Asus ROG 5: The beast is on the prowl

Mala Bhargava | Updated on April 14, 2021

This phone is a speed monster making it the fastest Android at the moment. Can you handle it?

For those of us who only see ‘regular’ phones day in and day out, a smartphone like the Asus ROG is a revelation. I’ve never been much of a gamer, choosing simple addictive repetitive mind-numbers over the rich power-guzzling complex productions that can swallow you whole. But this year I’m taking a cursory look at the ROG 5 just to see what it could be like for a non-gamer to use. It turns out I’m bowled over.

The Asus ROG 5 (Republic of Gamers) is very obviously masculine. That’s not to say the fairer sex can’t use it, but it’s just that it’ll take big hands to handle the inevitable fatigue that will come from holding this device for long playing sessions. This is a solid muscular phone that weighs a good deal more than the average everyday phone at 238gms. In my other hand I’m holding a phone that’s 190gms, so that tells you something. It’s very well-built and solid and if you were to drop it on your foot, it’s the foot that would be in trouble while the phone would probably continue ripping through a game. You would need a strategy on how to carry this phone as well, because no standard pocket is about to take the weight.


The devil in the details

Down to the very last detail, everything screams out that gaming attitude. The packaging is exceedingly special and unfolds to show images that can come alive if viewed in AR. In the box, everything is crafted to match the phone, even the SIM ejector tool. It has a back cover which is difficult to describe and like no other. It has a 65W charger to power its 6,000mAh battery, it has a tougher than usual cable.

The smartphone itself comes in three flavours. There’s the regular ROG 5 which is the closest to an everyday phone, an ROG 5 Pro and an ROG 5 Ultimate. By the time you get to the most advanced there’s 18GB of RAM on board — more than most notebooks — and a second screen on the back. The regular, which is the one I’m looking at, has an interesting matrix pattern on the back that lights up on occasion and looks amazing. This variant has just 8GB RAM and 128GB storage which is in ‘baby’ territory for this product, but it’s also the one that would suit a non-gamer or occasional gamer looking to buy this phone more than the other variants which would be a bit of a waste if not used to the fullest.

Stellar audio

If on booting up you hear a sound from the phone, you’ll be outright surprised. The sound on this phone is like no other — deep and rich and full. It has large front-firing speakers powered by dual amplifier technology and tune by Dirac. What would gaming be with thin tinny sound, after all. The phone has its 3.5mm headphone jack powered by ESS Sabre DAC and headphone amp for audiophile listening with support for Hi-Res audio playback.

Lightning fast

On the display, there’s been no attempt to put in little cut-outs for front cameras and the like. Instead, the bezels go ahead and thicken a bit so that the gaming view is undisturbed by anything else. The display is a 6.78-inch, Full HD+ E4 AMOLED panel made by Samsung and it has a high refresh rate of 144Hz, more than any other around. The brightness is 800 nits and could be more, except that there would be little point in it since it’s tuned for a specific purpose. The touch sampling is really high at 300Hz. It isn’t just great to watch content on but obviously maxes out on responsiveness. With the phone running on the Snapdragon 888 on top of all this, it feels like the fastest Android phone around even beating the OnePlus 9 Pro on some fronts. There is a special cooling system and on the higher variant even a cooling fan accessory because intense gaming can heat up a phone somewhat.

Ready for gameplay

While you could arguably get a great gaming experience on today’s flagship phones and even ones that aren’t very expensive, the ROG 5 is different in that its software is all tuned to support gaming. Here’s where a regular user may want to think twice. There are special Air Trigger commands and plenty of other tweaks that make it easier to get more control over the gaming. There’s a Game Genie and a special menu of mappable buttons for gameplay. You still get a good software experience otherwise, of course as the interface is close to stock Android and mercifully has no awful push notifications and spam and other nonsense to annoy. The phone runs on Android 11 and updates and upgrades are promised.

The ROG 5 has two 3,000mAh batteries with 65W charging and excellent battery life.

One aspect a regular user should watch out for is that the camera set up isn’t the highlight of this phone as is the case with other top-end phones. It has a 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor with the main camera and a 13MP wide-angle lens with a 125-degree FoV and a 5MP macro. For selfies, a 24MP shooter up front. The camera setup is adequate but not a priority. If cameras are important to you, look elsewhere.

For all the hardware and the innovation and the thought that’s gone into it, the ROG 5 is really well-priced. Many others give you half the value at twice the price. If I had strong hands, I wouldn’t at all mind owning this beast, but I’m too fond of stellar cameras. There are many reasons for a regular user, read non-serious-gamer, to consider this device. It’s very interesting looking, it’s powerful, fast, and has a unique software experience. But it is solid, heavy and oriented to gaming which it prioritises above all else — naturally.

Price: Rs 49,999

Pros: Powerful and very fast, high end display, tuned to gaming and supports gaming accessories, excellent sound, excellent battery life, great looking

Cons: Heavy and can be tiring to hold too long, can get a little warm, cameras pull it back from competing with flagships


Published on April 14, 2021

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