Asus announces its (externally cooled) ROG smartphone – less phone, more gaming

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Many gamers seem divided but just as smartphones are getting larger, gaming consoles are getting smaller. The next logical step in this evolution is a combination of the two — “Fusioooon, ha!”

PUBG and Fortnite are already on mobile, and Razer got the early worm in this generation of gaming smartphones, but now Asus has entered the game and they’ve currently got the high score in our books. Asus unveiled their ROG Phone at Computex this year, its first-ever handset made specifically with gaming in mind. Unsurprising, given the device is part of the Republic of Gamers stable

The handset comes across like a mean Asus rig condensed into a handheld, and we’re sure it handles quite close to one too, as it is specced out as a powerhouse. 

The ROG Phone is powered by Qualcomm’s flagship octa-core Snapdragon 845 chipset, but in typical gaming style it has been given a little boost to its CPU clock speed — from the standard 2.8GHz up to 2.96GHz, which is a first for mobile devices. This also makes the ROG Phone the most powerful smartphone in terms of raw processing power. For now. 

Another unique feature of the ROG smartphone is the 6-inch 2,160 x 1,080 AMOLED screen, which supports HDR content and runs at 90Hz with a 1ms response rate — which turns out to be the fastest AMOLED display on a smartphone. Not in the mood for a teeny-tiny screen? You can use the phone’s built-in 802.11ad WiGig connectivity to mirror your gameplay to a nearby TV via ASUS’ WiGig Dock, so long as your handset has a direct line of sight to the receiver.

But it’s also packed with many unique and thoughtful features that aim to deliver a better mobile gaming experience. There are a handful of dedicated accessories — including an external cooling fan that clips onto the back, plus an optional handheld dock that adds a second screen to the ROG Phone.

It packs a pair of front-facing speakers, an 8MP front camera and 12MP/8MP ultra-wide sensors on the back, and a rear fingerprint reader. Gotta tick all the smartphone boxes, after all. 

In another nod to its gaming chops, the silver ROG logo on the back is even programmable with a personalised RGB backlight. You can choose a static colour, have it pulsing, strobing, cycling through various colours or just switch it off entirely with the dedicated app. You can even synchronise the RGB setting with other Asus Aura Sync products, if you own all the other gear.

Does the Asus ROG phone put the recent Razer Phone to shame? It really depends on whether we ever see it here, because the Razer phone is already available in South Africa  And then there’s the price to consider .Pricing hasn’t been announced yet but we’re betting it’s expensive.  If it’s priced close to an A-grade gaming rig, we would rather go for the traditional setup and just get a boring old ‘smart’ phone. 

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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