After six generations, the ASUS ROG Phone series has become a hotly anticipated device each year, with ASUS pushing the envelope for what gaming can achieve on a mobile platform. Announced globally earlier this month, the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro are heading to Australia from the middle of this month, with the ROG Phone 6 arriving this month, closely followed next month with the ROG Phone 6 Pro – which I’ve had the chance to review.
Availability in Australia for both models will see both devices on sale at Australian retailers including JB Hi Fi
|ROG Phone 6||Australia||Middle of August||AUD $1,799|
|ROG Phone 6 PRO||Australia||Middle of September||AUD $1,999|
The gaming phone genre is fairly well established by now, with other companies offering their own take over the past few years. ASUS’ ROG gaming phones are defined by great performance with top of the line cooling and even a fan accessory to ensure you can game for hours as well as small touches like dual USB-C ports with one on the side so you can game in landscape while you charge, plus much more.
We’ve gotten hands on with the ROG Phone 6 Pro, the absolute pinnacle of hardware available at the moment and it’s got a lot going for it. I enjoyed using the ROG Phone 5 last year and have been hotly anticipating this latest release. I used the ROG Phone 6 for 2 weeks and here’s how it went.
Hardware and Design
The ASUS ROG design team have brought the same gamer aesthetic of their high-end laptops and accessories to the phone, with sharp angles inlaid on the rear surrounding the ROG Vision display. The ROG Phone 6 Pro is only available in white, covered in Gorilla Glass 3, though the ROG Phone 6 is available in either black or white with a slight variation on the rear design.
In keeping with the design, there’s a striking electric blue colouring added to the SIM tray, power button and also around the main camera on the rear which contrasts with the black very nicely.
The angles also extend to the bumper shell included in the box which fits snugly around the phone with cut outs for accessing all the buttons and ports.
While it looks futuristic, the phone is very comfortable to hold. Button placement is well thought out for one-handed use without the need to stretch too far. Combined with the one-handed mode in the software, which make it easier to either show notifications or pull the screen into reach, it’s very comfortable to use.
One of the big draw cards for the ROG Phone 6 for some people will be the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack on the base, an option that’s incredibly rare on flagship level phones these days. It removes any risk of latency from bluetooth headsets when gaming, and obviously has the benefit of better audio quality as well.
There is a USB-C port offset to the left on the base as well as that headphone jack, as well as one on the side. This dual USB-C option allows for easier charging while playing in landscape mode, or you can plug the AeroActive Cooler accessory (Sold separately) to the side and the offset port on the base allows charging without interrupting your gaming experience.
The pronounced camera bump on the rear can be mitigated with the bumper shell, allowing the phone to sit nicely on a desk, but without the shell it will wobble when you use it.
The phone includes the latest Qualcomm mobile platform, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor and 18GB RAM with 512GB of on-board storage. There’s no microSD card slot but with 512GB of storage on-board that’s understandable.
In terms of real-world performance there’s no issues. None.
Let me clarify that. Occasionally when reviewing phones there’s a stutter here or there as an app loads into memory, but on the ROG Phone 6 there’s literally no stutters, bumps or anything to interrupt your experience. With 18GB of RAM there’s plenty of headroom and with the CPU almost completely tamed by excellent cooling options, it was simply stunning to use.
I don’t tend to put a lot of stock in benchmarks as they’ve been gamed to heck by most companies over the years, but in terms of benchmarks, the ROG Phone 6 does very well across the board
Performance is boosted by ASUS ROG keen eye for thermal management, knowledge which they’ve honed over many years creating high-end ROG gaming laptops and desktops.
The performance is aided by smart design of the internal components which include things like MMT battery design using a dual 3000mAh batteries to make up the 6,000mAh equivalent battery. There’s also a 360-degree CPU cooling system focused on a split circuit board design for more efficient heat dissipation.
Aeroactive Cooler 6
I never noticed the phone getting hot – though I spent a lot of time playing more casual games than the likes of Genshin Impact, Bleach or the like, but if you’ve ever felt your phone getting warm after a session then there’s the option for the AeroActrive Cooler 6. Using a Peltier cooling chip, the Aeroactive Cooler speaks directly to the phone to improve the cooling profile as needed.
This funky looking cooling solution also retains that gamer look for your phone, including RGB lighting effects. It fits easily onto the back of the phone through a spring-loaded latch mechanism and plugs into the USB-C port There’s USB-C pass-through on the bottom of the cooler to ensure you can still plug in power and the power button is extended with a rubberised button on top of the cooler.
It’s an additional accessory you’ll need to buy, but if you have experienced any heat from your phone when gaming previously it’s a highly recommended accessory.
The massive 6.78” display on the ROG Phone 6 uses a Samsung AMOLED FullHD+ (2448×1080) resolution panel, and it’s covered in Gorilla Glass Victus for excellent scratch protection.
The big news for this latest gen is the bump from 144Hz refresh rate on the ROG Phone 5, to 165Hz refresh rate on the ROG Phone 6. It’s super smooth when scrolling the UI and games look similarly great – but to truly test it out you’ll need to check out the games that support that high refresh rate.
The screen itself is excellent, with bright, vivid colour representation and it’s perfect for watching movies, or, more importantly, playing games. You can tune the Colour Temperature of the display as well as the Screen colour which is set to ‘Optimal’ by default or you can select the Natural, Cinematic or Standard options available or even tune it yourself.
The display also supports an in-display fingerprint reader for biometric security (You can also use face unlock). It’s wicked fast, activating, scanning and letting you into the phone seemingly instantly. ASUS also says that machine learning will improve it over time, but it’s delightfully fast as it is. You can apply the ROG Phone 6 screen protector – available from ASUS separately – and it doesn’t make a difference to performance, so the balls in your court on that decision.
ROG Vision Display
While that large 6.78” display on the front with 165Hz is the headline feature, there’s also the return of the ROG Vision PMOLED display on the rear of the phone.
By default the ROG Vision display will light up while the phone is charging, but there’s also a range of options for displaying customisable graphics for things like incoming calls, launching a game, charging, entering X mode and more. There’s also now more than 60 new animations to display on the ROG Phone 6 Pro’s ROG Vision display!
It’s a neat touch, but not one you’ll notice much when you’re using the phone yourself, but it certainly gets some notice when you fire up a game. Overall, it’s just one of those touches that goes the extra mile in terms of design.
As well as the bonus of having a headphone jack, the ROG Phone 6 includes super-impressive audio on-board. There’s no visible speaker grilles, which appear to instead be mounted around the display but you get a massive sound out of the phone regardless of where they are.
The excellent audio is thanks to the dual 5-magnet 12x16mm Super Linear Speakers powered by Cirrus Logic CS35L45 mono amplifiers. It’s a setup that seems to really be working for them because it sounds great.
Some of this is due to the DIrac tuning, which can be further enhanced, or personalised with the
included for superb stereo audio performance. The options in the Audio setup include pre-set sound profiles, or you can fine-tune to your preference with the 10-band equaliser. There’s even headphone profiles to choose from.
Battery and Charging
There’s a simply massive 6,000mAh battery included in the ROG Phone 6 series, with a 65W charger included in the box that supports Quick Charge 5.0 and PD charging.
The phone includes two USB-C ports, one is on the bottom offset to the left while the other is on the right hand side of the phone in the centre which works perfectly for landscape gaming letting you charge but still continue gaming without an awkward cable throwing you off balance or getting in the way.
The phone doesn’t support wireless charging, but with the 65W charging option delivering a full 100% charge from dead flat in a little over 40 minutes it’s hard to fault the charging on this phone.
In terms of Battery life, the ROG Phone 6 is fantastic. A full 24 hours of battery life using the default battery profile was able to give up around 8 hours of screen on time – which included a couple of hours hotspot use. I also ran the phone using the Ultra Durable mode setting in the Armoury Crate app, which restricts some performance features, and found the phone to be ultra usable still and smashed into day 2 with over 10 hours of screen on time.
The ROG Phone series has never placed a priority on cameras, but the ROG Phone 6 has improved on their previous models. The hardware is right, with a 50MP main sensor and 13MP wide sensor and 5MP macro sensor.
The key word for the camera setup on the ROG Phone 6 is that it’s good enough for a shooter with pretty decent shots coming in good light.
The low-light performance leaves a little to be desired, with contrast issues as the phone attempts to brighten the image. It’s a usable shot for phones, but tends to fall down when examining the background details.
There’s an excellent UI on the ROG Phone camera though, with the option to mix up the mode bar in the app. You can drag and drop features and even choose to open up to the last used camera mode each time if you find yourself using portrait mode, night mode or other modes consistently.
The ROG Phone 6 runs Android 12L, the variant of Android designed for large screens and foldables. The Android OS runs with ROG UI or Zen UI over the top, both of which are fairly minimal and very close to stock Android in look and feel.
The ROG Phone 6 will see good software support with ‘2 OS updates and at least 2 yrs of security updates’ promised. Out of the box, you find the 1st of April 2022 security patch but there’s an Over The Air (OTA) update waiting to install once connected to the internet which updates it to the May 2022 patch.
One of the first options you’re given when logging into the ROG Phone 5 is the option to choose between the ROG UI interface which is heavily inspired by a gamer aesthetic, or the more minimalist, stocklike Zen UI.
While it’s minimalist and close to stock Android in appearance (depending which version of the UI you choose), there’s a lot going on under the hood. ASUS has included the Game Genie gaming mode software that manages interruptions and more when you launch a game, or the Armoury Crate software that controls the performance options on the phone.
There’s some neat software tools included with the phone including the Edge Tool which gives you a launch area to access your favourite apps, with a fair few customisations.
The Armoury Crate – or Armory Crate (US spelling) – is a common application on the ASUS ROG line of computers, giving you a lot of control over your gaming experience. Here you can highlight games on your phone, select the performance mode and loads more.
The performance modes can be switched through X Mode – their high-end performance mode, Dynamic – the everyday mode, Ultra durable – the battery saving mode and Advanced – which lets you take full control of the CPU, GPU, RAM, Display Performance, Network and more.
It’s also in the Armoury Crate software you can configure the ROG VIsion display on the back, as well as options for the AeroActive Cooler 6 accessory and Air Triggers.
Air Triggers are a mix of hardware and software which the ROG Phone series includes letting you map up to fourteen specific touch points on the phone and screen to quickly launch apps or enhance your gaming. You can even add in four more ‘Air Triggers’ with the AeroActive Cooler 6 adding some buttons to the rear of the phone.
Air Triggers have been enhanced for the ROG Phone 6 launch with new Gyroscopic aiming and Press & Lift functions, which let you map different actions when you press down, and more when you then lift your fingers off the trigger points.
The Air Triggers are configured in the Armoury Crate app, and do add a little more functionality when you’re in-game. I didn’t use them much for gaming, but the squeeze options on the sides – reminiscent of the Pixel ‘Active Edge’ feature – was awesome, letting you access select apps or functions quickly. There’s also a Double Tap on the Back feature to do similar options.
Should you buy this phone
If you’re after the most powerful phone around, but photography is a secondary concern then the ROG Phone 6 Pro is definitely the best phone you can possibly purchase in Australia today.
The camera, while not quite at the same level of other flagships, still offers some excellent quality snaps in a variety of conditions. The software support as well could be a little longer with 2 OS updates and 2 years of security updates a little short compared to other flagships.
The winners for me though are simply the excellent quality screen with smooth refresh rate, excellent sound quality and of course the consistent high level of performance of the phone. The amazingly good battery life and the 65W charging are also hard to pass up.
Ultimately the ROG Phone 6 Pro sits in a category of its own with its own unique look and just oodles of power ready to take literally anything you can throw at it. The only question is whether you want to pay the $1,999 price tag for this mobile power house.
If you want to check out the ROG Phone 6 Pro, it will be sliding into JB Hifi and other retailers in mid-September.