While Asus’ excellent Zenfone mobiles will forever remain a secret to most people, the ROG models fare somewhat better. Here, Asus is on home turf, speaking to an audience that already knows them as a manufacturer of serious gaming gear.
The Asus ROG Phone 8 was presented at CES in Las Vegas at the beginning of January, and we’ve had the opportunity to get a closer look at it. Including answering the question of who needs such a special and extreme smartphone.
In terms of design, the ROG Phone 8 differs noticeably from its predecessors. It is not at all noticeable in its design. Gone are the sci-fi colour schemes, RGB lights and rear display. Only Anime Vision, a matrix display of 341 LEDs, lights up on command to reveal a hint of what’s inside. But in your hand, it looks like any other high-end mobile phone.
The screen on the ROG Phone 8 is a sleek and beautiful 6.8-inch AMOLED display.
Compared to previous versions of the ROG Phone, it hasn’t gotten any bigger or more high-resolution. Nor has it become faster. But 2,448 x 1,080 pixels and 165 Hz refresh rate is more than enough. Instead, Asus has put all its energy into making the screen bright. It has a flexible panel from Samsung with a brightness of 1,600 nits on average and 2,500 nits maximum!
Telephoto lens – at last
Previous generations of the ROG Phone have been criticised for lacking a dedicated telephoto lens, but that shortcoming has now been rectified with a 32 Mp lens with 3X optical zoom and pixel binning. In addition, there is up to 32x digital zoom. The digitally blown-up images aren’t razor sharp, but they’re definitely usable. And that in itself is something of an exception.
The other cameras follow the recipe from previous models: a 50 Mp wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view for most things. And a 13 Mp super wide-angle for landscapes and other situations where you need everything.
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The 32 megapixel front camera is no surprise either. But why change a working formula? And the Asus ROG Phone 8 is a phone that will be bought for speed, rather than photographic qualities.
It would have been exciting if Asus had copied the inventive gimbal system from the Zenfone 10. But that one is still the only one capable of shooting super-steady video.
External cooler – when the action heats up
Heat is a problem for all gaming devices. Because the fast processor and graphics card (which in mobile phones is integrated into the processor) use a lot of power. Getting rid of excess heat can be hard enough in a computer. But it’s much harder in a mobile phone, where there’s no room for heat sinks and fans.
When gaming, an external cooler can keep the temperature in check. (Photo: Asus)
Asus’ solution is called the AeroActive Cooler X, an external fan that snaps onto the back of the phone and is powered by the centre USB port. The cooler contains not only a fan, but also a peltier element, which is an electronic component that moves heat from one side to the other when power is applied to the element. The cooler can be powered by the phone’s batteries, but if you want to play hard, you need to plug in the USB charger. In addition to cooling, the AeroActive Cooler also gives the phone physical trigger buttons for gaming.
No wireless charging
Asus has equipped the ROG Phone 8 with a 5500 mAh battery. This is similar to previous models. Unfortunately, there is no room for wireless charging on the mobile phone this time either. On the other hand, you do get a charger in the box, which is now a rarity. It charges at 30W, which is acceptable, but only half as much as the fastest competitors.
It’s not the first time that the underdog Asus has taken first place when it comes to mobile speed. Most recently, it happened with the Zenfone 10 last summer. But no one has done it as convincingly as the ROG Phone 8.
In the Geekbench 6 processor test, the ROG Phone 8 achieves a score of 2,264 in single-core and 7,204 in multicore. The latter is particularly impressive, as it’s about 20% better than the Zenfone 10 (with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2) achieved in the same test. And it was the fastest Android mobile phone on the market at the time.
Where the sheep are really separated from the goats, however, is in the 3D graphics test AnTuTu 10, where the ROG Phone 8 breaks the scale with a score of 2.1 million. That’s a third higher than the Zenfone 10’s old record, which in fairness has since been beaten.
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According to AnTuTu’s own record list, the only thing that has achieved a higher score is an iPad Pro 6. So it’s fair to say that the ROG Phone 8 is currently the fastest smartphone in the world.
The GFXBench T-Rex test also pushes the ROG Phone 8 to the limit with a score of 9,312 frames, a third higher than Snapdragon Gen 2-based mobiles
The battery test ends with a more average result of 7:56 hours. That’s one to two days of use in practice, and in line with competitors’ flagships.
The Asus ROG Phone 8 consolidates Asus’ position as the supplier of the fastest mobile phones on the market. The extreme speed is primarily due to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, which is a significant step forward compared to the second generation of the same processor.
Since Snapdragon processors are among the most popular among mobile phone manufacturers, it’s only natural that equally fast mobile phones will be released throughout the year. Until a new processor generation comes along at the end of the year – then we’ll see the race repeat itself.
However, things could be slightly different this time, as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is so expensive that several mobile phone manufacturers have chosen to use other, cheaper processors. At least for everything other than the absolute top model.
The previous ROG Phones have been very specialised phones. The ROG Phone 8 also has the extra features, such as virtual “Air” triggers and a very fysical fan cooling system. But in terms of design, Asus has this time chosen to underplay gaming in favour of a discreet exterior. Here’s hoping that Asus might be able to reach a slightly wider audience.