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:

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:

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.

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

PeSO announces partnership with Mineski Philippines

Now comes with more opportunites for the youth in Esports

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The Philippines continues to build on a promising future for Esports and Mineski is leading the charge. In their eyes, the youth will carry the torch for many years to come. Now, with their latest partnership, the future will be within reach for the young ones.

One of the Philippines’ premier Esports organizations formalized their partnership with the Pilipinas ESports Organization (PeSO). Specifically, the partnership centers around Mineski’s Youth Esports Program as one of PeSO’s flagship activities. The YEP, in itself, already brings together a network of over 200 schools all over the country.

In essence, PeSO looks to promote the YEP as a training ground for future Esports superstars. Furthermore, they’re also looking to endorse the program to other schools in the country, and even to the International Esports Federation. In return, Mineski will assist PeSO member organizations to promote their future events and activities. As such, the two organizations hope to cultivate and motivate the youth to explore opportunities in Esports.

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Gaming

Bravely Default II preorder final demo now available

A must-play!

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Bravely Default II is a Japanese fantasy RPG with lovely art styles reminiscent of a refined version to early Final Fantasy releases. The series gameplay uses the usual turn-based battle system and job system. But, the series is more notable for integrating options to combine and customize job abilities, battle speed, and enemy encounter rates.

Bravely Default II is the newest addition to the Bravely series. So, what’s new? Bravely Default II lets you step into a brand-new world with four new heroes, new stories, and new job roles.

This iteration features a young sailor, Seth, who washes up the shores of one of the five mighty kingdoms of the continent. He encounters an escaped princess, Gloria of Musa, and they both venture out to meet more travellers seeking the truth to their world.

If you’re into RPGs or a fan of the Bravely series, this is the game release to look forward to. The game keeps its charming mechanics while piling on new features so if you want or need a taste of the game, the final demo is out now. Although, you won’t be waiting much longer for the game’s full release because it looking to be released on February 26 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

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Gaming

Immortals Fenyx Rising: Action, puzzles, and some good humor

For the kids and kids at heart

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Immortals Fenyx Rising is a fresh game with an action and puzzle filled open world that has humor and Greek mythology enclosed into it. You might say it can be a mix of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of wild.

Backstory

The game starts with Zeus, the God of Thunder visiting his old companion Prometheus, the God of Fire, whom he has actually punished and chained to a rock for giving mortals fire. Zeus was asking Prometheus for advice on what to do with Typhon who just escaped from Tartarus and has caused destruction.

Typhon has already stolen Zeus’ thunder and the other gods are missing, giving Zeus no choice but to follow Prometheus’ advice to have faith in a mere mortal with a true identity that has yet to be unfolded.

Fenyx’s journey

This is where our protagonist Fenyx comes into picture. Fenyx’s adventures will be narrated by Prometheus for the whole game.

Fenyx, a Greek Soldier will be set on a journey to find the cause of all this destruction, after losing her companions and brother. She would learn to strengthen her skills, acquire wings and collect all the necessary weapons and armors to beat Typhon. Along the way, she would be battling bosses and corrupted heroes like Achilles, Odysseus and Herakles.

Art Style

I think this kind of art style has more appeal to younger audiences. Its like watching animated films from Pixar.

You’ll be able to the distinguish the gods through their trademarks. The armors and weapons that you collect through out the game was also very detailed.

One thing that was actually bothered me was the way the character walked — it felt heavy and bulgy. I expected this part to be smoother.

Gameplay

There are five difficulty levels to make sure the whole family can enjoy the game. Character creation is also pretty straight forward and not much options for customization.

For the controls and UI, Potions will be found on the left side and weapons and skills on the right. You would need to climb mountains, swim, run and fly around the Golden Isle to be able to finish tasks.

Fenyx will have access to a mix of weapons during combat like swords, axes and bows. Animals like horses can also be tamed into mounts.

I’ve always enjoyed a good adventure and solving some puzzles but what I like most about Immortal Fenyx is that I can switch weapons during a battle. From using an axe for heavy damage to quick attacks with a sword then a bow for range attacks. You’ll be able to create your own play style while battling bosses.

If you wanted to take a break from your usual games or still waiting for a good AAA game release, then Immortals Fenyx Rising is a good game to spend time on. You’ve got some good action, puzzles, stories and some humor from Zeus and Prometheus.

Immortals Fenyx Rising is available on multiple platforms.

PlayStation 4/5
Xbox One, Series X/S
Nintendo Switch
Google Stadia
PC(Steam, Ubisoft, Epic Games)

PC requirements
Very Low Settings – 720p/30FPS
Processor: Intel Core i5-2400 / AMD FX-6300
Video Card: GeForce GTX 660 / AMD R9 280X
VRAM: 2GB NVIDIA / 3GB AMD
RAM: 8GB (Dual-channel mode)
Storage: 28GB HDD
OS: Windows 7 (64-bit only)

High Settings – 1080p/30FPS
Processor: Intel Core i7-3770 / AMD FX-8350
Video Card: GeForce GTX 970 / AMD R9 290
VRAM: 4GB
RAM: 8GB (Dual-channel mode)
Storage: 28GB SSD
OS: Windows 10 (64-bit only)

High Settings – 1080p/60FPS
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700 / AMD Ryzen 7 1700
Video Card: GeForce GTX 1070 / AMD RX Vega 56
VRAM: 8GB
RAM: 16GB (Dual-channel mode)
Storage: 28GB SSD
OS: Windows 10 (64-bit only)
Very High Settings – 1440p/60FPS
Processor: Intel Core i7-8700K / AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
Video Card: GeForce RTX 2070 Super / AMD RX 5700
VRAM: 8GB
RAM: 16GB (Dual-channel mode)
Storage: 28GB SSD
OS: Windows 10 (64-bit only)

Very High Settings – 4K/30FPS
Processor: Intel Core i7-8700K / AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
Video Card: GeForce RTX 2070 / AMD RX Vega 56
VRAM: 8GB
RAM: 16GB (Dual-channel mode)
Storage: 28GB SSD
OS: Windows 10 (64-bit only)


This gameplay feature was written by Jan Ariz Joy Franco or Rizuher in-game name. She’s a full-time software developer and plays games to de stress. She just started streaming few months ago to help cope with the pandemic and wants to promote a toxic-free gaming environment. She’s a big fan of Super Mario. If you want to support her just drop a follow: http://facebook.com/rizuph.

 

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