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Last Updated : Oct 07, 2019 08:44 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Asus ROG Phone 2 review: Priced at Rs 37,999, there's no smartphone that can beat this beast at specs

The ROG Phone 2 is a spec sheet monster that delivers in real life.

Carlsen Martin
Asus ROG Phone 2
Asus ROG Phone 2

Asus recently brought the ROG Phone 2 to Indian shores. The first-generation ROG Phone was a performance monster with a great display, even by 2019 standards.

However, the ROG Phone came at a hefty price with its own set of flaws. Asus’ second take on the ROG Phone may not be perfect, but it comes very close. The ROG Phone 2 is an absolute beast with one of the most powerful chipsets, the fastest display, biggest battery, fastest storage, and a pretty good camera. But just how do these metrics fare in real-world scenarios? Let’s find out.

Design

Close

When it comes to looks, not a lot has changed from the previous generation ROG Phone, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. From flashy to classy, smartphone manufacturers have done just about everything to make their devices stick out, but none of them sticks out from the crowd as well as the ROG Phone 2.

The phone has a metal body covered with a Gorilla Glass 6 back. The contrasting lines on the back run along the edges and switch colour when subjected to light.

The perforated copper accent on the right is a vent for heat dissipation. No gaming device would be complete without RGB lighting, and the ROG Phone 2 is no exception. Asus has incorporated an ROG ‘mask’ logo in the centre of the device that features fully customisable RGB lighting.

The design of the ROG Phone 2 is pretty subjective. Not everyone is going to want a phone that screams gaming. That being said, this phone will definitely turn heads. People who have never seen gaming hardware are going to find this pretty cool, one person we spoke to thought the lighting was part of the case and wanted to purchase it for his Galaxy S8.

Asus_ROG_Phone

Now, whether you’re okay with carrying around a phone like this or not, one thing's for sure, the ROG Phone 2 is big.

There are small phones, there are big phones, and then there’s the ROG Phone 2. And, then there’s the metal body, which makes the phone incredibly heavy, over 230 grams to be precise.

You have to understand, this is a capable phone and packing all those components does come at a cost but is that cost too much? We don't think so and we'll get to that later.

We also loved the ergonomics on the ROG Phone 2, despite it being a large and heavy smartphone. Yes, this is a massive phone that’s incredibly heavy but getting used to the weight and size should take about a week or two.

The one piece of advice would be to make sure you have deep pockets as this phone will stick out from small pockets and if you aren't paying attention it could just be nicked off of you or accidentally get left behind on a seat. However, these aren’t real issues with the device per se, just things you need to know, perhaps for most devices.

When it comes to ports, it will almost seem like that this is a laptop we are reviewing. The ROG Phone 2 gets dual USB-C ports mounted on the left side of the device for charging or docking the phone to several ROG accessories. You also get the usual SIM tray with a microSD card slot, a headphone jack and a second USB-C port.

Asus_ROG_Ports

There’s bound to be a lot of debate around the design of the second-gen ROG Phone. But if you’re a gamer; ignore it because this phone is designed, almost unapologetically, for gamers.

Virtual Buttons

Asus has incorporated two buttons on the top and bottom right side of the phone. While gaming with the device in landscape mode, these buttons can be used as air triggers with users being able to assign specific in-game actions to the triggers.

Now, these aren’t actual psychical buttons that depress but are more like capacitive sensors, which when pressed trigger software buttons in the game. Asus has also improved on the latency and sensitivity of these pseudo buttons. The triggers work excellently because of the discrete profile, which blends into the design of the phone.

Asus_Triggers

This is just one of those gaming features that may not be necessary, but once you get used to you don’t want to live without it. Think of it as the third side button on a gaming mouse.

Display

The Asus ROG Phone 2 is the only smartphone in existence to feature an AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. This is the fastest smartphone display we’ve ever screen, and there’s a big difference in scrolling when moving from 60 hertz to 120 hertz.

You can also turn the refresh rate down to 60Hz if you want or even 90Hz. It also has a 1ms response time and a 240Hz touch response refresh rate, making the phone super-quick and response to every touch. We spent a bit of time just scrolling through apps because of how smooth it was.

Basically, scrolling through the UI or using any app that supports the higher refresh rates is going to look awesome on this phone.

Asus_Audio

Refresh rate aside, the ROG Phone 2 gets a 6.59-inch FHD+ (1080 x 2340 pixels) AMOLED display. And, while there’s no notch in sight, the screen does get some pretty thick top and bottom bezels, but that may not be a bad thing.

The thick bezels hide pretty capable front-firing speakers, which deliver some of the best audio you’ll hear on a smartphone. While the sound may not be as balanced as that on the Galaxy Note 10, it is certainly louder, the loudest we’ve seen on any smartphone.

Now, this is still a 1080p panel, which puts it at a considerable disadvantage against phones with 1440p panels. And, while the levels of brightness and contrast may not be as good as Samsung’s best, colour accuracy is spot on with HDR10+ support.

There’s little to complain about when it comes to the display on the ROG Phone 2. This display offers one of the best overall entertainment experiences on a smartphone.

Performance

Finally, to the best part of this phone - performance. The ROG Phone 2 is one of the fastest Android smartphones on the market. It packs a Snapdragon 855+ mobile platform that overclocks up to 2.96GHz.

The Adreno 640 GPU also delivers a 15-per cent bump in graphics performance than the Snapdragon 855 chipset. Coupled with the powerful chipset is up to 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of UFS 3.0 storage. The model Asus sent us came with 8GB of RAM, which is more than enough for any and everything you need to do on Android.

Asus_Gaming

It doesn’t matter what you throw – gaming, multitasking, editing, etc. – at the ROG Phone 2, with all that power, the ROG Phone II isn’t going to break much of a sweat dealing with it.

This phone is undoubtedly the performance king among smartphones. Now, we aren’t going to waste your time with benchmark tests as they do little in determining real-world performance.

While several smartphones with the Snapdragon 855 Plus SoC could get better results in a performance benchmark than the ROG Phone 2, those results aren’t permanent.

As you continue to game on a smartphone, its CPU starts getting hotter, and that’s where throttling kicks in and CPU performance starts to dip. That is where gaming phones excel.

Asus_ROG_Gaming

A gaming phone like the ROG Phone II would perform much better over prolonged periods than say a OnePlus 7T. And, while cooling systems are optimised on all gaming phones, none do it better than the ROG Phone II.

Despite gaming for over two hours, the ROG Phone II still managed to maintain somewhere around 84 to 87 percent sustained performance; a feat few phones can match. You can also get the AeroActive Cooler II, a separate fan that attaches to the back of the phone to maintain CPU performance at above 95-percent.

When it comes to performance, the ROG Phone 2 really won’t disappoint. The fact that the phone remains relatively cool under pressure is also a big advantage over other devices. This is undoubtedly one of the fastest, if not the fastest, Android smartphones available.
ProsCons
Amazing PerformanceLarge Screen Bezels
Ultra-smooth DisplayBulky and Heavy Design
Bloatware Free Software
Decent Camera
Powerful Dual Front-Firing Speakers
Incredible Battery Life

Camera

When you’re looking for a gaming phone, you shouldn’t really be too concerned with ‘camera’. And the first ROG Phone was a perfect example of that. However, we’re glad to say that’s not the case with the second ROG Phone. Asus has significantly improved camera performance on the ROG Phone 2, putting it in a position to take on the flagship killers, namely the OnePlus 7, Redmi K20 Pro, Oppo Reno 10x Zoom, and so on.

Asus_48_Megapixel

Asus has equipped their latest gaming phone with a 48-megapixel primary 1/2.0-inch Sony IMX586 Quad Bayer sensor with f/1.79 aperture, PDAF/Laser Autofocus and a 79-degree FOV. Complementing that capable 48MP sensor is a 13-megapixel ultra-wide lens with f/2.4 aperture and a 125-degree FOV. On the front, the ROG Phone 2 gets a 24-megapixel shooter with f/2.2 aperture.

Asus_ROG (3)

Photos from the primary 48-megapixel camera look very nice where Auto HDR is on by default. Pictures taken with the main camera had a lot of detail and close to no noise.

Additionally, the dynamic range is relatively wide, and the colour reproduction is quite accurate. In good lighting, the ROG Phone 2 will get excellent results on the primary Sony sensor although we did find a little inconsistency in white balance.

Asus_ROG (2)

Unlike the first ROG Phone, this one comes with an ultra-wide shooter. Photos on the ultra-wide camera are not comparable to images from the primary sensor, but they’re still pretty decent with the distortion correction doing a pretty good job. Results in portrait mode can vary with the edge detection feeling slightly off at times.

Asus_Night

In low light, quality from the primary camera does tend to dip. While photos maintain good details, noise becomes relatively visible. Asus does have a Night mode that works on both the primary and ultra-wide cameras. It’s also worth noting that shots with the Night mode in pitch darkness won’t yield good results.

Results on the front camera are surprisingly good, offering heaps of information and excellent dynamic range. The large-resolution sensor, coupled with the processing power of the SD855+ chip, delivered great Portrait selfies. Additionally, colours, sharpness, and detail are all great on the front-facing camera, which will ensure you get great selfies.

The ROG Phone 2 can also record 4K video at 60fps or FHD and HD video at 240fps and 480 fps, respectively. Both the main and ultra-wide camera sensors feature 3-axis electronic image stabilisation across all modes (4K, FHD, HD). The front camera is only capable of capturing 1080p videos at 30fps.

Camera

Video quality on the primary sensor is excellent across the board with a lot of detail and natural colour reproduction and no aggressive sharpening. The ultra-wide camera can shoot 4K videos at 30 fps but with much more noise, hampering overall video quality.

The camera experience on the ROG Phone 2 was surprisingly good. To sum it up, this is undoubtedly the best camera setup we’ve seen on a gaming smartphone.

Software

One of the most significant caveats on the first ROG Phone was its over-the-top software, which was excellent for gaming and nothing else. Asus has done an excellent job on the ROG Phone 2 giving you the option of setting the device up with the gamer-centric ROG UI or a near-stock, clean ZenUI, which is something both gamers and average users will appreciate.

Asus_ROG

But even if you opt for the near-stock ZenUI, there’s still a lot of gaming features on the phone you can take advantage of. You still have the Armory Crate app that allows you to do everything from customising the lighting and buttons to overclocking the device.

The Armory Crate Game Lobby lets you customise settings for each game. You can also lock alerts, check frame rates and more with the app.

The option to choose between a gaming UI and near-stock Android makes the ROG Phone 2 very appealing.

Battery

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better; we’ve reached battery. Asus has equipped this mobile gaming monstrosity with a massive 6,000 mAh battery with Quick Charge 4.0 (30W) and 10W wired power share support.

Yes, the second USB Type-C port can be used to charge other accessories because you need some way to drain that 6,000 mAh battery.

Battery

Even with heavy gaming, you’d easily be able to get through a full day on this battery. You should be able to hit two days with average usage, including some casual gaming. We wouldn’t be surprised if lighter usage takes the ROG Phone’s battery into ‘day 3’.

Quick Charge 4.0 (30W) charging means you’ll get a full 100-per cent charge in little over a hundred minutes, which is pretty impressive considering the sheer capacity of that battery.

10W wired power share is another great feature on the ROG Phone 2. Even if the ROG Phone 2 isn’t very good at battery management, 6,000 mAh is still 2,000 mAh more than what most phones offer.

Price

Unlike the first ROG Phone, Asus’ second take on the gaming smartphone arrives in two variants – An 8GB RAM / 128GB Storage model for Rs 37,999 and a 12GB RAM / 512GB Storage variant for Rs 59,999. While we have our reservations of paying 60K for a gaming smartphone, the entry-level ROG Phone 2 is quite the bargain for Rs 38K.

Asus_ROG (4)

Verdict

The ROG Phone 2 delivers on just about every front. Asus has managed to right every wrong of the first ROG Phone with its second-generation gaming smartphone. Apart from being heavy, Asus has literally given us no other reason not to buy this phone. If you are a gamer, the ROG Phone 2 will tick all the boxes.

Beyond gaming, you also get a capable camera and an excellent software experience. The Asus ROG Phone 2 offers fantastic performance, the best camera (among gaming handsets), a massive battery, a clean OS, and a stunning display at a very reasonable price. The overall value proposition on this phone is arguably one of the best in the under Rs 40,000 smartphone market.

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First Published on Oct 7, 2019 08:26 pm
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