The ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) is one of the most successful PC Gaming brands, and now they have expanded into the smartphone with the ROG Phone series. Now in its second generation, ASUS wants to leave no stones unturned with massive gaming accessories that owners can attach and play with the phone.
In my earlier unboxing article, I have highlighted the accessories. After 2 weeks of hands-on, I can share a detailed review about them.
ROG Phone II (ZS660KL) S$1,598
The star of the product, ROG Phone II, has a 6.59-inch screen with 120Hz refresh rate, and is comparatively massive with other flagships. Stretching at a height of 171mm, the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ is merely 162mm yet with a larget 6.8-inch screen.
ASUS kept the width at 77.6mm which is within the average smartphone size, and this is the reason why the ROG Phone II feels manageable. Its curved back aids in the overall handling. When using the phone as my primary phone, I did not feel that it was out of place in the office or too bling as compared to using a ROG desktop or keyboard-mouse.
Running with the latest flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus, the phone feels smooth, though not as fluid due to the UI animation. On the AnTuTu benchmark, the ROG Phone II came up tops at 488,681, and 3D Mark score for Sling Shot Extreme (OpenGL) is 6,256. Indeed, the ROG Phone II is confident in handling any mobile games in the market, and it is not afraid to fire up the processor to its highest clock. If the smartphone gets too hot, there is a fan cooler attachment to dissipate heat quickly.
With a battery capacity of 6000mAh, gaming goes longer, but strangely, the phone did not last exceptionally longer when I use it normally at work, browsing on social and messaging apps. I could get at most 16-18 hours. It appears my Whatsapp is running excessively and I was not able to find any way to cut down on the drainage (could be an app issue). But I managed to squeeze more juice once that app reduced consumption.
The front-firing stereo speakers deliver excellent audio experience when playing games and watching video, and while I was glad the phone comes with 3.5mm audio jack, I find that I could not disable the AudioWizard processor, resulting in over-compressed audio quality over wires. That is a no-no for audio purists using it to listen to audiophile tracks.
The ROG II comes with a pair of ultrasonic soft buttons on the side of the phone frame, where your index fingers are when holding in landscape mode. Called AirTriggers, these buttons are available for gaming controls in supported games. It can also be configured as a squeeze gesture similar to Pixel 3 and 4 series.
Being a gaming phone, there is a gaming console app that monitors the performance, temperature, and memory, plus letting us customise many gaming features, like mapping of hardware controls to on-screen buttons, control sensitivity, CPU overclocking.
One of the cool things on the ROG Phone II is that logo lighting, which you can personalise to provide event notifications, like music, incoming apps, gaming, etc. The lighting colour will also be synchronised on all the attachment accessories, like the TwinView Dock and Desktop Dock.
ROG II Kunai Gamepad S$159
This consists of 3 modular components – the ROG Kunai Bumper, ROG Kunai Controllers and ROG Kunai Holder. With this, there are several ways to set up and play, and you can connect either by Bluetooth, USB wireless dongle, or USB-C direct cable.
The Kunai Holder is useful when you want to play games over a separate larger screen. There are a lot more buttons that you can map and use for gaming. For my kind of game, I find the bumper adequate.
TwinView Dock II S$399
This is a dock that lets you play games in dual screen. The built-in 6.6-inch touchscreen has similar premium specs as the smartphone: 120Hz, 1ms, 5000mAh, cooling fan.
It has a separate battery and does not drain the smartphone battery. You can also attach the Kunai Gamepad, transforming it into a massive gaming console and no one can tell that an Android smartphone sits at the core.
Other than gaming, the TwinView Dock functions as a dual-display smartphone. You can run two apps at the same time, but you cannot operate in portrait mode, unlike LG V50.
The last I checked, there aren’t a lot of games that support TwinView, which essentially displays different gaming information on both screens. Fortunately, one of my favourite games, Asphalt 9, supports, and I had a good time experiencing this feature.
Mobile Desktop Dock S$199
The Mobile Desktop Dock lets you connect the phone by cables to an external display. It comes with generous connectivity docks like HDMI, USB 3.1, USB-C, Gigabit LAN, SD card slot, S/PDIF, 3.5mm jacks, etc.
What it actually does is to allow user to switch between mirror view, TwinView and Tablet view. It is not as useful as Samsung or Huawei’s PC mode, since the apps are still running in Android mode.
In TwinView mode, the larger display essentially mimicks the same second display view as TwinView Dock, except it has higher resolution and shows more icons. To use it properly, you either need a touchscreen monitor or plug in a mouse in one of the USB ports of the Desktop Dock.
I find that when docked, the smartphone speakers do not work, so I had to plug an external speaker through the 3.5mm jack on the Desktop Dock. I tried to plug the Creative SXFI Theater USB dongle and it works in delivering Super X-Fi audio effects.
To use the Kunai Gamepad, I can either connect using USB cable to the dock or to use the USB dongle found on the Gamepad to plug to one of the USB ports of the Desktop Dock.
On the Desktop Dock, there is a button to toggle between PC and Mobile. What this does is that you can route the computer display cable through the dock, so that you do not have to toggle the display inputs from the monitor. Unfortunately, it cannot share the keyboard and mouse.
One small issue is that I need to remove all the phone bumper attachments before the Dock can detect the smartphone. Not even the thin snap-on cover on the smartphone packaging can work.
ROG Phone Bag S$49
The phone bag is more useful than I expected. It comes with several compartments to store the ROG accessories separately. The main compartment is also generous enough to just throw in the TwinView Dock with controllers.
There are also several separate zipper compartments to store other items, some of which have fibre linings to protect your devices.
Even if you are not an ROG Phone owner, I thought this bag is really useful if you are looking for a sling bag with many separate inner compartments.
The ASUS ROG Phone II is quite an amazing mobile product, thanks to a high-performing smartphone and various gaming accessories that expands the usability. Even if you are not a gamer, I find the smartphone stylish, unique and durable. As a non-gamer, I sometimes buy products that are made for gaming as they are designed to withstand the gaming abuse and deliver high-performance that benefits consumers looking for durable products.
As a gaming console, the ROG Phone II has limited content that fully supports the accessories, especially the TwinView and the extensive button controls on the Kunai Gamepad, but you can make it work by patiently map the buttons on the various games you play.
In terms of value, the ROG Phone II and Super Pack together will set you back by almost S$2900. It’s a lot to pay for a gamer when there are other consoles at a lower price. Still, I would recommend picking the accessories that work for you instead of buying the full pack. I would personally go for the Kunai Gamepad and the Phone Bag.