There have been a number of manufacturers make entry into the realm of gaming phones over the last couple of years. Some were successful, some really weren’t… But Asus through their Republic of Gamers (ROG) devices have made an impact on the market and for all the right reasons. Scott’s review of the ROG Phone II last year showed that it’s extremely capable for gaming and just as good as a phone. For those that read part one of my review of this year’s iteration will know that it’s not just an evolution of the previous phone. It’s not revolutionary, but what ROG has delivered is a great stand-alone phone, that’s also rather spectacular for gaming.
How does the ROG Phone III qualify as a “gaming” phone?
There’s a number of areas that set this apart from other phones, starting with the design. It’s far from the standard phone “look”, it looks like a beast. The ROG designers have ignored the convention of looking simple, sleek and keeping things as small as possible. Instead, they’ve opted to deliver some tough lines and a bit more of a chunky feel.
The specs back up the beastly look with some really sharp end hardware. Starting with the chipset, you’ll be rocking the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ and an Adreno 650 GPU. 512GB of UFS3.1 storage means you’ll have plenty of space for games and 12GB of RAM will give you not just great, but consistent performance also.
The display is stunning, as covered in part one of this review, it’s a genuinely stunning screen. High resolution, high refresh and excellent response rate. The feedback from the phone is really impressive too, the vibration motors have a broad scale of power so you get really good tactile feedback that is really well complimented by the sound.
Battling the bad guys can be quite a drain on your battery, so its important for gaming phones to go the distance. In my time — unfortunately only a couple of weeks — with the ROG phone 3, I found there were a couple of very good facets to the phone regarding battery life.
Battery is everything
The first is that the phone has a whopping 6,000mAh battery that does very well at hanging in for long days and gaming sessions. Even when I was trying (streaming video, playing games where time allowed and keeping the screen on) on a long day, I plugged in with around 27% battery remaining bodes well. With that in mind though, my phones do get top-up charges while plugged into my car for Android Auto.
But if you do kill the battery, there are a couple of options for charging: The traditional base plug-in charger, although in this instance it’s left-aligned to minimise interference with holding the phone. The other is on the left side of the phone (when holding it in portrait orientation) which then becomes the bottom for gaming. This means the charger is not interfering with your gaming at all.
The right accessories
To really work as a gaming phone versus a phone that can game a bit, it’s not just about the phone: You need to have access to the right accessories. The ROG phone 3 has an array that will please most users.
Possibly the most useful accessory if you’re gaming long enough for the phone to get hot, is the AeroCooler 3. It’s a clip-on accessory which has a fan to keep your device cool while gaming but also has a port for headphones and passthrough charging your device.
Now last year, there was a Gamepad included in the package but not so this year. Truth be told, I’d suspect Asus have some data reporting showing that this was an accessory only used by a small percentage of users, so have decided to add this as an optional accessory this year and we didn’t get a chance to play with one. I did give my Shield Controller a crack which worked fine, but I felt detracted a bit from the “hands-on” review experience.
One of the optional accessories we did play with with the Lightning Armor case which is a protective case that uses the RGB on the rear of the phone for a very cool effect. It doesn’t specifically add any functionality to gaming, but it absolutely contributes to the look and feel of the phone.
Finally, the ROG Clip is an accessory that allows you to attach your phone to a PS4, Xbox or Stadia controller with an adjustable arm. I don’t have any console systems, so didn’t test this.
Sotware and optimisations
I found the software tweaks interesting, but also — because of the excellent specs of the ROG Phone 3 — somewhat redundant. While I did use the gaming mode (partly because it looks cool) to tweak the phone performance, I also tried on a couple of games and it did make the experience a touch smoother but also depleted the battery faster.
How was the gaming experience?
The ROG Phone 3 is pretty versatile in that you can use it as a phone only, attach the controller accessories or the ROG Clip. As with the article last week as a phone only, it’s pretty difficult to fault it as a gaming device.
There weren’t any real hassles with anything I threw at this beast of a phone. Having spent quite a bit of time on a number of games, I can certainly see the advantage of using the controller accessory but for some games: the touch screen was fine as the response was excellent.
The touch response wasn’t the only facet of the screen that impressed me. The high resolution and refresh rates result in playing games being an absolute visual delight. This was complemented by the feeling of control thanks to the really nicely sized bezels that
- Allowed me to hold the phone without causing false touches
- Aren’t comically large
- Created a well-balanced holding position in landscape mode
Despite the fact we didn’t get the chance to try out the optional gaming accessories, it was a great experience. The general feeling I had was that while using the ROG Phone 3 as a phone it felt like a beast and while using it for gaming it was clear that this device is made for exactly that… Gaming.
Should you buy one?
The ROG Phone 3 is a stunning device that ticks a lot of boxes as a phone which we covered last week. The questions regarding gaming would be an extension of this:
- Do you game on your phone a lot?
- Do you want/need better gaming performance from your phone?
- Do you have the budget — $1,699.00 plus — for this phone?
Perhaps the only area for any substantial improvement is the camera, but it’s not a spud cam by a long stretch. If you’re nodding to any of the above questions though, then you should be considering the ROG Phone 3 as an option as your next phone. It’s a device that currently leads the pack on performance as a phone, then steps into a league of its own as a gaming device. The software tweaks and customisation mean that you can ensure the best possible experience for your gaming, regardless of the stresses the game puts on your device.
If any of my friends or family ask me for a serious performance phone or a gaming phone then the ROG Phone 3 will, without doubt, be at the top of my recommendations.