ASUS has an Android-powered gaming smartphone in the works, PhoneRadar reported Monday, speculating that the handset will be released under the company's ROG brand and be the first mobile device to do so. The Republic of Gamers brand has been used by ASUS for launching gaming-oriented desktop PCs, laptops, and notebooks since 2006, though the name has never been attached to a smartphone. Not much information about the alleged device has been provided by the source and there's still a chance the handset ends up being released as part of the company's main ZenFone brand.
The ZenFone product family is set to be refreshed later this month at the 2018 edition of the Mobile World Congress where ASUS will announce at least several ZenFone 5 models, as suggested by its recent teasers. According to earlier reports, the Taiwanese original equipment manufacturer is preparing to debut the ZenFone 5, ZenFone 5Z, ZenFone 5 Lite, and the ZenFone Max Pro M1, all of which are expected to begin retailing in the first half of the year. Should the lineup also be ennobled with the addition of a gaming-centric device, such an offering would likely be positioned as an alternative to the ultra-premium ZenFone Max Pro M1, possibly boasting more RAM or a screen with a higher refresh rate.
Phones catering to gamers have been an extremely niche category for over fifteen years now, with many OEMs unsuccessfully experimenting with such concepts. From Nokia's N-Gage in 2003 and its N-Gage QD revision to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play in 2011 and last year's Razer Phone, gaming handsets often struggled to compete with their more regular counterparts in terms of basic functionalities, usually because their physical controls required major design compromises. Razer attempted to reimagine the concept by delivering a more traditional-looking offering that attempted to differentiate from the rest of the industry with a 120Hz display and Quick Charge 4.0 support, and while the company sold its initial batch of the devices relatively quickly, most industry analysts remain skeptical about the overall commercial performance of the Razer Phone that's expected to receive a successor in the second half of the year. Besides ASUS, Xiaomi's new subsidiary Black Shark is also rumored to be working on an Android-powered gaming smartphone meant to be released in 2018.