Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Asus really brought the big guns out for the ROG Phone 5; if you’re looking for a smartphone with all the features you could ask for, especially in terms of performance, then this is the phone for you. There’s so much to this phone, it’s ridiculous.
The ROG Phone 5 actually has three different models: The standard model, the Pro and the Ultimate. Although we reviewed the standard model, there are different configurations and the one we have is the most specced out, with 16GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 internal storage. These two components are the only difference from the phone’s many SKUs as the rest of the models are pretty much the same. All models come equipped with the same Snapdragon 8885G processor, 144Hz AMOLED display and. Make no mistake though: this phone is chock full of power regardless of which model you’re looking at.
As for design, Asus has noticeably decided to go minimalistic with the ROG Phone 5, if you compare it to the previous generation. The copper accents and the sort of thermal element design were replaced with a simpler-looking matrix and stripe design similar to their gaming laptop line. Even the ROG logo itself is integrated with the matrix design and helps make the overall phone feel more consistent, slightly more unified and (arguably) look better. The main accent is the SIM card tray cover’s colour, which sports a nice metallic red and even has the phrase “Good Luck Have Fun” etched onto it. The etching serves as a kind reminder that despite the new minimalistic approach to its design, the ROG Phone 5 is still a gaming phone.
Although we like the new updated design, we find it a bit meaningless. People don’t often look at the back of their phone to admire it, and its backside will either be covered by your hands or the case you’ll put it into. Nonetheless, the phone’s design is attractive to the point that it prominently stands out from other phones released in 2021.
The ROG Phone 5 is more than just its design; its performance and the overall experience from using the phone is superb.
The phone’s 6.78-inch AMOLED display gives you full HD resolution at a 144Hz refresh rate and a 1-millisecond response time. The phone display’s maximum brightness can go up to 1200 nits and it has HDR10 and 10+. Additionally, the DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage goes above 100%, up to 111.23% in fact, and you get all that under Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.
Overall, the phone’s display is so phenomenal and impressive that you won’t want for more when it comes to both general usage (e.g. scrolling through websites and watching YouTube videos) and more importantly, gaming.
Before we touch on the ROG Phone 5’s gaming aspect, we first have to talk about its audio, and Asus has really outdone itself here. Other phones just can’t compare, and the Phone 5 is even better than its predecessor which was known to have the best smartphone speakers in 2020, the ROG Phone 3. You’ll find that the ROG Phone 5’s audio is clean and clear when you get to experience the phone’s audio, not to mention that it can get very loud. Additionally, you’ll distinctly hear the audio separation between the left and right tracks partly because of the phone’s huge size. With these qualities in mind, the ROG Phone 5 beats the ROG Phone 3’s audio by a long shot.
Asus added a ton of gaming features to the ROG Phone 5 just like its predecessors. The main difference is that many of the ROG Phone 3’s gaming features have been included and improved for the ROG Phone 5.
The Air Triggers function the same way as before, giving you extra shoulder buttons for games. However, they are now more sensitive and more customisable compared to the ROG Phone 3’s. You’ll also get Armoury Crate, where you can select different power profiles and view the phone’s setting at a glance. Asus also included the ability to set the phone’s thermal limit, CPU performance, GPU performance and so much more. The company even gave players the option to invert the colours on the ROG Phone 5’s display, which might be great for spotting other players in games like PUBG Mobile. However, we do have to question the implementation of such a feature. Regardless, customisation is Asus’ game with the ROG Phone 5 and it shows.
Asus may have equipped the ROG Phone 5 with the same 6000mAh battery as before, but it’s the battery upgrade that made it better than its previous iteration. The usual 6000mAh battery is now a dual-battery design made up of 3000mAh units that include a 65-watt HyperCharge adapter. These upgrades made it possible for the phone to charge faster (70% in 30 minutes!) without it overheating, further increasing the battery’s longevity.
One of the ROG Phone 5’s cool features is that you can charge the phone while playing games without the phone heating up too much. This is because its side-mounted USB Type-C port supports pass-through charging. This means that instead of charging the phone’s battery while the phone is in use, the charger powers the phone instead, just like what a computer does. This results in lower temperatures, which also helps with battery longevity.
You can also get the AeroActive Cooler accessory if you want even better performance and lower temperatures. The accessory not only includes the fan and kickstand, but also two additional buttons for you to use. Unfortunately, the base model doesn’t come with the AeroActive Cooler accessory, so you’ll have to purchase one separately. You’ll have to get the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate Edition if you want to have one included at purchase.
Having a headphone jack is a must for gaming phones, and the ROG Phone 5 is one of those phones that have this much-needed jack. As much as wireless earphones are great, audio latency is still an issue especially for music and rhythm games – an issue that the headphone jack solves.
Although the ROG Phone 5 isn’t a phone made for photography in mind, its camera can still take pretty good shots.
The base ROG Phone 5 model has a price tag of S$1,499 while the Pro is going for S$1,699 and the Ultimate Edition costs S$1,799. If you’re just interested in the base model, then the price is just right as it is a competitive one. However, the same cannot be said with the Ultimate Edition; at that price, you really have to justify your own needs and have to be vested in the whole smartphone gaming ecosystem.
Overall, we believe that Asus did a great job with the ROG Phone 5’s design, performance and the phone itself; it is an extraordinary smartphone that delivers exactly as advertised regardless of the price tag. However, it’s still a phone targeted towards a niche market. As long as you’re in that group, the ROG Phone 5 is going to be a hit for you.
Content by Soon Kai Hong