Asus' beast of a gaming smartphone is back, and it's more ridiculous than ever. The ROG Phone 3 packs the latest and greatest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, along with one of the largest batteries ever fitted to a handset and an ultra-high 144Hz refresh rate display.
The ROG Phone 3 arrives in North America in September. While we're still waiting for the price, Asus has revealed practically everything else about its third-generation gaming phone. Here's what we know.
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ROG Phone 3: Performance and display
OS: Android 10 with ROG UI
Display: 6.59-inch AMOLED (2340x1080; 144Hz)
CPU: Snapdragon 865+
RAM: 12GB, 16GB
Rear cameras: Triple lens: 64MP wide (ƒ/1.8), 13MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4), 5MP macro (ƒ/2.0)
Front camera: 24MP (ƒ/2.0)
Battery: 6,000 mAh
Size: 6.73 x 3.07 x 0.39 inches
Weight: 8.48 ounces
If you're buying a gaming phone, you're probably chiefly concerned with how it performs. To that end, you'll be pleased to learn Asus has settled for nothing less than the best Qualcomm has to offer with this device, giving it a Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset along with either 12GB or 16GB of memory, depending on what you spend. There's 512GB of fast UFS 3.1 storage on board as well, adequate for storing many, many games.
There's no question the ROG Phone 3 is one of the most powerful smartphones in the world based on these specs, in an elite tier of handsets that sits above even the $1,399 Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. The overclocked Adreno 650 GPU inside the Snapdragon 865 Plus delivers a 10% better performance at peak than the ordinary one inside the regular 865 chipset.
As this is a gaming phone, the responsiveness of the display informs quite a lot about its performance. The ROG Phone 3 features a 6.59-inch, 144Hz AMOLED display with a full-HD resolution and a touch response time of 25ms, which Asus says is a record low. The 270Hz touch sampling rate is astonishingly high for a smartphone, greatly exceeding the 180Hz touch sampling rate OnePlus recently touted for the just-launched OnePlus Nord.
ROG Phone 3: Design
Asus' Republic of Gamers line has never been known for its understated styling, but the ROG Phone 3 is actually quite a bit more tempered in the design department than either of its predecessors. This phone is smooth and rather minimalist in terms of its shape, with the only notable adornment being the RGB-lit Republic of Gamers eye on the back.
There are bezels above and below the display, though these are generally desirable in a gaming phone, as they give you space to hold the device without your palms and fingers obscuring content. They're also just large enough to accommodate front-facing speakers, which is important; bottom- or rear-firing drivers would be muffled by your hands while gaming.
Asus has also expanded its Air Trigger technology with the latest-generation ROG Phone. The touch-sensitive areas of the frame now supporting sliding and swiping, and can be divided into two partitions each, giving you up to four shoulder buttons to map in your favorite game. Side-mounted ports also allow you to easily charge the phone even as you play.
The heat sink on the ROG Phone 3 is six times larger than that of its predecessors, and incorporates a larger graphite film and a redesigned vapor chamber. The aim is to keep the device cooler over longer periods of time, thereby decreasing the likelihood of throttling while gaming.
ROG Phone 3: 6,000 mAh Battery
At 6,000mAh, the battery inside the ROG Phone 3 isn't merely large. It's absurd. Asus said it would have fitted the phone with a larger power pack if it had the space. Regardless, that massive battery should go a long way toward mitigating the adverse effect that superfast 144Hz refresh rate and blistering performance will have on the device's overall efficiency.
Typically, a battery this big would take an eternity to top up, but the ROG Phone 3 comes with a 30-watt charger that should lessen the lengthy charging times. Asus isn't saying how long you can expect a full or even half charge to take, though we'll surely test it out and report our findings in our upcoming review.
ROG Phone 3: Cameras
The ROG Phone 3 isn't a photography-focused device, though it still packs a 64-megapixel, ƒ/1.8 main camera backed by a Sony IMX686 sensor. Because that sensor collects so many megapixels, it can crop in once for lossless 2x magnification, but most of the time it'll rely on Quad Bayer binning to deliver optimized 16-MP images.
That primary shooter is supported by a 13-MP ultrawide lens with a 125-degree field-of-view, as well as a 5-MP macro camera for super close-up shots. Up front is a 24-MP camera for selfies.
ROG Phone 3: Accessories
As this is an ROG-branded smartphone, you can expect an assortment of accessories to complement Asus' latest gaming handset. There's the Kunai 3 gamepad, which essentially take the form of Joy Con-like controller halves that you can either affix to the sides of the ROG Phone 3, or jam together for a standalone controller. There's also the ROG Gaming Clip, if you'd rather snap your device onto a controller you already use, like Microsoft's Xbox One wireless pad.
There's also the AeroActive Cooler 3, which fortunately comes bundled with the ROG Phone 3 and can be clipped onto the back of the device to enhance its heat-dissipation capabilities. The Aero Active Cooler 3 houses a fan to channel air away, but also features a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and even a dedicated kickstand, so you can set the phone down while you game on a separate controller.
And that's not all! There's a TwinView Dock 3, which adds a second 144Hz display for a purpose that admittedly isn't totally clear — Asus says it's intended as an "extended game display" and ideal for "group communication." And if you want the full Nintendo Switch experience, look no further than the Mobile Desktop Dock that not only allows you to connect the ROG Phone 3 to an external display for big screen gaming, but also incorporates a PC input so you can easily switch between gaming through your phone and using your computer.
There's no word on how much all of these accessories will cost (save for the AeroActive Cooler which, again, comes with the phone). However, if history is any indication, you can expect them to be pricey. The TwinView Dock 2 for last year's second-generation ROG Phone initially cost $329 initially; you can get one now for an easier-to-stomach yet still somewhat nauseating $199 direct from Asus.
ROG Phone 3: Outlook
Chances are you're either the type of user who is passionate about mobile gaming, or you largely prefer to play on dedicated hardware that doesn't double as your phone. We don't envision the ROG Phone 3 will do much to change anyone's philosophy, though we do imagine that the mobile gamers who can afford the ROG Phone 3 and are enthralled by its power will find much to like.
Like its predecessors, the ROG Phone 3 looks to be a quirky handset — though those quirks tend to serve practical purposes, at least at the outset. And with Razer seemingly having left the space, there's a real opportunity for Asus to solidify its grip on the gaming phone niche.
But should you buy the ROG Phone 3? That's a tougher question to answer — especially without an official price — though one we look forward to shedding some light on in our ROG Phone 3 review in the coming days. For what it's worth, the ROG Phone 2 cost $899 at launch, so if the new version is within that ballpark but perhaps a little more expensive, it should be quite compelling for the money. Stay tuned.