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After the excellent ROG Phone (Check on Amazon.com) launched in 2018, Asus is back for more with the ROG Phone 2 (Check on Amazon.com). With this new iteration, the Taiwanese manufacturer replicates everything that was good with the first model and corrects its few flaws. It also adds the features requested by the gaming community in order to create the ultimate gaming smartphone.
Asus ROG Phone 2 – Aggressive design
The Asus ROG Phone 2 does not exude elegance or sobriety. It adopts the same lines and colors of its older sibling. It proposes a mix between curves (rounded corners, slightly curved back) and aggressive lines (photo module, ventilation shaft on the back) for an absolutely futuristic look.
The biggest aesthetic change is the new fingerprint reader under the screen. For the rest, the Asus ROG Phone 2 looks like the previous model. The USB-C port and the 3.5mm jack are placed on the bottom edge. On the left, we find the secondary USB-C port for charging the device while gaming or for connecting the accessories.
On the opposite side, Asus has integrated the AirTriggers 2, a new version of its famous gaming triggers that sport better haptic feedback, a sliding system (for switching weapons for example) and prolonged push (for continuous fire). Finally, a new Dual Surround vibration system enhances immersion. The vibrations are now felt throughout the entire smartphone.
The Asus ROG Phone 2 is imposing and heavy. This is due to its massive 6.6-inch screen with no notch, its 6000mAh battery and its two front-facing speakers.
If it doesn’t make much sense to you as your daily driver it certainly makes sense as a portable gaming console.
Asus ROG Phone 2 – Massive display
In order to meet the ever-demanding requirements of gamers, Asus equipped this phone with the most advanced display on the market. A 6.59″ AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a response time of 1ms. Asus’s engineers also worked on the touch latency. With a score of 49ms, the ROG Phone 2 is 44% faster than the Galaxy S10+ (87ms), the OnePlus 7 Pro (85ms) and the iPhone 11 Pro Max (75ms).
This translates into a fluidity in animations and transitions never seen before on a smartphone. Its excellent contrast, the good colorimetry (Delta-E less than 1) and the screen’s brightness are an added bonus. Gamers will also appreciate the HDR10 support and SDR to HDR technology that can enhance the display of non-optimized HDR games. Let us be clear: this display really stands out from the competition and it will be used as our new reference.
For a better immersion, Asus endowed the ROG Phone 2 with two stereo front-firing speakers for an output 2.5 times more powerful than on the first model.
Asus also inaugurated the DTS:X Ultra compatibility to further improve audio quality. You will even find a complete equalizer in the settings that allows you to select one of five profiles (normal, rock, pop, voice and personalized) and optimize them according to your taste.
Music lovers will appreciate the balanced sound with loud treble and solid bass. Of course, listening with headphones is more enjoyable and more immersive. Good news, Asus also kept the 3.5mm jack.
Asus ROG Phone 2 – Sensational performance
Asus used the latest processor from Qualcomm the Snapdragon 855 Plus. Overclocked at 2.96GHz it combines with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
To manage temperatures, Asus also equipped the ROG Phone 2 with an innovative cooling system that works in three layers:
- liquid cooling with a 3D steam chamber
- a heat sink and several ventilation grilles
- AeroActive Cooler 2: this is a supplied accessory that can reduce the device’s temperature by 5 °C (9 °F) while remaining silent (24dBA, four times less than the ROG Phone).
All this arsenal allows Asus to offer us the most powerful smartphone on the market. It features unparalleled speed and fluidity, and with 12GB of RAM, multitasking is a kid’s play.
It is obviously in gaming that the ROG Phone 2 demonstrates its full potential. The combination of this kind of power with a 120Hz screen make for a unique experience. Even the most resource-intensive games run at maximum settings, and we have never encountered slowdowns or lag. Playing Fortnite and PUBG on a phone has never been so enjoyable.
By default, the ROG Phone 2 runs the ROG UI based on Android Pie 9. But you can also opt for the Zen UI, the same skin that runs on the Zenfone 6 (Check on Amazon.com). We chose the latter, which is more sober and ergonomic for daily use.
In both cases, the application that matters most is the Armoury Crate which turns the smartphone into a portable console. Once launched, the app offers several added functions:
- Game Lobby displays the game catalog in a carousel
- Game Profiles allows us to set our gaming preferences (CPU performance optimization, screen refresh rate, touch sensitivity)
- Game Genie gives us access to a different set of gaming options: block notifications and calls, adjust the screen brightness, and more.
- Console enables console mode. We can customize the Logo’s color, optimize graphics performance, configure the AirTriggers or customize the joystick.
In order to further enhance our gaming experience Asus offers a series of gaming accessories:
- AeroActive Cooler 2: supplied in the box, it’s a clip-on mini fan that attaches to the back of the device and cools it down.
- Aero Case: a lightweight case that protects the most fragile points of the phone without hiding the ROG logo
- ROG Lighting Armor Case: This case covers the entire smartphone.
- ROG Kunai Gamepad: Nintendo Switch inspired Joy-Cons that turn the ROG Phone 2 into a portable console.
- TwinView Dock 2: A secondary 120Hz display with an integrated 5000mAh battery. Together with the Kunai Gamepad transform the ROG Phone 2 into a Switch/3DS hybrid!
Asus ROG Phone 2 – Two days of autonomy
Asus went all in by integrating a 6000mAh battery. With such a capacity, the manufacturer promises 7 hours of PUBG, a figure that we could verify during our tests. In everyday life, this corresponds to two full days of normal use.
It is also compatible with Quick Charge 4 and comes with a 30W charger that can get it to 65% in just under one hour (that is more than a day’s autonomy). It can also recharge it to 45% in about 30 minutes. Note also, that Asus allows for charging while gaming in landscape mode, using the secondary USB-C port, positioned on the left border.
Asus ROG Phone 2 – Camera, not an afterthought
One of the biggest flaws with the first ROG Phone was its camera. Although this line is aimed at gamers, the photo quality remains a criterion of choice for most users. Asus seems to have understood this notion and equipped the ROG phone 2 with the same camera module as the Zenfone 6:
- A 48 megapixel Sony IMX 586 sensor
- A 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens (125°) with distortion correction
- Dual-LED flash
- Phase detection autofocus (0.03s)
- Quad Bayer Technology
Thus the ROG Phone 2 has the same qualities and flaws of the Zenfone 6. In good lighting conditions, the photos are pretty good. In a dimly lit environment, on the other hand, the quality drops and this is more pronounced with the ultra-wide-angle shots.
In the front, Asus opts for a 24-megapixel sensor. Selfies and self-portraits are delightful and even if they cannot compete with the best camera phones in the market, they are quite OK for a gaming smartphone.
Asus ROG Phone 2 – Verdict
As we can observe with the launch of the Zenfone 6 (Check on Amazon.com) and the new ROG Phone 2, Asus is betting on more specialized devices such as for photography and gaming.
The combination of the powerful Zenfone camera module with the best specifications that a mobile phone can currently get, make this the most desired device for gaming enthusiasts.
A large number of gaming accessories can also transform it into a truly portable console.
All in all, the Asus ROG Phone 2 (Check on Amazon.com) is the best gaming phone there is!