Asus ROG Phone 5 review
|128 GB 8 GB RAM||$ 659.99||$ 688.88|
|256 GB 12 GB RAM||$ 799.99||$ 838.88|
|256 GB 16 GB RAM||$ 1,139.99||$ 1,099.00|
|Show all prices|
Another year, another ROG phone. Asus has relentlessly stopped delivering “The Ultimate Smartphone Gaming Experience” for four years now. With great success we can add.
This time we have the shiny new ROG phone 5 to get acquainted with. A Republic of Gamers product through and through, but one that does things a little differently than its predecessors in some respects, while remaining faithful in many others. There’s a lot to discuss, so without further ado, we just jump right into it.
First things first. Yes, it’s ROG Phone 5 instead of 4. Don’t worry about it; you have not accidentally skipped an iteration along the way. The explanation is actually simple and one that we have encountered in the past with Chinese and Taiwan naming conventions. The number ‘four’ in Chinese happens to sound similar to their word for death, so naming products after that number is considered unfortunate and avoided.
Ironically, that’s the least exciting thing about the ROG Phone 5. Let’s start with the fact that the ROG Phone 5 is more of a family of devices than a single model.
Asus ROG Phone 5 specifications at a glance:
- Body: 172.8×77.3×10.3mm, 238g; metal body; RGB light panel (back), pressure sensitive zones (game triggers).
- Screen: 6.78 “AMOLED, 1B colors, 144Hz, HDR10 +, 800 nit (type), 1200 nit (peak), 1080x2448px resolution, 20.4: 9 aspect ratio, 395ppi.
- Chipset: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (5 nm): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4x 0.80 GHz Kryo 680); Adreno 660.
- Memory: 128 GB 8 GB RAM, 256 GB 12 GB RAM, 256 GB 16 GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
- OS / software: Android 11, ROG UI.
- Rear camera: Wide (head): 64 MP, f / 1.8, 26 mm, 1 / 1.73 “, 0.8 µm, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 13 MP, f / 2.4, 11 mm, 125 °; Macro: 5 MP, f / 2.0.
- Front camera: 24 MP, f / 2.5, 27 mm (wide), 0.9 .m.
- Video recording: Rear camera: 8K @ 30fps, 4K @ 30/60 / 120fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120 / 240fps, 720p @ 480fps; gyro-EIS; Front camera: 1080p @ 30 fps.
- Battery: 6000mAh; Fast charging 65 W, reverse charging 10 W, power supply 3.0, fast charging 5.
- Various: Fingerprint reader (on display, optical); NFC; 3.5 mm jack plug.
There are anywhere between two to five different versions available, depending on how you count them. Vanilla ROG Phone 5 has an A, B and C variant that indicates their differences in available bands and network connection as well as memory variants. Based on variant “C”, the basic configuration of an 8 GB / 128 GB with a 12 GB / 256 GB tier is also available. Variant “B” adds a third option to the list – 16 GB / 256 GB. Variant “A” is not available in the basic 8GB / 128GB level, but can be found in both 12GB / 256GB and 16GB / 256GB configurations.
It is clear that some of these varieties are intended for different markets. Still, it’s already very confusing in our minds, but things are stretching past the vanilla ROG Phone 5 this year. And we are not talking about a “Strix” variant, as in previous generations, which can still be a thing. Instead, Asus has one this year ROG Phone 5 Pro, as well as and ROG Phone 5 Ultimate.
The Pro variant has 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage space, while the Ultimate increases the RAM to a whopping 18 GB of capacity. The ultimate edition is expected to be an extremely limited offering.
There are some physical differences compared to Pro / Ultimate. Both of these have PMOLED ROG Vision screens on the back instead of the ROG RGB logo as well as a few extra touch inputs. There are some exclusive colors and finishes – Glossy Black on the Pro and Matte While, with a satin matte finish on Ultimate. You also need to buy either Pro or Ultimate to get the Asus Aeroactive Cooler 5 snap-on active cooling accessory in the box. And if you go Ultimate, you also get an exclusive gift bag with ROG “swag” on top of that.
This particular review and all testing and benchmarking was performed on a standard ROG Phone 5 device with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
This variant situation is undoubtedly a bit confusing. There are still different ways of looking at it from a more positive angle, namely the extra choice for the end user, and Asus is trying to throw a wider network this time around in hopes of appealing to as many potential buyers as possible.
On the flip side of this argument, there are certainly also some dubious decisions with the ROG Phone 5 that could be passed on as simplification or diversification measures, but which at best are actually a kind of downgrades or “side qualities”. Notable examples include the rather bizarre fact that after two consecutive years of deliberately preserving the same footprint with ROG phones and compatibility with the growing ROG accessory ecosystem, the chain has officially broken with ROG Phone 5. It’s slightly higher than its predecessors and magazines behind support for such killer gadgets as the Desktop Dock and TwinView Dock.
Aeroactive Cooler is not included with every device for the first time ever. And in a more general sense, even though it’s still clear on top of its game, the ROG Phone 5 is without a doubt a bit “lighter” in the innovation department compared to its predecessors.
We will definitely dig more into these “interesting choices” around ROG Phone 5 on the following pages.
A good place to start seems to be the retail box itself and its contents. Getting a new ROG phone package has always been a bit of an experience in itself. Double saw for us when Asus used to send actual briefcases filled with accessories our way. With last year’s ROG phone 3, the packaging started to get a bit tamer, kind of synergistically so with the design of the phone itself, which was justified and quite sensible.
ROG Phone 5 takes things to the next level in more ways than one. The box we got was just an ordinary rectangle. A fancy one, definitely complete with some art, but it only took a split second to open the magnetic flap and get to the device. No alien tetrahedrons, pyramids sliding into each other, hidden spaces and magical augmented reality symbols. With fun aside, we appreciate the extra sensitivity of an otherwise expensive package that ultimately ends up in a closet somewhere.
However, we are much less grateful for the omission of the ROG Aeroactive Cooler 5. Previously, every other ROG phone used its corresponding Aeroactive cooler. You can definitely choose whether you want to see this as a convenient way to save less demanding users some money or otherwise cost-effective cost-saving measure. It’s up to you. Additionally, you still get one if you go for the Pro or Ultimate variant of ROG Phone 5. Probably the former as the latter will be extremely limited in availability.
We did not get any extra plastic plugs for the ROG Side plug this time, which is not an important deal, but it is still worth mentioning. On the plus side, Asus still throws its very specific Aero-sag in black or white to match the color of the device. It has a specific shape that is mostly required by the need to be compatible with Aeroactive Cooler 5 so that the ROG logo can be visible while still providing at least some protection. At least the corners are covered.
For charging you still get a very versatile HyperCharger device from Asus. It is a 65W brick using Asus HyperCharge technology, based on Power Delivery 3.0 + PPS at 3.3V to 21V and 3A power. This means you only need a decent USB 2.0 or 3.0 Type-C to Type-C cable rated at base 3A to take full advantage of the charger. Asus gives a nice braid in the box.
ROG Phone 5 actually has two separate 3,000 mAh cells with MMT technology and dual-cable split design that work with HyperCharge technology to allow a charging speed of 65 W – a clear upgrade over the ROG Phone 3, while generating less heat. More on that later.
An interesting side note is that the 65W charger also supports Quick Charge 5.0, making it surprisingly versatile to just have access to all sorts of charging needs. Plus, it’s compact, especially for a non-GaN device.