Two weeks have passed since I received the ROG Phone 6. The phone is launching in their upcoming event at AcadArena’s Conquest, and I bet that a lot of mobile gamers have been eyeing to buy this one very soon!
In case you missed my video on YouTube, I gave our viewers our full unboxing experience plus an overview of the specs you need to know about this product. I also shared my initial impressions of the device, to which I said that it’s fastest I’ve used so far, and the accessories ROG included make everything even better, which can definitely put a smile on the face of a lot of gamers.
In this review, I’ll go through and beyond what I talked about in my previous video. I’ll also be transparent with my thoughts, and give you an honest feedback and recommendation about this device. I’ll first talk about my thoughts on the build, then I’ll move on to performance, and then I’ll talk about camera performance. Expect me to also give my thoughts on the new Aerocooler 6 and the phone’s battery life, plus a couple of other features that really make the device stand out or loose ground.
Build and Device Overview
The first time I saw the ROG Phone 6, I honestly thought I’ve seen this one before. If you saw my video and thought of the same thing, your observation is just as good as mine. The look and feel of the ROG Phone 6 revolves around the design philosophy of the previous ROG Phone devices. If you’re coming from the ROG Phone 5, you’ll find this its design like a major upgrade, especially with its ROG Matrix-esque back panel LEDS.
Major Design Changes
The new ROG Phone 6 has a subtler and minimalist design compared to the previous generations. I believe that ROG always wanted to achieve something like this even from the beginning. While the phone still looks bulky, ASUS was able to trim its size down while upgrading its overall performance and display size.
The phone’s display is a 6.78-inch Samsung E4 AMOLED display with 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. It is protected with Corning Gorillas Glass Victus, which is a gold standard on true flagship smartphones. It also has HDR10+ compatibility and has 111% DCI-P3.
The camera panel is now bigger, although I think that this is more attributed to design rather than functional. I’ll talk more about camera in a bit, but I don’t think that its Sony IMX766 sensor would require a space like the one on the ROG phone 6 to accommodate it.
Coming from the ROG Phone 5, the ROG phone 6 hosts a new upgrade on its back panel with an ROG Matrix-esque LED design. While it does not quite match up with the far better ROG Vision, it’s a total upgrade from the bland look of the previous generation. However, if you want an ROG Phone 6 version with an ROG Vision, then you better check out the ROG Phone 6 Pro.
One of the unique features of the ROG Phone series is the bottom and side type-C ports. They are sticking to the same design on the ROG Phone 6 except for one major overhaul – it does not have the extra accessory port beside the Type C connection input. The new ROG phone does not need the extra port anymore especially on its new line of accessories so they ditched this design accordingly; and this is because both data and battery charging input is now through a single Type C port. ASUS ROG’s official word about this is: “Through the integration of hardware and software, we already can use USB type-C port to fulfill all our needed functions, so we removed accessory port on ROG 6.”
The new gaming phone still retains its 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom of the device. It also has symmetrical dual front facing stereo speakers for audio-immersive gaming experience. If you’re going to stream directly from this phone, you can use its tri-microphone array, which is a bit of a downgrade from last year’s quad-microphone array. I’ll talk more about audio and microphone performance later in the media features section.
Hardware and Performance
The ROG Phone 6 is the first smartphone that I reviewed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. This is Qualcomm’s best and fastest yet, and it definitely has a lot of things to offer on gaming and productivity.
The new generation 4nm Snapdragon processor offers 15% more CPU and 50% GPU power compared to last year’s Snapdragon 888. This is – at least – the performance increase you get when we directly compare this to the ROG Phone 5.
If we compare this directly to its non-Plus variant, the new chipset offers 10% better CPU performance and 30% more power efficiency.
The Cortex-X2 core is now able to clock at 3.2GHz compared to its 3.0GHz speed on the vanilla 8 Gen 1. The other cores were also boosed with the Prime core running at 3.2GHz from 3.0GHz, Gold cores at 2.75GHz from 2.5GHz, and Silver cores at 2.0GHz from 1.8GHz.
The GPU runs at a 10% higher frequency while also lowering the power draw by 30%. Moreover, the AI engine now has a 20% better performance per watt ratio.
The ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro get first dibs on this new generation of chipset, and I would say that my overall experience of its performance is impressive, to say the least. Again, this is me coming from an ROG Phone 5s Pro. However, if put my consumer hat that owned a non-plus variant Android phone, then I would say that the ROG Phone 6’s performance is fair and enough.
Performance, Thermals, and Battery Life
Playing games like Diablo Immortal and GRID Autosport register almost constant 60 fps with minor janks. Ni No Kuni plays at 43-50fps at maximum settings, which is already a high watermark. I noticed a few and occasional throttling brought about by high thermals, which can go as high as 52C without the AeroActive Cooler 6 (AC) connected at 85% CPU and 54% GPU average utilization. This is already a huge improvement from the ROG Phone 5s Pro, which reached about 56C at peak during high CPU and GPU load. Moreover, at Frozen Setting on the AC, average thermals can drop to 42C.
Similar to previous implementations, the bigger AAC draws power from the phone so keep in mind that using this all the time while playing games on your device at maximum settings will ultimately take a toll on device’s battery life from full charge. For your reference, while heavily using the ROG Phone 6, the battery life dropped from 100% to 64% while benchmarking and playing Diablo Immortal and Ni No Kuni in just under 3 hours.
This is the first gaming smartphone that has IPX4 Splash Resistance. Well, this isn’t something that you need to take with you when you swim, but it can only be resistant to water splashes from any direction. It’s a good addition to the series, and it can be helpful in certain untoward situations.
The ROG Phone 6 has 12x16mm dual speakers with Cirrus Logic amplifiers, and has a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack. It has DIRAC and Qualcomm aptX compatibility, which are audio features that audiophiles are looking for on a smartphone. The ROG Phone 6 has the best speakers on the smartphone, making it second to none.
ASUS also added a few sound settings under the hood. In fact, if you find its speakers still a little to underpowered, you have the option to further boost its sound by enabling “Outdoor Mode”. This makes the phone sound like a mini speaker.
The partnership between DIRAC and Republic of Gamers bring about few audio tweak options for end-users. It provided scenario effects that range from Dynamic (automatic) to game. Users also have the option to use the equalizer to change values of certain frequencies from 60hz to 20,000Hz. You can also change the levels of treble and bass.
Software and UI
Time and again, ASUS has been trying to improve their software to further improve the gameplay and technology-integration experience. This is exactly what the software is supposed to do, and it is executed very well on the ROG Phone 6. Through the improved UI, you’ll get front row seat to its features inspired from ROG’s desktop and laptop devices.
The new phone version of Armory Crate makes you the captain of your own vessel. You have the option to tweak the performance setting, AirTriggers, Key Mapping and Macro per game. The application Console also gives you a preview and buttons to play around to tinker with the phone’s features. This includes enabling X Mode, playing with the System Lighting, activating certain AeroActive Cooler settings, and customizing Game Genie.
Game Genie is your “hotbar” that you can pull up anytime when playing a game. It hosts shortcuts to features that you can normally find in Armory Crate. Its role is simple: gamers need a shortcut to tweak settings while playing a game.
If there’s anything that I would wanted is for this phone to have flagship level camera specifications. Sony IMX 766 is a little underwhelming for such a powerful smartphone like the ROG Phone 6. This is the same sensor on the Nothing Phone (1), OnePlus Nord 2 5G and the slight older OPPO Find X3 Pro.
However, since this is a product that’s meant and positioned for gaming, I don’t think that having a midrange camera set on the ROG Phone 6 is a bad combination. Besides, the camera’s overall performance is surprisingly good; and it seems that ASUS is focusing more on maximizing and optimizing the camera in order to take good photos. ASUS’ efforts in doing so actually show in the photos and videos I took.
Priced at PhP54,995, the new phone may be a hard pass for those who do not have a budget for a new high-powered gaming device. However, this can be an enticing purchase for fans of the brand and the series. Its performance and capabilities are enough proof that it is indeed a serious flagship in the mobile gaming industry. Being fast is an understatement, but its market highly limited to those who can afford and equally serious to playing mobiles for career or professional purposes.
Apart from gaming performance, ROG Phone 6 carries with it some top-billing features that make it the best choice in the mobile gaming space – sound, thermal management, and display. It is now also IPX4 rated for worry-free accidental exposure to water splashes.
Should you buy it? Yes, but only if you believe that you will need the amazing things it offers.
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.