ROG Phone 5 Review: The Mobile Gaming King is Back

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The ROG Phone 5 is the Republic’s follow-up to an already amazing mobile device, the ROG Phone 3!

Another year means another update for the Republic of Gamer’s mobile line. The ROG Phone 3 last year was already a banger of a device. Although, it’s successor, the ROG Phone 5, looks to retain most of its good sides and add some more. So, did it carry on the spectacular image of its predecessor or is it just like any other gaming phone? Let’s find out in our review. By the way, you can catch our unboxing of the ROG Phone 5 over here.

Design and Build Quality

The republic made quite the change in the ROG Phone 5’s design. You have a more refined look at the back, with a dotted logo that still lights up much like the ROG Phone 3’s. However, we love the design of this one more as it screams “sophistication” more than “aggressive gamer”. This pushes the ROG Phone 5’s identity to more than just a gaming device but somewhat of a high class mobile phone, that can more than game. You still have that glass back, so better be careful with handling as it makes the device slippery and more vulnerable. It does feel solid and well-built though despite being encased in glass from front to back.

Thankfully, you also have an AeroCase included in the package for out of the box protection. However, it doesn’t offer too much in the way of shock protection as the case is a little thin and feels kind of brittle. Yet it can still provide you with a better grip of the phone to keep it from slipping as well as attracting dirt.

Display

The ROG Phone 5 retains almost all of the characteristics of its predecessor’s display. The only difference is its a wee bit bigger at 6.78 inches compared to the ROG Phone 3’s 6.59. However, that’s about it as it maintains that Full HD (2448 x 1080) 144Hz, 1ms display. You do have huge screen real-estate and a wonderful Samsung AMOLED screen. Not to mention, one of the highest refresh rate displays in the market.

Viewing angles are good as well as color reproduction and accuracy. Then you have Gorilla Glass Victus, the latest from the well known manufacturer, protecting it. While we have nothing against the ROG Phone 5’s display, we kinda wanted something more than Full HD. After all, the specs on this thing is nothing to scoff at and can very easily handle tasks at QHD or 2k. That’s probably the one of the two things we want more out of the ROG Phone 5.

Audio

The second thing we want is better audio. Much like its predecessor, what we have here are dual-front firing speakers and a 7-magnet stereo speaker. However, like the ROG Phone 3, the only thing those speakers truly bring to the table is volume. The device can easily overpower most 3rd party speakers as well as other phones or even laptops. At max volume this thing can fill the room, and even possibly the room next door, with whatever its blasting from its speakers. However at that volume, there is a noticeable decrease in clarity and quality leaves something to be desired. Even at lower volumes, the speakers are average at best. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not bad in anyway it’s just not great for an immersive experience. So, we still recommend you use your favorite audio gear.

General Performance

BenchmarkX Mode Off
AnTuTu809,657
PCMark Work 2.011,429
Geekbench Single Core1122
Geekbench Multi-Core3,620
3DMark Sling ShotMaxed Out
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1Maxed Out
3DMark Wild Life5,836
3DMark Wild Life Extreme1,531
AndroBenchSequential Read
- 1,624.88 mb/s
Sequential Write
- 770.2 mb/s

Handling the heavy lifting for the ROG Phone 5 is Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform accompanied by the Adreno 660 GPU and 8GB of RAM, for our model. This is the crème de la crème of the mobile market for 2021 and it shows. The phone just breezes through all of the synthetic benchmarks, topping each one again and again. 3DMark’s Slingshot benchmarks were even maxed out and we were advised to use their newly created Wild Life test, as seen in the image above. We won’t even be surprised if 3DMark specifically added this new benchmark for phones carrying the Snapdragon 888 as it truly is one powerful chip.

Even its storage speeds are above average scoring a sequential read and write of 1,624.88 and 770.2 mb/s, respectively. We also didn’t need to take a look at the performance of the device in X Mode as it already crushed the competition without that extra power bump. What more if you cranked up the performance even further, right? In real life situations, well, the ROG Phone 5 can pretty much handle any task you throw at it. Even more so in gaming, which we’ll go to in a bit.

Game-centric Software and Hardware

Now, what truly separates a gaming phone from any other powerful mobile device, is what it can offer in the way of gaming features. After all, if you truly want to be called as such you must have more than just powerful hardware. For the ROG Phone 5 that comes in the way of the already well established software ecosystem of its line plus some added hardware bonuses.

X Mode

X Mode makes a return in the ROG Phone 5 though unlike in the ROG Phone 3 you have a more streamlined UI and controls. Gone are the multiple levels replaced with just plain X Mode or X Mode + (when you have the AeroActive Cooler attached). You can edit a variety of settings in the control console for your phone profiles, not just for X Mode. Although, you have a lot more options open when activating this gaming mode. You can change sliding sensitivity, network options, and more importantly, the refresh rate of the display plus more. However, despite our appreciation of having X Mode and its abundant setting options, we found no real need for it just yet.

The phone can pretty much handle anything even without it activated. For now, X Mode is a little more harmful than beneficial. Only because the additional power draw, which increases battery drain and temperatures, doesn’t warrant the additional unneeded performance bump. Perhaps in the future when the Snapdragon 888 drops off the performance radar, then X Mode will be a factor in increasing the ROG Phone 5’s shelf life and relevance when it comes to gaming and other heavy tasks.

Game Genie

Still retaining its presence is ASUS’ dedicated gaming software, Game Genie. It adds another layer of customization and quality of life to your gaming experience. The program offers a lot of options such as notification blocking, on-the-fly screen refresh rate changing, brightness adjustment, recording, macro management, system information, and our favorite, the quick search function. The software also includes the settings for another set of vital gaming features, the AirTriggers and Cooler Buttons.

AirTriggers and Cooler Buttons

The AirTriggers has been an integral part of the ROG Phone family line since its conception. As such it retains its position in the ROG Phone 5. The AirTriggers is just ROG’s fancy term for integrated shoulder buttons, which is precisely what the triggers are. These buttons can be mapped in any part of the screen and acts as a screen tap when pressed. Although, the AirTriggers are not physical buttons but make use of haptic feedback to mimic the feel of a button press. This haptic feature has been continuously improved with each iteration of the ROG Phone, and the 5 once again adds more feel into its AirTriggers. As we’ve mentioned time and again, we are advocates of including shoulder buttons on gaming devices as it proves to be more than useful in multiple scenarios.

In fact, we want it to be included in any mobile device wanting to brand itself as a “gaming phone”. They are especially helpful when it comes to first-person shooters as it allows for quicker trigger presses. Not to mention, it removes the need to specifically arrange your screen buttons for convenience. However, it can also be beneficial in other games such as MOBA and RPG titles. I am personally spoiled by devices with shoulder buttons as they are just too good not to have in Battle Royale games, which I frequently play. The AirTrigger 5 takes this up a level, thanks to its immersive haptic feedback.

The ROG Phone 5 kicks things up a notch even more with the latest iteration of the AeroActive Cooler. That now includes two additional mappable buttons. Much like the AirTriggers, these buttons can be easily mapped in any portion of the display via the Game Genie. It’s basically two more shoulder buttons that aid in your gaming sessions. It takes a bit of practice to get used, since the buttons are positioned to be used by your ring fingers. However, once you get the hang of it, every game just gets easier.

Gaming Performance

Now let’s move on to what the ROG Phone 5 was made for, gaming. To be frank, the phone can truly handle everything and we truly mean everything you throw at it. All the games we’ve played whether Triple A or casual titles runs smoothly without hiccups. Even at max settings, each game run to the fullest frames it can support. Titles that support higher than 60 frames are still few and far between. Yet, even these games run at their max frames without any problem

As we’ve said earlier, performance is still top notch without X Mode active. Triple A titles like Genshin Impact still run at its maximum 60 fps sans the additional power. There’s no need to show you all the FPS of the titles we played as each and every one we tried reached maximum. Genshin Impact? 60fps. Honkai Impact 3rd? 60fps. Black Desert Mobile? 60fps. 144Hz supported games? 144fps. So, there truly is nothing more to say, the ROG Phone 5, without a doubt, is a true gaming beast.

Battery Life

Again, much like its predecessor the ROG Phone 5 retains that beefy 6,000mAh battery pack. Once again, this capacity isn’t just for show as it delivers impressive longevity. It logged a strong 15 Hours and 13 Minutes in PCMark’s battery test. In our real world experience, the phone can survive a good 2 days on standby and about a day and a half with minor to medium usage. Gaming-wise, the phone can muster a battery life of about 6 to 9 hours of continuous gaming without X Mode.

However, you can cut about one to two hours of batt life when you factor in the heat and power draw of X Mode. Charging isn’t much of an issue either. The phone can go from 20% to 100% in under an hour when on standby, a little longer when in use. Either way, the ROG Phone 5 has impressive and long battery life.

Thermals

When it comes to thermals the ROG Phone 5 is in between. In low to medium titles like MOBAs and casual games, the temps are kept at a cool 45°C to 52°C. However, things start to get a little hot in heavy games such as Genshin Impact and Honkai Impact 3rd. In both of those games the phone reached a maximum of 85°C. In that instance the heat can be felt all throughout the body of the device and on the display itself. The AeroActive cooler does help in lowering those temperatures. We noticed a temp difference of about 5 to 10°C give or take, so it’s more than just a decoration. All of this changes though, when X Mode kicks in. The additional power draw and heat pushes the temps of the device quite a lot.

This time, our lowest recorded temp from our games is 65°C and the highest is again 85°C. That kind of heat can already be felt on the device’s backside and on its display. Thankfully, most of the time surface temps are only felt at the back of the device between the camera and logo. Unless you reach that whopping 85°C, then you are mostly safe from sweaty palms and fingers. However, we do recommend you at least use the AeroCase when playing on the ROG Phone 5. The heat from the backside will most probably sweat your hands.

Verdict

The ROG Phone 5 retains what made the ROG Phone 3 amazing while adding a bit more to its repertoire. The phone yet again checks all the right boxes for a mobile gaming powerhouse. You have an amazing display, incredible performance, a beefy battery, and game-centric features that elevate your gaming experience. Plus you have an accessory ecosystem that further addresses your gaming needs.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine however as audio is still a bust and the display could have used a higher resolution. Despite all that though, the ROG Phone 5 is a complete mobile gaming package. Even the base model at Php 39,995 can more than cater all your mobile gaming needs. With unbridled performance and gaming features to die for, the ROG Phone 5 once again proves that its family is the king of the block.

Specifications

SpecificationsROG Phone 5ROG Phone 5 ProROG Phone 5 Ultimate
Display- 6.78" (2448 x 1080) 144 Hz / 1 ms AMOLED 10-bit HDR10+ display

- Gorilla Glass Victus
- 6.78" (2448 x 1080) 144 Hz / 1 ms AMOLED 10-bit HDR10+ display

- Gorilla Glass Victus
- 6.78" (2448 x 1080) 144 Hz / 1 ms AMOLED 10-bit HDR10+ display

- Gorilla Glass Victus
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G 2.84GHz Octa-core ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G 2.84GHz Octa-core ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G 2.84GHz Octa-core Processor
GPUAdreno 660Adreno 660Adreno 660
RAM- 16 GB
- 8GB
16GB18GB
Storage- 256GB UFS 3.1
- 128GB UFS 3.1
512GB UFS 3.1up to 512GB UFS 3.1, non-expandable
Rear CameraTriple:
- 64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.73", 0.8µm, PDAF
- 13 MP, f/2.4, 125˚, 11mm (ultrawide)
- 5 MP, f/2.0, (macro)
Triple:
- 64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.73", 0.8µm, PDAF
- 13 MP, f/2.4, 125˚, 11mm (ultrawide)
- 5 MP, f/2.0, (macro)
Triple:
- 64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.73", 0.8µm, PDAF
- 13 MP, f/2.4, 125˚, 11mm (ultrawide)
- 5 MP, f/2.0, (macro)
Front Camera24 MP, f/2.5, 27mm (wide), 0.9µm24 MP, f/2.5, 27mm (wide), 0.9µm24 MP, f/2.5, 27mm (wide), 0.9µm
Audio- Dual front-facing 7-magnet speakers with Dirac HD Sound
- GameFX Audio System
- ASUS Audio Wizard
- Dual front-facing 7-magnet speakers with Dirac HD Sound
- GameFX Audio System
- ASUS Audio Wizard
- Dual front-facing 7-magnet speakers with Dirac HD Sound
- GameFX Audio System
- ASUS Audio Wizard
Ports- Side USB Type-C 3.1, support for ROG accessories
- Bottom USB Type-C 2.0
- 3.5mm Audio Port
- Side USB Type-C 3.1, support for ROG accessories
- Bottom USB Type-C 2.0
- 3.5mm Audio Port
- Side USB Type-C 3.1, support for ROG accessories
- Bottom USB Type-C 2.0
- 3.5mm Audio Port
SIM- Dual-nano- Dual-nano- Dual-nano
Connectivity- 5G LTE, Dual-band WiFi (2,4GHz/5GHz)
- WiFi 6 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e
-Bluetooth 5.2
-NFC
-Wi-Fi Direct
- 5G LTE, Dual-band WiFi (2,4GHz/5GHz)
- WiFi 6 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e
-Bluetooth 5.2
-NFC
-Wi-Fi Direct
- 5G LTE, Dual-band WiFi (2,4GHz/5GHz)
- WiFi 6 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e
-Bluetooth 5.2
-NFC
-Wi-Fi Direct
GPSdual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS, GNSSdual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS, GNSSdual-band A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS, GNSS
Security- In-display Fingerprint Scanner
- Face Unlock
- In-display Fingerprint Scanner
- Face Unlock
- In-display Fingerprint Scanner
- Face Unlock
Additional Features- AirTrigger 5 (Shoulder Buttons)
- Precision Motion Control
- ROG Vision Rear Matrix Display
- AirTrigger 5 (Shoulder Buttons)
- Rear Touch Buttons
- Precision Motion Control
- ROG Vision Rear Matrix Display
- AirTrigger 5 (Shoulder Buttons)
- Rear Touch Buttons
- Precision Motion Control
OSBase: Android 11
Custom overlay: ROG UI
Base: Android 11
Custom overlay: ROG UI
Base: Android 11
Custom overlay: ROG UI
Battery6,000mAh battery, supports Quick Charge 4.0 and PD Charging. 65W HyperCharge6,000mAh battery, supports Quick Charge 4.0 and PD Charging. 65W HyperCharge6,000mAh battery, supports Quick Charge 4.0 and PD Charging. 65W HyperCharge
Price- 16GB, 256GB Variant: Php 49,995

- 8GB, 128GB Variant: Php 39,995
Php 54,995Php 59,995