If you happen to be a car enthusiast and have to choose between a luxury sedan and a sports car, assuming you had plenty of cash stowed away for just this purpose, which one would you buy? Depends on your need, right? But if the sports car maker comes to you and put a question like this: “Why go for a luxury sedan when you can get a sports car?”, you start thinking harder. And that’s exactly what Taiwanese gaming and technology leviathan Asus wants the public to do with the launch of its ROG Phone II, which happens to be the most powerful Android smartphone in India and one of the most powerful gaming smartphones in the world currently.

The gaming device comes as the successor to last year’s ROG Phone and was touted to be a powerhouse when it was unveiled, going by the powerful specs it came in tow with. Asus introduced the ROG Phone II in India (after launching it first in China) at a very competitive starting price of Rs 37,999 for its 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage variant via Flipkart. The more powerful version of the ROG Phone II, that comes packed with 12GB RAM and 512GB native internal storage, has been priced at Rs 59,999 and would be unveiled soon in India. We tested the 8GB+128GB variant of the phone and here is our in-depth review of the most powerful gaming smartphone in India right now.

Asus ROG Phone II: Design


The ROG Phone II is a robust big screen device, boasting of a 6.59-inch long display. It is a heavy phone to hold with one hand, weighing about 240 grams.

The ROG Phone II comes in a premium metal-glass build with a glossy back which is partly resistant to fingerprints and smudges. The smartphone does register smudges and fingerprints which weren’t initially easy to spot.

During initial usage, the ROG Phone II frequently slipped from the hand when used without installing the Aero Case on it because of the glossy back portion and also the phone edges with the matte finish. It is advisable to put the Aero Case on the phone (it comes bundled with for free) or buy the Lighting Armor Case for Rs 2,999..

The front side of the phone comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection almost completely, barring the space for the two ultra narrow front stereo speaker grilles on the top and bottom. Two super-thin copper-coloured metal strips help identify the speaker grilles. Towards the top right lies the 24MP selfie camera. It has been deliberately placed towards the right to make live streaming easy for gamers as their fingers won’t end up blocking the camera sensor while gaming in landscape mode.

Just where the top and bottom of the display join the edges are present the dual front-facing stereo speakers. Each has a super narrow grille which is about 0.1mm wide and about 4cm long. .

The smartphone’s back houses the 48MP+13MP dual rear camera setup towards the top left along with the LED flash. The cameras do not jut out of the body prominently, thus allowing the phone to rest flat on its back on a table. The right side of the back has a vertical alignment of the cooling design mechanism of the ROG Phone II which works on bidirectional airflow technology and also has copper heat sinks.

At the centre is present the Asus RGB LED lighting-enabled ROG logo. If you go further down in the centre, you’ll find a faint Republic Of Gamers inscribed vertically from the bottom towards the top.

The right edge of the phone carries two Air Trigger sensors for mimicking console-style gaming, one towards each end, and in between them lie the volume buttons, the power button and a microphone. These buttons are securely wedged inside the edges but do tilt a bit sideways upon pressing with the finger. The position of both the volume buttons and the power button together makes it convenient to take screenshots. Also, they are easily reachable with fingers.

The left edge carries two Type-C ports in the middle and a dual SIM card slot (without any microSD card slot) towards the bottom. The Type-C ports come protected with a thin capsule-shaped rubber cap that fits over them without protruding from the edges.

The top edge has got a second microphone towards the left while the bottom edge has got the third microphone, a Type-C charging port on the left side and a 3.5mm headphone jack and the fourth microphone on the right side of the edge.

There is a thin silver-coloured strip (about 1mm thick) along the whole length and breadth of the phone where the Gorilla Glass 6 joins the edges.

Asus ROG Phone II: Display

The ROG Phone II sports a 6.59-inch AMOLED capacitive touch display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio with a resolution of 2340×1080 pixels and 391 ppi density. The display supports True 10-Bit HDR and has a 120Hz refresh rate with 1ms response time. As per Asus, the ROG Phone II is the world’s first smartphone to come with True 10-Bit HDR-supported 120Hz AMOLED display.

Some other features of the display are 600nits HBM brightness (outdoor readable brightness), a colour accuracy of 111.8% DCI-P3 Delta E average

We found the display brightness optimum in both well-lit and poorly-lit environments. Under bright sunlight, we found the brightness to be a tad low, even at full brightness, but it is manageable. An adaptive brightness feature and a Night Light feature have also been given and both worked well. The Adaptive brightness feature will take about a day or two for working properly as it is based on learning the brightness patterns set by you manually throughout the day. As soon as it learned the pattern, it functions properly.

The screen refresh rate can be switched between 60Hz, 90 Hz and 120Hz manually by going to the Display setting.

There are five screen colour modes from which you can choose one at a time: Natural, Optimal, Cinematic, Standard and Customized. You can also increase or decrease the screen colour saturation as per your choice. The viewing angles also turned out to be fine and there was no discernible change in screen colour upon tilting the screen.

Asus ROG Phone II: Specifications and gaming-centric technologies


As per Asus, the ROG Phone II brings several world’s-firsts to a smartphone like a 2.96GHz 7nm octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset, True 10-Bit HDR AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate and a 6000mAh battery. The Snapdragon 855 Plus SoC is coupled with a 675Hz Adreno 640 GPU. These specs make the ROG Phone II one of the most-powerful gaming smartphones in the world today.

The internal storage of the 8GB+128GB variant can be expanded up to 512GB UFS 3.0 storage. Not many flagships today come with a UFS 3.0. This type of storage is offered by the OnePlus 7 Pro though.

For imaging duties, the smartphone has been equipped with a 48MP+13MP dual rear camera setup in which the 48MP one is a Sony IMX586 sensor with f/1.79 aperture and an effective pixel size of 0.8µm/1.6µm while the 13MP is a 125-degree ultra-wide angle lens with f/2.4 aperture. On the front, the phone has a 24MP selfie snapper with f/2.0 aperture and a pixel size of 0.9µm. All the three lenses are powered by Quad Bayer technology.

The ROG Phone II runs on the company’s own custom ROG UI. The device is backed by a 6000mAh battery, and The device comes with a 30-watt fast charging support. The 8GB+128GB variant of the smartphone ships with an 18W QC 4.0 charger while the 12GB+512GB one will be carrying a 30W QC 4.0 charger.

Since it is a gaming smartphone, cooling is of much importance for comfortable long gaming sessions. So, for device cooling purposes, Asus has incorporated a 3D vapour cooling chamber in the design. Asus has equipped the phone with cooling technologies like bidirectional airflow system, 3D vapour cooling chamber, copper heat sink and heat transfer vents.

The 3D vapour chamber is the second level of a total of four levels for thermal maintenance, the first one being bidirectional airflow in the internal thermal design for faster cooling and the third one being the heat transfer vents. The fourth one is provided by the external device called the Aero Active Cooler II that comes with a fan. All the cooling technologies as a whole are collectively termed as GameCool II by Asus.

The various sensors on the ROG Phone II include accelerator, E-Compass, proximity sensor, hall sensor, ambient light sensor, in-display fingerprint sensor, gyro, ultrasonic sensors (for Air Trigger II).

Asus ROG Phone II: Gaming performance


Gaming was the first thing we tried our hands on upon getting a hold of the device. The smartphone back gets warm after about 40 minutes of gameplay on graphic-intensive games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9, but it doesn’t heat up so as to cause discomfort even after 2-3 hours of continuous gaming. We must say that we felt an uneven distribution of the generated heat upon the surface of the back, after playing GPU-intensive games like Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile continuously for about 2-3 hours. The smartphone edges and some random portions at the back were a little warmer than the rest of the body but due to effective heat dissipation, the temperature of the back keeps on getting adjusted and there is no discomfort whatsoever while holding the phone.

All this time, we were using the phone without the case. Initially, your fingers may hurt a little after a 3 hour long session of gaming if you are not used to gaming on a 240gm device but later on, as you play more, it won’t be an issue. We were pleasantly surprised that without any inbuilt cooling fan, the GameCool II tech by Asus manages to keep the heating problem at bay most of the times and can safely assume that if you purchase the Aero Active Cooler II, install it on the phone and then play, the cooling would be much more effective. But still, without any accessories, the ROG Phone II manages to hold its own when it comes to thermal maintenance during 2-3 hour long gaming sessions.

We ramped up the refresh rate to 120Hz and set the highest possible settings in games like Call Of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile. And why we wouldn’t do that? After all it’s the first gaming smartphone in India to come with a 120Hz refresh rate. The other competitors in the gaming smartphone segment like Black Shark 2, Nubia Red Magic 3 and OnePlus 7 Pro, all come with a maximum permissible refresh rate of 90Hz.

The power of the SD 855 Plus SoC combined with the Adreno 640 GPU makes games run like a dream without any lag or stutter (at the highest settings possible). Also, with a 120HZ refresh rate, the rendering of the killcams and the in-game videos is super fast and without any abrupt stops.

The dual front-firing speakers also do a splendid job when gaming. We could hear footsteps in PUBG Mobile very clearly with the speaker volume at about 80 percent.

Instead of the usual two, there are a total of four microphones to aid talking with teammates while gaming. And it makes it easier for you to chat in PUBG Mobile without having to use an earphone.

The AirTriggers II are easy to setup and are game-changers when it comes to competition. When gaming in landscape mode, just slide in from the left to open Game Genie and tap on AirTriggers option to use the left and right Triggers as per preference.

For example, you can drag and drop the red circle on the firing button to use the right AirTrigger for firing and use the blue one (for the left AirTrigger) for scope. Or you can choose any one AirTrigger and not use the other. That way, setting up the AirTriggers is very convenient depending upon your gameplay style. And they are mighty helpful for both casual and serious gamers. There is even a setting called Finger resting (go to the Armoury Crate for that) with which you can refine your AirTrigger experience. With the help of this setting, when you just place or rest your finger on the AirTrigger, it won’t get activated. Only when you press down harder, then it would work. This is a very nuanced way to prevent issues like firing by mistake when your fingers happen to touch the triggers.

You can further control the gaming environment, with Armoury Crate and Game Genie settings.

We can easily say that gaming is a joy on the ROG Phone II. Plus, you can also purchase a host of gaming accessories like the Kunai Game Pad, Aero Active Cooler II etc. and customise your phone further, so much that it may be called as a “transformer”, as per Asus.

Well, everything was not 100 percent hunky-dory as we faced some issues too. Mostly while gaming itself.

Taking screenshots using the Recents button while gaming is a pain, though. The function is easy enough but it requires multiple steps to get to a proper screenshot. You won’t like sliding your thumb from the side and long pressing the Recents button to take one, with all the gaming action going on at a breakneck pace. And it is a pain because doing that snaps the three buttons (Back, Home and Recents) too into the screenshot, which you certainly won’t like. Imagine the further pain of going to the Gallery and cropping that part out. This, however, is more of a drawback of Android 9.0 and hopefully with Android 10, taking screenshots on ROG Phone II would be less of a tedious process.

The better way of taking a full screenshot is by pressing both the power button and the lower volume button simultaneously. But most of us know that. Another way is when you are recording the game. The recording tab shows on the top middle of the screen. But why would someone want to record a game just to take a screenshot conveniently?

We did come across some glitches while gaming. We tried recording COD Mobile gameplay at 1080p and High (both the highest settings available) and played one COD Mobile match for about 11 minutes. After it ended, we stopped the recording but after that the speakers on full volume sounded like they usually would at about 60 percent. Changing the map and starting a new game didn’t rectify the sound issue. We quit the game and restarted it. We put the speakers at full but again, the sound that emanated was about 60 percent only of the audio capability. Then we restarted the phone, launched the game and this time everything was fine, the speakers sounding perfectly loud as they should at full volume on the ROG Phone II.

One other glitch was when the video recording and the microphone recording both stopped on their own, this time too in COD Mobile and also, the game sounds stopped coming. This happened multiple times during the game. Maybe it is a COD Mobile issue, considering the game is fairly new and might be riddled with some bugs. Because while playing other games, we didn’t have to face such issues.

Sometimes the fingerprint sensor stayed on for some time (few seconds) even after unlocking the phone. But this issue got resolved on its own after sometime.

Asus ROG Phone II: Audio performance

We have already mentioned about the brilliant audio output of the dual stereo speakers while gaming. But it goes beyond that. Yes, you could enjoy music and films too. Asus has invested heavily in the audio department. The gaming phone is Hi-Res Audio (HRA)-certified which means that it is built to handle high-bit rate audio. The phone comes powered by DTS: X Ultra technology for a surround sound; there is a Smart NXP amplifier for each speaker and there is a 5-magnet design.

The audio output of the phone on speakers (for music, movies, videos) is also quite impressive, mostly for the vocals. There was a clear and crisp voice reproduction at about 70-80 percent of volume levels and it is adequate if you are watching a video online (like on YouTube) on speakers in a small room provided the outside noises aren’t not coming inside the room. The two front-facing speakers, on full volume, are loud enough for the person. Acoustic and soft instrumental tracks sound great on the device. Even Rock music does sometimes, provided you use high bit-rate files from music streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify or Amazon Music.

There are some settings like AudioWizard and Outdoor Mode (you can find them in the pop down window) to bump up your audio experience. The first one tailors the sound output as per a particular setting like Pop, Rock, Vocal etc that can be chosen manually. And the difference in sound output is felt with each setting. For example: Rock mode decreases the vocals slightly from what you would experience in Normal mode.

The Outdoor Mode enhances the vocal output tremendously and makes it loud enough to be heard clearly by anyone on an average-sized room, while decreasing the accompanying music drastically. To truly appreciate listening to music on the ROG Phone II, we would recommend using earphones or headphones.

Asus ROG Phone II: Camera


The 48MP+13MP dual rear cameras captured some clear and sharp shots during the day while at night, the photos came out a little less sharp. The 24MP selfie camera took some great portrait shots during daytime. There is some extraneous insertion of colour in the photos, in case of both rear and front cameras.

Both the rear and the front camera snap sharp and clear photos during daytime with very little grain in them. But the camera performance in the night, especially of the selfie camera, is not good; there is a lack of sharpness and detail in the photos and also, they also come out to be a little grainy.

In low-light settings like when taking photos inside a dimly lit restaurant, the cameras (both front and rear) couldn’t take clear shots in low light.

Asus ROG Phone II: Battery

The battery drop is not sudden when gaming or multi-tasking and if you are a moderate to heavy gamer (gaming on an average for about 3-4 hours per day), the battery would last easily for a day. The huge 6000mAh battery comes with up to 30W fast charging support. The smartphone back warms a little during charging but doesn’t heat up further. With an 18W charger, the phone charged by 20% within 30 minutes and took about 1 hour and 20 minutes for a complete charge. The proprietary Asus charger comes with an inbuilt chip to reduce heating up of the smartphone while charging. But you can use any USB Type -C charger for the phone in case you have missed carrying the proprietary one.

On continuously playing Call of Duty: Mobile on speakers (full volume) for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, the battery dropped by about 20 percent. In another gaming session at the same settings, that lasted for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, the drop was about 13 percent. On an average, after about 1 hour and 15 minutes of gaming, the battery drop would be 15 to 17 percent. After two hours, it was close to 30 percent. Even if you game for 3 to 4 hours, there would be still enough juice left in the battery to power it through the day. If you game for about two hours a day, the battery could stretch on for a day and a half. And the phone can easily go for two days on a single charge for casual users who don’t game for a prolonged time and play for just under an hour each day.

Asus ROG Phone II: General performance

With a 2.96GHz SD 855+ chipset and 8GB RAM, this phone is a speed demon. The apps, upon a tap, fire up and close down in a jiffy, navigating through the settings is super fast and there is no lag whatsoever that we observed. Backing up and retrieving your data online is a breeze. Multi-taskers would love this phone.

The security features of the phone are face unlock, an in-display fingerprint scanner and pattern lock. We will look at the first two features in detail.

Face unlocking the phone is quite fast, like everything with this phone, and takes about 2 seconds. The feature works equally speedily in brightly lit and dimly lit conditions. That means you would face no issue with the face unlock at most points in the day, especially when some amount of light, whether natural or artificial is present around your face. The feature didn’t, however work in pitch black darkness and there is no screen compensation feature in the ROG Phone II to facilitate unlocking the phone by lighting up the screen so that it recognises your face quickly.

The in-display fingerprint sensor also worked pretty fast, taking just about 2 seconds to unlock the phone. Whenever you switch off the screen, the sign of the in-display fingerprint scanner would come alive with a glow and it would stay that way for about 3 seconds during which you need to put your registered finger on it.

The device got a score of 379382 on AnTuTu benchmark test. On Geekbench 5, it got a single-core score of 745 and a multi-core score of 2437


Verdict

Asus has made a seriously impressive smartphone for gamers. We found it to be extremely capable of lag-free gaming performance for extended periods, though it does starts heating up a little after 3 hours of playing graphic-intensive games at highest-possible settings. The battery lasts easily for a day even after about 4 hours of gaming daily. The cameras gave mostly clear shots during daytime but not so good in the night. The audio performance is beyond impressive for a phone of this price. If mobile gaming is your passion and you are not the sort to compromise even slightly on the gaming specs and performance in your cherished phone, and also, are willing to go easy on the camera department which is a little letdown, especially in night-time photography, the ROG Phone II is the ideal choice for you. The pricing of Rs 37,999 makes it a very strong contender amongst the flagships. Add to that its unique premium looks and finish that makes it stand apart from the crowd and you have an enviable phone. As a final word, we can say that the ROG Phone II outclasses competition in the gaming smartphone segment in India, at least for now.





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