Asus ROG Phone 3 Hands-On: Faster, Sleeker Gaming Powerhouse
July 23, 2020 Andrew Cheng

The Asus ROG Phone 3 is here, and it’s better than ever with cutting-edge hardware under the hood. It’s powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chipset, it has a blazing fast 144Hz screen, and the phone feels a lot more refined than its predecessor.

After spending a brief time with the ROG Phone 3, I’m really quite impressed with this gaming smartphone. It’s superior to the ROG Phone II in almost every single aspect, and to top it off, it will (supposedly) cost about the same as its predecessor. However, it does fall short in certain areas, so should you even consider getting it? Read on to find out.

Right off the bat, the ROG Phone 3 feels very responsive. This is thanks to the phone’s blazing fast 6.59-inch 2340 x 1080 AMOLED display with a high 144Hz refresh rate. On top of that, the panel also supports 270Hz touch sampling rate, which reduces input lag to a minimum. The result? You get a super speedy phone that responds to your inputs almost immediately.

Of course, mobile games will benefit the most from the screen’s high refresh rate and touch sampling rate. Not only will games look extra smooth on the 144Hz display – provided the games support the refresh rate – the 270Hz sampling rate will also ensure that your inputs are reflected immediately. Even normal day-to-day will benefit greatly from these two features.

As for the display quality itself, it’s great. The ROG Phone 3’s AMOLED panel supports HDR 10+, so you get great dynamic range, vibrant, punchy colours, and deep blacks. Basically, it’s a stunning screen befitting of a high-end smartphone, and you will not be disappointed with it. Besides that, there’s also a fingerprint sensor underneath the display.

In the performance department, the ROG Phone 3 is equipped with a powerful Snapdragon 865+ chip. It’s Qualcomm’s best SoC yet, so rest assured, you will get the best level of performance Android smartphones can offer. I haven’t put the phone through its paces yet, but I’m confident it will be able to run any mobile games with no difficulty.

It’s worth noting that there is actually a more affordable variant of the ROG Phone 3: the Strix Edition. Unlike the regular model, the Strix variant is powered by a standard Snapdragon 865, along with less RAM and storage capacities. Beyond these differences, the Strix Edition is identical to the regular ROG Phone 3 in other aspects.

Anyway, let’s get back to the phone itself. To me, one of the biggest improvements this new gaming smartphone brings is the redesigned back panel. Its predecessor had a weird texture on the rear panel, but this is no longer the case with the ROG Phone 3: it is now just a single piece of glass, so it feels and looks like a regular smartphone now.

Well, except for the illuminated ROG logo on the back.

One of the most important aspects of a gaming smartphone is long battery life, and in this regard, the ROG Phone 3 will not disappoint. After all, it retains the huge 6,000mAh battery of its predecessor, which will be able to provide very respectable battery life on a single charge.

Unfortunately, there is one feature that isn’t carried over to the ROG Phone 3: the 3.5mm headphone jack. For some reason, the new smartphone doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack anymore, which is really quite odd for a gaming device. Granted, wireless solutions have gotten much better over the years, but I imagine there are still plenty of gamers who are still relying on the 3.5mm connector to eliminate audio latency.

Anyway, let’s move on to the camera performance of the ROG Phone 3, which is surprisingly good. It comes with a triple camera system now that’s made up of a 64MP f/1.8 primary shooter, a 13MP f/2.4 ultra-wide angle lens, and a 5MP f/2.0 macro sensor. I would’ve loved for there to be a telephoto camera, but given that this is a gaming smartphone – where the camera system simply isn’t the focus – it’s a reasonable exclusion.

I took the ROG Phone 3’s camera for a quick spin, and I’m quite pleased with the image quality. While it’s not the best in the market, detail preservation is good with reasonably fast autofocus. I also love that the camera feels very responsive, which make for a more pleasant shooting experience.

The Asus ROG Phone 3 is the Taiwanese company’s most refined gaming smartphone yet. It has the fastest chipset available in the Android space now, it comes with a blazing fast 144Hz screen, and most of all – to me, at least – it looks and feels more like a regular smartphone now.

That being said, the ROG Phone 3 is still a sizeable, heavy smartphone, which may not be for everyone. In fact, compared to its predecessor, it is ever so slightly bigger, though fortunately, it still weighs the same at 240g. Still, there’s no denying the fact that this is a big, hefty phone.

But the same can be said of other gaming smartphones in the market now. If you’re looking for a mobile gaming machine, you probably wouldn’t mind the large size of the phone to accommodate a big screen. The generous 6,000mAh battery adds quite a bit of weight as well.

If you’re eyeing to get the Asus ROG Phone 3, you’ve got until the middle of September to start saving up; that’s when the gaming smartphone will be available here. In terms of pricing, the new phone is expected to be priced closely to the ROG Phone II, which retailed from RM2,4999 to RM4,499 here.