Asus ROG Phone 6 review
Despite the increasing competition, ASUS still has the smartphones that are best suited for gaming
In recent years, ASUS has a very limited presence on the mobile market. New models don’t appear very often and become an event, especially when it comes to Republic of Gamers gaming smartphones. Meet the new ROG Phone 6 and its advanced version ROG Phone 6 Pro, which we’ll talk about today.
In fact, they have similar specs and the same Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 under the hood. Not taking into account the different back design, the difference lies in the maximum amount of RAM (16GB versus 18GB for the Pro) and the additional ROG Vision display on the back of the Pro.
Hopefully, this time ASUS and Qualcomm have coordinated properly and there won’t be an S-version on the new Snapdragon chip anytime soon, as there was with the ROG Phone 5. I would also like to do without “Pro”, “Ultimate” and other useless variants with minimal differences for different markets, as it happened in previous years.
- Screen: 6.78 inches, 20.4:9 aspect ratio, AMOLED, 2448×1080 pixels, 395 PPI, 165 Hz.
- Protective glass: Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, Gorilla Glass 3 on the back.
- Operating system: ROG UI based on Android 12.
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 4nm.
- CPU: Cortex-X2 (1 × 3.19GHz) + Cortex-A710 (3 × 2.75GHz) + Cortex-A510 (4 × 1.8GHz).
- GPU: Adreno 730.
- RAM: 18GB.
- Memory: 512GB.
- Main camera: 50MP (f/1.9, phase autofocus) + 13MP (wide angle, f/2.2) + 5MP (macro, f/2.0), LED flash.
- Front camera: 12 MP (f/2.5).
- Battery: 6000 mA⋅h, 65W fast charging, PD 3.0, QC 5.
- Dimensions: 173×77×10.3 mm, 239 grams.
- Slots: 2 nanoSIM + microSD card, triple tray.
- Communications: 5G, 4G+, 4G, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, GPS (A-GPS), GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS, NavIC, NFC, USB OTG.
- Sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, light, electronic compass, fingerprint scanner in the screen.
- Features: IPX4 moisture protection, additional PMOLED screen on the back, pressure-responsive AirTrigger 5 game triggers, second USB Type-C 3.1 on the side.
Getting to know the device starts with its packaging, and the ROG Phone 6 Pro is great in that sense. The trapezoidal prism-shaped box is a nice touch, but it’s hard to convey emotions that way, so let’s move on to the package. The company didn’t skimp on the compact 65W HyperCharge charger, a symmetrical USB-C cable, an Aero case and a ROG AR activation card. Other accessories including the AeroActive active cooler are sold separately.
The first generations of the ROG Phone stood out a lot from regular smartphones. They had a distinctly gamer design if you will. Each new model gradually became more understated, and the ROG Phone 6 Pro continued in that direction. It still has some slogans and even a small additional PVOLED display on which you can display the company logo or a picture. The regular ROG Phone 6 settles for the Republic of Gamers logo with RGB backlighting.
In terms of construction, the ROG Phone 6 Pro is a glass monolith with a metal frame in the center. The glass is slippery, but overall the grip is more or less good, thanks to the curve of the back cover. The device is really very strong, not without reason it was certified IPX4 for the first time in the line. The protection is designed for strong splashes, you can not immerse such a device in water.
The matrix remains the same as in the last generation: 6.78-inch AMOLED with a resolution of 2448×1080 pixels (395 PPI) from Samsung. But the refresh rate is increased to 165 Hz – this is a very important parameter for a gaming device. Of course, there is an option to reduce the frequency to 60 Hz and choose the intermediate 90 Hz, 120 Hz or 144 Hz. Although it is better to just activate the automatic mode and give control to the system. The actual unit has a maximum brightness of 501 cd/m² in manual mode and 829 cd/m² in automatic mode. That’s more than a comfortable level for lounging at a game outside on a sunny day.
The framing, while not record-breaking, is quite slim and neat
Needless to say, the matrix overlaps sRGB (150%) and DCI-P3 (111%) color spaces, and also supports HDR10+. There are several display modes in the settings. The optimum preset gravitates toward DCI-P3, but has slightly richer AMOLED-style colors. The cinematic profile corresponds to DCI-P3, while the standard profile is sRGB.
A gaming smartphone is not just a device with very powerful iron and excellent cooling, these are self-evident things. In addition, it is necessary to adapt the format for long gaming sessions and offer a set of useful accessories. For example, the side edge of the ROG Phone 6 Pro adds an extra USB-C for accessories. It’s version 3.1, while the main port on the bottom is version 2.0. Also on the bottom edge you can find an audio jack, moved to the side so as not to get in the way during gaming. In the same way, the front camera is shifted to the corner of the front panel, so that you don’t get your finger on it. The gamer’s grip is also taken into account in the location of microphones and antennas.
To control the game, there are AirTrigger 5 ultrasonic sensors on the edges of the right side, similar to the triggers on the gamepad. Full area, half area, long hold, swipes – a total of 14 combinations are supported. Aiming with a gyroscope has been added for the first time. All actions can be compared to game controls.
Needless to say, ASUS has a full-fledged ROG Kunai 3 gamepad in its range. It can be a smartphone holder or transform into a separate wireless device. The ROG Clip adapter holder lets you use Xbox, PlayStation, and even Stadia gamepads with your ASUS smartphone.
Especially for the ROG Phone 6, a white version of the ROG Kunai 3 is available
The smartphone’s screen can be output to a monitor or TV via DisplayPort 1.4 (4K at 30Hz, 1440P at 75Hz or 1080p at 144Hz). The proprietary ASUS Professional Dock with full-size HDMI is no longer on the list of officially supported, but it works quite well.
A new linear vibration motor is responsible for the feedback. No less of a contribution to the gaming experience is the sound. Two large speakers (12×16 mm) are mounted directly on the front panel so that they are not blocked by your fingers. Each speaker is connected to its own Cirrus Logic CS35L45 amplifier. There are a bunch of settings in the software, and a psychoacoustic effect is responsible for the bass boost.
Sound customization is done with the built-in AudioWizard utility
Hardware and cooling system
As noted above, uncompromising performance is a given in a gaming smartphone, and the ROG Phone 6 Pro quite expectedly got Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. In what ways is the Plus version superior to the original? The chips are lumped together similarly, but in the Plus version Qualcomm switched from Samsung’s 4nm 4LPE manufacturing process to TSMC’s more efficient 4nm N4 process. This allowed slightly higher clock frequencies while maintaining power consumption. The configuration is as follows: one ultra-performance Kryo Prime (Cortex-X2) core at 3.2 GHz, three performance Kryo Gold (Cortex-A710) cores at 2.75 GHz and four power-efficient Kryo Silver (Cortex-A510) cores at 2 GHz. Graphics is a strong point of Qualcomm, Adreno 730 in this case overclocked to 900 MHz. All this increases the total effective performance of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 by about 10%. The older version has 18GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 512GB of onboard UFS 3.1 memory.
The flagship Snapdragon is known for its hot temper and accompanying Trottling, so the totals are highly dependent on the cooling system. Recall, ROG Phone 6 – monolithic device with a glass cover and without air intakes, which were found on the first models of the series. The design of the GameCool 6 cooling system is divided into three stages: short-term is effective for 1 to 15 minutes load, intermediate for 15 to 30 minutes, and long-term is designed for even longer gaming sessions.
Short-term cooling system consists in the central location of the chipset (usually it is placed in a corner near the camera) and the division of the hardware into two boards (the main motherboard and auxiliary board with radio interfaces). Between the boards is a boron nitride coolant, eliminating the air gap where heat can accumulate. This, the company claims, reduces the heat load by 10 degrees. An intermediate part of the design envelopes the boards on the outside. An evaporation chamber conducts heat to the back cover and a pair of graphite sheets to the display.
The AeroActive Cooler 6 comes with a case and is naturally compatible with it
The Peltier element becomes cold on one side and hot on the other when an electric current flows through, thus cooling the cover.
And a fan dissipates the heat from its outside. It has a total of four power modes.
In addition, the AeroActive Cooler 6 has four trigger buttons. Also, a retractable kickstand and its own RGB illumination.
By default, the ROG Phone 6 Pro’s scheduler aims to reduce heat and increase battery life at the expense of performance. However, even the reduced performance is more than enough for everyday needs, the smartphone is very fast. After activating the productive mode (X Mode), the scheduler tries to keep the maximum performance, regardless of overheating. As a result, after 20 minutes under full load the smartphone is uncomfortable to hold, especially the metal frame warms up. This is payback for the effective passive cooling of the powerful stuffing. With the active AeroActive Cooler 6 the case becomes warm or even cool. And in maximum Frozen mode the performance degradation under full load becomes even less noticeable.
To summarize impressions, the old ROG Phone 5 based on the less successful Snapdragon 888 handled overheating slightly better. And that’s despite the lack of a Peltier element in its AeroActive Cooler 5 active cooler. That is, the ROG Phone 6 (Pro) took a step back in this sense. However, the overall performance is completely unquestionable, the device is very powerful and easily handles any, absolutely any Android game with a huge margin for years to come.
From left to right: ROG Phone 3, ROG Phone 6 Pro and ROG Phone 5 Pro with their respective coolers
The ROG Phone’s software also has a gamer’s aesthetic with aggressive lines, red tones, and corresponding visual effects. When X Mode is activated, the system becomes even more aggressive and colorful. That’s the ROG UI shell, powered by Android 12. And in it, in addition to the main functionality, it is properly worked on additional functions and customization to your liking.
For example, there is an alternative design in the style of a pure system without gamer stuff. In this case, the ROG Phone 6 Pro software is visually indistinguishable from the usual smartphone. A topical option for those who want to switch to a more serious style. This and other design options are the merit of the built-in theme engine with an online repository. By the way, two major OS updates and at least a two-year cycle of security patches are promised for our hero.
Photo capabilities are obviously not a priority for a gaming smartphone. Regardless, the ROG Phone 6 Pro gets a revamped camera system with a 50MP Sony IMX766 at the helm. A 13MP wide-angle OmniVision OV13B and a 5MP macro are given a helping hand. There’s no telephoto lens, optical stabilization, laser autofocus and a special flash.
The selfies camera comes from the Zenfone 8, a 12MP Sony IMX663 with f/2.5 optics without autofocus. Skin texture in the finished shots is very detailed and looks natural. The quality of the portrait shots with blurred backgrounds does not disappoint either.
Battery & Charging
The ROG Phone 6 Pro has a clever 6000mA⋅h battery divided into two symmetrical cells of 3000mA⋅h each. The autonomy is awesome, and there is nothing to add here. The claimed full charging time from the standard 65W adapter is 42 minutes, and it corresponds to reality. To save battery life, the charge can be limited to 80% or 90%. Also, the software can bring the charge to 100% on a schedule, for example, by the time of waking up.
Both the smartphone and the built-in adapter are fully compatible with the standard Power Delivery
The new ROG Phone 6 doesn’t change much from previous smartphones. New Qualcomm hardware, IPX4 certification, and a few new tricks are all. The basic formula is the same, and that’s for the best. Despite increasing competition, ASUS remains the premier manufacturer of dedicated gamer smartphones. Sure, the former accessory ecosystem has narrowed a lot, but all the necessary extras remain.
From left to right: ROG Phone 3, ROG Phone 5 Pro and ROG Phone 6 Pro
The ROG Phone 6 Pro has the best hardware platform available today with great optimization from ASUS and plenty of tweaks in the software. Compared to past generations, it is worth noting the deterioration of heat dissipation, but this problem is solved by the optional active cooler. On the whole, the device is very smart and gives potential for any games with max settings for years to come. The disadvantages are really quite few, I would only mention a weak camera by the standards of the flagships 2022. But the photo capabilities are beyond the scope of the ROG Phone.
Republic of Gamers’ already understated, but still very gamer-friendly style;
IPX4 certification, a first for a gaming smartphone;
AirTrigger 6 ultrasonic keys are the best in the segment;
side port is now regular USB-C instead of proprietary;
segment-leading stereo speakers;
awesome AMOLED with 165 Hz;
good battery life and very fast 65W charging;
optimized Android with useful extras from ASUS.
The accessory ecosystem has thinned noticeably;
in performance mode without a cooler, the case heats up noticeably;
the camera is rudimentary by the standards of modern flagships.
May not like:
the much-needed AeroActive Cooler 6 active cooler is purchased separately;
memory cards are not supported.