ASUS ROG Phone 2 Review – A Lot Better than the OG

Last year, we got to review the ROG Phone, the hottest gaming phone announced in #COMPUTEX2018. After its successful launch, ASUS released its follow-up model, the ROG Phone 2. I was scheduled to review the ROG Phone 2 last March but ECQ happened and had to wait until we get a go signal from ASUS. So after months of waiting, I finally got an evaluation unit of the ROG Phone 2 Elite Edition and I’m now excited to share my review.

ROG PHONE 2 SPECS:

OS:Android 9.0 Pie (upgradable to Android 10) with ROG Gaming X UI
Processor:2.96 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ Octa-Core processor | Adreno 640
Display: 6.59" 1080x2340 Full HD+ AMOLED Display with 120Hz refresh rate, Corning Gorilla Glass 6
Wireless Connections:LTE-A, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ad, NFC, A-GPS, GLONASS
Memory:512GB Internal Storage, 12GB RAM
Connectors:USB 3.1 Type-C
Cameras:48 Megapixels f/1.8 wide + 13 Megapixels f/2.4 ultra-wide (Main Cameras), 24 Megapixels f/2.2 (Front)
SIM Card Slots:2x Nano SIM Cards required
Battery:6,000 mAh
SRP:Elite Edition - P49,995.00
Strix Edition - P34,995.00

THE UNBOXING

The packaging of the ROG Phone 2 Elite Edition hasn’t changed. It still has a hexagon shaped box with its cover acting like a sleeve.

Found inside the package are the ROG Phone 2, Aero case, Type-C USB Cable, USB Charger, AeroActive Cooler 2, two extra rubber covers for the AeroActive Cooler 2 port, two footstands for the AeroActive Cooler 2, and the SIM Card ejector.

THE LOOKS AND FEEL

I didn’t expect any drastic design changes on the ROG Phone 2. It looks similar to the original ROG Phone, only taller this time. It’s actually taller than my Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and I think some people will find this phone too big for them to use. Personally, I am not bothered by its size and it can still fit inside my pants pocket. It feels obviously heavier though weighing at 240 grams.

Found on the right side of the phone are the power button and volume controls. The air triggers are also found on this near the top and bottom parts of the phone.

On the left side is the port for the AeroActive Cooler 2. If you’re not yet familiar about this accessory, I will explain this later in the Performance section of the review.

Found at the bottom are the Type-C USB port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Kudos to ROG for still not “firing” the headphone jack as most gamers prefer using wired gaming headphones.

The back panel is still made of glass for a touch of class in a gaming-centric phone. I noticed some slight changes in the back cover: the schematic lines are toned down and it only has a single vent. The rear cameras are found at the back of the phone but this time with dual-LED flash, while the oddly-placed fingerprint scanner has been removed. The ROG logo is prominently placed in the center and can be lit to show its RGB colors. I can’t recall if the OG ROG Phone has this feature, but the ROG Phone 2’s RGB logo can be turned on for the whole time. That’s exactly what I did and boy, I got a lot of attention from strangers while I hold the phone.

THE DISPLAY

I like big phones with bigger screens so I’m glad that they’ve upgraded the screen size of the ROG Phone 2. Compared to the OG’s 6″ display, the new version comes with 6.59 inches. That’s a big jump in size. Thank goodness it sill uses the Super AMOLED screen display to make games look more vibrant. It would’ve been a waste if they used the usual IPS display. Screen resolution is Full HD+ with a screen ratio of 19:5:9. I mentioned earlier that the fingerprint scanner at the back was removed in the ROG Phone 2, and the reason for this is they have now incorporated it in the display. It’s fast, accurate and works all the time.

ASUS retained the bezels on the top and bottom portions of the phone. While this may not make the ROG Phone 2 look modern, these bezels have a purpose, especially for mobile gamers. Instead of placing speakers at the bottom or at the back of the phone, ASUS wanted them on front so that the sound can be heard clearly. An LED indicator and a front camera are also found on the upper bezel.

Another upgrade in this category is screen refresh rate. The OG ROG Phone was the first smartphone to break the 60Hz refresh rate by introducing 90Hz. The ROG Phone 2 made history again by being the first smartphone to introduce a 120Hz screen refresh rate. Scrolling the screen with 120Hz turned on is very smooth and the difference is noticeable when compared with a 60Hz screen. There are several games that already support this ultra smooth refresh rate and I bet more games will jump into the bandwagon in the near future.

THE PERFORMANCE

The ROG Phone 2 is equipped with a flagship processor, a 2.96 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor which is one of the fastest, if not the fastest mobile chipset in 2019. I did some benchmark tests with the Strix Edition and I’m sharing the results:

The results show a big jump in performance from the OG ROG Phone. There are two Antutu Benchmark scores: the lower score is with X Mode turned off and the higher score is with X Mode turned on. Switching on this feature will turn the ROG Phone 2 into a monster gaming phone, increasing its CPU and GPU clock speeds to give users the best gaming experience. However, increasing the power of these processing units would result to a lot of heat. This is where the AeroActive Cooler 2 comes in handy. Attaching the AeroActive Cooler 2 will enable the fans at the back to cool the ROG Phone 2.

GAMEXMODEAACTEMP
Call of Duty MobileONAttached40 Celsius
ONNot Attached42 Celsius
OFFAttached
40 Celsius
OFFNot Attached41 Celsius
Real Racing 3ONAttached40 Celsius
ONNot Attached41 Celsius
OFFAttached35 Celsius
OFFNot Attached35 Celsius
NBA 2K20ONAttached43 Celsius
ONNot Attached44 Celsius
OFFAttached41 Celsius
OFFNot Attached45 Celsius

The table above shows the temperature difference among the games I’ve played with X Mode On/Off and the AeroActive Cooler 2 attached/not attached. The data I’ve gathered shows a 1-2 degrees difference but realistically speaking, I’d rather have the AeroActive Cooler 2 attached while I play on X Mode. I could feel its fans cool the back of the ROG Phone 2 during long gameplays.

The mobile gaming experience with the ROG Phone 2 is a lot better than the OG ROG Phone. Actually, playing games on the ROG Phone 2 gave me the best experience among all smartphones I’ve reviewed so far! All the games I’ve installed were amped to their highest graphic settings and the phone didn’t stutter, not even for a second! The quality is like playing on a game console thanks to its vibrant screen and superior graphics. The loud sounds of the front facing speakers makes it very immersive for me to be in the game.

It’s the only phone that made me play so much and honestly speaking, it affected my productivity quite a lot! Since I’m using the Elite edition, I do not have the other accessories like the Kunai Gamepad and the TwinView Dock II with my review unit, but believe it or not, I am already contented playing without them.

Armoury Crate has greatly improved in the ROG Phone 2. It consists of the Game Library where the games are found and can modify the phone’s display settings, network, CPU Speed among others for a particular game. The Console section shows the CPU and GPU temperatures as well as the memory and storage used. You can synchronize your other ROG accessories with RGB lighting with Aura sync under the Console’s system lighting section.

Game Genie has also improved big time. While in a game, I can swipe from the left to open the shortcut menus for calls, alerts, and other stuff you will need while playing. They have also included a real-time information shortcut which will display the CPU speed, memory used, temperature and frames-per-second. This feature is very useful since it’s kinda complicated to switch to the Console section of the Amoury Crate just to know these information.

Speaking of fps, most games I played are locked to 60 even with the ROG Phone 2′ s 120Hz refresh rate. Hopefully, we will see more games in the future that will break this barrier.

THE CAMERAS

ASUS did not add more cameras and just maintained the dual-camera system of the ROG Phone 2. The good news here is they have upgraded these cameras to 48 Megapixels with Sony IMX586 sensor and 13 Megapixels wide-angle lens. Photos taken under daylight turned out really great and captures a good amount of details. Night mode can be helpful when taking photos under low-light conditions. Admittedly, these cameras are no match to the current flagship phones, but they are definitely good enough to capture images whenever it’s needed.

Here are some sample photos:

THE BATTERY

The battery capacity of the ROG Phone 2 was amped up to 6,000 mAh, a huge 2,000 mAh upgrade from the OG ROG Phone. Gaming and multimedia playback for hours with the other usual types of usage can still last at least for a day. It was able to get 18 hours and 30 minutes on PCMark’s battery test with 120Hz screen refresh rate on. The 30W charger is very helpful in quickly filling up the juice of the ROG Phone 2.

DR’S CONCLUSION

Prior to this review, I wasn’t keen on getting an ROG Phone 2. What changed my mind is the improved gaming experience that ASUS has brought to their new gaming phone. I now have the desire to get one, and even considering the ROG Phone 2 Strix Edition which is cheaper at P34,995.

The ROG Phone 2 is paving the way to the future of mobile gaming and it can possibly compete with the likes of the Nintendo Switch. With the way ROG is making these hardware and game developers either updating existing or creating new mobile games, it is not possible to see this happen soon!

PROS:

  • Phone is made of premium materials with gaming design
  • Bigger Super AMOLED Display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Excellent performance especially for gaming
  • Good Thermal Management
  • Decent Cameras
  • Large Battery Capacity

CONS:

  • No IP68 rating
  • No Wireless Charging

More information about the ROG Phone 2 can be found at the ASUS website.

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