

    Bezels on the high and backside of the cellphone imply there’s no notch, however as a substitute, present area for some great-sounding stereo audio system. There are individuals who dislike the shift to notched and bezel-less designs, and the ROG Phone 2 is the antidote to them.
    Smooth display screen
    The ROG Phone 2 has a extremely huge 6.59-inch, 10-bit HDR AMOLED display screen with a 120Hz refresh fee. Technically, it’s switchable between 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz, however I’ve left it set at 120Hz with out noticing extreme battery draw or incompatibility with apps. Why did I go away it set to this? Because 120Hz is a visible pleasure and a whole revolution in smartphone visuals.
    Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsThis is an iPhone degree of smoothness (sure, I do know iPhones have a 60Hz refresh fee). The scrolling is so slick, no matter which app you’re utilizing or even when it’s merely navigating Android’s menus — it’s great. What does this imply to you? It lessens fatigue, makes the expertise extra pleasurable, and provides the cellphone a extra polished expertise. Smoothness isn’t about processing pace right here, it’s concerning the display screen’s refresh fee.
    The display screen can also be calibrated within the manufacturing unit to point out probably the most correct colours and makes use of 10-bit HDR for 1073.74 million colours, as a substitute of an 8-bit SDR with 16.77 million colours. This means you see what the developer or content material creator needs you to see, and extra particulars are revealed within the darker, shadowy areas too.
    The fingerprint sensor on the display screen is quick and succesful — extra so than the one on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, in my expertise — however the face unlock system is significantly sooner, and also you hardly ever get to the fingerprint sensor in time earlier than the cellphone has unlocked itself. You can set this so that you don’t have to swipe up on the display screen too.
    Gaming and efficiency
    Gaming is why it would be best to purchase the Asus ROG Phone 2. Everything about it’s geared in the direction of it, so what’s gaming like? Bloody good. My game-of-choice is Danmaku Unlimited 2, an exquisite shoot-em-up that depends on having the ability to keep away from a number of streams of bullets. I progressed sooner than ordinary, misplaced extra lives than ordinary, and loved taking part in extra due to the ROG Phone 2’s tremendous efficiency.
    Asus ROG Phone 2 and the Kunai controller accent Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsDanmaku Unlimited performs at 60 frames per second (fps), however you possibly can nonetheless see the distinction in comparison with lesser screens as a result of the ROG Phone 2’s display screen refreshes at 120Hz. However, good although this and different non-120fps video games look, once you play a sport with full assist, it truly is next-level stuff. Bullet Hell Monday helps 120fps and performs so superbly, you virtually can’t consider you’re a cellphone display screen. Asphalt 9: Legends is tuned to play nicely on the ROG Phone 2, helps its equipment, and is excellent.
    I used X Mode, the game-tuning mode that ensures all the facility from the Snapdragon 855 Plus goes to working the sport all through to make sure the very best efficiency. What variations did all of it make? I might extra successfully keep away from the bullet onslaught; I might see all the pieces; there have been no stutters; and completely no slow-down. I additionally felt the identical taking part in Hitman: Sniper, the place precision can also be essential to success. Turn off X Mode and revert to 60Hz, and there’s a noticeable distinction in gameplay. Games are much less enjoyable to play when the hardwire isn’t working at its optimum degree.
    Each sport you play might be personalized too, proper right down to setting the display screen refresh fee individually, the notification alert frequency, CPU energy, and even display screen response time and contact sensitivity. Playing on the ROG Phone 2 and the specialist {hardware} makes you a greater participant too, one thing that Asus’s personal analysis backs up. The display screen has a 1ms contact response time and a 49ms contact latency pace, so that you fireplace earlier than different gamers, for instance. We’re speaking about milliseconds, however that may make the distinction in aggressive play.
    Asus ROG Phone 2 and the TwinView Dock 2 accent Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsThe Air Triggers have been enormously improved over the primary ROG Phone. Located within the high left and proper of the cellphone’s physique in panorama orientation, they are often configured to activate totally different touchscreen capabilities. They’re efficient hardware-esque buttons, and the haptics have been sped as much as activate once you faucet them and provides an efficient “button” really feel too.
    How concerning the Snapdragon 855 Plus? Our ROG Phone 2 unit has the two.96GHz chip together with 12GB of RAM and subsequently carried out like a rocket. Not simply any rocket, however one with particular rocket gasoline to make it go even sooner. Here are some benchmarks:
    AnTuTu 3D: 396,749
    Geekbench 5 CPU: 764 single-core; 2,716 multi-core
    3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 5,395 Vulkan; 6,189 OpenGL
    The outcomes are virtually similar to the OnePlus 7T, additionally pushed by a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, which places it forward of each different Android cellphone we’ve examined, and solely behind the iPhone 11 sequence. Power is not going to be a priority.
    I’ve little question somebody who loves cell gaming will get much more from the cellphone than I’ll.

    I solely scratched the floor of what’s doable with the ROG Phone 2 by way of gaming; it makes me need to play extra and I really feel just like the {hardware} is making me a greater participant. I’ve little question somebody who loves cell gaming will get much more from the cellphone than I’ll. That’s earlier than making an attempt out the sport controller equipment seen right here, the Kunai controller and the TwinView Dock 2, for even higher gameplay experiences.
    Many folks have questioned whether or not there’s a want for a gaming cellphone or why anybody would purchase one within the first place. If I lived and breathed Danmaku Unlimited 2, or PUBG, Fortnite, or Asphalt; then the ROG Phone 2 is one of the simplest ways to take pleasure in taking part in them.
    The digital camera

    By all rights, the digital camera on the ROG Phone 2 shouldn’t be good. It’s a gaming cellphone with an emphasis on high-tech, so absolutely corners may have been lower someplace, like our expertise with the Razer Phone 2. The digital camera hasn’t suffered unduly, and though it could possibly’t fairly sustain with the brand new iPhone 11 Pro or the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, it does a strong job in most circumstances and might be greater than sufficient for many.

    The predominant lens has 48-megapixels and the ultra-wide lens has 13 megapixels. Exposure and distinction ranges are pretty on sunny and overcast days, whereas Night mode provides a small quantity of extra environment and element, with out ruining the shot. It can’t compete with the OnePlus 7T (I used the ROG Phone 2 back-to-back with the 7T and the iPhone 11 Pro throughout a weekend away), however the outcomes nonetheless look good supplied it’s not too darkish.
    The digital camera app is simple to make use of, and there’s a slow-motion video mode to attempt, however it solely shoots at 240fps in Full HD, plus a wide-angle mode and a 2x zoom too. The selfie digital camera has been positioned in such a manner that it gained’t get lined by your hand when taking part in in panorama orientation, making live-streaming out of your cellphone doable. The entrance 24-megapixel digital camera takes passable selfies and has a software-driven portrait mode that lags behind the competitors in edge-detection.

    Asus ROG Phone 2 with out Night mode
    Asus ROG Phone 2 with Night mode
    For a cellphone the place the first cause to purchase will not be the digital camera, the ROG Phone 2 does an admirable job, and takes strong pictures you’ll be joyful to share.
    Software and battery
    Asus realized quite a bit with the Zenfone 6, which got here with a Pixel-like Android expertise freed from earlier ZenUI bloat and different person interface atrocities. The ROG Phone 2 offers you the selection of the ROG Phone expertise — a software program theme known as Dark Reactor designed prefer it ought to be working a Klingon Bird of Prey’s flight pc, relatively than a cellphone — or the cleaner ZenUI seen on the Zenfone 6. I like to recommend you select the latter.
    Andy Boxall/DigitalTrendsThere’s a slide-up app tray, a slide-down notification shade, cute little spherical icons, and all of it feels acquainted, comfy, and user-friendly. It’s what I need from software program on my cellphone. Even the slide-in display screen from the left of the homepage is nicely used — it shows Google News tales and the climate. It’s not fully freed from issues although — first off, it’s working Android 9 and never Android 10, however arguably the remainder of my gripes comes right down to stuff that would use a little bit of refinement. A very good instance is the always-on display screen panel. You get to decide on the design, and just one has notifications on present, but the numbers don’t change in keeping with what’s in your cellphone. Mine has mentioned 10 SMS for a number of days, with no precise SMS messages to learn.
    Now we come to the battery. It’s a 6,000mAh cell inside right here, and it’s an absolute endurance machine. It’s like having an unlimited V8 engine in your automobile — it lazily delivers nice gobs of energy on a regular basis. With minimal use in the direction of the top of my assessment interval, the ROG Phone 2 needed to sit idle whereas different units acquired some consideration. It fortunately stayed related to Wi-Fi and 4G in my bag, amassing notifications, and popping out for the odd gameplay session for 4 strong days. It went from 100% to 30% battery throughout that point.
    Using it each day as my predominant cellphone, a day with five-and-a-half hours display screen time nonetheless noticed 40% remaining at 10 p.m., and with average use, two days will not be an issue. The big cell maybe doesn’t reside as much as our highest expectations, as given the capability I actually wished two days heavy use at least out of the cellphone and it hasn’t achieved that.
    Price, guarantee, and availability
    The Asus ROG Phone 2 is out there to buy on Asus’s personal web site within the U.S. for $900, and it comes with a one-year guarantee.
    Our Take
    The Asus ROG Phone 2 is an unimaginable spec-powerhouse, and simply probably the most competent high-performance smartphones of the yr. However, its design and gaming credentials do imply hardcore cell players would be the solely ones who actually exploit and luxuriate in its skills.
    Are there any alternate options?
    Gaming telephones are now not the rarity they as soon as have been. An enormous base of cell players around the globe — PUBG Mobile alone has round 50 million each day energetic customers, in keeping with statistics from June this yr — ensures there’s {hardware} to draw gamers. The Razer Phone 2 is on the market however is getting previous at this level, plus there’s the Blackshark 2 and the Red Magic 3 as nicely, and all include options that can attraction to cell players.
    That’s nice, however it’s not like different flagship telephones are incapable of taking part in video games. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is highly effective sufficient to take care of any cell sport, as is the OnePlus 7 Pro, which advantages from a 90Hz display screen too. Then there’s Apple Arcade and an iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max — a formidable mixture with the technical capability to draw many.
    However, the actual menace to the Asus ROG Phone 2 comes from the Nintendo Switch Lite. Buy the $150 Kunai controller for the ROG Phone 2, which provides Switch-like joypads both aspect of the cellphone, and instantly the cellphone turns into actually costly. The $600 OnePlus 7T has the identical quantity of energy, a 90Hz display screen, and a powerful digital camera. Even when you price range $200 for a Switch Lite, the bundle is cheaper and simply as interesting to the informal gamer because the ROG Phone 2.
    How lengthy will it final?
    The cellphone has the facility and skill to final for at the very least two years if no more. It doesn’t have water resistance or a very robust physique, so that you’ll should be slightly cautious with it throughout that point. Asus has not said when Android 10 will arrive on the cellphone, solely that it’s coming, so persistence might be wanted.
    Should you purchase one?
    Yes, however provided that you’re a dedicated cell gamer. The Asus ROG Phone 2 is the perfect gaming smartphone you should purchase, however it’s not the perfect all-round smartphone you should purchase. If you’re an off-the-cuff gamer, the OnePlus 7T prices much less and gives the identical efficiency. However, it simply can’t compete with the ROG Phone 2’s hyper-focus, and when you’re invested in cell video games — and which means hours every day taking part in or livestreaming — and are dedicated to enhancing your ability — it’ll do all the pieces you need and extra.

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