Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro Review: Sleek Mainstream Design, Same Gaming Phone Issue
January 30, 2024 Andrew Cheng

The Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro sees the biggest design overhaul the Taiwanese company has ever done for the gaming phone lineup. Gone are the loud “gamer aesthetics” for a more subdued and mature design language, though this Pro model still has a hidden LED dot-matrix display on the back panel.

But while the ROG Phone 8 Pro now looks like a modern, mainstream phone, it is still inherently a gaming phone. That means it is as fast as ever with cutting edge hardware, along with the usual shortcomings of a gaming-centric device, including sub-par camera performance. On top of that, the ROG Phone 8 series is also quite a bit more expensive now.

With these in mind, is the ROG Phone 8 Pro worth considering? Absolutely, though there are some caveats to keep in mind, which I’ll explain in this review.

What It Is

Display6.78-inch FHD+ AMOLED (2400 x 1080), 165Hz
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 3.3GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 750
Storage512GB/1TB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)50MP f/1.9, gimbal OIS
32MP f/2.4 (telephoto), OIS, 3x zoom
13MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
Camera (front)32MP f/2.5
5,500mAh with 65W fast charging
Dimensions163.8 x 76.8 x 8.9 mm
OSROG UI based on Android 14
Bluetooth 5.3
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax/be (2.4/5/6GHz)
USB Type-C
3.5mm headphone jack
PriceRM4,799 (16GB/512GB), RM5,999 (24GB/1TB)

Naturally, the ROG Phone 8 Pro features the latest and greatest hardware. The phone I am reviewing is the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition with a whopping 24GB RAM and 1TB of storage, and it’s powered by the very capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset as well. Outside of gaming, the phone has a number of improvements too, including a more sophisticated triple camera, an IP68 rating, and a lighter, thinner design than last year’s ROG Phone 7.

With a thinner chassis, the battery capacity of the ROG Phone 8 Pro had to be downsized. Instead of its predecessor’s huge 6,000mAh battery, the new phone features a 5,500mAh cell instead. Still a very sizeable battery, of course, though battery life does take a slight hit; I’ll get back to this later.

The Good Stuff

This being a gaming phone, let’s talk about the performance of the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro first. As expected, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset can keep up with my gaming needs. I always run Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail to gauge the performance of phones I review, and I’m happy to report that the ROG Phone 8 Pro can run both games at a stable 60fps without any noticeable frame drop.

Further enhancing the gaming experience of the ROG Phone 8 Pro are its capacitive shoulder buttons, which are still as reliable as ever. While they don’t have the tactile feedback of a physical button, they still work seamlessly in various games that I tested.

If you want physical buttons instead, there’s the AeroActive Cooler X fan, which is bundled with the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition. Not only does it keep the phone cool, the detachable fan also adds two physical buttons to the back of the phone. Just like the capacitive shoulder buttons, these buttons are customisable.

It’s also worth noting that a soft carrying case is also bundled with the AeroActive Cooler X, which I think is a neat addition.

You’d want a bright, vibrant display for a pleasant gaming experience, which is exactly what the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s 6.78-inch 1080p AMOLED display offers. Not only does it have an impressive peak brightness of 2,500 nits, the panel’s 165Hz refresh rate also lends to very responsive user experience, even when I’m just swiping through the home screen.

While we’re on the topic of display, it’s a good time to mention the LED dot-matrix display that is hidden very well on the back panel of the ROG Phone 8 Pro. It can show a number of useful information, including incoming call, mail notifications, and even battery percentage.

Yes, the LED dot-matrix display may seem like a gimmick, but I do think it’s a nice feature to have. I personally don’t really make use of it, but I can see the appeal.

Last but not least is the battery life of the ROG Phone 8 Pro. For the most part, it’s very good; I can get around three hours and 30 minutes of screen on time with the battery left at about 50%. While this isn’t quite as good as the ROG Phone 7’s battery life – which makes sense, given the smaller battery capacity – it is still very respectable.

Now, let’s move on to the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s biggest shortcoming: camera performance.

The Bad Stuff

On paper, the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s triple camera system is promising. After all, the 50MP primary camera features a Sony IMX890 sensor; the same one used in the OnePlus 11 and Nothing Phone 2, which can take great-looking pictures. Complementing the 50MP main camera are a 32MP telephoto lens and a 13MP ultra-wide shooter. All in all, it’s a versatile camera setup with three different focal lengths.

However, when I started shooting with the ROG Phone 8 Pro, the camera performance leaves much to be desired. Take a look for yourself:

Under ideal lighting conditions, the ROG Phone 8 Pro can take good-looking shots, but its low light performance has room for improvement. The detail preservation, colour reproduction, and dynamic range of the triple camera system aren’t up to snuff in less than ideal lighting, unfortunately enough.

Granted, the ROG Phone 8 Pro can definitely take better-looking pictures than its predecessor, but the overall camera performance is still not fantastic. Even if the design of the gaming phone is now much more modern and mainstream, its camera system is still some ways off “true” mainstream smartphones, especially at this price point.

And that is a good segue to the pricing of the ROG Phone 8 Pro; more specifically, the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition, which is this 24GB/1TB configuration. Retailing at RM5,999, this is a steep asking price, even if it comes with the AeroActive Cooler X fan and generous amounts of RAM and storage.

There is the more affordable 16GB/512GB variant of the ROG Phone 8 Pro, of course, but even that is priced at RM4,799. Yes, this is technically RM200 less than what the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate with the same RAM and storage configuration went for at launch last year (RM4,999), but you no longer get an external cooler for that kind of money.

You can get the AeroActive Cooler X separately, but that will set you back RM349.

Is It Worth It?

Despite not offering the best value proposition, i still think the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is worth considering…provided you want a gaming phone first and foremost. It’s great that the overall design of the phone is now more subdued and less “gamery,” but at the end of the day, this is still very much a gaming-centric phone with all the pros and cons that entail.

That being said, the ROG Phone 8 Pro is certainly on the right development track, in my opinion. I am very happy with the new design language of the gaming phone, and I’m excited to see how Asus can further improve the next iteration of the ROG Phone series – perhaps the next phone will be a truly compelling mainstream option.