Why it matters: The Asus ROG Phone represents a current push into hardcore mobile gaming started by Razer last year. Will the ridiculous specs entice gamers who might otherwise stick with traditional PC and console gaming?
Razer released a surprisingly competent "gaming focused" smartphone last year that featured a high refresh screen and loud speakers. At Computex this week, Asus is trying to one-up the Razer Phone with its own Republic of Gamers branded smartphone aimed squarely at hardcore mobile gamers.
To start off, the ROG Phone maxes out basically every spec you could want in an Android phone:
- Processor: Overclocked Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.96Ghz)
- Display: 6-inch 2160x1080 OLED screen with 90Hz refresh rate. Includes HDR support
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 128 or 512GB
- Battery: 4,000mAh
- Audio: Dual front facing speakers and a headphone jack
- Camera: 8MP front facing camera, Dual 12MP/8MP cameras on the back
Because of the overclocked Snapdragon 845, the ROG Phone features vapor cooling and an attachable fan accessory. However, maximum performance isn't available off the bat. The ROG Phone has a squeeze function, similar to the Pixel 2 and HTC Edge Sense, that activates "X Mode". X Mode transforms the gamer visual aesthetic from blue to red, optimizes the phone for gaming by prioritizing the game in RAM and shuts down background processes.
Of course, no serious mobile gamer will use the touchscreen as their primary mode of input. Asus has created a suite of accessories for the ROG phone. First, is an actual gamepad made by Gamevice that clips on either side of the phone. The gamepad includes the usual physical buttons and analog sticks. The gamepad also works with a WiGig dock to wirelessly stream gameplay to a connected TV.
Next, is a weird clamshell accessory that turns the ROG Phone into a dual screen phone. The second screen is also a 6-inch 1080p panel while also housing a 6,000 mAh battery. It also features front facing quad speakers, shoulder buttons, and more cooling. Asus imagines this could be used for extended gameplay sessions.
For those gamers who prefer more of a desktop setup, Asus is also selling a dock that connects to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to use as an Android desktop. This is similar to Samsung's DeX dock that does the same thing. Unlike the DeX dock however, the Asus dock can also connect to a PC and allow the gamer to switch back and forth between the PC and the ROG Phone.
It's almost like Asus thought what a hardcore PC gamer would want in a gaming PC and transplanted those specs into mobile form. This is probably the most ambitious gaming phone so far and it will be interesting to see if Razer (or any other gaming hardware company) will continue to push the boundary of mobile gaming. The ROG Phone will launch later this year in Q3 2018.