Gaming phones are a machine that are power-packed to the core. They are often advertised as phones that are focused on gaming but what about day-to-day usage and performance? That part is often left behind and here we are to cover how the Asus ROG Phone 5 performs in daily usage and to take a look at how it performs beyond gaming.
The smartphone is positioned in a way so it competes with the top players. The variant we got had 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage that is priced at Rs 57,999 and that is not cheap. People often look and research a lot when buying a smartphone at that price. Let us tell you if the Asus ROG Phone 5 is worth buying at an expensive price tag and whether you can consider it over the big players in the market.
Things we liked about the ROG Phone 5
There is a lot to like about this phone. The first aspect of the device we like is the build quality. This phone is built like a tank from the bottom to top. And it is a big phone which is quite on the bulkier and heavy side but it is made to feel that way. The power button has a red tint to it and is tactile.
With a geometric-style design, following the traditional design of the ROG Series, the metal rails on the sides along with the curved glass on the back that melts into the frame gives a really nice feel in hand, although it’s a fingerprint magnet and might get slippery at times. To solve the issue, Asus has given a plastic cover in the box with the necessary cutouts to show off the branding and the LED light at the back.
Talking about the LED light, that’s another thing that is worth looking forward to when you purchase this device. The LED light is housed beneath the ROG logo that lights up in circumstances that you specify. It can light up when you use the normally, or when you lock the screen when a notification/call arrives, and of course, while gaming too. There might be some instances that I might even forget to mention in this article as the level of customization on offer is insane.
You can even customize in what way the LED lights up such as in a breathing pattern, or in a gradient colour combo, or just blinking and much more. It is a great way of notifying the person of a notification or call and was quite useful for me as I often keep my phone display facing down. While charging, the LED can light up red while the charge is between 0-30%. Between 30-80% it can light up orange and when it reaches beyond 80%, the LED will turn green. This is something every phone should have and not just gaming devices.
The display is a 6.78 inches OLED panel with full-HD+ (1080 x 2448 pixels) resolution, an aspect ratio of 20.4:9, 144Hz refresh rate, 300Hz touch-sampling rate, 24.3ms touch latency, Gorilla Glass Victus protection and HDR10+. It is a gorgeous looking display with a small issue that did bother me, about which I will talk later. It gets bright enough in direct sunlight and at 144Hz, the experience is just smoother than ever. You won’t notice much difference between 144Hz and 120Hz and you get only 4 options to choose from including adaptive, 144Hz, 120Hz and 60Hz. between 144Hz and 120Hz and you get only 4 options to choose from in the phone, including adaptive that will change the refresh rate of the display according to the content being displayed on the screen, or the other 3 options which include constant 144Hz, 120Hz or 60Hz.
The next thing we liked about the ROG Phone 5 is the selfies that came out of this phone. The colours, sharpness as well as details were all good. The selfies were great under artificial lighting as well as outdoors. However, under low-lighting, the details took a hit but not much.
The phone comes with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 support and I didn’t have any issues with connectivity. The calls were loud and clear on both ends and even while connected to a 5Ghz Wifi, the phone could easily fetch the maximum speeds available.
Coming to the performance of the ROG Phone 5, the smartphone is powered by the latest and most powerful chipset by Qualcomm yet, the Snapdragon 888 SoC and our unit came with 12 gigs of RAM and 256 gigs of storage. The performance of the smartphone is as you would expect it to be, and that is smooth and fast. It is just filled with features up to the brim while being close to Stock Android.
This phone is crazy quick with app openings and switching between them. Returning to home from an app, or just sliding over one app to another was a breeze. That combined with a high refresh rate is all you would need in a smartphone. So, answering the question that was asked in the beginning, yes, the smartphone does go beyond gaming in serving you well when it comes to daily usage.
To unveil the true potential of this phone, you will have to game on it. And not just normal gaming, as you will have to go all-in if you need to see what the ROG Phone 5 can achieve. I tried a bunch of games including Call Of Duty Mobile, Clash Royale, Project Cars Go, Asphalt 9 and many others. This smartphone can handle the most graphic-heavy games you can throw at it. But gaming on this smartphone has a few other aspects connected to it. You can customize the gaming performance of ROG Phone 5 by selecting various modes such as X-Mode, Dynamic, Ultra Power Saving and customized. The Game Genie can be brought up by dragging from the left that gives you a bunch of options and shows the system information regarding phone temperature, fps, CPU performance and more.
The Air Triggers on the right side top and bottom of the phone are a breeze to use and that’s what I got used to the most. There is no response lag between the pressing of the air trigger and action being registered on the display. It did make me win a lot of games and got me through some tough scenarios. And even the touch sensitivity of the Air Triggers can be customized. Along with that, you also get the functionality of squeeze to Trigger various actions such as Google Assistant, some other function or opening an app.
We didn’t get the Fan accessory or any other accessories but X-Mode is built for that where the phone utilizes the Fan for dissipating the heat. And that seems really important for this phone. I will let you know about it below. You can change how the game looks as well by increasing Anti-aliasing, shadow intensity and more. One can also increase or decrease the touch sensitivity of the display within a game.
The battery on the Asus ROG Phone 5 has a capacity of 6000mAh and it lasts really long. On 144Hz, the smartphone gave me around 6 hours of usage without gaming and light usage. With gaming, the SOT dropped further but that is normal. At 120Hz, the battery life increased a bit and gave me around 6.5 hours of Screen-on Time with heavy usage.
There are 2 charging ports through which you can charge the ROG Phone 5. While gaming, you can connect the charging cable to the left of the phone where the USB-C port and the connector pins for the accessories are covered with a rubber plug. There is a second port so that the cable doesn’t fiddle with your hand when you hold the phone in landscape.
Taking customization one step ahead, to save power and help the battery degrade slowly over time, you can also set a certain battery percentage upon reaching which the charging of the ROG Phone 5 will stop. You can also select how slowly and steadily the smartphone charges because the higher the charging speed, the faster the battery will degrade. Asus provides a 33W charger in-box as the 65W fast charger is sold separately.
Haptics and Sound
The haptics and the sound are a major characteristic of a phone and ROG Phone 5 doesn’t lack either of them. There are dual magnet speakers on the ROG Phone 5 and they are the best I have heard on any smartphone yet. They get loud enough as if you were listening to music on a Bluetooth speaker and they have the punch and the bass which you would want in a speaker. The vocals are clear and the bass literally vibrates the whole frame that will make you listen to music on this phone.
Now, the haptics. The haptics is super strong on the ROG Phone 5 and you get that ‘tap’ feel with every click of a keyboard key. Asus has also customized the software to take advantage of the haptic engine so as you reach the end of a page after scrolling, the phone vibrates. Haptics are also implemented in games such as PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile so when you start shooting, the haptics correspond to the shooting action and the phone vibrates whenever you shoot with a gun.
Things we didn’t like about the ROG Phone 5
Now, not everything about the ROG Phone 5 is amazing. And the display joins the list. Yes, it is a decent display but not the one you would expect from a flagship as there’s a considerable amount of rainbow effect with the whites on this phone and that too even if you tilt the phone just a little bit. Next, the brightness is decent again but not super bright as today’s flagships. I have to keep it at least 75% even indoors for comfortable viewing.
Now come the cameras. Don’t take me wrong, the cameras have definitely improved over the previous generations of the ROG Phone but they don’t match the standards of a flagship phone and a phone that costs this much. Definitely the phone focuses on gaming and one won’t buy it specifically for cameras but in my opinion, if I was spending this much on a phone, I would want much better cameras.
The camera app is easy to use with a bunch of features including HDR, Auto-scene detection, night mode, and much more. Modes including Time-lapse, Video, Photo, Portrait and Panorama take the front seat. From the top, you can head over deep into the camera settings, change the aspect ratio, turn on/off flash along with some other modes as well. You also get features such as audio-zoom to focus on a particular subject’s audio that also works well, thanks to the ROG Phone 5’s quad-mic array.
The shots from the primary camera were average-detailed but I feel the colours could have been better. The dynamic range was decent as well but the shots were a bit noisy. The wide-angle shots however looked different with colours when compared to the shots from primary cameras and that is not a good thing. The exposure values could have been better so to brighten up the picture.
The details were average and there was a bit too much distortion at the edges. The portrait shots from the primary came out to be good with colours and there was a good amount of bokeh with a good edge as well as subject detection. The 5MP macro camera was okay with an average level of detail. The night shots lacked detail whereas subject focusing was good along with good edge detection.
Constant switch to 60Hz in Adaptive refresh rate
The next thing I found annoying with the ROG Phone 5 is the adaptive refresh rate feature. The phone constantly dropped the refresh rate to 60Hz whenever switching to even not-so-heavy apps such as WhatsApp, or Instagram. Scrolling is where you can notice the 60Hz refresh rate which really hindered the usage. The switching of refresh rates was too aggressive because of which I had to keep the refresh at a constant value. This can be fixed with a software update though if Asus wants to.
Heating, A Lot!
We don’t know if this issue was just with our unit or is it standard across the ROG Phone lineup, but this phone heats a lot. Fortunately not while charging, but as soon as I switched the refresh rate to 144Hz, the phone started getting warm even with normal usage, let alone gaming. While gaming with high graphics in Call Of Duty Mobile, the constant temperature of the phone was at 46-degrees.
The main area of the phone that got heated was the centre location at the rear and along with that, the whole screen. Nothing, the centre area at the back is where the Fan accessory sits so we don’t know if maybe Asus couldn’t solve the heating issue and gave the fan as a solution. And that is why, as I said above, the Fan accessory is a necessity for this device if you are going to game a lot. Even though gaming on the ROG Phone 5 was a fun experience, this heating issue was a real pain.
The Asus ROG Phone 5 is a great performer if you are looking for a gaming smartphone, or even the one you wish to use as a daily driver. At its price, it really does some great things but the cameras, and heating are some issues you will have to deal with.