Asus ROG Phone 2 full review

The gaming phone market barely existed a year or two ago, and it’s now exploded into not only one of the fastest growing parts of the market, but also one that’s driving some of the biggest technical advances.

So it is with the Asus ROG Phone 2 - both the first phone in the world to feature the suped up Snapdragon 855+ processor and a battery behemoth with a whopping 6,000mAh of capacity to play with.

The ROG Phone 2 won our Best in Show award at IFA 2019. Find out what else won awards.

Price and availability

The ROG Phone 2 is out now in China and some markets, and pre-orders are open in Europe for a mid-September launch.

As for price, it costs €899 - the exact same price as the original ROG Phone. Since that cost £799/$899, we’d bet good money that the ROG Phone 2 will set you back the same amount.

If you want to spend a little more, €1,199 will get you the even more suped up Ultimate Edition, which upgrades storage to 1TB, throws in a Cat 20 LTE modem for 2Gbps speeds, and boasts a matt black finish. That won't release until 'Q4' though - so October-December.

The fastest phone in the world?

We haven’t had the chance to fully benchmark and test the ROG Phone 2, but based on specs alone it has a credible claim to being the fastest and most powerful smartphone on the market right now.

That’s basically because in addition to a monstrous 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, it’s the first phone to launch packing Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855+ processor - an improved version of the company’s flagship chip that boosts CPU performance by a slender 4% and GPU speeds by a much meatier 15%.

To the average user that won’t mean much - or even really be noticeable in day-to-day usage. But if you’re throwing some serious games at it day-in, day-out, then that extra performance will start to add up in frames per second. It helps that with solid cooling (and an optional fan accessory) there should be no need for throttling performance even at high loads.

You’ll need every frame you can get too, if you want to make the most of the 6.59in AMOLED display. It now packs a 120Hz refresh rate - up from 90Hz in the original ROG Phone - which means silky smooth navigation and scrolling, and even smoother performance in games like MOBAs where the high refresh rate tends to pay dividends.

At 19.5:9 the panel is taller and thinner - in line with most other flagship phones these days - and there’s 10-bit HDR support too, which means great contrast and bright, punchy colours. Oh, and it’s all coated in Gorilla Glass 6, so it won’t break easily either.

All of that power means serious power drain of course - which is where the almost absurd 6,000mAh battery comes in. This is one of the biggest batteries ever seen in anything close to a mainstream phone, and together with 30W fast charging this is undoubtedly one of the best phones on the market - gaming or otherwise - from a power perspective.

Finally, cameras. They don’t usually wow on gaming phones, but Asus has squeezed in the same rear shooters seen on the Zenfone 6: a 48MP primary lens, backed up by a 13MP ultra-wide angle shooter, all powered by Sony’s IMX586 sensor.

There are all the usual features you’d expect from a competitive camera phone - a dedicated night mode and [email protected] video for starters - and solid performance even in tricky lighting. Oh, and the selfie shooter is no slouch either - it’s 24Mp, so should serve for streaming.

Built like a beast

Of course, all that tech makes the ROG Phone 2 a bit of a big boi. It’s not unreasonably massive, though at 240g it’s certainly heavy, and the 6.59in screen is complemented by bezels at the top and bottom that make it even bigger than those specs might suggest.

The design is broadly similar to the first ROG Phone - think lots of jagged lines and angular cut-outs - but feels subtly refined, and the taller, slimmer design suits the aggressive aesthetic well.

There’s still space for the double USB-C port that Asus uses to power its accessories (more on them below) along with a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio - though front-facing speakers with DTS:X Ultra support mean this’ll sound good whether you’re plugged in or not.

It wouldn’t be a gaming device without RGB lighting, and once again the ROG logo on the back of the device can glow, pulse, flash (or just turn off entirely) according to your desires, with the option to set different effects based on whether the screen is one or off, whether the suped up X-Mode is on or not, or for incoming calls or notifications.

Geared to game

Asus hasn’t focused all of its attention on the phone itself though. The original ROG Phone shipped with a few optional accessories, and this time around Asus has upped the ante even further.

The clip-on fan makes a return, but this time it’s quieter, and doubles as a handy kickstand if you need it to - but that’s only the beginning.

The Kunai gamepad takes a few cues from the Switch, with a pair of slim controller halves that can either combine to form a single gamepad or attach to either side of the phone itself to create a full portable console experience.

If you don’t fancy paying extra for physical buttons, the usual gaming touch controls are supplemented by the return of the Air Triggers - pressure sensitive buttons built into the frame of the phone that serve as handy shoulder buttons when used landscape. They have adjustable sensitivity, and can double as shortcuts when you’re out of a game.

Then there’s the TwinView Dock 2 which gives you a full second screen for multi-tasking (much like in the LG V50) - though in classic Asus overkill, this is also 120Hz and packs its own 5,000mAh battery. Throw in a variety of docks for connecting other devices or hooking the phone up to a monitor, and you have more add-ons than you could shake a stick at - or afford.

Oh, and if you get fed up of the gamer life, there’s now the option to swap the UI from Asus’s ROG-specific skin to its more neutral ZenUI in case you want something a little more pared back.

Early verdict

Between the Zenfone 6 and the ROG Phone 2, Asus is on a bit of a roll with its phones this year. Combining the Zenfone’s strong camera with over-the-top specs and a wealth of gaming add-ons means this is one of the few gaming phones that doesn’t ask you to compromise on other elements.

As always, performance is key with a product like this, so we’ll have to put the phone through its paces in a full review to say for sure - but right now the ROG Phone 2 looks like the best gaming phone out there.

Specs

Asus ROG Phone 2: Specs

  • Android 9.0
  • 6.59in (2340x1080, 391ppi) 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus processor
  • 12GB RAM
  • 128/512GB/1TB storage
  • In-screen fingerprint scanner
  • Dual rear-facing cameras: 48Mp + 13Mp ultrawide, phase detection autofocus, LED flash
  • 24Mp front-facing camera
  • 802.11ac/ad Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with atpX HD
  • GPS
  • NFC
  • USB-C 3.1
  • Front facing stereo speakers, smart amplifier
  • Headphone jack
  • Non-removable 6,000mAh battery
  • 171x77.6x9.5mm
  • 240g

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