E.Keogh considers the pros and cons of the new ROG phone 5.
The Asus Republic Of Gamers (ROG) phone 5 dons some very impressive internals. Looking at the specifications of the phone, the Snapdragon 888 chip features twice the performance in gaming, battery life and CPU performance than that of the 845 chip. The standard model (expected to launch sometime in April) has 128GB of non-expandable storage and 8GB of ram. The more powerful variant comes with 256GB of storage and 12-16GB of ram. At the time of writing, the only way to buy the product when it becomes available is directly from the Asus website. The 256GB memory with 16GB of ram will retail for £899, approximately €1056. In terms of what you get for your money, the overall picture is not terrible. While other models do not touch the gaming capabilities it includes, in terms of things such as camera quality, the iPhone and Galaxy offerings have it beaten.
Why would you pay over a thousand euro for a gaming phone when you could buy a console?
The phone aims to provide a powerful and attractive device to serve as an on-the-go solution for gamers. Although it does tote an expensive price tag, the phone does seem to serve the intended purpose. The phone has Asus’ own software, meaning the user can see the performance of the phone at a glance while gaming. The ROG phone utilises the Game Genie software, which makes it incredibly easy to map touch screen controls to physical game controllers. Any controller will work, but Asus’s ROG Kunai 3 gamepad attaches to the phone Nintendo-Switch-Joycon-style. But this introduces the question; why would you pay over a thousand euro for a gaming phone when you could buy a console?
The latest offerings from Sony and Microsoft blow the ROG phone out of the water in terms of power and performance. If mobile gaming is a must-have for you, with the introduction of Xcloud gaming and PS Now, small portable devices don’t need to have as much power behind them. As long as you meet the minimum requirements for streaming Netflix, and can connect a controller, your device becomes a portable Xbox or PlayStation. The money it costs to buy the ROG phone 5 could perhaps be better spent on a tablet and a subscription to Microsoft’s Game Pass. This would also mean that you’re not going to be limited to the small selection of games available on mobile device storefronts. Game Pass allows the user to stream lots of AAA titles on almost any device. Granted you do need a connection or space to download the games, but it would still work out cheaper than the ROG phone 5.
Even better yet, if you’re looking for a truly portable console, the Nintendo Switch is the obvious choice. You can play most of the bigger titles on the Switch that you can find on Google play, with the added bonus of access to all of Nintendo’s recent titles. The newer variant of the Switch comes with improved battery optimisation, meaning you can get anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on what titles you’re playing. In comparison, the ROG phone 5 doesn’t fare so well.
The addition of the AeroActive Cooler might seem like overkill until you think about running the likes of Fortnite on mobile data, so it does serve a purpose. I do find the use of RGB lights on the phones logo and the logo on the attachment to be tacky though.
There definitely is a market for the ROG phone 5. It's a very powerful device in its own right, and with the aforementioned bonus of Asus software on the phone, it makes gaming on a phone much more enjoyable. The addition of the AeroActive Cooler might seem like overkill until you think about running the likes of Fortnite on mobile data, so it does serve a purpose. I do find the use of RGB lights on the phones logo and the logo on the attachment to be tacky though.
The phone is built with gaming in mind, so making the right shoulders of the phone “Air triggers” is quite a smart move. No matter what variant of the phone consumers buy, right out the box you’ll find a very capable device that can play a decent selection of games. The appeal of the phone isn’t its price - it's the fact it’s a flagship device that comes with everything you’d need in a phone, coupled with some very interesting features that make playing games on the device a manageable experience.
Building a computer would be a much better way to spend the money if you’re so inclined, but that's not who Asus are targeting with this device. They’re looking at consumers who want a great mobile gaming experience, and a great daily driver. Buying an Xbox or a PS5 leaves a €500 - €600 dent in your pocket, but buying a good phone could be more important to certain people. Asus cuts few corners with the ROG phone 5, meaning it is still an excellent device. As well as that, the device has massively improved over the course of its lifetime and continues to get better with every iteration. The phone is innovative and could lead to more game developers taking mobile gaming more seriously.
This doesn't mean we should forget about the flaws, though. Gaming on a phone or tablet has never been a good experience for anything other than traditional mobile games. The phone has impressive specs on the processor and graphics side, but the phone overall doesn’t outperform flagships within the same price range. That's not the main issue with the device - the issue is why would you go out of your way to get a phone for gaming?
The ROG phone 5 as mentioned earlier, has non-expandable storage, which means you’re pretty much stuck with what you buy. As well as that, a flagship with little-to-no water resistance is quite the rarity. Microsoft's partnership with Samsung has vastly improved gaming on the go, and with some devices, you get a free 3 months of Xbox Game Pass. So for less than the cost of the ROG phone 5, you could get a tablet with expandable storage, a controller and a games pass. It's not the best at what it does in comparison to consoles, or even some other phones and tablets, but so far it's been the closest to creating an all-in-one mobile device to serve not just as a phone, but as a daily driver for gamers.
Tech like this shouldn't be immediately shot down as not worthy of your money - this is an example of how tech companies are working for the interests of consumers and trying to innovate technology.
Tech like this shouldn't be immediately shot down as not worthy of your money - this is an example of how tech companies are working for the interests of consumers and trying to innovate technology. The price is way too expensive for what you get if you’re looking for a device for gaming, but it’s clear that Asus is working towards better mobile gaming experiences, which means competition between companies that will lead to better developments in gaming technology.