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Asus ROG Phone 3 review: smartphone gaming

Asus ROG Phone 3 review: smartphone gaming

A gaming workhorse that will win all races

The Asus ROG Phone 3 is the latest in a series of phones that pack the most cutting-edge specs to deliver a premium experience at high prices. This is against the trend of a gaming phone market swelling with more affordable mid-range smartphones, as well as flagship phones getting more and more advanced. 

How does Asus believe the ROG Phone 3 stand out? By offering the best experience and listening to fans. That's according to Asus executives, who sat down to chat with TechRadar about the ROG 3’s place in the 2020 phones market – and how the company tweaked its design to appeal to more than just hardcore gamers.

The first thing to notice about the ROG 3 is that it’s literally the same size and weight as its predecessor, but the look has slightly changed. The back cover, which had been criss-crossed by aggressive angles in the ‘gamer chic’ style, is now a clean back with far fewer lines and jagged edges. 

Indeed, its biggest single distinguishing feature is a modest window to the heat sink – a hint at the gaming power inside, rather than a visible declaration of it being a gaming device.


The ROG Phone 3 shares a similar look, and an almost identical size, with the ROG Phone 2, but with the sci-fi madness ever so slightly toned down. The glass back is shiny rather than matte, and the exposed vents slashed into the back of the ROG Phone 2 have gone, replaced by a cool transparent section showing the new cooling system inside. I’ve not seen glass transition between transparent and dark like this before, and it looks superb.

Despite its exterior, the ROG Phone 3 has not collected fingerprints, and the RGB-equipped ROG logo looks even brighter and more colorful than it did with the matte glass of the ROG Phone 2. The camera module has gained another lens to total three, and it runs horizontally across the device. Asus has reduced the silver, angled lines on the body, which makes the design more mature.

Still, the gaming focus remains. The USB Type-C port on the bottom is set to the side to make holding the phone in landscape more comfortable when it’s plugged in, and hidden behind a rubber stopper on the opposite side is another USB Type-C charging port. The phone also has shoulder-mounted “AirTriggers” on the side of the phone (we’ll talk more abut those later).

One thing ROG Phone 2 users may notice is the disappearance of the 3.5mm headphone jack. The integration of 5G antennas in the ROG Phone 3 is one of the reasons the connector wouldn’t fit inside the phone anymore, but if you really want it, there’s a dongle in the box. There’s also an add-on AeroActive Cooler 3 accessory that clips onto the body to aid cooling, and you get that in the box, too.

It’s a great accessory. Asus has added two very helpful features: A space to store the rubber port cover you remove from the phone to attach the AeroActive Cooler 3, and a kickstand, too.


The ROG Phone 3 is the king of gaming smartphones.

I’m a casual gamer, meaning I don’t spend hours each day playing online, but the ROG Phone 3 still manages to make the games I do play look better and play more smoothly, all the while providing useful tools that enhance the experience. If it makes me feel like that, I have no doubt people who are more into mobile games will see even greater benefits.

The shoulder-mounted AirTriggers are a great example of where the ROG Phone 3 succeeds. They are easily mapped to on-screen controls, can be tapped, held down, swiped, or even spilt into two sections to effectively make four buttons. They made Asphalt 9 Legends’ simple controls quicker to use, and stopped my fingers from covering the screen.

The feature is activated in-game using the slide-in screen Game Genie menu, and when you position the AirTrigger activation points on screen, they vibrate when you get the placement correct. In Transformers: Forged to Fight, I used both the tap and swipe features, and while tapping worked well, the swipe feature could be quite awkward to activate at the right time.

By squeezing the sides of the phone, you activate X Mode, which boosts phone performance and minimizes distractions when playing games. Use the Enhanced X Mode setting, where everything gets turned up to maximum, and the processor won’t be throttled at all. I didn’t notice any slowdown, dropped frames, or other performance problems playing games on the ROG Phone 3.

The 6.59-inch AMOLED screen has a 144Hz refresh rate, 270Hz touch sampling, 10 bit HDR, HDR 10 Plus support, and 25ms touch latency. It’s insanely responsive. Dariusburst is played in a small window in the center of the screen, and requires deft, careful controls to weave between the scenery and the onslaught of bullets. The ROG Phone 3 made this considerably easier because of its large, highly responsive touchscreen.


Asus has worked hard to make the ROG Phone 3 a usable smartphone for daily use, whether you are dedicated to gaming or not. The camera is an integral part of this.

The triple-lens rear camera has a 64-megapixel IMX686 main sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, joined by a 13-megapixel ultra-wide sensor and a 5-megapixel macro sensor. In the bezel above the screen, there is a 24-megapixel selfie camera. The rear camera has a variety of different modes, including a night mode, portrait mode, a motion-tracking video mode, and a pro video mode. It shoots video at 4K and in HDR with electronic stabilization.

It’s decent, and more than capable enough provided it’s your second priority on a smartphone. There’s no zoom mode, but both the wide-angle and macro modes provide creative fun, so it’s not desperately missed. It can be inconsistent, especially in overcast conditions, where it underexposes quite a bit, resulting in a loss of detail. Sunny day HDR shots can look great, and the macro camera definitely surprises with it ability.

The selfie camera has a heavy-handed beauty mode enabled by default, a portrait mode with only average edge-detection that can also wash out skin tones.

I found the ROG Phone 3’s camera to be fine for general use. While there are more versatile camera phones out there, it’s solid. For a gaming phone, where the camera will always be a secondary concern, it’s much better than many will expect.

Performance and battery

Asus says it wants to “lead the industry to the next level” with the ROG Phone 3. It pioneered 120Hz screens and high touch sampling rates, as well as how to use a high-end processor to the best of its ability, with the ROG Phone 2. For the ROG Phone 3, the 144Hz screen, 270Hz touch sampling rate, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor with up to 16GB of RAM sees it easily win the current smartphone spec sheet wars.

Capacity:6000 mAh
Type:Not user replaceable
Battery life test results:link
Charging:Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, Qualcomm Quick Charge 4, USB Power Delivery
Max charge speed:Wired: 30.0W

The 6,000mAh battery lasts two days, which may seem a little disappointing given the overall capacity, but don’t forget it’s powering a great deal of high-end hardware. Asus’s own tests say it’ll play 9.6 hours of Asphalt 9 Legends on a full charge, compared to 5.7 hours from a OnePlus 8 Pro.

Asus has added a new PowerMaster app, part of its efforts to increase the longevity of the battery. Interestingly, it has a slow-charge mode, definable limits to make sure the battery doesn’t just sit at 100% all night (not good for making it last, says Asus), and a selection of battery modes too. The wired charging provides 30W of power, but there is no wireless charging.

Elsewhere inside, if you were to take the phone apart, you’d find carefully placed Wi-Fi antennas to ensure the best signal possible in portrait or landscape orientation, four microphones positioned so they don’t get covered during landscape gameplay, and 5G support. Cellular and Wi-Fi reception has been consistently excellent, and call quality is great, too. I don’t have 5G reception in my local area, so I have not been able to test this aspect. 

Official Original ASUS ROG Phone 3 Gaming 5G Smartphone 6.59 inch Phablet International Version




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