Gaming

ASUS ROG Phone review: A true gaming phone done right?

Undeniably a phone built for mobile gamers

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Finally, the ROG Phone from ASUS is out in the market! We first saw the gaming smartphone back in Computex 2018 last June, and we waited a long time (four months to be exact) to take one home.

We received a lot of questions about this phone. Is it the best gaming smartphone today? How is it different from other flagship phones with similar specs? And, how much value are you getting out of it?


To answer all those, here’s my review of the ROG Phone. You know the drill, let’s start with the phone’s physique.

Its AMOLED display measures 6 inches diagonally

With a Full HD+ resolution and 18:9 aspect ratio

It features stereo front-facing speakers

It’s not exactly borderless, but you get great loudspeakers

The physical buttons are on the right side

They are made of metal

The left has the card tray and side-mounted USB-C port

The phone doesn’t support expandable storage via microSD

Another USB-C at the bottom along with a 3.5mm jack

This phone doesn’t sacrifice wired connectivity

The back looks aggressive with the ROG logo

The logo lights up!

The phone is pretty angular with lots of unusual shapes

The ROG persona goes mobile

In case you’re wondering what ROG means…

It’s definitely for gamers

There are two rear cameras and a fingerprint reader

Almost forgot about those!

Obviously designed with gaming in mind

One look at the ROG Phone and it already screams that it’s a gaming smartphone. Unlike other game-centric phones from Honor and Razer which have subtle gaming looks, the ROG Phone belongs with the rest of the ROG laptops and peripherals that are made by ASUS.

When there are a number of phones on the table like in our office, it’s not difficult to differentiate the ROG Phone from the rest. The front of the phone has a distinct copper accent on its front stereo speakers, and the back is uniquely ROG. If you own an ROG laptop or desktop and use ROG-branded peripherals, the ROG Phone should be part of your collection.

Like with other 2018 phones, the ROG Phone has a glass back using Corning’s tough Gorilla Glass. Don’t expect things to be symmetrical here because the dual rear cameras and the LED flash are housed in an unusual shape. Even the fingerprint reader is slightly positioned to the right of the phone, but don’t worry, it’s still reachable using either index fingers.

The ROG Phone’s bold design doesn’t end there. The back also has a futuristic styling using lines and an ROG logo that lights up in virtually any color you want. To top things off, the phone even has an exterior for its cooling system.

Encased in a metal frame, the ROG Phone is premium all around. It certainly feels more well-built than its ZenFone cousins. But of course, the loud design is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some gamers might even find it too much, but ASUS is not following Razer’s design choices.

Apart from the phone’s body, there is also a lot to talk about the phone’s display. The 6-inch display is not just your ordinary AMOLED panel. Apart from producing deep blacks and vibrant colors, the display is capable of a 90Hz refresh rate with 1ms pixel response time. Basically, you can play with the phone in uber-smooth motion. On top of that, it supports HDR and has a wide color gamut that’ll please professionals.

The fastest Android gaming phone today

The ROG Phone is powered by a Snapdragon 845, which is practically found on all high-end Android phones that came out this year. To place this gaming smartphone ahead of them, ASUS threw in an overclocked variant of the already-powerful chip and paired it with lots of memory and speedy flash storage. The result is one of the fastest Android phones available today.

Android Oreo runs the show, but it’s customized by ASUS to make it one of their own. Being an ROG device, it comes with a combative theme. Turning on the “X Mode” will even make everything red, which means that the ROG Phone is performing at its peak.

Like with ROG notebooks and desktops, the phone has a command center where you can closely monitor the phone’s condition. The Game Center is as aggressive-looking as the phone’s body. Here you can check the CPU and GPU speeds, the battery’s temperature and remaining power, the setting for the RGB light customization, and the fan speed control for the external cooler.

The configuration I have for review has 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage. If you find 128GB not enough for all your games and personal files, there’s also a 512GB model. Without a doubt, the ROG Phone is insanely fast. Coupled with a 90Hz display, this will be your smoothest Android experience. The 120Hz display of the Razer Phone 2 is more fluid, but the eyes can already appreciate what the ROG Phone has.

Keep in mind that not all games take advantage of the high refresh rate, but popular titles already do. My all-time favorite, Asphalt 9: Legends, is more enjoyable when it’s rendered in 90fps. Other graphics-intensive titles like Free Fire (which comes pre-installed) is fully supported and PUBG: Mobile is playable in the highest settings without lag, as well.

Also, the AirTriggers, which are ROG’s virtual shoulder buttons, aid in mobile gaming. Basically, the sides of the phone are touch-sensitive. They are kind of gimmicky in a way because they are pretty difficult to reach during gameplay. When you get used to it, you’ll have an edge against other players using regular phones.

It even comes with fun cameras

The ROG Phone is not just fun in gaming, but it’s also a good picture taker. It won’t match the likes of the Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro, yet I am impressed with the phone’s cameras. Maybe because I wasn’t expecting it to be this good?

It’s got dual rear shooters. The main one is a 12-megapixel sensor with f/1.8 lens, optical image stabilization, and Dual Pixel autofocus. Of course, the phone’s camera is powered by AI that detects the scenes and adjusts the settings accordingly. Thankfully, there’s no over processing going on like with other AI-enabled shooters.

Here are some photos taken using the main sensor in Auto mode:

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They aren’t bad, right? Although, ASUS didn’t put much attention on the 8-megapixel secondary shooter with an ultra wide-angle lens. I’m a fan of wide-angle secondary cameras, so I enjoyed shooting GoPro-like shots. Too bad it’s got no autofocus and the quality isn’t at the level of the main sensor.

Here are some samples taken using the main sensor and the wide-angle camera for comparison:

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Moving to the front, we have another 8-megapixel shooter but it’s just wide enough to take spacious selfies. It comes with an f/2.0 aperture, so low-light shots shouldn’t be a problem — at least on paper. You can also apply bokeh effects to your selfies for added depth.

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No one is buying the ROG Phone for photography purposes, but those who are interested in it will be able to take great photos. The use of an ultra wide-angle secondary lens is also a good choice by ASUS. Why? Because it’s more fun to take wide shots.

Incredible power takes a toll on battery

With all the features the ROG Phone has, a trusty 4000mAh battery keeps the lights on. But, it is enough? Based on my usage, no. If you wish to enable the phone’s highlighted features such as the 90Hz refresh rate, you should make sure to have a power bank around.

The phone didn’t last a full day as my daily driver. I usually get fewer than three hours of screen-on time. My usage includes typical work duties with the phone constantly connected to either Wi-Fi or LTE, and lots of gaming in X Mode.

When I set the refresh rate back to default (60Hz), I was able to get better battery life. The ROG Phone was my secondary device during my four-day business trip to Singapore and I only had to charge it twice. I mainly used the phone for taking photos, checking out web pages, uploading IG stories, and, of course, for playing mobile games once in a while.

Speaking of charging, the ROG Phone comes with a super-fast charger in the box. In just 15 minutes, I was able to charge the phone from zero to 26 percent. The charging rate slows down when you’re nearing 100 percent, so a full charge takes about an hour and 40 minutes. That is still very impressive, though.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The ROG Phone is a premium device from ASUS with all the bells and whistles of a gaming smartphone. Some might argue that regular flagship phones are already good at gaming. Yes, that’s true but they are not meant for it. That’s where gaming smartphones, such as the ROG Phone, come in.

It has the fastest available processor, super-smooth refresh rate, loud front speakers, optimized software, and extra hardware features such as shoulder triggers and both passive and active cooling systems.

But, everything comes at a price. When the ZenFone 5Z came out earlier this year, we were in awe at how ASUS is offering a flagship-specced phone at an affordable price. It’s even cheaper than OnePlus in some regions, but not as affordable as a Xiaomi flagship. Things are different with the ROG Phone and ASUS is asking quite a lot of money for it, but at least it’s not your usual Android phone.

The ROG Phone has an official starting price of US$ 899 for the 128GB model. In the Philippines, it goes for PhP 49,995, which is not far from the international pricing. If you want more storage, you can get the 512GB model for US$ 1,099. You can also get the top-tier model for PhP 61,995 in the Philippines, SG$ 1,598 in Singapore, and NT$ 31,990 in Taiwan where it’s the cheapest.

If you wish to complete the set, the ROG Phone is being sold along with all of its accessories but the asking price puts it in the league of gaming laptops, so you might want to think carefully before purchasing any of them.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ROG Phone tops AnTuTu benchmark for Android

Gaming

Days Gone Review: Finding the truth through survival

To know the truth, you must survive against all odds!

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Bend Studio wanted to bring something new to the table for its latest release. They needed a familiar concept, a dramatic story line, a pinch of survival instincts, and a complete rethinking of the term “zombie.” The result, simply, became Days Gone.

I came into the early preview event for the game two months ago with the expectation of something different. Initially, what I got was something that just felt different in concept — but I wanted to believe that it could be different. Now that I finally got to play the game in full, here’s my complete analysis of Days Gone.


Redefining the plot for zombie games

My initial reaction to Days Gone went something like, “It’s just another game with zombies and guns in it.” Most zombie games often end up focusing on survival and combat, without really putting too much attention on the narratives behind the characters. Days Gone, in my opinion, went for the bold approach.

The entire game takes place two years into a global pandemic that shook Oregon to the core. Deacon St. John, an outlaw turned Drifter, must deal with his ever-changing world filled with zombies called Freakers while attending to the people he holds near and dear — all while he’s trying to find out the root cause of the pandemic, and ultimately what happened to his wife, Sarah.

If anything, I feel this is what differentiates Days Gone from most titles leaning towards survival in a zombie-laden world. It gives off a whole new dimension to the approach on developing quality games with an equally good story to supplement the experience. The plot drives a lot of the activities that take place within the game, and provides ample time for you to accomplish them.

Survival through scarcity and stealth

At the heart of Days Gone is survival, which is heavily understated by the number of things you have to deal with. It’s you against the massive horde of Freakers that are out to devour you. If that’s not enough, you also have to deal with all sorts of Freakers — yes, even animals can become zombies!

If you’re still unfazed, you have to deal with the rest of humanity that’s fighting for survival, as well. From enemy Marauders to cultist Rippers, the enemies just didn’t stop coming for me from all sides. And, to make matters extremely difficult, you have to face all of them with relatively limited supplies and a maximum of four weapons.

Obviously if you can’t fight them, you could just run or get on your motorcycle and flee. The motorcycle does stay with you all throughout, especially for traveling across the vast environment of northwestern Oregon! You can recover your motorcycle if you get into trouble, which I found helpful when it got stuck in the river.

But, if you want to be smart, the stealth mechanic works wonders! If you’re someone who just loves to go on the offensive all the time, you’re at an obvious disadvantage in this game. I felt that this game heavily maximized this feature all the way. This was more evident with the NERO missions to discover what really happened to Sarah.

Never running out of things to do

This game, for the life of me, just keeps you busy every time. Along the way, you’ll discover survival camps, each with their own set of main and side missions to accomplish. Accomplishing them gives you credits that unlock upgrades for your motorcycle or weapons. Evidently, a lot of the missions contribute to the main story line, as well.

I loved that there were so many missions to complete, and you’re not kept idle. Missions keep coming in left and right, allowing you to get things going right off the bat. When one mission ends, one to three more open up for you to do, and you can take your sweet time navigating which one you would want to do first.

Some side missions do get in the way of your progression of a main story mission, though. They’re optional in that they hardly contribute to the main plot, but they show up on the map as if they’re that important for you to check out. Also, there are certain missions that you can only do at certain times of the day, and the game just immediately forwards the time into that. I feel that time moves relatively fast in this game, but I could give it a pass.

I didn’t like the lack of free roam in this game. With so many things happening all at once, it feels like you’re not really given the option to freely roam the entire map. Of course, blocked paths are a given — especially if it’s a part that you will only touch on at a later time. Still, you have to deal with Freakers left and right, Marauders/Rippers with snipers and traps in hand, scarce resources, and the rigorous day-night cycle when trying to explore northwest Oregon.

An overall verdict

Days Gone presents a similar concept with a bold twist. At best, it showcases the very same zombie-game mechanic and survival mentality players must possess. At its core, it hinges on survival instincts and resourcefulness, especially in an environment ravaged by overwhelming threats.

However, what really drives Days Gone home is its bold approach to the plot and character development of Deacon. I felt that if anything was going to differentiate this game from all the others, it boiled down to its plot. Most of your actions and missions all throughout make sense in the grander scheme of the game’s storyline. Couple that with almost realistic gameplay, and I honestly believe that the game has delivered on its promise.

Days Gone will be available exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on April 26.

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ASUS has new ROG Zephyrus laptops with GTX Turing, 9th-gen Core i7

More new gaming laptops from ASUS

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ASUS ROG Zephyrus M | GadgetMatch

Aside from the new Strix notebooks, ASUS‘ popular ROG line of gaming notebooks also has new Zephyrus models. Complete with the latest GTX Turing graphics and 9th-gen Intel Core processors, you have three powerful laptops to choose from.

First is the ROG Zephyrus G which is one of the subtle gaming laptops in the ROG family. How so? This ROG notebook lets go of the flashy RGB backlighting and only has a simple white backlit keyboard. Also, it’s overall design is more subdued than other gaming laptops in the market.


Don’t mistake it to be a run-of-the-mill gaming laptop though; the Zephyrus G sports the new AMD Ryzen 7-3750H processor and NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics. It also has a 15-inch 120Hz IPS display with narrow bezels. The notebook can support up to 24GB DDR4 memory and up to 512GB SSD. ASUS promises seven hours of battery life; that is if you’re just browsing the web.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G | Image credit: ASUS

Next in line are the updated ROG Zephyrus S and ROG Zephyrus M models. Both ROG notebooks practically share the same chassis with 15-inch displays, but with minor differences in specs.

The top-of-the-line Zephyrus S comes with the latest 9th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA RTX 2070 graphics, plus it has ROG Boost for better performance. It even comes with a GPU switch to save battery life when G-Sync is not needed. Speaking of the display, it features a Pantone Validated panel with an insanely fast 240Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S | Image credit: ASUS

The Zephyrus M, on the other hand, is a toned-down version with NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics. Since this one doesn’t need much power to supply its internals, it can be charged through USB-C when needed. It’ll also come with a new 9th-gen Intel Core i7 processor with dual M.2 NVMe SSD slots.

Unfortunately, ASUS has yet to disclose the official prices of these notebooks. They’ll be available where ROG notebooks are distributed soon.

SEE ALSO: ASUS unleashes new ROG Strix with GTX Turing graphics, enhanced RGB lighting

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ASUS unleashes new ROG Strix with GTX Turing, enhanced RGB lighting

RGB lighting is truly a thing

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ASUS ROG Strix G | GadgetMatch

ASUS is making it rain with newly announced gaming laptops sporting the new processors and graphics from Intel and NVIDIA.

Two of the newest ROG laptops are the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III. Like their predecessors, both flagship ROG Strix models are nearly identical in design and specs.


What’s new on the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III are the faster 240Hz/3ms display for the 15-inch variant and 144Hz/3ms display for the 17-inch model. This easily meets the requirements for professional-grade esports gaming.

Not only that, the new 9th-gen Intel processors paired with NVIDIA GTX graphics will be able to give the power gamers need. The redesigned chassis also helps in the cooling system with increased airflow, plus they now have a wrap-around RGB light. Gamers will be able to display their AuraSync lights to the surrounding environment.

ASUS ROG Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III | Image credit: ASUS

To make the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III unique in the sea of gaming laptops, ASUS is introducing what they call the Keystone. The Keystone is pretty much like a USB key that saves your gaming profiles with preset light and audio effects. Also, it’s a key for unlocking another new feature called Shadow Drive, an encrypted hidden partition for personal file storage.

If the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III models are too much, you could choose to have the newest member of the ROG family: the Strix G. ASUS is promoting the newest model in the Strix lineup to be streamlined design with a focus on performance and only the essentials.

ASUS ROG Strix G | GadgetMatch

That doesn’t mean the Strix G will be a boring gaming laptop though, as it also comes with the new wrap-around RGB bar that extends to the sides.

Of course, the Strix G is not just about RGB. It’s powered by the latest Intel 9th-gen processors with the new GTX Turing graphics from NVIDIA. Users can choose between a GTX 1650 or GTX 1660 Ti, and 15.6- or 17.3-inch panels with up to a 120Hz refresh rate.

Pricing and availability details of the new ROG Strix gaming laptops are yet to be disclosed by ASUS.

SEE ALSO: ASUS PA34V is a curved monitor for professionals

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