The highly-anticipated gaming smartphone is now in the market and in our hands! We’ve been using it for quite some time now, and we do have quite a lot of things to talk about this brand new iteration of gaming smartphone from ASUS.
We have a few different videos talking about the gaming capabilities of the ROG Phone 3, which you can check it here and also here. We also have a comparison between the ROG Phone 3 with the Black Shark 3 Pro too.
The overall design hasn’t changed much compared to the first generation of ROG Phone, and even less has changed compared to the ROG Phone 2. The most notable difference here is the even sparklier back of the phone, which… depends on your personal preference, honestly.
The little cutout – which is inspired by a tactical knife design – is now tucked under the phone’s glass back, but has a transparent cutout to show you that the big copper grill is still inside. But, the heat now dissipates from this tiny little hole at the side instead.
There are a few accessories to make the phone look beautiful too. We have the new Lighting Armor Smart Case which seems inspired by the Zephyrus G14 (review here). The new ROG Phone 3 Lighting Armor Case supports Aura lighting and is detected by the phone via NFC. There is also an option to match the wallpaper, icons, and sounds.
There’s also a brand new Neon Aero Case. It’s only available in a transparent orange color – which I think is really nice – and also has “cybertech” engraving. However, I’m not really confident that this case can last for long since it’s made out of plastic and will definitely get scuffed up easily.
From the front, the ROG Phone 3 looks pretty much exactly the same as its predecessor. There’s still the front-facing stereo speakers – still the best of its class – and I absolutely love the sound that comes out of it.
And that’s important since the ROG Phone 3 does not have an audio jack.
As for the screen, ASUS pretty much retained the exact same cutout and size as before. 6.59-inch AMOLED screen with fantastic colors and brightness – just like what we expect from a phone with an AMOLED screen.
Despite having the same size, ASUS upgraded the screen to 144Hz refresh rate. Well, honestly – I don’t even notice a difference between 120Hz and 144Hz. But what’s interesting here is that you can unofficially use 160Hz. ASUS has officially said that it’s only meant for internal testing, though. There are a few quirks if you want to use 160Hz, which you can learn about it here.
Let’s now hop into the performance. We’ll start off with the specs, which is to nobody’s surprise – the ROG Phone 3 is using the fastest hardware available in the market right now. The one that we have is the highest-end configuration:
- 144Hz refresh rate
- HDR10 support
- Snapdragon 865+
- 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM
- 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage
- 6,000mAh battery
And a surprise to nobody again, the benchmark scores are amazing.
Obviously, the gaming experience is important on the ROG Phone 3. So, here’s a quick video of me playing PUBG Mobile. I’m not particularly great at that game, but hey – it’s still a gaming footage.
After our long gameplay of PUBG Mobile, the phone didn’t go beyond 45ºC, thanks to the new ROG GameCool 3 that now incorporates a layered sandwich design with a large graphite film. I didn’t turn on the highest possible performance settings available, but I don’t see a reason to do so since PUBG Mobile isn’t exactly that demanding.
Within this gaming video, we used the brand new Air Trigger 3 and also the new Motion Sensing input. The Air Trigger 3 is not particularly new – the virtual Air Trigger is now elongated and the firmware has the ability to split it into two different inputs per trigger.
ASUS also implemented a total of 5 different types of input with those new Air Trigger 3:
- Dual partition buttons
- Slide (horizontal)
- Slide (vertical)
In total, the ROG Phone 3 can have a maximum of 5 different inputs via its triggers and the motion sensor. But personally speaking, I don’t think it’s ergonomic to use it that way. I have to hold it in a certain way if I want to use the Air Trigger 3 in dual partition buttons mode.
We also compared the gaming experience on the ROG Phone 3 and the Black Shark 3 Pro. Click here to check it out.
Okay, that 6,000mAh battery is obviously not something to scoff about. It was first introduced last year with the ROG Phone 2. I was surprised back then, and I am still surprised now. With everything turned off and turned back to 60Hz, this massive 6,000mAh battery can last for 18 hours and 40 minutes in our battery life test! That’s fantastic!
As for the charging time, it’s pretty much the same as last year – comes with a 30W charger and takes nearly two hours to completely charge to 100%. Again, I much rather prefer a large battery with slower charging speed than the other way around.
Software – Android 10 with ROG
ASUS had a major overhaul back with the ROG Phone 2, as they have shifted most of the features into a dedicated app called Armoury Crate. And the ROG Phone 3 pretty much used back the same UI design from before with a few minor tweaks here and there.
Funny enough, while selecting the per-game refresh rate setting, the Armoury Crate actually UI adapts and incorporates the 160Hz option too.
The Game Genie is now a floating menu that can be called by swiping in from the left side, and it brings a whole slew of shortcuts and features. Interestingly, ASUS ported over the crosshair overlay feature from their gaming monitors. This feature is useful for those who want to do a 360 noscope sniper shot.
I think when it comes to the ROG Phone series of gaming smartphones, we have to talk about the accessories. The ROG Phone 3 has the same slew of accessories from its predecessor, but with upgraded functionality. There is also one new accessory:
- Kunai 3 Gamepad + Kunai 3 bumper case
- Mobile Desktop Dock
- ROG Lighting Armoury 3
- TwinView Dock 3
- ROG Gaming Clip
- AeroActive Cooler 3
While we don’t have all of the accessories for the ROG Phone 3, we can say with full confidence that this is the strong point of this phone is the accessories. It’s expandable and you can hook it up with a capture card to make it a true gaming smartphone for streamers, too.
That AeroActive Cooler 3 – it has been redesigned to the point where it is now blowing air to the tactical knife cutout section instead of to the user’s fingers. It also has a kickstand now, which is excellent if you want to watch some YouTube or Twitch stream. But then again, you can’t plug in an audio jack if you want to use a headphone or earphone – which means you’ll have to carry yet another dongle. It’s a huge oversight from ASUS.
This is really not a gaming smartphone’s strong suit but well, the ROG Phone 3 can take some decent-looking pictures in between gaming sessions. They look pretty good too, actually.
All of the images are in the video at the top of this video.
And if you want it to look even better, you can download Gcam too.
The ultra-wide angle camera isn’t exactly the best but it’s usable. It loses most of the details – like this patch of grass and leaves just turned into a bunch of colors.
Should you buy the ROG Phone 3?
Let’s put it this way – the accessories available for the ROG Phone 3 is fantastic. I love how ASUS has committed to making the accessories backward compatible with its previous generations of hardware.
ASUS did some iterative upgrades here and there – but I generally don’t see a point of upgrading if you’re already using the ROG Phone 2 from last year. That phone is still powerful enough to the point where you can play PUBG Mobile or COD Mobile without an issue. The new triggers are… not really something that I’d consider an upgrade since I don’t really like the new input methods.
Moreover, the ROG Phone 3 does not have an audio jack – which means you’ll have to carry either the dongle or the AeroActive Cooler wherever you go. For games, the audio jack is important as wired headphones or earphones do not have audio latency issues like its wireless counterparts do – which you can learn more about it here.
But despite all of the issues, the ROG Phone 3 is still a fantastic phone in terms of its software, the expandability via accessories while providing gaming features from the previous generations of ROG Phones.
I think after comparing both the ROG Phone 3 and the Black Shark 3 Pro, I’ll waiting for ASUS to surprise me with the next generation of ROG Phone instead.