Asus ROG Phone 3 Review
Asus, for the last couple of years, has been making gaming-centric smartphones that have top of the line specs, a not-so-flagship grade camera, a hefty battery, and, generally, appeal to mobile gamers. But with Asus ROG Phone 2 (read our full review here), the company started to tone down the design a bit, making the smartphone suitable for an average user all while appealing to mobile gamers too.
With Asus ROG Phone 3, the company has toned down the design even further, and I feel that this smartphone is much more than just specs.
And yeah, about that ‘But use it with a case…’ thing, scroll down to the bottom of the page. *Spoiler Alert – camera glass shattered.*
Well, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it – the display is just fabulous. I’m one of those guys in the tech industry who prefers utility over specs, and this display totally suits me.
Asus ROG Phone 3 comes with a 6.59-inch 1080p AMOLED panel that’s capable of refreshing the display at up to 144Hz. The no-notch design, 10-bit HDR, 270Hz touch sampling rate, 1000 nits of brightness, dual front-facing speakers, Gorilla Glass 6, in-display fingerprint scanner — it’s all great.
Asus could have gone with a higher resolution panel, but, 1080p on this colourful, vivid display looks great plus it helps in keeping the phone cool during gaming sessions and running it for long. The screen is smooth to touch, smooth to use — thanks to the 144Hz refresh rate — and the 270Hz touch sampling rate seems so fast, that it feels like the display is just waiting for your command.
Well, I jumped from a 60Hz OnePlus 6 display, to this beaut and I can clearly see why there’s so much hype around this smartphone’s display. Once you use this, every other phone (including iPhones), feel a bit sluggish. And Asus gives you full control in controlling the display’s refresh rate, so if you have got a long day ahead, and you know you won’t be able to charge your phone for long, you can switch the display’s refresh rate from 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz.
Build and Design
This is where this phone falls a bit short – but hey, none of the smartphones are perfect, right? The all-glass body and heavyweight of this smartphone make it difficult to use with one hand. It’s so slippery that I dropped the phone three times on the first day of its use. Thankfully, Asus includes a bumper plastic cover in the box of the device.
Coming to the actual build of the device, the phone’s rim is made out of aluminium, sandwiched between two sheets of Corning Gorilla Glass 6 in front and back. The phone, sadly, got rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack this time, but thankfully (again), Asus includes a USB Type C to Audio Jack Connector in the box. Speaking of USB Type C, yes, there are three USB Type C ports on the ROG Phone 3, out of which two can be used for charging/listening to music (simultaneously), and one’s proprietary for ROG Phone 3’s attachments. Asus even displays a disclaimer, to not to insert the charging cable into the red USB Type C port, when you turn on the phone for the first time.
Asus ROG Phone 3 is pretty heavy, weighing in 240 grams. The phone’s clearly not meant to be used with one hand, and if you’ve small hands (like me), you’re better of with a case, which makes using this phone a bit easier.
The Asus ROG Phone 3 comes with three set of cameras on the back – a 64MP Sony IMX686 primary sensor, 13MP Ultra-wide angle lens, and, sigh, a 5MP Macro sensor. On the front is a 24MP sensor.
Let me get one thing clear, I didn’t really have many expectations from the camera system of this device. And since I received the review unit three months late than the usual reviewers, I already (kinda) knew what I was getting. But the camera did surpass my expectations. The photos coming out of this device, if given enough light, are excellent. Colours are natural (all while remaining a bit punchy), white balance is pretty good, night mode kicks-in at right time, HDR works 90% of the times, Ultra-wide doesn’t blow out (or pale) colours as compared to the main camera. Even though the camera stutters while capturing at night, the photos are pretty decent – for a gaming smartphone. Check for yourself.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Camera samples
Battery, Software, Speaker, and Performance
Well, I can bore you with long verses of texts about how good the phone really is, its battery, software, speaker system and performance, but, to be really honest, I know you’ve heard about this before.
The bulky 6,000 mAh battery in the ROG Phone 3 will easily last you a day, or even two maybe. A 1080p display coupled with an efficient Snapdragon 865 Plus processor is an appease to this heft battery, and it doesn’t disappoint. I was not able to kill this phone in under a day, during my extended usage of 15 days. Plus Asus bundles a 30W adapter in the box of the device, which charges up to 70% in just under 45 minutes. That’s an upwards of 4,500 mAh charged in under 45 minutes!
Even though Asus hasn’t rolled out Android 11 for the device, and weirdly Asus hasn’t even promised (or stated) a date when it will be updated to Android 11, the software on this device is just excellent. Asus gives you a choice, when you turn on the phone for the first time, to choose between a pure Android skin or their own gaming-style skin. The granular control for the backlit ROG logo on the back, a special X mode for gaming, and other subtle additions makes this skin one of my favourites. I rate this Android skin over OnePlus’ OxygenOS and Google’s Pixel Android, just cause it’s perfect balance of being pure Android, and a feature-rich skin.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus and Adreno 650 GPU are just a breeze to use. It’s so fast that I didn’t run a single benchmark test on this device, it really wasn’t needed. The processor is super snappy and can handle day-to-day tasks like watching YouTube, surfing Twitter/Instagram, browsing web easily. Well, let me just go ahead and say it, gaming on this thing is a beast, and if you get this, you’re sorted for at least next 2-3 years. Also, the phone comes with a WiFi 6 enabled chip, and you can even connect to two WiFi networks at once using the phone’s dual
And speakers, Woah! One of my favourite parts about this phone were these dual front-firing speakers. The speakers are wonderful, both for gaming and media consumption, and you won’t regret getting a big chin and forehead phone once you use this.
Asus ROG Phone 3 is one of the best Android smartphones I’ve used this year. Despite having some deal breakers, like heavy weight, big body, not-so-latest Android version, no headphone jack, Asus ROG Phone 3 comes out as one of the compelling devices of 2020. A surprisingly good camera (thanks to regular software updates), best-in-class internals, the no-notch design, an impressive Android skin, and other subtle things (like two charging ports, glowing ROG logo) make this device an easy recommendation to even non-gamers.
*Use It With a Case*
So here’s what happened: I’m done with the capturing photos of this phone, almost done with the review. But then it hit me, ‘I haven’t transferred the pictures taken from this to my laptop’. So here I’m, sitting at my desk, transferring photos, and then resetting the device before I pack everything up.
After the photo transfer is done, I take the phone out of the case (to put the case back to the box). I put the case back in the box, go back to my room to bring the sim ejector pin. The phone’s sitting at my desk, without a cover, all this while. I put the sim ejector pin in the box, and then pick up the phone to put it back into the box, and boom. The phone slips out of my hand. I’m sitting at the table so the height might have been 5-6 inches, and the phone hits the corner of my Mac and the camera glass is shattered. Just like that. The camera is still working though.
Now, I’m not saying that the build is too fragile, cracks depend on the impact and not (totally) on how strong the glass is. But since the phone’s made entirely out of glass, and it’s too heavy and bulky for one hand, the phone is bound to slip out if a case isn’t put on it.
Use it with a case, and you’ll be happy for next two-three years of your life.🙇♂️