The ROG Phone series has been at the top of its class, especially in the mobile gaming category. From overall performance to battery life, the ROG Phone is always expected to go toe to toe with other gaming smartphones.
The ROG Phone 5s Pro is coming in at a very odd timing as it is sandwiched between the Snapdragon 888 and the brand new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipsets. This timing puts the device in a state where consumers would have to deal with deciding to buy it, buy the older generation or wait for the next device in the series. In this review, I will try to bring some light in the situation by sharing my experience with the device, and ultimate help consumers in their purchase decision.
The Unboxing Experience
The first thing that you need to know about this device is the unboxing experience. If you bought the ROG Phone 5, the new ROG Phone 5s Pro’s unboxing experience offers nothing really new. However, if this is your first ROG Phone, then you’re in for a treat. Of course, upon opening its box, you’ll be greeted with the ROG Phone 5s Pro, a special SIM ejector tool, stickers, manual and an Aero case. The new ROG Phone 5s Pro also comes with an AeroActive Cooler 5, which further improves the thermals of the phone. I know the ROG Phone 5’s chipset wasn’t the best, but the AeroActive Cooler 5 that came with it really helped the phone so much in reaching its optimized performance. While it is working really well to make the phone cool, medyo hindi lang komportable to use the AeroActive Cooler 5 triggers.
One of the best things about the new ROG Phone 5 and even the 5s series is the inclusion of the ROG HyperCharge 65W charger. This is still part of the retail box of the ROG Phone 5s Pro, and it should be good enough to charge the phone to 100% in less than an hour.
If you’re looking for something cool while unboxing this, it would be the AR experience that only the ROG Phone 5s Pro can read. It turns the 2D-comics into 3D playable experience, which gives users a quick tutorial on the new features of the new phone!
Now, let’s get into specs of the ROG Phone 5s Pro. It is important to note that this new phone does not feature a huge upgrade from the ROG Phone 5. So, I suggest that you manage your expectations if you already have an ROG Phone 5.
For starters, the most important upgrade in the ROG Phone 5s Pro is Snapdragon 888+. This chipset does not just give the 888 series a boost but also addresses thermal concerns surrounding it.
Snapdragon 888+ packs 8 cores in various configurations. The main core can reach up to 2.99Ghz, which is definitely higher than the one on the ROG Phone 5 I reviewed last April. The ROG Phone 5s Pro is technically the spiritual successor to the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate. It bears almost identical storage and memory capacities. The rest of the specifications are almost the same like its 144Hz AMOLED display with Gorilla Victus protection’ gaming triggers plus additional triggers at the back of the smartphone; camera specifications; 6000mAh…. Virtually everything.
As ROG Phone 5 Ultimate’s successor, the ROG Phone 5s inherited the ROG Vision at the back of the smartphone. It’s a PMOLED display that gives contextual animations when the phone is facing down. It isn’t exactly the most useful, but gives an aesthetic flair on the gaming smartphone. Besides, it’s something that will likely be covered most of the time because of the aeroactive cooler 5.
Gaming Performance and Benchmark
I ran a few tests of my favorite games here, and as I expected, the performance wasn’t anything too remote from my experience with the ROG Phone 5. Games like Final Fantasy 7 First Soldier and Genshin Impact can be played at the highest settings without seeing any significant drop in performance. First Soldier gameplay was buttery smooth while Genshin Impact was playable at peak 60fps at maximum settings.
In terms of benchmark performance, you’ll notice that the ROG Phone 5s Pro was significantly better versus the ROG Phone 3 and even the ROG Phone 5. However, I believe that it’s obvious that this phone is not really meant to be marketed to those who bought the ROG Phone 5.
I think that if you already own an ROG Phone 5, I do not see any reason why you should buy the ROG Phone 5s Pro. If you have the ROG Phone 3 and you skipped buying the ROG Phone 5, this new phone is something that’s worth checking out. If I am to assume the possible launch of the next ROG Phone, it might be after the 1st quarter of 2022 with the new Snapdragon chipset. If this is the case, I would honestly recommend that you wait for that instead.
I believe this is a crucial step in my initial test of this new phone. If you will remember, the thermals of the ROG Phone 5 wasn’t really bad compared to its Snapdragon 888 counterparts, but it’s definitely not the best in terms of thermal management. Given its OP performance, I really did not expect it to be “cool” in the literal sense. I played Shadowgun Legends on this phone. Comparing it to the ROG Phone 3 and 5, 5s Pro managed to have an average thermal performance of 56C while playing the game. This is 2C cooler than the ROG Phone 5 at the same gaming condition.
There is not much to say here because whatever ROG Phone 5s Pro has is the same set of cameras on the ROG Phone 5 series. You get a 64MP lens with f/1.8, 13MP with f/2.4 and 5MP with f/2.0 apertures. It also has 24MP wide selfie camera with f/2.4 aperture, which is enough for you to enjoy taking selfie photos and videos.
Here are some sample photos that I using the ROG Phone 5 and ROG Phone 5s Pro for comparison purposes. Quality is the same with minor differences in temperature and tone.
The quality of videos I shot using the rear camera is decent. You can shoot up to 8K at 3fps down to 720p at 480fps for slow motion videos. It can also be good at vlogging or taking selfie videos for your Tiktok or Instagram Reels contents.
Based on expectation, with great power comes great battery drain. That still holds true, but since this smartphone has 6,000mAh battery just like the previous generation, it managed to stay up and running throughout the day with still remaining 12% battery life despite having an average screen on time of about 7 hours. 7 hours of combined activities involving social media apps like TikTok and Facebook, ecommerce apps like Lazada and Shopee and mobile games.
I tested this too using PC Mark Battery test while the phone was in X Mode, and it managed to stay up for 11 hours and 44 minutes with 20% battery juice remaining.
There is no doubt that this smartphone is among the most powerful that came out this 2021. In fact, it’s the best looking one that I’ve used so far. The ROG Vision has an amazing flair and the level of performance it offers is through the roof. If you have the budget, and you’re not into getting an iPhone or maybe a foldable smartphone, get this one instead. However, if you can still manage to wait for next year’s ROG Phone, you better stick around for that.
The ROG Phone 5s Pro is now available for PhP59,995. ASUS Philippines will also make the ROG Phone 5s 12GB RAM/256GB Storage and ROG Phone 5s 16GB RAM and 512GB Storage variants for PhP42,995 and PhP49,995 respectively.
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.