Asus announces the ROG Phone 3 5G: the gamer superphone

Asus announces the ROG Phone 3 5G: the gamer superphone
Gaming smartphones are sort of a weird and tough niche, as both users and manufacturers are struggling to define what exactly a “gaming phone” is and what sets it apart from the rest of the top-tier smartphones.

Asus is probably the only phone maker to boldly churn out a new ROG Phone every year. The company seems confident that it has its finger on the pulse of the gaming enthusiasts and just keeps moving forward. And so, in 2020, we get the Asus ROG Phone 3 — yet another insanely overpowered, RGB-lit, aggressive-looking phone with a huge screen and large battery.

Let’s take a deeper look at it:

Asus ROG Phone 3 5G design and display

The ROG Phone 3 looks a lot like its predecessor — it has the same shape, size, and overall dimensions as the ROG Phone 2. Asus claimed this is a deliberate choice — they want users to feel familiar with it, but — more importantly — your old ROG 2 accessories won’t be obsolete with this new model. The RGB LED logo on the back is — of course — still there.

Still, there are some differences. The camera module on the back is now elongated, as it holds not two but three cameras; the back glass is glossy and transparent, giving you a nice view of the heatsink underneath; and the bronze accents have been removed, giving the phone a more subdued, understated, or stealthy look.

The phone is still quite the beast at 240 grams (8.47 oz), but hey — it’s packed with hardware.

There’s a 6.59-inch display on the front with top and bottom bezels that hold the front-firing stereo speakers. No notches, no cutouts — it’s a full rectangle with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio.

The ROG Phone 3’s screen is an AMOLED panel, certified for HDR10+, with a refresh rate of 144 Hz. It has a 270 Hz touch polling rate and Asus claims a 25 ms touch response delay — that’s record fast.

On the left of the phone, we have the proprietary Asus connector for all the aforementioned accessories — display docks, ethernet connectors, and the AeroCooler fan, which will come in the box. The gaming triggers also make a return — ultrasonic pads on the frame of the phone that simulate controller triggers.

What we don’t have this time around is a 3.5 mm headphone jack. You will either need to use the dongle that comes with the phone, or use the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the AeroCooler 3.

Asus ROG Phone 3 5G specs

The Asus ROG Phone 3 comes in two flavors. There’s a more affordable ROG Phone 3 Strix Edition with an octa-core, 2.84 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, and then there’s the real deal — the ROG Phone 3 that rocks Qualcomm’s latest chip — the 3.1 GHz, Snapdragon 865+. It’s a slightly upgraded version of the 865 with a quoted speed boost of up to 10%.

Whichever version you go for, you get LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage — the fastest memory chips on this side of town.

The ROG Phone 3 variants start out at 12 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, then top out at 16 GB RAM and 512 GB of storage. The more affordable Strix Edition comes with 8 GB of RAM and either 128 GB or 256 GB of storage, and a special 12 GB / 256 GB model that’s only meant for the Chinese market.

There’s no SD card slot onboard but the phone does support NTFS file system, so you can plug an external hard drive straight in the USB Type-C.

The stereo speakers are hyped to be an improvement over last year’s model — with 7 magnets per driver and improved audio optimization by Dirac. Asus says they will deliver boomier bass and enhanced spatial audio to make them sound larger and louder than before. The USB Type-C port has a hi-res DAC with 24 kHz / 24-bit sampling.

All of this is powered by a huge, 6,000 mAh battery, which supports 30W Quick Charge 4. No wireless charging, though. This makes sense. For one, it doesn’t look like this phone has a lot of room in it for more stuff, and secondly — Asus puts a huge emphasis on battery longevity. That’s something that the company made clear — it wants your phone to last and the battery is one of these things that can degrade pretty fast. Especially if you heat it up via wireless charging on the regular.

Asus ROG Phone 3 5G cameras

It may be a gaming phone, but the ROG Phone 3 doesn’t cut corners when it comes to cameras. The main shooter on the back has a 64 MP Sony IMX686 that bins pixels together to take 16 MP photos. The binning allows for 1.6-micron clusters, which should take in more light and detail. It also has a fairly large, F1.8 aperture.

The second camera is a 13 MP ultra-wide-lens shooter for those big landscape or action shots. And then there is a 5 MP macro camera for… well, extreme closeups, if that’s what you like to shoot.

On the front, there’s a 24 MP selfie snapper — probably designed for those that want to stream their gameplay with a high-quality face cam.

Numbers aside, the main camera of the ROG Phone 3 can take 8K videos at 30 FPS. This beats out the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which also records 8K but at a limit of 24 FPS. That’s a crazy resolution — not many people out there can play back an 8K clip with no hiccups. But hey… if an over-the-top phone is what you want.

There is a manual photo mode as well as a pro video mode, which will allow you to pick exposure, focus, and white balance, as well as which microphone to record audio with. Normal video modes support HDR video now and there’s a HyperSteady stabilization for extra-smooth footage.

Asus ROG Phone 3 price and release date

The Asus ROG Phone 3 launches in Europe and Asia priced as follows:

  • ROG Phone 3 Strix Edition: SD 865, 8 GB / 256 GB — €799 ($923)
  • ROG Phone 3: SD 865+, 12 GB / 512 GB SSD — €999 ($1,153)
  • ROG Phone 3: SD 865+, 16 GB / 512 GB — €1099 ($1,269)

No word on Stateside launch yet. If you are planning to import one of these beasts in the US, be aware that they only support GSM connectivity (so, no Verizon). Be sure to check for carrier band compatibility before unleashing your adventurous spirit.

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