The ASUS ROG Phone II is the real gaming smartphone, bar none.
Display, Audio and Software Inside
Visual and Audio
I have got to say that the 2,340 x 1,080 pixels resolution (which is about 391 ppi pixel density) HDR10 AMOLED screen makes gaming and movie viewing utterly fantastic. You can also switch the refresh rate to between 60Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz. But it’s really 120Hz that you want to set as default, as it allows for very noticeable smooth in-motion visuals and seamless scrolling. 120Hz refresh rate is the sweet spot for PC gaming, and I believe it’s a technology that’s essential for a great mobile gaming experience as well. There are already plenty of games from the Google Play Store that are optimised to run at 120 frames per second, and thankfully ASUS hascompiled them here.
So, if 120Hz is such a big deal, why aren’t more mainstream phone makers using it for their phones? Well for starters, OLED displays that could run at that kind of refresh rates were only available recently; they are also expensive. Before the ROG Phone II came along, gaming smartphones the likes of Razer Phone 2 come with LCD displays that could support 120Hz – these displays were fast and inexpensive but had inferior contrast and colours compared to OLED based screens. Secondly, I’m hazarding a guess that ASUS likely struck a timed exclusive arrangement with its display supplier (which seems likely to be Samsung) to use 120Hz-capable AMOLED panels on its ROG Phone IIs. It’s only a matter of time we see it appear on future phones from here on (perhaps even on Samsung’s future S and Note series?)
When you add that visual performance to the two independently amplified speakers, you get multimedia performance that's virtually unmatched by any other smartphone. The speakers are loud, they don't sound tinny at all, and provide a great stereo effect.
Even if you're not a gamer, but you love streaming Netflix or YouTube on your mobile, this is a strong contender for one of the best mobile devices for media consumption. Although if you're out and about in public, then please plug in a pair of headphones - this phone has a 3.5mm jack too, so no excuses to not use it or any other wireless options.
The ROG Phone II also uses an optical in-display fingerprint sensor, which is another key differentiator between it and the original ROG Phone. I’ve always preferred dedicated fingerprint sensors located on an Android smartphone’s side or back, as it’s usually quicker and more accurate. However, ASUS pleasantly surprised me with its in-display fingerprint sensor implementation that works well, in fact, better than on Samsung’s latest S and Note phones!
A gaming display calls for a host of customisation options within the settings, and the Android 9-powered ROG Phone II doesn’t disappoint. Screen colour mode options are extensive and offer granular control over saturation and viewing profiles. You can also drop the refresh rate to 90Hz or 60Hz, change the system colour scheme by enabling a dark mode, and toggle an always-on display on or off.
While everything about a phone, from its design and screen through to its battery life and specs, go into its performance as a gaming device, no other phones bring together as many gaming highlights as the Asus ROG Phone 2.
From a software point of view, the ROG Phone 2's game centre 'Armory Crate' consists of two elements - Games Lobby and a Console, in which you can browse through games free from the distraction of other apps, and fine-tune the phone’s performance for each specific title.
This granular control also extends to overclocking the CPU, changing the color of the RGB logo around the back, and even syncing it with your ROG laptop or gaming PC. This is also where you can control the phone's fan speed if you clip on the optional accessory (more on that below).
As for optional accessories, the new fan, or to give it its full name, the AeroActive Cooler II, is four times quieter than the earlier version and cools the chassis temperature by up to five degrees. This particular accessory is also included in the phone's package. A host of other accessories can also be bought separately, including the TwinView Dock II, which we will cover in a separate article.