Hands-On, Smartphone

Asus ROG Phone 5 Hands-On: Fast, Sleek Flagship-Class Gaming Phone for Only RM2,999

The Asus ROG Phone 5 is now available for purchase in Malaysia, and it’s quite an intriguing gaming smartphone. Not only does it come with a fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset, it also offers a sleeker design than its predecessor while retaining good value for money. After all, it retails from only RM2,999 locally.

For that kind of money, the ROG Phone 5 is an excellent choice for anyone that wants a flagship-class gaming smartphone without breaking the bank (too much). We have the device in for review now, so here’s a quick hands-on of Asus’ latest gaming smartphone.

First up, hardware. The ROG Phone 5 features the aforementioned Snapdragon 888 chipset clocked at 2.84GHz, a 6.78-inch 2448 x 1080 AMOLED screen with a fast 144Hz refresh rate and 300Hz touch sampling rate (to reduce input lag), as well as a very generous 6,000mAh battery with support for very fast 65W charging.

Aside from that, the ROG Phone 5 also has a triple camera system made up of a 64MP f/1.8 primary sensor, a 13MP f/2.4 ultra-wide angle shooter, and a 5MP f/2.0 macro lens. Not a super sophisticated camera sensor, but this is a gaming smartphone after all – the camera system isn’t exactly the main focus here.

If you’re into selfies, the ROG Phone 5 has a 24MP f/2.45 camera on the front.

But the most attractive selling point of the ROG Phone 5 (to me) has to be its value proposition. We received the 128GB variant of the phone with 8GB of RAM, which retails at only RM2,999 in Malaysia. While it’s not the most affordable Snapdragon 888 phone – the Xiaomi Mi 11 is slightly cheaper at RM2,799 – this gaming phone still offers really good value for money.

Anyway, let’s talk about the performance of the ROG Phone 5 now. The first game I installed on this phone has to be Genshin Impact, a game that even flagship phones struggle to run consistently at 60fps. I was excited to see how this gaming phone would handle the game, and I’m happy to report that Genshin Impact plays quite well on the ROG Phone 5 with a reasonably stable frame rate.

That being said, even after a quick session of Genshin Impact, the phone got quite warm. I’ll keep an eye on the thermal performance of the ROG Phone 5 to see if this is a cause for concern in the full review.

The fast 144Hz AMOLED display of the ROG Phone 5 is also one of its main selling points. Although it’s tough to tell the difference between 144Hz and 120Hz – the latter is more commonly found on the majority of flagship smartphones in the market now – it does lend to a very smooth, very responsive user experience.

On top of that, the 300Hz touch sampling rate of the ROG Phone 5’s display minimises input lag as well. While this is likely not a feature the average consumer would notice or care about, gamers who want the competitive edge will appreciate this high touch sampling rate and the display’s equally high 144Hz refresh rate.

Of course, since this is an AMOLED panel, it also offers vibrant, punchy colours with deep blacks and wide viewing angles.

And then there’s the design of the ROG Phone 5, which I absolutely love. This is especially the case with the Storm White colourway of the gaming phone pictured here. The white and blue colour scheme is a refreshing change compared to the overplayed black and red colour combo, and of course, there’s still an ROG logo on the back with RGB lighting.

Last but certainly not least is the camera performance of the ROG Phone 5, which is…surprisingly decent. Sure, it’s not in the same league as class leaders like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, but it can still take reasonably good-looking shots. Granted, I’ve only tested the ROG Phone 5’s camera under ideal lighting, so it’ll be interesting to see if it can still deliver in low light conditions.

Even though I’ve just started using the Asus ROG Phone 5 as my daily driver, I’m really liking it already. I’ve been having a ball playing Genshin Impact on this gaming phone, and with the phone’s large 6,000mAh battery, it should be able to offer many hours of gaming too. If you’re into FPS games, you’ll appreciate the ultrasonic-based AirTrigger shoulder buttons as well.

Given its hardware and feature set, the fact that the ROG Phone 5 retails from only RM2,999 does make it an enticing gaming-focused smartphone. If you want the 256GB model with 16GB (!) of RAM instead, that will set you back RM3,799. That’s quite a bit more money than the 128GB + 8GB (RM2,999) base model, so personally, I’d go with the latter for the best bang for buck.

I will be putting the ROG Phone 5 through its paces in the next few weeks to see if it is worth picking up or not, but as far as first impressions, I’m impressed. It’s a powerful, handsome gaming smartphone with a fast 144Hz refresh rate for not too much money – what more can you ask for?

Well, unless I run into some big issue with the phone in the review period. Until then, stay tuned to the full review of the ROG Phone 5!