Asus ROG Phone 3 review: A fantastic phone for serious gamers
Device offers top-tier specs and unique features to improve your mobile gaming experience
Asus ROG Phone 3: For serious gamers, this is a worthy – if pricey – investment
Product name: Asus ROG Phone 3
Where to buy: www.asus.com
When was the last time you used a point and click camera? Or a separate sat nav for travelling? Calculators, music players, even watches have all found themselves surplus to requirements for a lot of people, thanks to multifunction smartphones.
While games consoles haven’t quite been replaced by their mobile rivals, handheld games devices are certainly much less popular than they were before. Smartphones are chipping away at this sector, with Apple’s Arcade subscription service and Google’s Stadia streaming games service aiming at mobile gamers.
But most phones are designed with heavy gaming sessions in mind. See how long you get out of your battery should you settle in for an extended session on Fortnite or a Fifa 21 tournament. Cheaper phones may not be able to handle the pressure on graphics that wouldn’t trouble the premium smartphones; that’s before you get to the inevitable hand cramps that will hit from stretching to on-screen controls.
Asus has been working away on its line of gaming phones. The Republic of Gamers (ROG) 3 Phone is targeted at those who are serious about their mobile gaming.
At first glance, the ROG Phone 3 looks a lot like every other smartphone out there. There are some slight design differences that could hint at its true calling, sure, and it’s definitely heavier than a lot of smartphones out there, but in general you have a black phone, a big screen and bezels that while are definitely there, still follow the design preference for “as little as possible”.
That AMOLED screen clocks in at 6.56 inches, which is large by anyone’s metrics. You’ll need that space for games, but it also came in incredibly handy for Netflix and Disney+ viewing too.
What sets the ROG Phone 3 apart are the things you don’t notice at first. There’s the 144Hz display, which feels incredibly responsive to the action on screen. Will you notice the difference between the 120Hz on other devices? Possibly not at first, especially given the fact that it’s not compatible with every game on the phone, but the screen seems so much smoother. The display is HDR10+ capable, and you can switch between 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz refresh rates if you want to save on battery life. But the (frankly huge) 6,000mAh battery keeps you powered up, and it feels almost like a challenge to get it to deliver less than a day of power. The dual front-facing speakers make sure you get the best sound as you play too, pumping out some impressive sound for the size of them.
Also of interest to gamers will be the GameCool 3 cooling system, which keeps the phone at peak performance, and the quad mic array which means that you can always communicate with your team, regardless of how you are holding the phone or what accessories you are using.
There are some unique features too like the AirTriggers, which only work with select games but require a bit of set up. If you are a committed gamer, you’ll take the time to do it, but it’s not a necessity.
Where the ROG Phone 3 falls down a little is at lower brightness levels. Crank the display up to full brightness and it looks amazing, if a little tough on the eyes. But at lower brightness levels, things aren’t quite as clear, with more dimly lit scenes causing some problems.
Lots of RAM, a good chip and some design tweaks mean the ROG Phone 3 isn’t your run of the mill smartphone trying to fool you that it is a games device. It is games first, smartphone second. That doesn’t mean that it scrimps on smartphone features though, so you can be confident that the ROG 3 won’t fall down on the job. It has a triple rear camera, with 64 megapixel main camera, 13 megapixel ultra-wide lens and a 5 megapixel macro camera, with a 24 megapixel front-facing camera. Are the photos as good as the regular flagship smartphone? Sometimes, but not always.
The Rog Phone 3 offers up to 512GB of storage and up to 16GB of RAM, so you can be sure it will carry out most tasks with little complaint.
The not so good
For an expensive phone, the ROG 3 is missing a few things. There is no wireless charging, which isn’t a dealbreaker but it is inconvenient. It isn’t protected against dust or water either, with no official IP rating to comfort you.
There are plenty of accessories that turn this smartphone into a full-on gaming device, from gamepads to clips, making the ROG system worth investing in. The ROG 3 comes with Android 10 on it, which isn’t the latest version of Android available.
For serious gamers, the ROG Phone 3 is a worthy – if pricey – investment. But with the ROG Phone 5 just announced, it may be worth waiting to see if prices fall.