I’ve always wondered what the big deal is with high end gaming smartphones. I mean, you basically just need a capable phone to play the games you want, right? Which means a top-tier smartphone would practically give the same gaming experience you’d get from a gaming phone.
Or so I thought.
My whole perception of gaming phones turned upside down right after trying the new ASUS ROG Phone 5s Pro. If you’re seriously into gaming, better fasten your seat belts. ROG ramps up our mobile gaming experience onto a whole new level with this one.
Interactive Sneak Peek
Upon initial setup of the ROG Phone 5s Pro, you already know it’s a different experience. ROG takes us on a ride where we are introduced with the capabilities of the phone through a brief interactive show.
You’ll see the Akira box it came with come to life through the lens of the phone camera. Asking us to shake, press triggers, point the camera and other maneuvers to acquaint us with the phone.
The design of the whole device is pure gamer vibe all the way. With red accents, edgy patterns and the ROG Vision screen in the middle. The frame is made of metal material and it genuinely feels like you’re holding something expensive.
While I do prefer my phones to be a little smaller, the ROG Phone 5s Pro’s size feels perfect for gaming. Measuring 6.8 inches on its length, there’s enough room for your fingers and everything lands on the right spots making controls easily accessible while playing.
Also available on the Phone 5s Pro are two USB-C ports. A USB-C 3.1 on the side and 2.0 at the bottom. This gives us freedom for charging or accessory attachments and to choose whichever orientation we feel comfortable with. ROG also included a 3.5mm port at the bottom for those who prefer truly lag free audio with their gaming experience.
A phone case is also included in the package which kind of looks like an armor for the phone while attached. It has all necessary cut outs keeping everything easily accessible while still managing to do its job of protecting the phone from accidental bumps.
The ROG Vision display at the back looks very cool and futuristic. It displays the ROG animation when using the phone, charging animation when plugged in, game mode animation when gaming and incoming call animation for calls. I would have preferred if it had more useful things to display though, since it also feels like it doesn’t have much legit functionality.
Display and responsiveness at its finest
As we would also expect from a gaming focused device, this also has a very high refresh rate display. A 6.78-inch, AMOLED display running with an abundance of hertz at 144Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling rate. And while it sounds a lot, I honestly could barely tell the difference from 120Hz to 144Hz. But at least it’s an available option for people who would really want the highest settings. It also has 800 nits of brightness, making outdoor visibility a non-issue.
You’ll also notice the relatively thick top and bottom bezel. This might be because that is where the speakers are located which we’ll also tackle further into this review.
Maxed out Performance
The Snapdragon 888+ was among the fastest chipsets that was released in 2021, and that’s what’s running this device. Along with 18GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 512GB of internal storage. So it’s no surprise that every game we run on this wouldn’t be a problem.
According to the GameGenie console, Call of Duty: Mobile ran at a mostly stable 60FPS at very high settings. That’s really good performance considering I wasn’t on X-Mode or its performance mode yet.
Bumping to X-Mode, Genshin Impact on the ROG Phone 5s Pro ran great at very high settings and 60 FPS. This is the first time I’ve maxed everything on Genshin Impact on a mobile device that ran this smoothly.
So despite being a generation older chipset to the newly released Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, there’s no shortage of power from the 888+ on this device.
Thermals with the AeroActive Cooler 5
While the temperatures shown on the device didn’t indicate that it was running hot, the phone itself felt hot to my hands. The power button in particular felt shockingly hot while playing Genshin Impact. This is where the AeroActive Cooler comes in. It is the included fan attachment which snaps on at the back of the phone for added cooling.
Right after I attached the fan, you could immediately see it reducing system temperature. So definitely, keeping it attached is the best way to play on this device to avoid running into thermal issues.
It also isn’t very audible unless of course you place it right next to your ear, which isn’t the way we would be playing anyway.
At first I thought having it attached would make my hands feel restricted but I didn’t actually perceive it that way. It felt more like an extension with added buttons and a kickstand.
Ultrasonic Sensors and Haptic Feedback goodness
What I enjoyed the most on this device is the use of the Ultrasonic sensors. These are the assignable touch or swipe enabled sensors designed for additional controls. When mapped properly, it considerably changes the dynamics of how you play games.
In Call of Duty: Mobile for example, I mapped the fire key on the right shoulder and reload on the left while the rear touch sensors mapped with a grenade. It almost felt like I was playing like how I would on a console like a Nintendo Switch.
With freedom to use my thumbs for running and aiming it almost feels like you’re cheating. Combine this with haptic feedback, the subtle vibrations bring even more immersion to the tension that’s happening inside the battlefield.
Get in sync with the ROG Community
For those familiar with ASUS ROG or TUF series laptops, the Armoury Crate is the console where we can monitor and configure the performance and other aspects of the device. This is also present on the ASUS ROG Phone 5s Pro. You can access the fan speed and AirTrigger settings, monitor CPU and GPU temperatures or adjust performance for more efficient operations.
And like the PC version, we also gain access to the ROG community through the Connect feature. This is like an ROG enthusiasts social media platform where interaction with other ROG owners take place.
Immersive gaming audio
To further enhance the gaming experience, dual front firing speakers are what’s booming this phone. The first time I heard how games sound on this device was another impressive experience for me. The crashes, the gun sounds and everything else sounded so alive. Music playback has a considerable amount of thickness that I even compared it with the sound coming from the Xiaomi Pad 5.
Surprisingly, the ROG Phone 5s Pro sounded a tad better in some aspects. That’s saying a lot since the Pad 5 is a tablet loaded with four speakers which I also praised in another review.
Great cameras for a gaming phone
Equipped with a 64MP main camera, 13MP ultrawide, 5MP macro and a 24MP selfie camera, this also takes pretty decent photos. I’d say flagship level or right in between one and an upper midrange. After all, this does have the Sony IMX686 sensor seen in other flagships.
We don’t get a lot of creative photo modes but there is a pro-video mode and a night mode that takes really clean and vibrant photos.
Get juiced up in under an hour
The ROG Phone 5s Pro gets its charge via its 65W charger. For a device with a 6,000mAh battery, I managed to get 25 percent of charge by just leaving it for ten minutes. That I think is also pretty commendable. Ten percent to full only took around 50 minutes.
Though 6,000mAh may sound like a lot for a phone, I found that it does run out pretty quickly. It gets me through a whole day of use running mostly on mobile data connection but comparing it to budget phones with the same capacity, this isn’t as robust.
Is the ASUS ROG Phone 5s Pro your GadgetMatch?
From the moment you open the box, the all out gamer vibe, the buttery smooth gaming experience, amazing audio and visuals and the added control with the Ultrasonic sensors, the ASUS ROG Phone 5s Pro is all about the experience.
No, gaming phones still aren’t for everyone, and thermals and battery life could still do better. But for gamers, I can’t see how you can resist not having this.
Plus you’ll get people looking at you as they see the back of your phone displaying some animations which makes you feel super cool.
If you’re into that, then by all means, the ROG Phone 5s Pro surely ticks most of the right boxes and more.
Razer introduces two new Ornata V3 keyboards
Slim, clicky, and ergonomic
Razer is releasing two new entry-level gaming keyboards in the Ornata V3 and Ornata V3 X, which will both have Razer’s Mecha-membrane switches.
The new keyboards come with all the basics expected of an affordable gaming accessory. That’s everything from their keycaps design, RGB backlight, and more.
The two low-profile gaming keyboards come with smaller footprint and slimline keycap designs. The ABS keycaps are UV-coated for scratch resistance, while the Ornata V3 X’s keycaps are spill-resistant.
The keyboards also feature Razer Chroma RGB with 10 lighting zones. The V3 X has four lighting effects: Breathing, Spectrum Cycling, Static, and Wave.
Aside from these, they have backlit dedicated media keys for more convenient controls such as playing and pausing, skipping, or adjusting brightness or volume.
Adding value to the Ornata V3 and V3 X is their magnetic soft-touch wrists rest. These are not often included for keyboards in their price range.
The Ornata V3 will retail for PhP 2,590 while the Ornata V3 X is priced at PhP 4,199.
SteelSeries unveils Arctis Nova Pro series
The almighty future of audio
SteelSeries has released the Arctis Nova Pro series. It’s latest and most advanced gaming and esports headsets yet from the company.
The series has two variants — the Arctis Nova Pro and Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. The new series is enhanced by SteelSeries’ Sonar Audio Software Suite. It helps deliver the ultimate sound quality and clarity.
The software is the first in-gaming Pro-grade Parametric EQ which gives gamers even more control over sound across games, team chat, and the microphone and allows them to adjust individual frequencies on the fly seamlessly.
Both variants come with immersive 360° Spatial Audio which is fully compatible with Tempest 3D audio for PS5 or Microsoft Spatial Sound.
They also feature Multi-System Connect which allows users to switch between platforms easily. Complementing the next-level sound experience is an AI-powered noise cancelling and broadcast-quality bidirectional microphone.
Price and availability
In Singapore, pricing are as follows:
- Arctis Nova Pro – SG$ 439
- Arctis Nova Pro (Xbox) – SG$ 449 (available in Sep 2022)
- Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – SG$ 599 (available in Sep 2022)
- Arctis Nova Pro Wireless (Xbox) – SG $620
There are also booster packs for users to be able to customize the headsets with headbands and metallic color speaker plates of their choice.
Final Fantasy XVI producer reveals game details in interview
Things just got more exciting
Ever since the announcement of Final Fantasy XVI a few years back, enthusiasts have been on the edge of their seats in anticipation how exactly the latest installment in the popular video game franchise would look like.
Now, no less than producer Naoki Yoshida is teasing us all with even more details for what is there to expect before FFXVI releases officially in the summer of 2023 exclusively on PS5.
Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights of his latest interview regarding FFXVI.
FFXVI won’t be traditional open world
Unlike previous iterations of Final Fantasy, the upcoming video game is going in a different direction as it will not be open world, surprisingly.
Instead, it will be an “independent area-based game design”. Still, Yoshida did give away that it will take a lot of inspiration from “triple-A open world RPGs” to allow players to experience the game on a “global scale”.
Clive’s got company — making battles more interesting
Prior to Yoshida’s interviews, players have been expecting FFXVI’s protagonist, Clive, to be a solo fighter which meant that the game would have been a single-player type for the first time.
But apparently, Clive’s got company — other characters who will fight alongside him but will be AI-controlled, according to Yoshida.
Something that will also resonate uniquely with players will be the Eikon-versus-Eikon battles. Players will be able to control an Eikon in real-time and engage with another Eikon.
Yoshida recalled the original Final Fantasy in making XVI
Citing the importance of making each of Final Fantasy’s releases true to its essence, Yoshida mentioned that he went to as far as thinking about the original Final Fantasy and remembering how it felt like while playing the lead role.
He said that he “wanted to recapture that feeling in XVI”, plus the advancements in technology and modern game design.
This is something Yoshida hopes could turn into reality for people to look forward to.
The game is almost ready as of the moment
Yoshida also mentioned that in terms of progress, the game is “fully playable from start to finish” already.
As it stands, it looks like voice-overs in different languages are currently the focus as of the moment, as well as finetuning to make sure there are no bugs or glitches.
Since FFXVI is full of action, it is only natural for the developers to have it undergo several tests to ensure smooth gameplay.
A third trailer will drop later in 2022
Lastly, a third trailer that will succeed the “Dominance” trailer released a month ago will drop this fall.
That will surely excite players even more as they get closer and closer to Final Fantasy XVI’s launch next year.
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