It’s not every day that you buy a phone specially designed for gaming. Inspired by the original ROG series of gaming laptops, ASUS has been launching its ROG series of smartphones since 2018. And I got my hands on the latest iteration - the ASUS ROG 6 smartphone.
Design-wise, the rear panel of the phone really stands out! The familiar metallic ‘Republic Of Gamers’ logo sits in a corner, while a bold new ‘Dare To Play’ inscription is hard to miss on one side. Hands down the most noteworthy design detail are the RGB panel that lights up dot-matrix style. While it’s not something I’m able to actively enjoy seeing when I’m gaming on the phone, the cool quotient of someone else seeing it light up is undeniable.
The display is 6.78 inches across and the form factor heftier than most flagships I’ve used this year. But that seems to be the trade-in for a powerful processor and twin battery that comes packed in. Despite feeling a bit heavy, the phone sits well in my hand, with a non-slippery grip.
ASUS ROG 6 unboxing
Not one for gory games, I download Sky: Children of the Light where I get to explore fantasy lands, bring fire to parts of unknown civilisations, and pack in collectibles to unlock along the journey. The visuals are stunning on the AMOLED display that offers up to 165 Hz refresh rate. I also try out Opus: Rocket of Whispers - a post-apocalyptic story where the jaded, bitter son of a rocket engineer along with a young witch set out to launch space burial for those who didn’t make it through an epidemic plague. It’s during Opus that I notice how great the in-built speakers are - the sound is deep, well-rounded, and perfect to listen to some music as I try to get some shut-eye at the end of the day.
Multiple aspects of the user experience are vastly customisable. Take the X mode shortcut, for example. It helps me amp up system performance and touch responsiveness making it ideal for gaming, and also offers the ‘Ultra Durable’ option right next to it in case I want to prioritise battery endurance by compromising on refresh rates and system performance a bit.
The Games Library turns out to be a super-customisable dashboard of sorts where you can tweak system preference, add macros and customise keys mapping for every game on the phone. All the footage and screenshots I’ve recorded are also easily accessible here, under each game.
One of the most unique features that the ROG lineup has offered is the ‘AirTrigger’ - these are two ultrasonic sensor zones on the phone that can be customised to perform different functions. In portrait mode, I programme it to open Google Assistant with a short press on both sides, but quickly have to disable it as it starts firing up while I use other apps.
The camera on the unit - a 50-megapixel sensor - somehow doesn’t match up to the quality of a flagship smartphone. In decently-lit indoor photographs, the results are a bit grainy when I zoom in to check the clarity of the photos. There’s a 13-MP secondary camera too which again delivers pretty average results.
The device is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor and the unit I reviewed had 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. On the AnTuTu benchmark test, the ROG 6 placed itself right among the top two most powerful smartphones tested in recent times. My hands-on experience validated that score with the smartphone never having any lags. It does get a bit hot during a couple of long sessions of Mortal Kombat.
The 6,000 mAh twin battery in the system does its job quite well and might be a reason that ASUS hasn’t upgraded it since the last ROG5 smartphone. The charge dissipates slowly and the unit charges super fast too, with the 65 W charger in the box. Battery life is excellent - it barely drops 10 per cent charge with every 1.5 hours of gaming.
Although the ASUS ROG 6 is one of the most powerful phones in the market right now, it’s not an ideal choice as a daily driver. It’s a decent choice if you want a dedicated phone for satisfying the hardcore gamer in you, especially as it offers the choice to customise the mobile gaming experience to a vast degree.
Pros: Great battery life, hugely customisable features
Cons: Hefty build, gets a bit warm, in-phone ASUS gaming recommendations could be better.