Where the first ROG phone felt like an overkill for smartphone gaming, the ROG II takes that two steps further.
If you know anything about gaming products, especially ROG, two things are always constant - high-end innards and RGB. Rest assured these two boxes are checked but what’s next for the ROG II?
There are more features here than your average smartphone and not to mention the host of accessories that drastically change how you game on a smartphone. If anything comes close to a handheld gaming device after the Nintendo Switch, it’s this one right here, minus the console grade games obviously.
Asus ROG II: Design and body
The structural design of the ROG phone is not too far from the round-edged smartphones of 2019 but that would be boring wouldn’t it? And ROG wouldn’t want to anger the absent ‘Gods of gaming’ aching for an angular and menacing design language. Hence, the relatively flat back with multilayered graphic with lines and angles that don’t really obstruct your grip (unlike the Nubia RedMagic 3) but give it a gamer personality.
Even the RGB logo at the back comes with ROG Aura so you can have your other Asus devices colour coordinate at whim. Meanwhile, the orange heat vents are very reminiscent of the ROG laptops.
The sturdy frame that runs around the phone houses two ultrasonic Air Triggers that act as shoulder buttons when gaming in landscape mode. Asus says that the Air Triggers can register two types of touch: tap and slide. So in the future, if games support it, then the Air Triggers can be used to swipe to immediately switch camera angle and tap to shoot with one finger.
There are two USB Type-C ports, one next to the headphone jack at the bottom and another is coupled with a customized port on the side which is used for docking the accessories.
Asus ROG II: Display and audio
The 6.59in display is FullHD+ with a jaw-dropping 120Hz refresh rate. That’s an AMOLED screen alright, and it’s the first 120Hz refresh rate screen we’ve got our hands on with 1ms response time. Warning: The 120Hz refresh rate will spoil you so bad that your regular smartphone will feel like a brick from the stone age. The display is just very smooth and you can tell the difference immediately.
These are some specs that we thought were reserved to the gaming laptops of today but ROG II has managed to cram them nicely into its 391ppi display. It’s even 10bit HDR but we didn’t get to test any Netflix content during our hands-on. Although the overall quality of the display is decent and on par with most AMOLEDs in the market.
There are bezels on the top and bottom of the screen and in exchange for alarming reactions to bezels, you get really loud speakers. They have something called the outdoor mode which push the audio to Bluetooth-speaker levels of loudness. The quality of these speakers is still debatable as we didn’t get to test them on our turf but so far they seem like they can do a pretty good job of disturbing your neighbours on full volume.
Asus ROG II: performance and specs
This is the first smartphone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus which has slightly faster clock speed than your usual Snapdragon 855. What does the added clock speed do? Well, deliver better gaming experience. Performance drop can be easily blamed on the game developers if not the ROG II.
With upto 12GB of RAM and 512GB storage (UFS 3.0 obviously) there’s plenty of room to horde games, even Clash of Clans if you don’t ever open that thing any more. The Indian variant is not announced yet but expect it to be up to your gaming standards.
We had a gaming session on the ROG II with PUBG and the results were nothing short of incredible. Although we feel that not all games, including PUBG, take advantage of the ultra smooth 120Hz refresh rate just yet. So gaming on this and OnePlus 7 Pro is almost the same other than the fact that it has shoulder buttons and six gaming accessories that completely transform the phone.
There’s a 6000mAh battery sitting inside and it’s as heavy as the Samsung Galaxy Note of last year. That’s a lot of juice for a smartphone.
Asus ROG II: Accessories
There are five accessories that work with the ROG II and all of them are really impressive.
The first one is a basic cover that’s called Bumper II which fits on the ROG II’s unique design without hiding it’s precious RGB logo at the back or covering the heat vents. The second one is AeroActive Cooler II that latches onto the smartphone in its proprietary port and cools the backside of the phone with a fan. Both these attachments can be used together.
The third one is the ROG Kunai Gamepad system which has the same functional design as the Nintendo Switch controller. It even has rail fittings that go into the controller or into the smartphone via a cover. You can even use the AeroActive Cooler II with the controller when latched onto the smartphone using the rail cover. It effectively becomes a Nintendo Switch design (minus the amazing Nintendo games).
The fourth one is TwinView Dock II which adds another FullHD+ 120Hz AMOLED screen for the phone. The use case for this attachment is still up in the air because ROG hasn’t customised any software and games to take advantage of it. It will only be able to mirror your current screen for now which is quite pointless.
The fifth attachment is a dock that lets you use the ROG II with a screen complete with ethernet and multiple USBs. We attached a keyboard and mouse to get some office work done but Android OS clearly isn’t ready for this kind of contraption.
Asus ROG II: OS
Asus has only slightly toned down the ‘gaming’ theme on their ROG II but its still is quite aggressive. Red outline on icons still feel tacky but hopefully when the phone launches in India, the option to change them will be available. They have even pushed all the RGB and system information settings into the Armoury Crate (Asus’ ROG gaming center software).
While gaming you can swipe from the left in landscape mode to get quick access to a host of settings. It’s almost like the Nubia Red Magic 3 but with more settings and tweaking options.
Asus ROG II: camera
There’s a front 24MP camera and the rear has 48MP + 13MP camera. The 13MP ultra wide has 125° degree view as well. But it inevitably takes a backseat if you’re buying the ROG II. That doesn’t mean it is an underdog though. There’s no gaming touches added to the camera software and what you get is an intuitive and clean layout with plenty of modes to take care of those rare moments when you need to use it.
The 125 degree wide angle opens up a lot of possibilities and will allow your entire squad to fit into the picture. Detail levels are decent as well although ideal lighting conditions are required for the wide angle as it suffers in low light. However, shift to portrait mode and things look slightly sharper and brighter too. You also get the option to change the amount of blur and the software is quite efficient at doing so, all while giving you a believable effect.
The front 24MP cam manages some decent selfies and isn’t a dud in low light either. You get Portrait mode here too, but it isn’t going to be a spec on say something like the Pixel’s capabilities. We wish detail levels could be better here, although colour accuracy is pretty much at par with the other snappers out there.
We didn’t notice anything significantly better or worse from both the cams overall and although it isn’t the most impressive feature about this phone, it certainly isn’t very far away from the plethora of smartphone cameras in the market right now.
*Additional words: Kaizad Billimoria
Asus ROG II: verdict
The Asus ROG II is shaping up to be a premium gaming smartphone and aside from performance crushing innards, the host of accessories for this smartphone is really transforming how you game on your smartphone. If you have a Nintendo Switch, the accessories will feel fun and familiar.
We did say it’s going to be expensive, but with prices starting at ₹37,999, the ROG II has suddenly turned into a value for money proposition, of course, if only you’re into hardcore mobile gaming and are going to harness every bit that you pay for. The ROG II is worth checking out even if you’re one of those ‘regular’ non-gamer folks out there. Sure it’s camera won’t impress as much as the others, but it might just win you over in other aspects, especially that gorgeous display.
*Additional words: Kaizad Billimoria