ASUS has now officially unveiled a swath of new details about its next gaming smartphone, the ASUS ROG Phone 2 and this year's model is going to be a big step forward from its predecessor. While there are still a few deeper details to be revealed, the latest gadget is no small update over the previous version.
The company has gone much further than making significant improvements to the internal specifications too. ASUS has improved the cameras and display as well as the audio capabilities of the new ROG Phone 2. Collectively, the changes mean that this gadget is not only going to be a top contender among the best smartphones available. This is almost certainly going to be the device to beat in the gaming segment of the Android market.
It's what's on the inside that counts
The biggest advantage to the ROG Phone series refresh ASUS is preparing to unleash on the world is that it jumps more than a generation on the processor front. Backed by up to a massive 12GB of LPDDR4X memory and up to 512GB of hyper-fast UFS 3.0 — that's twice the bandwidth of UFS 2.1 — storage, ASUS has included Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 Plus to power the new ROG Phone. A 6000mAh battery provides the power to drive that.
The SoC, in this case, is clocked to a frequency of 2.96GHz, which ASUS says will never be throttled. Paired with that is an overclocked Adreno 640 GPU at 675MHz for a 15-percent increase in performance over the standard fare.
On the connectivity side of things, ASUS the ROG Phone 2 is equipped with integrated 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ad Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi direct for low-latency wireless display connectivity. That's a 2 x 2 MIMO solution and is entirely 5G-ready thanks to Qualcomm's new chipset. So there shouldn't be any excuses when it comes to lag or disconnects. Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and GPS round out the connectivity side of the equation.
Thing's also shouldn't get too hot with all of that high-powered hardware either thanks to built-in GameCool II and an AeroActive Cooler II accessory that will snap to the device via a side-mounted USB3.1 gen custom 48-pin connector. That's completely separate from the bottom-mounted USB 2.0 Type-C charging port but is capable of power delivery.
Display improvements should give ASUS gamers the advantage
With such an enormous set of changes and specs on the inside, ASUS needed to completely revamp the external features on its new gaming phone to match. So the ASUS ROG Phone 2 ships with a 10-bit HDR display panel with a Delta E<1 color accuracy and standard dynamic range to HDR features. An ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is embedded underneath and, with any luck, will perform far better than was seen with the widely criticized implementation in the Samsung Galaxy S10+.
The screen itself is a 6.59-inch panel that comes in a 19.5:9 ratio with a moderate resolution of 2340 x 1080 but pixels certainly aren't everything. The refresh rate on the AMOLED panel is set at 120Hz/1ms and the color range is higher than before at 108-percent DCI-P3. An equally impressive 10,000:1 contrast ratio tops things off to ensure that nothing is brighter or darker than it should be and that blacks are absolutely colorless.
Corning Gorilla Glass 6 caps off the technology with full support for 'glove touch' across as many as 10 simultaneous touch points — and at a buttery smooth 240Hz touch sampling rate.
Subtle changes in design
While there's been a lot of changes elsewhere for this year's ASUS ROG Phone, there aren't many to speak of in terms of external design qualities or mobile accessories — aside from the new AeroActive Cooler II attachment and an update to the dual-screen TwinView Dock II. ASUS will also be releasing an Aero Case, ROG Kunai Gamepad, Mobile Desktop Dock, Pro Dock, WiGig Display Dock Plus, and a ROG Lighting Armor Case for this gadget.
Improved architecture for ASUS's AirTrigger technology, adding touch-activated vibration-enhanced shoulder buttons to the device, has been incorporated. With AirTrigger II, vibration latency has been cut down from 63ms to 20ms. So the new AirTrigger should feel much more accurate and on-time than the previous version.
The shape and design of the device remain mostly unchanged, complete with RGB LED lighting. The biggest changes are going to be the addition of side-connector charging, its multi-antenna design for better connectivity, and quad-microphone array. The company has also included dual-forward-facing speakers enhanced via DTS:X Ultra audio for a more immersive experience and has added some lighting to the front side around those speakers.
In-hand feel is going to be more comfortable now too, thanks to a double-chamfered mid-edge on the middle frame. The design is more ergonomic and should be better for long gaming sessions, movies, or whatever else users want to do with the ROG Phone 2.
Less dramatic, but no less important, ASUS has kept its 3.5mm audio jack with its next-gen ROG mobile device.
ROG Phone 2 doesn't slack on the cameras either
The previous iteration of the ROG Phone brought a reasonable camera for those who wanted the best phone to game with but ASUS has gone quite a bit further with the ROG Phone 2, starting with the inclusion of a 24-megapixel selfie snapper. That's going to make a huge difference in video chats and taking selfies but this device also incorporates no fewer than four mics with noise-cancellation.
That all means that audio captures are going to be clearer and better directed during chats or video recording.
Arguably set to make an even bigger impact for users are the new 48-megapixel and 13-megapixel sensors comprising the dual-primary camera. The 48-megapixel shooter, in this case, is going to be the main camera while the 13-megapixel shooter is a 125-degree wide-angle lens, allowing users to capture significantly more than the previous device's 120-degree wide-angle camera.
ARCore support is part of the package as well.
Personalize your experience with the ASUS ROG Phone 2
ASUS has also revealed, without giving away too many details about changes that might be in place for its latest top-tier gaming device, that users will be able to switch between two-selectable user experiences. Specifically, those are the more familiar ZenUI "Classic" and ROG UI.
Setting aside the ability to download third-party launchers, that gives users more UI customization right out of the gate. Armoury Crate device customization and control software will make a return here, allowing users to customize their AirTrigger 2 experience, Aura RGB Lighting, and other gaming-related aspects of this device.
No details have been provided regarding what version of Android this will all be based on but Android 9 Pie seems to be the most likely candidate, given the launch timeframe. An update to Android Q is all but guaranteed since that will almost certainly be ready by the year's end.
Game all day long
The battery is getting some significant improvements this time around too, with an update to 6000mAh on capacity and continuing support for the company's 30W HyperCharge feature — the same as found in the new device's predecessor. Not only should that last a lot longer in day-to-day use, but ASUS says it will also improve the overall health of the battery over time, allowing fewer charging cycles and reducing swelling that occurs within the cell.
Battery life in gaming, by comparison to the 7.2-hours of online gameplay that was promised from the original ASUS ROG Phone, remain relatively similar and will far outstrip flagships with smaller capacities. ASUS indicates that internal tests show PUBG can be played for 7.1-hours with the ROG Phone 2, compared to just 5.1-hours with the Exynos equipped Samsung Galaxy S10+ and 4.7-hours with the OnePlus 7 Pro.
If the figures from the last generation and the new ASUS ROG Phone 2 are compared, the battery life would seem to be around the same. As highlighted above, however, the new ROG Phone is going to be much more powerful too.
What's the price and when's it coming?
There currently isn't any pricing information available for the new ASUS ROG Phone 2. There are plenty of other details still missing too regarding other RAM and storage variants, changes to the software, and the new accessories. No information about network bands or support has been given up yet either and the same can be said about software and features that will be coupled with the cameras.
The company has provided some details about when it's going to be shipping and in what color configurations.
In fact, for China, that's going to be sooner rather than later with the handset set to arrive as early as July 23. In China, the device will be sold in a glossy backed black variant while the global version will ship with a matte black colored back panel that should make it easier to tell the two regional devices apart for international buyers. The world version will become available starting in the first week of September.
The original ASUS ROG Phone was priced between $899 and $1099 when it launched. As noted above, there's no pricing available just yet for its successor but it shouldn't be unreasonable to speculate that the latest variant will be within the same range at the upper end of the premium cost bracket.