Asus has been hacking away at the smartphone market for a while now with its ZenFone line of Android handsets. Today, the company used Computex as a launch pad for its first-ever ROG-branded phone designed especially for gaming. The simply named ROG Phone has what Asus calls the world's first speed-binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC. The speedy chip is paired with 8 GB of LPDDR4 memory and either 128 GB or 512 GB of speedy UFS 2.1 storage.
The SoC's performance cores crank away at up to 2.96 GHz thanks to the factory binning and a unique vapor chamber cooling system. Asus says the speedier cores inside the ROG Phone can maintain its maximum frequency for five times longer than other phones with the Snapdragon 845 SoC. The quickest of Qualcomms can maintain its highest clocks when the user plugs in the included AeroActive cooler in the side-mounted USB-C port. The cooler module contains a fan that blows air into the phone and the potentially sweaty fingers of its operator.
Any self-respecting gaming device needs a deluxe screen, and the ROG phone is no exception thanks to its 2160x1080 AMOLED display with a 90-Hz refresh rate and claimed 1-ms response time. On top of the speedy reflexes, the screen should cover over 108% of the challenging DCI-P3 color space and has a claimed contrast ratio of 10,000:1. Gamers in colder parts of the planet might like the fact that the 10-point multi-touch input still works while the user is wearing gloves. The available 512 GB of UFS 2.1 storage on the ROG Phone is enormous capacity for a smartphone, but as far as we can tell, there's no microSD card slot for further expansion.
Input is a key component of a good gaming experience, and Asus outfitted the ROG Phone with three low-actuation-force ultrasonic AirTrigger sensors. Two of the AirTriggers are positioned as left and right shoulder buttons when the phone is in landscape mode, and the third is positioned when the phone is upright. Asus says the triggers can be programmed to do all sorts of functions, allowing gamers to reduce the amount of input funneled through the touchscreen. When gamers need more control, they can attach the optional Gamevice controller that includes dual analog joysticks, a full complement of physical buttons, extra battery capacity, front-facing speakers, and cooling hardware. The Gamevice attaches to the same side-mount USB-C connector as the AeroActive cooler.
Asus says it has even more accessories for that side-mounted USB-C port, including an attachment that turns the ROG Phone into a dual-screen portable gaming system, a WiGig dock for wireless displays, and a mobile desktop dock with a USB hub, display outputs, and other niceties. The back of the phone has copper accents, cooling vents, and an RGB LED-illuminated ROG logo.
The ROG Phone has next-generation wireless connectivity. The Snapdragon 845 SoC has Cat 16 LTE capability, and Asus added "gigabit-class" 60-GHz 802.11ad Wi-Fi. The company had little to say about the ROG Phone's cameras, a big change from the barrage of recent Android flagships that have been touting enhanced camera features as a way to stand out from the pack. The front snapper is an 8-megapixel unit and the rear camera system uses 12-MP and 8-MP sensors together. One of the rear peepers has a 120° wide-angle lens, though Asus didn't specify which.
The metal-framed, glass-encased ROG Phone measures 6.3" tall (15.9 cm), 3" wide (7.6 cm), and 0.34" thick (8.6 mm). Asus says the phone weighs in at a fairly-hefty 7.1 oz (200 g), including the 4000 mAh integrated battery. The phone's body has an audio combo jack on the bottom and the included AeroCooler adds another headphone jack to the side of the phone for use when playing in landscape mode. There are USB-C ports on both the bottom and the side, a unique layout that Asus says will enhance landscape gamers' experience while playing and charging their handsets at the same time.
Asus didn't provide any pricing or availability information for the ROG Phone or its optional accessories. The only comment the company made about the phone's software was that it would run an ROG-specific version of Android.