Asus is low-key becoming a force to be reckoned with

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

It's odd to say this, but one of the most promising smartphone market newcomers is... not a newcomer at all. There are a number of reasons why Asus hasn't exactly made waves in an industry it first tackled many years ago, some of which might only be known to a select few executives familiar with the inner workings of the Taiwan-based tech giant.

Of course, the company's problem was never a lack of public attention or media visibility, but rather a lack of direction. For far too long, Asus experimented with quirky designs and unconventional products in the search for a game changer that never came. The company basically tried everything to stand out from the pack, which is obviously not a bad thing per se. Unfortunately, a lot of the creative and eccentric ideas that seemed to work on paper fell flat out in the real world or simply failed to catch on at a large enough scale.

While Asus is still not among the world's top ten smartphone vendors, its latest designs and revised business focus are showing a great deal of promise. Perhaps for the first time ever, we're talking about real-life promise instead of just theoretical potential, as proven by our in-depth ZenFone 6 and ROG Phone reviews.

Searching the middle ground between innovation and playing it safe


Before releasing a fairly conventional ZenFone handset lineup in 2014, Asus had made quite a splash in the then-thriving tablet market with so-called Transformer Pads, which can be credited with paving the way for today's 2-in-1 laptops. Encouraged by the enthusiastic reception of these hybrid devices, Asus tried to bring some of that transforming magic to smartphones with the PadFone series.


This was one of those aforementioned concepts that worked so much better in theory than in reality, but Asus refused to admit defeat, refining and upgrading various forms of turning a phone into a tablet before ultimately throwing in the towel. Of course, that was merely the tip of the company's experimentation iceberg, as Asus kept throwing everything at the wall in the empty and misguided hope something would eventually stick.

Augmented reality, advanced optical zoom capabilities, selfie prowess, you name it, Asus tried to make it a thing before virtually anyone else in the global mobile industry. But as time went by and none of these gambles paid off, the company started to tone down the "originality." A largely forgettable ZenFone 5 family followed, but at the same time, Asus finally found a niche worth pursuing.

Shortly after the gaming-centric ROG Phone, the ZenFone 6 came with a near-perfect balance of traditionalism and out-of-the-box thinking. 

A great (re)start based on two good ideas


Basically, the first-gen ROG Phone marks the beginning of a new chapter in the company's efforts to become a relevant handset vendor on the global stage. As reported late last year, the early popularity of the gaming beast gave Asus the confidence to reorganize its mobile business around serving power users. Instead of endlessly pursuing the new and the different or trying to compete in an insanely crowded mid-range segment with repetitive and forgettable models, the company is focusing more on profits and PC technologies that can actually work for phones too.


All the things that make the ROG brand so appealing for PC gamers were always there to be adapted to a smaller screen, so it's honestly shocking that Asus wasted so much time with its gimmicky PadFones and FonePads before giving gaming handsets a whirl. Now, I know what you're going to say. Any high-end smartphone these days is more than capable of handling the most graphically demanding, intense, and extended gaming sessions.

That might be true, but it's definitely also true that the ROG Phone and ROG Phone 2 offer things that "general" flagships cannot rival or match right now. Things like blazing fast display refresh rates, extremely loud and incredibly clear-sounding speakers, as well as stellar battery life. And let's not forget about those love-or-hate designs that are certainly good for contrast in today's boring high-end smartphone landscape.


If you still don't get the appeal of the ROG Phone series or have no intention of spending $900 and up on any device, no matter how muscular, the ZenFone 6 may well be the ideal non-enthusiast handset... alongside the OnePlus 7 Pro. Priced at a very reasonable $500 and up, the Snapdragon 855 powerhouse takes just the right amount of risks to feel both ahead of its time and a smart investment today.

Together, the ROG Phone 2 and ZenFone 6 are the one-two punch Asus is looking to throw at the competition this holiday season to prove once and for all its strategy can help shape if not revolutionize the market.

Still a long way to go


We all know one swallow does not a spring make, especially if said swallow stays hidden until summer comes. In other words, people need to see and actually be able to buy the ROG Phone 2 and ZenFone 6 in addition to hearing about them. Asus might not be new to this business, but the company is sure playing the US retail game like a rookie, destroying the enormous blockbuster potential of these two great devices with tardy and spotty availability.


Unveiled back in July, the ROG Phone 2 is finally up for pre-order stateside. Meanwhile, the ZenFone 6 technically made its US commercial debut several months after being announced internationally, but at the time of this writing, all variants are listed as "temporarily sold out" or "back-ordered" at Asus.com and B&H. The fact one particular configuration is ranked among the latter retailer's best sellers in this context is extraordinary, but Asus has no excuse for botching such an important release.

It's not too late to make things right, but going forward, the company has to do better straight off the bat. Some carrier backing would also be nice, and it's not out of the question either given Verizon's support for devices like the ZenFone V, ZenFone V Live, and ZenFone AR in recent years. All in all, Asus seems to have everything it takes to become a major smartphone vendor... on paper, which unfortunately doesn't always translate into real-world success.

FEATURED VIDEO

25 Comments

1. ph00ny

Posts: 2048; Member since: May 26, 2011

Asus is the new Oneplus

4. Venom

Posts: 3668; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Asus is better than OnePlus. There I said it.

8. Poptart2828

Posts: 419; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

What has been your personal experience with your Asus phone? I'm interested in this brand. Never owned one

17. Venom

Posts: 3668; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

I've no experience with Asus although I have been keeping an eye on their Zenphone. I'm currently a user of the Pixel 3A XL and the Nokia 7.1, the best Nokia phone available in the US at the moment.

16. Venom

Posts: 3668; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

This wasn't a jab at OnePlus. I have no problems with OnePlus. Not sure what the alpha of geeks is getting at.

9. notfair

Posts: 753; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

OnePlus was always trash, it had to be said.

21. CEDEOTB

Posts: 436; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

Only their customer service is trash

2. mahima

Posts: 739; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

ROG is cheaper than oneplus 7 pro in India. More than $100 cheaper

3. mahima

Posts: 739; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

ROG 2

5. User123456789

Posts: 996; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Interesting, except that all Asus has done lately could be seen on other phones before. AR, 120Hz LCD/oled, rotating camera ....

6. toukale

Posts: 641; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

That's the thing, Asus is nothing but a box shipper we have millions of those. Anyone can grab all the best off the shelf stuff and put them together. I am not impressed by things like this anymore. What impresses me are things that move the industry forward, you know like moving us past that iPhone template, it is time already.

12. hemedans

Posts: 757; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

RoG 2 is innovative not just quantity over quality. -display is unique and pack features which gamers really like. -6000mah help for long session of gaming. -High quality front speakers which easly blow away current flagship. -good old design without notch and fragile materials like glass. -3.5mm jack The two cons of this phone it's heavy and lack micro SD slot.

14. toukale

Posts: 641; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Did you just use the word innovative with someone putting off the shelf stuff together and call it a day? Nothing Asus has done here is innovative. Off the shelf OS, with off the shelf hardware and now they are the most innovative company around lol.

10. hemedans

Posts: 757; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

Saying just 120hz is not fair for RoG 2 display it has -1ms response time, (normal Oled display is 16ms according to gsmarena) -240Hz touch response rate, best in market I think, new iPhone has120Hz. -120Hz display refresh rate -Oled display -its true 10Bit HDR and not 8bit HDR

7. drmbilals unregistered

asus needs to increase their availabilty

11. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2240; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

The best gaming phone is iPhone...Fastest GPU and CPU without liquid cooling... Why isn't the iPhone a gaming phone? Yes they are positioning it as a Pro Camera phone, but the iPhone is a gaming phone.

18. Vancetastic

Posts: 1508; Member since: May 17, 2017

Do you snuggle with your iPhone?

23. PartTimePhoner

Posts: 19; Member since: Jun 03, 2019

With that 60Hz display or 64GB base storage with no SDcard or OTG support with the lack of 3.5mm jack and a notchless Super AMOLED display?

13. CEDEOTB

Posts: 436; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

They have almost the perfect phone and things they need to make it perfect can easily be done. A Zenfone 6 with an OLED screen and a telephoto camera.

26. ZARTAN99

Posts: 9; Member since: Oct 11, 2018

THIS!

15. PryvateiDz

Posts: 444; Member since: Jul 31, 2011

They're a forced to be reckoned with outside of the US. They don't offer the proper bands for those of us in the USA. The price could be a bit scary for some as well (in the USA, $900 MSRP)

19. Vancetastic

Posts: 1508; Member since: May 17, 2017

I like that Rog 2. I want to hear the speakers.

20. Vogue1985

Posts: 475; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Definitely a lion in sheeps clothing,I remember Asus had some crazy spec smartphones for a while,the Zenfone was hot,but they were not easy to get hold of. Just like this New one.

22. rkoforever90

Posts: 459; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

One of my mate went for a vacation in India and damaged his phone , He bought an Asus for like 100$ and for the price the specs are amazing , I guess if only their phones where available widely they might have a been a popular brand outside Asia.

25. superguy

Posts: 463; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

My question is will Asus actually add the proper band support for US carriers? Even the C variant of the Zenfone 6 is missing bands important to both T-Mo and AT&T. I haven't been able to find anything on the ROG phones' bands. Is it purposely missing?

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.