I am thirty years old and a father of an amazing two year old – aka – I have been banned from playing games (thanks PUBG) in my household or to even have them on my phone by my beloved better-(best)-half. So needless to say the one week I spent with the amazing ROG Phone II – were actually a christmas present that came too early. (Thank you A(Santa)US!)
Without giving too much away, this device from ASUS-owned Republic Of Gamers brand is actually one that I think can bring out the gamer in the men and women of all ages. Even playing everyday games on this phone can be addictive forget top-of-the-class ones like Asaphalt, PUBG or COD. But this review is not just for the gamer, it for anyone who likes a powerhouse for a phone.
As soon as you switch on the phone the stunning 6.59 inch AMOLED FHD+ display with 120hz refresh rate takes over and you will surely love how the width has been trimmed by the parent company so that you can use the phone with a single hand. Gaming or watching movies is a great experience on this 19.5:9 aspect ratio display that also has HDR and is covered by Gorrilla Glass 6. There is a chin on bottom and space above the top which houses speakers and also the 24MP front facing camera.
Gorrila Glass 6 stretches back all the way over the back with a colour-changing ROG logo along with a dual-camera array (48 MP main +13MP Ultra Wide) with flash on top left and some amazing lazer-etched lines along with a vent for cooling. The inscreen fingerprint reader, there is no need to add anything to back. If the front didn’t appeal to you, the futuristic back will surely make you look-up and notice.
The phone is housed in a metallic frame and has two front firing stereo speakers – which sound awesome. The bottom has the USB-C charging port, two mics and a 3.5 mm headphone jack on either sides. Going clockwise there is a simcard slot on the left side towards the bottom. Above this is a closed slot which houses in another USB-C port alongside a 48-pin side-mount connector that is for use with accessories like the dock or fan. This USB-C port supports Quick Charge 4.0. The top has a mic hidden along the antenna lines. Keep going and on the other side there is the volume rocker, another mic and power button on right side. There are also two air triggers – which are pressure sensitive buttons – usable in games and also for triggering special functions.
The phone has four wifi antennae so that you are always connected and never experience any drops in network while playing. You may have also noticed I mentioned a total of 4 mics and apparently this is done to make sure that you get perfect noise cancellation.
Below that amazing display and the changing colours and all the other bits, the phone packs a solid punch with a Snapdragon 855+ Octa-core processor coupled with upto 12 GB of RAM and 1 TB of UFS3.0 storage. Of course the version sent to us was a 8GB one coupled with 128 GB of storage. What this meant that even when we were not gaming, we had a super amazingly fast android phone for our everyday use.
The gaming experience on the phone was absolute delight. Apart from the ergonomical design which enabled great gaming experience, sound and display, the 240 Hz response rate meant that the your input got almost instant response. I felt that this was more of a pleasing aspect that the 120 Hz display – maybe because a lot of games are not designed for 120Hz refresh rate or are locked at 60Hz.
You can use the USB 3.0 port on side to charge the phone even as you are playing, not that we needed it. In fact, I was able to get almost 2-days of battery charge on the phone even after heavy gaming with 120 Hz display enabled. I played FPS games, racing games and MMORPG – PUBG on the phone with graphics and performance set to high and loved every minute of it.
So what? this is a gaming phone afterall, what was I expecting? What about other phone functions? Will a non-gamer enjoy it? Well, the answer is yes!
I watched Netflix and YouTube on the phone and the experience was really nice. Same with streaming music. The front facing dual speakers were awesome. Even though I didn’t try it with wired headphones, the experience over bluetooth headphones was great too.
The cameras on the phone do a good job – something we expected from the Sony IMX586 sensor. The pictures in good lighting come out great with HDR. The pictures with HDR turned off or in lowlight are not that great. The night mode does improve low light photography, but we have seen better implementations. I really liked the Wide-angle 13MP secondary camera on the back. But that’s just me, I always like the wide-angle over the telephoto ones. It also shoots decent selfies with its 24MP front-facing unit; thought the portrait mode lacks the punch. On the video front the main camera can do a 4k shoot at 60fps while the ultra wide can go only upto 30fps. Both these limits are suppored by Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS).
Coming to the software, the phone runs on Android 9 Pie and not one but 2 UIs – the ROG UI- which is all gamer centric and the Zen UI -which is somethings Zenfone users are familiar with. You can switch between them easily.
Zen UI may be something you are used to and seems like a normal android skin. But ROG UI is Iron Man suit if Zen UI was Tony Starks bathing suit. Once you pick ROG UI, everthing is mettalic, sharp lines and hues of reds we love.
Switch on the X mode and you get colours flying around on the back logo and similar logos on compatible accesories and also the overall feel is like walking into a pit lane during a race. Gamers will also love the Game Genie tool that you can swipe onto the screen from the left side and it houses some amazing options including screen recordings. You can also configure the use of air triggers here if onscreen controls are just not enough.
Now let’s talk accessories. The package we got came with just a basic phone cover – which I loved. But you can buy suitcases full of accessories for the gaming phone which include docks, controllers, coolers and more. There are some of the best gaming accesories that you can lay your hands for and from what we have researched they give a greta performance to price deal but we cannot really get our hands on them and thus are unable to review them for you. Also, our package came with a regular charger instead of the 30W charger. The phone supports quick charge and can go upto 25 W of charging and you can use the 30W charger to power the phone and 5W accessories. We couldnt personally test it our either.
In terms of a review, our minds were made up. ROG phone II is an excaliber for mobile gamers, it’s a clear choice for anyone who seeks great performance combined with head turning designs. But even if you are not into gaming and just want an ultra fast phone for your everyday android life, this is a must try. Try it, you won’t regret it and maybe you will find a mobile game worth your time too.