Asus has played a role with Android devices lately. Zenfone 6 made headlines earlier this year because it brought the core specs below $ 500, making OnePlus rake in the money. Last year, the ROG phone, sold under the company's 'Republic of Gamers' brand, was also a pretty good device. Almost a year later, Asus followed up with a sequel.
ROG Phone II is one of the most powerful Android devices. ever been, with more RAM, more battery and faster storage than almost any other phone on the market today. It has many features that are overlooked in the mobile flagship in the name of minimal bezel and slimness, such as the headphone jack and giant battery. Although there are some areas of the device that are missing compared to the typical Android flagship, ROG Phone II is an absolute beast.
Design, hardware, what's in the box.
Great ROG II phone. I like very big. It is almost 10 mm higher and 40 grams heavier than Galaxy Note 10+. There is no doubt that a larger screen is better for gaming, but a combination of a heavy design and a 19.5: 9 screen which is very high, makes the ROG Phone II much more difficult to use all days than most other devices. Physical size will not bother everyone.
Than Galaxy S10e (left) and ROG Phone II (right)
If you're not a fan of the tough gamer aesthetic on the original ROG phone, you'll be glad to hear that Asus has set it up a bit on this model. While the back is still in the form of glass (Gorilla Glass 6, that is), now that part has a matte finish and not a glossy finish. Two fully aesthetic vents in the original model have been replaced by unique functional ventilation. Asus points out that the hole on the back is a real copper grill that removes heat from the internal cell phone.
Original ROG phone, for reference.
The center of the phone still has a large Republic of Gamers logo that can be configured to change colors in various patterns. It's fun to mess around and it makes ROG Phone II more unique than a device.
The sides of the phone still have 'AirTriggers' that is touch sensitive and can be assigned to touch points on the screen. This is a nice feature, but since there is no physical feedback from pressing the triggers, I didn't find them much more useful than simply tapping the buttons on the screen.
Going forward, you'll see that the ROG Phone II is one of the few iconic cell phones recently to have chosen the bezel and front speakers instead of the full-screen design. Asus says it does this in order to get into the front speakers and because the company wants to reduce accidental heartbeats during gaming. The front speakers are loud and clear, making all kinds of media consumption either back Fortnite Netflix Party: A better experience than what you will get from most other phones.
Another feature that is owned by ROG Phone and that almost all the flagships have dropped is the headphone jack. Bluetooth is good and all, but I still appreciate that there are options for the audio cable. The model I received for review also has FM radio support if you connect some headphones.
Going back to the screen for a moment, the 2340 × 1080 AMOLED screen running at 120Hz is fantastic. In fact, this is the first cell phone with a 120Hz AMOLED screen, period. I don't think the higher refresh rate has immediately destroyed other phones for me, but the smoother animations and more responsive apps / games allow me to think that this is the next big step for mobile phones.
Like the previous model, there is an additional USB Type-C connector on the side of the ROG Phone II. This is mainly for accessories (which I will discuss later), but it works fine for charging and data transfer. For example, I can log into my Google account with my Yubikey Type-C by charging my phone through the main port.
Although the ROG phone has many benefits, there are some design disadvantages. There's no wireless charging, for example, because Asus wants to insert a bigger battery (more on that later). Cooling ventilation also means that water resistance should not be used, neglect that is annoying on the 2019 boat.
In the box, you get a phone, a USB wall adapter, a USB charging cable, AeroActive Cooler II (more on that later), and some spare rubber covers for the phone's side connectors.
Software, performance, battery.
ROG Phone II is compatible with Android 9 Pie, without a word about the Android 10 update. When you set up your device, you can choose between two skins: the game interface that was released with the original ROG phone or the standard ZenUI that ZenFone uses 6. I choose the latter.
No matter which skin you choose, there are no innovative changes for Android, but there are many smaller additions. There's an 'X Mode' that boosts the minimum CPU frequency for better gaming performance, an adjustable DTS audio equalizer, a scrollable screenshot, a built-in screenshot capture (it can even capture audio!), Y a lot even more.
Many of the game's special settings are part of 'Game Genie', the sidebar that appears when you slide your finger from the left corner when you play. You can quickly change screen brightness, change notification settings, activate X mode, view current SPF / temperature, record screens, and even start streaming live. That's right, you can start your career Twitch with nothing more than a ROG phone.
Although you can open the game from the app launcher as usual, Asus also includes 'Armory Crate'. This is an app that lists all the games you install, and perhaps an easier way to start the game when you use various accessories (more on that later). Crate Armory also allows you to configure specific options for each game; for example, you can configure X mode to start automatically in your most demanding 3D games.
I appreciate how all of these features stop you unless you specifically want them. Nothing 20 special Apps that have filled your launcher (see you Samsung), just a few quick settings you can easily hide and an app.
As for performance, well, ROG Phone II is very fast. It uses Snapdragon 855+, which is a slightly overclocked processor version that is used by most other 2019 flagships, combined with 12GB of RAM. Applications open quickly and multitasking is so easy.
Battery life is definitely one of the aspects that sets ROG phones apart from most superior phones. Asus has inserted a 6,000 mAh battery into a cell phone, making it nearly impossible to kill a ROG Phone II in one day. I was sick in bed one day during my review period, even after ~ 4 hours watching Hulu and YouTubeplus an hour of regular use, half the battery still remains. I even have it in 90Hz mode all the time.
ROG Phone II uses the same camera setup as the ZenFone 6: 48MP main camera and 12MP 12 Degree camera for wide-angle photos. Image quality is generally good, very sharp, but colors tend to be rather muted when HDR is not activated.
Low-light photos aren't a strong ROG phone setup, but the camera's night mode can sometimes help. Like most other phones with similar characteristics, these images will need a few additional seconds to be captured.
Left: Normal mode; Good Night mode
A wide angle lens can produce some nice photos, but the quality is much lower than the main camera: 12MP vs. 48MP.
Left: Main camera; Good Wide angle camera
Asus has created many accessories of its own for the ROG Phone II, from the clip-on fan to the second full screen. I have to prove everything, so I will share some thoughts here.
AeroActive II cooler
This is the only accessory (other than a simple bumper case) that you get with The phone. After plugging it into the ROG phone's side port and sliding the top clip down, it starts to cool down the phone with its built-in fan. – prevents the Snapdragon processor from thermally slowing down. There are shiny logos on the front and back, and they give it a USB port and a headphone jack on the bottom. That way, you can plug in the charger or headphones without touching your hand.
In the original ROG phone review, Stephen showed how the refrigerator that came with the model didn't really help much. Asus says that improvements to the cell phone's internal cooling (most heat vents now work) mean the AeroActive Cooler II can reduce surface temperatures to 5C. On top of that, the fan is quieter 4 times than the previous model.
Overall, this is probably the most practical battery accessory as it can easily be carried in your pocket and only takes a second to install.
Kunai Gamepad: $ 149.99
If you're wondering where the physical control of the game is on the ROG phone, that's where the 'Kunai' Gamepad comes in. Asus has developed something similar to the Nintendo SwitchJoycons controller: The controller is divided into two parts that can be connected to the phone or inserted into the handle to touch the sofa. Unlike SwitchJoycons, the controllers cannot work outside the holder / phone, as they do not have an internal battery.
To connect it to a ROG phone, you must first place the phone in the Kunai container, then slide the controller on each side. This bumper makes the cell phone more massive (and blocks the lower USB port and headphone jack), so it is not designed to always be connected to the cell phone.
Driver seat support
The stand adds two additional triggers, two control buttons, and five function buttons (mostly on the controller), and it should last that long 8 hours on a single charge. You can connect it to the phone via Bluetooth or a Type-C cable, and Asus also works on PC compatibility.
Handheld mode generally feels good to use; playing Minecraft with this feels more or less the same as playing Minecraft in Switch. It's a bit boring to put your cell phone in the case, and carrying all your belongings when you travel may need a bag, but that's my only complaint.
That said, the starting price of $ 149.99 seems pretty daunting. Although you clearly pay for the ability to turn your ROG cell phone into a complete handheld console with a minimal amount in bulk, you can buy an Xbox One controller (which works natively on Android) and a connected phone for less than half of that. price.
TwinView Dock II: $ 329.99
This is definitely the most attractive accessory for ROG phones, but it's definitely the most complicated and most expensive (paired with the WiGig display dock). TwinView Dock turns the ROG phone into a Nintendo DS that is too powerful, with the cell phone working as the bottom screen. The upper screen is identical to the phone's display panel, with support for 240Hz. The dock also has its own battery that can recharge the cell phone over time.
Most of the time, run an application on each screen; for example you can play a game while watching YouTube tutorial However, there are games that can use both screens at the same time, but the only one I know of is Asphalt 9. Hopefully the Nintendo DS emulator will add support for this soon.
Now if you spend $ 150 on Gamepad Kunai also At $ 350 per TwinView, you can put your phone on a gamepad before putting it on TwinView for a mega dual-screen handheld experience. It takes 45 seconds to really put everything together, but that's possible!
What it feels like to connect all these accessories.
Although I like that this crazy two-screen plugin exists, I'm not really sure why anyone would pay $ 330 for it.
Desk Base: $ 229.99
If you have a strong desire to play cell games on a larger monitor or television, Asus has a Desktop Dock that is too expensive to sell. It is more than just an output screen: it has four USB 3.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, SD card slot and the microphone itself. There are HDMI and DisplayPort pass-through connectors, so you can switch between your PC and phone with a single button.
As far as I know (I don't have a high refresh rate monitor to test), the base can only output at 60Hz, so it will lose the smooth and buttery action you get on the cell phone screen.
WiGig Display Base: $ 329.99
This transmits the screen of your mobile to the television or monitor. There is absolutely no reason to pay $ 330 for this.
Should you buy it?
Yes, if you value performance / games above all else. The lack of waterproof / wireless charging on the ROG phone, combined with its large physical size, means that Galaxy S10 +, Note 10, 3rd pixels or even ZenFone 6 Asus could be a better buy for most people. If you want the best gaming experience for smartphones, or you really want a smooth 120Hz display, ROG Phone II might be the right choice for you.
ROG Phone II is also an attractive option if you are frustrated by the latest trends in smartphone design. There are no camera cutouts, Asus has kept the headphone jack, the battery is very large, and the dual front speakers are very good compared to the bottom-running speakers found in most other modern flagships. .
The ROG Phone II '512GB' Elite 'model (which I received) will be available in the United States on September 23 for $ 899.99. There will also be a 1TB 'Ultimate Edition' coming later, without a fixed price.
Buy if …
- You really want a gaming cell phone.
- You're upset that all the other phones have a smaller battery, no headphone jack, and the screen is cut off.
Don't buy it if …
- You don't like big / heavy phones.
- You are on a CDMA network, like Verizon or Sprint.