ASUS ROG PHONE 3 Review: THE GAMING SMARTPHONE OF THE CLASS

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Asus plays a relatively small role in the smartphone market , but has made a name for itself in the gaming hardware and peripherals market. The first two gaming smartphones from the Taiwanese manufacturer caused a sensation due to their powerful features, and the new ROG Phone 3 is again bursting with top technology.

Bulky case with special features

The design is more subtle compared to the Asus ROG Phone 2 , but certain gamer accents have remained. The colorfully illuminated ROG logo and the small, transparent area that allows a view of the internal cooling are particularly noticeable. The otherwise black housing is no longer made entirely of aluminum, just the frame. At the rear, as on the front, Gorilla Glass 6 is used. The camera module is also a bit larger, as there are now three cameras instead of two.

Case Asus ROG Phone 3

With dimensions of 171 x 78 x 9.85 millimeters and a weight of around 240 grams, the ROG Phone 3 is a really large and heavy smartphone. A protection against water and a headphone jack does not offer. However, the scope of delivery includes a fan attachment that doubles as a table stand and has both a USB-C passthrough and a 3.5 millimeter jack input. A jack adapter is also included.

A special connection on the side is used to connect various accessories that Asus offers. For example, there is a modular gamepad similar to Nintendo Joy Cons, a secondary display and dock for monitors and televisions. At the same time, a USB-C charging cable can be connected without it being distracting when playing in landscape mode. The special connection is protected by a removable rubber insert that can be stowed in the fan attachment.

Special features Asus ROG Phone 3

144 Hertz display and powerful front speakers
The 6.59-inch AMOLED display has full HD + and has classic side borders at the top and bottom. Thus, the front camera is not annoying in the screen area and the ROG Phone 3 can be held in landscape format without inadvertent entries. A notification LED is also included. There is also space for the front stereo speakers, which are undoubtedly some of the best on the market. They have a surprisingly large volume for smartphone speakers and not only games, but also films sound accordingly good.

ROG Phone 3 with AMOLED display in Full HD +

The refresh rate of 144 Hertz and the touch sampling rate of 270 Hertz are special. The display recognizes touch at lightning speed and the display is particularly fluid. Alternatively, in addition to the regular 60 Hertz, 90 or 120 Hertz and an automatic refresh rate can be selected. A fast fingerprint sensor is integrated in the screen . The maximum brightness is quite high, but does not break any records and the automatic brightness control set the display a little too dark in most situations. As is typical of AMOLED, the colors and contrasts are convincing and the panel also supports HDR content.

144 Hertz display and powerful front speakers

Power and storage en masse
The mobile phone processor is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ - as in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 - currently the fastest chip in the Android segment. The eight-core processor clocks at up to 3.1 gigahertz, but also generates a lot of heat at the same time. That's why the copper cooling element is six times larger than on the ROG Phone 2 and a small slot on the back of the glass lets the waste heat out of the case. The so-called X mode unfolds the full potential of the processor and activates numerous gaming functions. For the highest performance level, however, the use of the enclosed fan is necessary, since otherwise the chip would throttle its clock after a short time.

In addition, either 12 or 16 gigabytes of RAM and 512 gigabytes of storage space are installed. The cheaper ROG Phone 3 Strix, which starts for 799 euros, includes a normal Snapdragon 865, eight gigabytes of RAM and 256 gigabytes of storage. In addition to 5G mobile communications, the gaming device also supports Wi-Fi 6 (2x2), Bluetooth 5.1, GPS and NFC .

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ cell phone processor


Android 10 is preinstalled with four different user interface designs for the ROG UI. Three of them offer a gamer-oriented look, but there is also a classic option that looks like traditional, plain Android.

At the time of the test, the ROG Phone 3 rightly took first place among the Android smartphones in the well-known performance benchmark AnTuTu. However, not every game can take full advantage of the high performance, as numerous apps are limited to 60 frames per second. Even fewer game apps can handle the optionally available gamepad or controllers in general. In such cases, each controller button has to be linked for the corresponding action on the display. Fortunately, after the tedious setup, the smartphone remembers the individually defined settings for each app.

Android 10 ROG UI user interface themes

The Asus app Armory Crate and the associated in-game menu called Game Genie offer even more personalization options, controls and functions. The full description would probably be as long as this entire review. Among other things, the fan speed, the ROG logo lighting, the X mode and actions that are carried out when a game is started can be controlled there. The latter includes blocking incoming notifications or even calls.

Users can even adjust the individual clock frequencies of the processor cores and the graphics unit depending on the game. In Armory Crate, Asus also lists apps that support either 120 or 144 Hertz, the secondary display, the ultrasonic buttons or the gamepad.

Asus app Armory Crate

Many advantages for gamers
The ultrasonic sensors in the frame on the right can be used as shoulder buttons (triggers) when playing in landscape format. They can perform a total of eight different functions and they also offer haptic feedback. In multiplayer games, such as PUBG Mobile, they allow a speed advantage.

In general, it almost feels like cheating when you play with the ROG Phone 3. The first-class performance, the responsive and large display, the shoulder buttons, the detailed stereo speakers and optionally the controller are all beneficial for mobile gaming. It was not uncommon for us to win multiplayer games during the test with the feeling that this combination of features and functions was mainly responsible for it.

Long-lasting battery

All of these components want to be supplied with power, which is why Asus has opted for a monstrous 6,000 mAh cell phone battery . Up to two days are often possible with one battery charge, with gaming and permanently activated 144 Hertz at least one day. If you can be satisfied with a refresh rate of 90 Hertz, for example, you should very likely even get by with longer gaming games for two days without charging.


A 30 watt power adapter is included with the smartphone. After half an hour the battery is charged again to 45 percent, after an hour it is 82 percent and the full charge is reached after a total of around an hour and 50 minutes. In the settings, slower charging, planned charging in special time periods and charging limits between 80 and 99 percent are possible in order to save the battery.

When playing with the charging cable connected, the components can also be supplied with power directly via the power supply unit. The battery is left out in order not to burden it unnecessarily and thus to extend its service life. Unfortunately, the ROG Phone 3 has to do without wireless charging .

Good cameras with no wow factor

The cameras of the ROG Phone 3 may not be the cutting edge, but they are good overall. There is a 24-megapixel front camera that snaps solid selfies, but only records videos in full HD. The rear triple camera consists of a 64-megapixel main sensor, a wide-angle camera with 13 megapixels and a macro camera with five megapixels.

Cameras Asus ROG Phone 3

Slow motion with 4K resolution and 120 frames per second, 8K videos, 4K wide-angle videos and more is supported by the gaming mobile phone . The main camera takes photos in automatic mode with 16 megapixels and the results are more than okay, but not quite at the top level.

At night, recordings quickly blur due to the lack of optical stabilization, but the night mode preserves a relatively large number of details. Both the wide-angle and macro cameras take usable photos, but overall the camera quality is not quite on par with the otherwise impressive features of the smartphone. We don't classify the camera quality in the premium class, but rather in the upper middle class.


The pros and cons list at a glance

  • first class performance
  • numerous gaming functions
  • responsive AMOLED display
  • strong speakers
  • lots of memory
  • large battery
  • extensive accessories available

Cons:

  • Cameras good, but not great
  • no protection against water and dust
  • Wireless charging not possible despite the glass back
  • gets pretty hot without a fan
  • Pros and cons Asus ROG Phone 3

Test conclusion: ideal for gamers

Asus has improved the ROG Phone 3 in several ways compared to its predecessor and delivers a convincing overall package that not only works well without the extra accessories, but should also be worthwhile for non-gamers who are looking for a first-class multimedia smartphone . For the ROG Phone 3, which has been available since summer 2020, Asus calls up 999 or 1,099 euros, depending on the memory size. Alternative flagships now like to cost even more, which is why the gaming smartphone cannot do without compromises.

ROG Phone 3 is ideal for gamers

Apart from the average camera, the lack of IP certification and the lack of support for wireless charging, there is almost nothing to complain about. The large battery, the extensive functions, including both software, the display and the loudspeakers are unique selling points and with the accessories, the smartphone can be transformed into a full-fledged handheld console.
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