Asus has a very limited presence in the mobile space as a whole. So when a new model comes out once or twice a year, it’s an occasion – especially when it is a Republic of Gamers phone. It’s that time of year again, and now the new ROG Phone 6 is a reality.
Despite its extremely limited lineup as a whole, Asus tends to overcomplicate the different variants of the ROG Phone. Last year the ROG Phone 5 was quickly succeeded by the ROG Phone 5s mostly due to timing around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888+ chipset. The situation was complicated further by introducing Pro and Ultimate SKUs to the mix and some regional market differences in specs.
This time around, it appears Asus and Qualcomm managed to coordinate a bit better. The ROG Phone 6 is coming out slightly past its due date but has the latest and greatest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 under the hood. Hopefully, this means no “s” variants in a couple of months, and as an added bonus, this makes the ROG Phone 6 more interesting for us since it is one of the first production devices with the chip to come by the office.
Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro specs at a glance:
- Body: 173.0 x 77.0 x10.3 mm, 239g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), glass back (Gorilla Glass 3), aluminum frame; IPX4 water resistant, PMOLED display (on the back), Pressure sensitive zones (Gaming triggers).
- Display: 6.78″ AMOLED, 1B colors, 165Hz, HDR10+, 800 nits (typ), 1200 nits (peak), 1080x2448px resolution, 20.4:9 aspect ratio, 395ppi.
- Chipset: Qualcomm SM8450 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 (4 nm): Octa-core (1×3.19 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.75 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 730.
- Memory: Up to 512GB 18GB RAM; UFS 3.1, NTFS support for external storage.
- OS/Software: Android 12.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.9, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 13 MP, f/2.2; Macro: 5 MP, f/2.0.
- Front camera: 12 MP (wide).
- Video capture: Rear camera: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60/120fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, 720p@480fps; gyro-EIS; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
- Battery: 6000mAh; Fast charging 65W, Reverse charging 10W, Power Delivery 3.0, Quick Charge 5.
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC; 3.5mm jack; stereo speakers (2 amplifiers).
What we have for review at the office is actually the ROG Phone 6 Pro. As far as we can understand, the current lineup consists of a Pro and a vanilla ROG Phone 6, which share almost all of their internal specs, except maximum RAM. The vanilla tops out at 16GB of RAM while the Pro gets 18GB. Both use the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and are otherwise nearly identical in terms of features. Well, sans the slightly different back design with the ROG Vision secondary display, which is reserved for the Pro.
Left to right: ROG Phone 3 • ROG Phone 5 Pro • ROG Phone 6 Pro
The ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro come with dual Nano-SIM slots. Asus reps also confirmed that there would be potential differences market to market, which you do have to check with your local store. These are likely to mostly be limited to memory configurations, but we can’t rule out some color options popping up here and there differently.
As far as we currently know, the ROG Phone 6 will be available in either Phantom Black or the frosted Storm White finish. Whereas the Pro will only be available in white, like the one, we have.
Asus previously had white reserved for its Ultimate skew but decided to make it widely available this year due to fan interest in the color. Last but not least, concerning models and configurations, we believe both the vanilla and Pro models are going global this year.
Circling back to the ROG Phone 6 as a whole, just like last year, it represents an iterative rather than a major upgrade over the previous generation. Asus has successfully homed in on the gaming formula, or at least its take on it, and has been tweaking it and keeping it fresh and current for some time now. No fault in that approach since there are few devices out there quite as “tricked out” as the ROG Phone in almost every aspect.
This year, the AeroActive cooler is arguably the bit that has received the most attention and a major overhaul. Now it even sports an active Peltier element for improved cooling. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Before we really dive into the ROG Phone 6 Pro, let’s start with its retail box contents. In keeping with ROG tradition, it is a real treat. The whole thing is shaped like a trapezoidal prism and features a very nifty slide-out mechanism. Once that is engaged, magnets hold an inner segment of the case closed as a sort of “flap” to cover the cradle that holds the phone itself snugly in place.
The cradle slides out to reveal the bottom compartment, charger, and cable. The HyperCharge charger is an extremely compact and surprisingly light unit with up to 65W of Power Delivery output over a Type-C port. Asus relies on entirely standard PD + PPS to do its fast charging, which is a real treat to see. It is rated for 5V/9V/12V/15V @ up to 3A, 20V @ up to 3.25A and PPS 3.3-11V@3A, 3.3-21V@3.25A for a max of 65W. This versatile charger can easily be used to even power some modern laptops. You also get a nice black braided USB Type-C to Type-C cable in the box.
There is also an Aero Case included with our unit, which according to Asus, should be part of the retail package. Check with your local store for details on that, though.
In case you are wondering, you don’t get the AeroActive cooler in the standard bundle. That needs to be purchased separately and comes with its own compatible case in the box.
The only other thing you get in the retail box is an oddly-shaped plastic card that you have to scan as part of the ROG AR initial activation experience for the phone.
The ROG Phone line is a lot of things to different people, but it has never been cheap and affordable. To be fair, pricing, especially including optional accessorizing within the now significantly smaller ecosystem, has been coming down to more reasonable levels. Still, the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro are very much luxury products.
Left to right: ROG Phone 3 • ROG Phone 6 Pro • ROG Phone 5 Pro
The ROG Phone 6 start at €999 in Europe for the base 12GB plus 256GB configuration. The ROG Phone 6 Pro will be only available in one configuration – the 18GB/512GB white model we are reviewing with an MSRP of €1299 (w/ VAT).
If you find yourself considering the ROG Phone 6 Pro, we can already assume that (1) you are after a gaming phone and that (2) money is no object. Well, holding on to the second assumption, let’s look into other gaming alternatives starting with the Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro. Some of its important highlights include a 6.67-inch, 10-bit, 144Hz, HDR10+ OLED display, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset with up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe SSD storage, stereo speakers, a potent 108MP main camera and slide-out magnetic physical triggers for game mapping. It costs a lot less than the ROG Phone 6 Pro, but you could also save a bit more and get most of the same experience with the vanilla Black Shark 5 too.
Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 • Lenovo Legion Y90
Another big name in gaming is ZTE’s gaming brand Nubia. Currently, its headliner is the Red Magic 7, which despite its lower price and relative market position, honestly looks like a better deal than the Red Magic 7 Pro. Compared to its sibling, it has a faster 165Hz, 6.8-inch, 10-bit AMOLED display and better battery endurance, despite its smaller battery. Other than that, it is also rocking a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset with up to 18GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, stereo speakers, programmable gaming capacitive triggers, and an internal fan.
Lenovo has a challenger in the ring as well in the Legion Y90. The Legion line is a bit newer to the market and still lacks the kind of pedigree some of its rivals have, but that shouldn’t reflect poorly on the device itself. We haven’t reviewed the Y90, though, so we don’t have any first-hand experience to share.
Not a lot has changed going from the ROG Phone 5s to the new ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro. There is the mandated chipset change to the latest and greatest Qualcomm has to offer and a few specs touch-ups here and there, plus a newfound IPX4 ingress protection rating. Fundamentally, the core formula hasn’t changed, and that’s arguably a good thing.
Even with stiffening competition in the realm, we maintain that ASUS remains king of the mobile gaming hill. Granted, the once fantastic accessory ecosystem is but a shadow of its former glory, but other than that, the sheer laser focus on gaming is ever so impressive.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro leverages some of the best possible hardware in a unique way, optimizing everything from low-level integration to high-level software for the best possible gaming experience. The flexibility and number of tuning options on offer are still unmatched, and so is the versatility of the in-depth control mapping and macro system.
Honestly, the ROG Phone 6 Pro has very few shortcomings. There is the arguably inferior thermal management compared to previous generations that sort of necessitates the additional purchase of the AeroActive Cooler 6. And then there is also the modest camera setup compared to any 2022 flagship.
And that leads us to price. Starting at €999 for a base ROG Phone 6 and €1299 for the ROG Phone 6 Pro, we are looking at a device that rubs shoulders with the best of them. Luckily, beyond its gaming prowess, the ROG Phone 6 Pro is also a very well-rounded device with one of the best displays and audio setups around and a truly amazing battery life. In that sense, maybe it can even compete with the Galaxy S22’s and iPhone 13’s of the world. Whether or not that’s a fair competition in your view is an entirely personal stance. As it currently stands, the ROG Phone 6 Pro gets two thumbs up from us, and we’ll leave it at that.
- Toned-down, but still ROG-inspired gamer’s design with great build quality. White variant now widely available.
- IPX4 certified body – first on a gaming phone.
- AirTigger 6 ultrasonic touch sensors remain industry-leading, are very precise and versatile. Motion controls are extended and improved from last gen.
- Simplified side port is now just a regular Type-C port – major durability improvement over last gen.
- Industry-leading stereo speaker performance, complete with gaming-specific sound tweaks.
- One of the best around 10-bit, HDR10+, AMOLED screen, 165Hz refresh rate.
- Amazing battery life, even at full 165Hz. Rich battery health prolonging options. Very fast charging (65W charger bundled).
- Fastest-available Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset.
- Great Android implementation, an unparalleled number of game tweaks, control-mapping and performance options.
- Solid daylight photos, as well as low-light images. Impressive selfie quality.
- Very good video quality, impressive EIS.
- Available accessory ecosystem is not as wide as for older models.
- AeroActive Cooler 6 does not come bundled.
- Thermal management is not as good as on the older ROG Phone 5/5s. AeroActive Cooler 6 is now required to make the most of the available hardware.
- Rather basic camera setup, compared to typical 2022 flagships. 8K video recording is capped at 24fps.