Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

Never played on mobile. My ceiling, even during five years of boring lectures, is hyper-casual games like Flappy Bird or Crossy Road. For a while, I was a big fan of King of Thieves because of the resemblance to my favorite Super Meat Boy, but the romance was short-lived. I still don’t have a full-fledged mobile gaming “experience”.

So ASUS ROG Phone, with which I spent 10 days, opened before me a marvelous layer of games that I would not have touched in my life. The contents of a mobile gamer’s suitcase forced me to go through a couple of dozen titles to test all the peripherals and find at least something decent for them.

This text will be primarily about when you may need an expensive gaming flagship, why it has so many peripherals and whether the emphasis on the game provokes some kind of fundamental degradation of other phone technologies.

How the editor-in-chief played ASUS ROG for two weeks

Android. Just Android

ROG is an Android smartphone, with add-ons, but painfully familiar and understandable. He has everything important: a dual camera, a very fast “recognition” of the face and a fingerprint scanner, which for some reason is horizontal and quite demanding on the “correct” touch.

“Gaming” wallpapers and icons are hung on the shell. From ASUS, there are only a few “ecosystem” applications, such as Data Transfer and cloud storage. Nothing superfluous, which is good – there is no analogue of Bixby with Samsung.

You get used to small interface touches, and in the end I had only one real everyday problem – due to the fact that the phone is symmetrical, I always confused where the top was and where the bottom was, and took it upside down from the table.

As a result, you will forgive me, I will not describe in detail the miracle of using a mobile phone in 2019. Everything works in the usual rhythm. (And the fact that I just here for the first time touched the Google Camera with my hands, which can recognize objects and recognizes it in a fraction of a second by the Watch Dogs 2 collectible figurine, is, apparently, I’m already behind the times. But be sure to write in the comments what is the most amazing did you manage to recognize this miracle thing!)

I was pleased with the contents of the drop-down menu, where I found things at least not generally accepted: the “Gloves” mode, which really works, the screen color temperature control (in addition to the standard blue filter), a separate button for HDR and a built-in equalizer.

ASUS is very proud of music and sound, but, unfortunately, I will not support them here. Without headphones – wow, the two speakers on the left and right give such a good stereo when playing, plus the volume level really impresses. But the claimed “high-definition sound via Bluetooth”, “7.1-channel spatial sound” and other hi-res audio in my non-melanonic life were either not noticeable or were not applicable. On modest Sennheiser drops, some slight advantage over my S9 can still be found, but on overheads, any differences are erased.

How the editor-in-chief played ASUS ROG for two weeks

Game phone – “Game Center”

The most significant difference from the usual Asian smartphone is the “Game Center” with a particularly powerful “Mode X”. One button allows you to close all background processes, prepares the phone for increased loads and turns on a beautiful iridescent light bulb on the case. Even in the center, you can monitor the state of the phone’s components – how many gigabytes are free on the drive and in RAM, how hot the central and graphics processors are, how many hours the phone still has to work in the current conditions. It’s funny to see how the graphs turn red after half an hour of cutting into something three-dimensional and loading a smartphone.

But the colored stripes are not the main thing here: first of all, the center manages game profiles, and now this is an interesting thing. It allows you to customize the phone’s operation mode individually for each game. The list of options is quite large: automatically turn on “Mode X”, limit the maximum frequency of the processor (if it’s enough, then why should the battery pay more?), remove graphic “ladders”, disable alerts, clear RAM before starting, enable 90 fps or limit reproduction of the 60th.

The latter, by the way, is especially funny: ROG really knows how to deliver 90 frames per second, but some games that were not prepared for this completely break it. So, increased smoothness in Rayman: Adventures will not be achieved – the game will simply become one and a half times faster.

Well, the last function of the “Game Center” is the control of a hinged fan, which at maximum can hum with the decibels of an electric razor. The efforts of this guy are fully justified: with a fan, the phone really heats up significantly, much less, and you have spare 30 minutes before the temperature discomfort.

How the editor-in-chief played ASUS ROG for two weeks
The temperature, however, does not affect the gameplay. Either I didn’t find “graphic” games, or they optimize them really cool, or (the most realistic option) ASUS is stuffed with such fashionable hardware that it does not imply any “brakes” at the moment. Specifications are described in detail on the Internet, so I will not go into depth. There you can also find benchmarks of tech bloggers that more or less confirm my version, indicating that the phone is one of the most powerful on the market.

The only problem that comes up with games is battery life. But today it is impossible to solve this problem, so ASUS did what they could: a 4,000 mAh battery, which lasts an hour and a half for an aggressive game, and magical charging technologies that combine Quick Charge 4.0 and ASUS HyperCharge. As a result, it seems to be safe to play “from the outlet”, the phone does not start to boil and does not fall into critical states.

It was a big surprise for me that in the general stream of games that I went through a couple of dozen, there were quite decent and interesting things. In addition to my favorite “Reyman”, which is not very demanding, I stuck in Dead Trigger, Asphalt and even some RPG with the “Batman-like” Iron Blade combat system for a long time. Opening of the month – AAA mobiles go well with the new “History of the Series”. No kidding: I still haven’t completed Uncharted 4, and mobile phones still turned out to be not the worst entertainment.

TwinView – wow, and you have a Shield!

If everything is more or less clear with the fan, then it was quite difficult to justify the existence of TwinView for yourself: this is an additional screen and a pair of triggers in a bulky design that doubles the weight of the phone and begins to resemble more of a portable console.

The problem is that games almost never support the second screen, and running two games at the same time is quite a circus. The secondary display is fully functional, but it’s still hard to figure out what two things to do at the same time on your mobile. Watch videos and play? Yes, there is such an option. You can still keep any messenger open.

How the editor-in-chief played ASUS ROG for two weeks
The third option is some kind of complex, multi-window work. For example, typing this text while holding the ROG Phone landing page on the left to check the features and specifications. But whether someone needs to work so actively from a portable device is a moot point. Yes, and on the tablets there is multi-window.

Two screens can be a really cool solution for streaming, but I think it’s a niche within a niche within a niche and is unlikely to be of much use to anyone. But how convenient it is! There is a special Game Genie application with which Twitch and YouTube are fully integrated – log in and broadcast.

Almost PC gaming

Although I would do it differently: if it’s an itch to broadcast a mobile game, then docking stations that allow you to connect anything you want look much, much more logical: a mouse, keyboard, HDMI, a recording device, flash drives, microphones and something else enough for fantasy.

This is the most unusual gaming experience that I had with a suitcase: the mouse is recognized, and the cursor appears on the screen, and with it, mobile strategies go to a new level. Or return to the old one.

I could not understand the charms of Clash of Clans, but on the monitor it turned out to be more convenient and better than in the version for mobile phones. I would, you know, generally port all the strategies to the PC: the gameplay there, maybe, is designed specifically for the touchscreen, but the thrill of controlling the mouse transforms the gameplay, everything immediately becomes more measured and interesting. Hey developers, open up new markets!

Unfortunately, I didn’t like anything other than strategies on the “phone + monitor” combination. Shooters are still “sharpened” for swipe control, action games require active taps, and this is not at all the same as clicking on the buttons on the keyboard. I don’t know how to explain it clearly, but it somehow works by itself: it’s more convenient to click on the screen.

How the editor-in-chief played ASUS ROG for two weeks

Your Wi-Fi is stale, bring me WiGig!

When the monitor does not fit, a larger diagonal comes into play. The scheme is as follows: you take the ASUS WiGig station, connect it to the TV via HDMI, press the wireless broadcast button on the phone, and the picture is displayed on the screen. Put on a special gamepad with rubber bands, start the game – and voila! Royal console gaming begins.

It looks a little short, because the resolution of the phone is not HD and black bars are visible on the screen in some games. And if you need to actively use the touchpad for control, then nothing will work at all. But if it’s a shooter, racing or platformer that’s controlled with a gamepad, the system works perfectly. In the absence of Forza Horizon on PS4, Asphalt will also do for a couple of evenings.

True, the gamepad is not always supported: a separate application contains a list of about a hundred games available for it. There are almost all ports of “big” projects, plus AAA titles like Modern Combat. The list is rather long, but sometimes there is something on Google Play that you want to play with a gamepad, but it doesn’t work out.

But there is a way to get around this in a peculiar way: if you remove the gamepad, you can use Air Triggers, a special analogue of the “triggers” on the phone case. Tapping them becomes the equivalent of touching any part of the screen, giving you full triggers for shooting and aiming. Moreover, the mentioned Game Genie software allows you to create any swipe macros and record videos. Here the phone goes into some kind of eSports for completely fanatical players.

How the editor-in-chief played ASUS ROG for two weeks

***

A mobile phone is not a gaming device, it is not adapted for this. But there are games in this unadapted device, and the demand for them is huge – and therefore the gaming mobile phone appears.

On the one hand, he is forced to be the same as everyone else, on the other hand, it is purely physically impossible to create one gadget that does everything better at once. Therefore, if at first it seemed to me that a suitcase of gadgets was a farce, then after a thorough gaming week it became clear that I need a TV for racing, a monitor and a mouse for strategies, and a gamepad for shooters.

ASUS ROG CHEMODAN is absurd, but at the same time great fun, akin to modular phone concepts. Pick up what you need! And if it so happened that you are one of the “whales” who kill hundreds of hours on a mobile phone in some hardcore MMORPG, then, of course, ASUS ROG Phone is a very funny find that you can assemble in a convenient configuration.

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