One of the defining features of any respectable gaming setup, be it portable or not is the quality of the display and consequently, visual fidelity. Rendering gorgeous frames with realistic detail colors and lighting means very little if the panel tasked with displaying It simply omits, distorts or misinterprets most of that graphics data.
Razer understands that pretty well with its IGZO, 120HZ variable refresh rate mobile panels. High refresh rate simply is a game-changer, which is why Razer is still sticking with the tech, despite its high cost and extreme power hunger. Even with said shortcoming, Razer's purely visual gaming experience set the bar pretty high, So much so that frankly with said precedent in existence we kind of feel like any phone that dares to title itself "for gaming" has to at least try to offer something better than the sea of 60Hz IPS/OLED panels out there.
Asus does not disappoint in this department either arguably opting for a more versatile, if slightly less impressive in some regards solution than Razer's. The ROG Phone packs a 6-inch, 1080 x 2160 AMOLED panel. Nothing out of the ordinary thus far. The unique "unicorn" bit here is that it has a maximum refresh rate of 90Hz. 30Hz more than 99% of the handset currently out on the market. And believe us when we say that the visual difference in smoothness is perceivable.
Unfortunately, the high refresh rate isn't something that can be experienced in any way other than in person. We can't capture it on camera and even if we could, you would need a high refresh rate display on your end to see it in action. Everything just looks smoother at 90Hz and the ROG Phone has plenty of horsepower to saturate that refresh rate in most games. Naturally, the UI is optimized as well and works at an almost rock steady 90fps. Even in day-to-day experience the 90Hz mode feels so much smoother than other devices that it kind of makes switching to anything other than a Razer Phone difficult.
Speaking of which, Razer does undoubtedly have higher refresh rates on their side and even more importantly - their refresh rates are variable, which makes every scenario stutter-free and even smoother. On the flip side, there is that whole battery-draining bit that we found to mostly be related to the variable refresh rate technology. The ROG Phone skips all that, opting for a toggle between either 90Hz or a conventional 60Hz, if you feel like saving on some battery.
But that's the other thing - since the panel here is OLED and there is no variable refresh rate tech sucking up juice, the impact of 90Hz over 60Hz in battery life is much less.
We also can't fail to mention the AMOLED bit of the equation. It has the distinct benefit of infinite contrast and true blacks, which no LCD can really attain. This makes it very well suited for multimedia. And, just to be clear, the higher refresh rate does not have any benefit for multimedia consumption, anyway. Still, gaming is where the two bits of the puzzle really come into their own. And mind you, high refresh rate OLED panels are really hard to come by on any consumer tech. Aside from a few exuberantly priced TV's, you just can find such an experience as provided on the ROG phone.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
Sunlight legibility is a particular strong suit of the ROG Phone panel. In fact, it is almost a chart-topper in our test database.
For all its versatility and visual appeal, however, the ROG Phone's panel isn't without its faults. For one, OLED is kind of known to handle motion blur a bit worse than its LCD cousin. In really fast-paced games and with rapid camera pans you can sometimes notice this while gaming. Just to be clear, though, you can notice it if you really know what you are looking for and want to be a display snob about things. Plus, the panel Asus chose for the ROG Phone has really low pixel response times, as low as 1ms. So, chances are, unless you are comparing blur on the ROG Phone to that on a really high-end, adaptive-sync, high-refresh rate, IPS desktop display, the ROG Phone is going to come out ahead.
So, blur is mostly not an issue. That just leaves one major beef we have with the display in the ROG Phone - the colors. Now, this, again, is less of an isolated issue and more of a compromise of the particular Asus approach. The default color pallet looks quite a bit off. Reds are very overblown, which is fairly standard, but so are green and magenta, which is just an odd combination that makes for a strange tint. Fiddling with the available display tuning settings can bring the deltaE values down to an average of 3.9 and a maximum of 7.2, but you really don't want to do that.
In every color mode other than the default "wide color gamut" one, everything looks really dull. So you are definitely better off dealing with the default deltaE of 7.4 average and 12.6 max. On the flip side, the ROG Phone does have HDR support, although the specs sheet lacks any info on particular HDR standards and certifications. Still, Asus claims it has some secret sauce working under the hood that converts SDR colors to HDR in games, making use of the full capabilities of the panel. Color-wise, these are pretty solid as well, with a 108.6% DCI-P3 coverage and 145% of the sRGB color space.
The Asus ROG Phone packs a beefy 4,000 mAh battery - quite understandable, given its hardware, slight CPU overclock, various attachable accessories and overall gaming pedigree. The high refresh rate on the OLED panel is a particular concern when it comes to battery endurance. After all, this is the main culprit for the poor battery life on the original Razer Phone and the Razer Phone. Well, technically, we found that variable refresh rate is what likely sucked the battery dry at quite a pace on the Razer handsets. Plus, those have LCD panels. Whereas the ROG Phone is packing a more energy-efficient OLED unit and has a static maximum refresh rate of 90Hz.
For the sake of thoroughness, we ran our battery tests twice, once in the 90Hz display mode and then again with a standard refresh rate of 60Hz.
It seems like the high refresh rate takes a toll of around 2 hours with screen-on web browsing test and a bit less with video playback. Our theory here is that since our test video is encoded at a standard 30fps and it is the only thing being displayed on screen, the ROG Phone is clever enough to realize what is going on and lowers its display refresh rate down automatically. Presumably, this happens after a certain time-out, which would explain the still elevated battery usage.
Other than that, the two on-screen numbers themselves are pretty respectable, although far from great on an AMOLED display and a huge 4,000 mAh battery. As we anticipated, the high refresh rate does take its toll, but results still seem more reasonable than what we got on the Razer Phone 2 and its variable refresh rate, 120Hz IGZO panel.
Talk time is actually pretty high, but the standby numbers ended up on the lower end of the expected Snapdragon 845 spectrum. We made sure to re-test those as well, just to make sure, but the second run only confirmed our initial findings. This all added up to a solid, if not stellar battery endurance score.
Charging the hefty 4,000 mAh battery pack in the ROG Phone is actually pretty quick thanks to Asus' HyperCharge proprietary charging solution. So, using the bundled brick can get you from 0% to 100% in just about an hour and forty minutes.
Just as a reminder, that charger is actually very versatile - able to comply with both QC4.0 and PD3.0 protocols. If you don't have the stock charger at hand, the ROG Phone can take a QC 4.0 or 3.0 input as well. In which case a full top-off will take you around 15 minutes more.
Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Asus ROG Phone for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty.You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.
The ROG Phone packs some serious loudspeaker hardware. Two beefy speakers on either end of the device, powered by two dedicated NXP 9874 amplifiers. As you can probably imagine, this equates to very loud and incredibly crisp sound.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
The sound stage and 3D audio effect achieved by the setup are pretty impressive as well. That comes courtesy of DTS:X Ultra 1.0, which is not only in charge of optimizing loudspeaker output but also headphones, boasting features like DTS:X 7.1 channel surround. The 24-bit DAC and aptX Bluetooth support are simply icing on the cake at this point.
The Asus ROG Phone has the potential to deliver arguably the best audio output in the market. It has super loud output both with an active external amplifier and headphones and all but one of the readings are excellent in both cases. In fact, it’s very rare to see a handset so unaffected by plugging in headphones.
However, the big issue is that the ROG has an equalizer applied at all times even if you disable the Audio Wizard functionality. The so-called headphones profile can’t be switched off and no matter what kind of profile you choose the frequency response will be far from ideal.
Some people like equalizers and we are all for that, but forcing one on everyone just isn’t cool. Worse yet, you are actually selecting profiles - specific brands and models of headphones or just “general” speakers, but you don’t really know what each of those does to the frequency response. You either have to trust Asus that they have selected the settings optimal for you, or play a very long game of trial and error until you find a profile that you like. And if you just want to listen to the tracks the way they were meant to sound - then you are entirely out of luck.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|+3.06, -3.96||-93.8||93.7||0.0065||0.041||-91.3||+0.02, -0.16||-92.1||92.0||0.0017||0.013||-85.6|
|+0.07, -0.07||-92.1||92.4||0.0021||0.106||-66.5||+0.03, -0.05||-93.4||93.3||0.0010||0.0070||-93.8|
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.