The ASUS ROG Phone 3 was released a while ago. It has been crowned as the ultimate gaming smartphone since its inception. Ever since then, there are a lot more gaming phones appearing in the market. We recently reviewed one – the Black Shark 3 Pro – and those popup triggers are just something extraordinary.
But, there’s no perfect gaming smartphone in this world – at least not yet – so we have to weigh our options. In today’s comparison, we’ll take a look at the features available on both of these gaming phones.
Some spec differences
Here’s a quick summary.
|ASUS ROG Phone 3||Black Shark 3 Pro|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 865+||Snapdragon 865|
|RAM||Starts from 8GB; up to 16GB||Starts from 8GB; up to 12GB|
|Maximum number of trigger inputs||
Honestly, I don’t really see much of a difference between most of the things that are pretty much irrelevant unless we’re running benchmarks anyway – particularly the difference in chipset and RAM.
The screen is obviously going to be the biggest difference here. You can get a humongous screen with 90Hz refresh rate, or a smaller, more manageable screen with an even higher refresh rate of 144Hz. This is a personal preference though.
They both do have stereo front-facing speakers too, by the way. But the ROG Phone 3 does it better as it sounds amazing yet the quality and volume are equal on both sides. The Black Shark 3 Pro – like we mentioned in our review – has unbalanced stereo speakers.
One defining feature of being a “gaming phone” is the triggers. If a “gaming phone” does not have triggers, then it’s just like any other phone.
When the first ROG Phone was launched in 2018, it was revolutionary since it was the first phone to introduce the Air Triggers. They’re virtual triggers that simulate a game controller’s trigger buttons.
Now, this is the 3rd generation of the ROG Phone and ASUS is pretty much just iteratively upgrade from generation to generation. The new one has more upgrades – particularly to have the ability to split the trigger intro two parts, totaling into 4 shoulder buttons.
A brand new method of “Air Trigger” is by shaking your phone – which I think is pretty unusable. It disorients and absolutely destroys gaming immersion when I shook the phone.
And compared to the Black Shark 3 Pro, I think they’ve instantly won in this category. Seriously, as we’ve said in our review of the Black Shark 3 Pro, those triggers are just fantastic.
This Black Shark 3 Pro’s triggers – even though there is only two triggers, they are physical and they pop up. They feel amazing and I’m just seriously amazed by what Black Shark has done with the pop-up triggers.
What’s even better is that the screen has pressure sensors. You can press the left or right half of the screen and it essentially works like a trigger too. Press the screen harder and it detects as an input – which is much better than shaking your phone, honestly.
After using both the ROG Phone 3 and the Black Shark 3 Pro for a lot of gaming sessions, I can say for sure that this time, Black Shark 3 Pro just does it better. It’s just placed more ergonomically to the point where I don’t have to strain my hands in an awkward position just to use the dual partition buttons effectively. Let’s not forget that whenever I shake the phone, I will definitely need to readjust my grip on the phone.
Sure, I can use the single-tap trigger mode, and then I don’t have to hold it in an awkward position. But that means I have to sacrifice functionality.
The Black Shark 3 Pro though, takes on more traditional design, and combined with the pressure-sensitive screen, I don’t have to hold the phone at an awkward angle while using all the “triggers” available.
The tables turn when accessories come into play. What’s unfortunate here is that the Black Shark 3 Pro has… anticlimactic accessories. The phone by itself is amazing, but if you want to get accessories to expand your gaming experience then it’s impossible.
The only accessories that the Black Shark 3 Pro has is a left side only gamepad, a TEC cooler for the phone – bizarre, yes – and supposedly, an 18W charger that magnetically attaches to the side of the charger. Honestly, I can’t even find any information on that thing on Black Shark’s website.
And speaking of the Aero Active Cooler, the ROG Phone 3 has one included in the box already. It splits the proprietary side port into a standard USB-C and an audio jack. Despite not having an audio jack on the phone, I think it’s arguably okay since the only time I’ll use a wired headphone or earphone is while I’m gaming because I don’t want to deal with wireless audio delay – which you can learn more here.
The ROG Phone 3 also has even more accessories available – the Kunai Gamepad, the TwinView Dock, and also the Mobile Desktop Dock.
The Mobile Desktop Dock literally works as its name suggests. You can plug the phone into a desktop monitor or to a big screen TV via the side USB-C port.
Ability to use a capture card
And since you can have HDMI output via the USB-C port on the phone, you can essentially use a capture card and couple it for OBS or Streamlabs too. I think that many streamers are playing mobile games now and that really makes the ROG Phone 3 a fantastic phone.
You can even use your keyboard and mouse to play these mobile games – which means you don’t even need Bluestacks or anything weird.
The software experience
Oh boy, I feel like a broken record now. We have reviewed a lot of Xiaomi and Redmi smartphones here. They’re all using the same Android skin – MIUI. And I’ll say the same thing again – MIUI is messy. The settings menu is horrendous and it’s clunky. The Black Shark 3 Pro uses JOYUI 11, which is essentially a reskin of MIUI 11.
Moreover, it felt like a labyrinth whenever I wanted to change the Black Shark 3 Pro’s RGB settings. Actually, in my initial review of the Black Shark 3, I didn’t even bother changing the RGB lights because I just couldn’t be bothered with it.
The ROG Phone 3 is still using the same Armoury Crate software from last year – and ASUS actually took heed of our complaints of the UI issues that we were having on the ROG Phone 2 from last year. The software is much more refined now and I absolutely love it. I can manage the X Mode and per-game refresh rates alongside with the lighting modes – all in the Armoury Crate app. It’s not very intuitive, but I can live with it.
Which one should you buy?
Well… they both have their own advantages. The ROG Phone 3 is more than just a gaming phone – it also has some productivity tools like that Mobile Desktop Dock that we mentioned earlier. You can pretty much grab any generic USB-C hub with an HDMI output and it’ll work without an issue.
It’s a versatile gaming phone that you can expand its functionality and gaming experience via accessories.
The Black Shark 3 Pro doesn’t have the fancy accessories but it’s laser-focused in being a gaming phone without needing any other accessories. But that also means that the Black Shark 3 Pro doesn’t have any possibilities for expansion.