Sporting an updated design, the ROG Phone 5 boasts noticeably thinner bezels than its predecessor without compromising on the front-facing stereo speaker setup favoured by many mobile gamers. It allowed Asus to increase the display, from 6.6in to 6.8in, without much of a change to the overall dimensions, but at 238g and 10.3mm thick, it’s certainly one of the bigger and heavier phones available right now.
144Hz is the headline, and while that isn’t technically an upgrade compared to the ROG Phone 3, it was – until the announcement of the Red Magic 6’s 165Hz display – one of the fastest panels you could find on a smartphone. There are other improvements available, including the improved 300Hz touch sampling rate, and as we’ve seen in our review, the ROG Phone 5 display is buttery smooth and detailed – it’s just technically not the fastest.
No matter which option you go for, it’ll be powered by Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 888 with between 12 and 16GB of RAM for the standard and Pro models, and a whopping 18GB of RAM for those wanting the Ultimate model, although it’s unclear what kind of gains you’ll be getting from the extra 2GB of RAM. That performance can be tweaked via various ROG UI software enhancements, including a system-wide performance manager and an upgraded Game Genie experience.
Flip the phone over and you will see something new: the dot-matrix RGB lighting. Inspired by Asus’ ROG Zephyrus G14 laptop, the dot matrix ROG logo on the rear is customisable, including two-colour gradients new to the ROG Phone 5, but unlike the laptop, the graphic itself isn’t customisable – it’s either the ROG logo or nothing.
What is more exciting is the PMOLED Vision display embedded on the rear of the ROG Phone 5 Pro and 5 Ultimate, offering a fully customisable experience, allowing you to display graphics, gifs or text on the rear of your phone. It’s admittedly a bit of a gimmick as it’s something you’ll rarely enjoy yourself, but it is one of the biggest differentiators between the different models of ROG Phone 5.
The other main difference is in the trigger department. While the entire range sports the upgraded AirTrigger 5s with more sensors and better placement for easier access when playing games horizontally, the Pro and Ultimate models get two additional touch-based triggers on the rear for better control when gaming. You can also get two extra buttons from the AeroActive Cooler 5, which cools the phone by up to 15°C when attached to the rear, but it’s not bundled with the standard model – only the Pro and Ultimate get that in the box.
With such high-end tech on offer, battery life could’ve been an issue, which is why Asus decided to include an upgraded 6,000mAh battery split into two 3,000mAh cells. That provides impressive battery life when you’re not gaming, beating much of the flagship competition in our benchmark tests, and even when it does eventually die, the impressive 65W HyperCharge capabilities will get you from 0-74% in just half an hour.
Of course, as with any ROG Phone launch, there are plenty of accessories on offer including the Kunai 5, AeroActive Cooler 5 and ROG Cetra II wired earbuds to further enhance the gaming experience, but these are – for the most part – entirely optional.
The Asus ROG Phone 5 is set to come to the UK in two flavours – a £799 12GB/256GB combo and an £899 16GB/256GB combo – although release is set to be staggered, with the entry-level model due at the end of April 2021, followed by the high-end model at the end of May 2021. It’s currently unclear whether the Pro and Ultimate models will be available in the UK, but we’ll update this article once we get clarification from Asus.