“The ROG Phone 2 is the first smartphone in the world that comes powered by the Snapdragon 855 Plus. We go hands on”

At Computex last year, ASUS was among the very first brands that debuted a gaming smartphone with the launch of the ROG Phone (review). Now more than a year later, gaming smartphones seem to be a serious category attracting a lot of brands, so it’s but natural for the Taiwanese giant to introduce the successor to its handset as well. Aptly termed the ROG Phone 2, the device might seem similar to its previous iteration from the outside, but comes with a slew of new features on the inside. Ahead of the global unveiling, I managed to get up close and personal with the handset, and here’s what I think.

The biggest highlight of the ASUS ROG Phone 2 is the fact that it doesn’t just use the normal version of Qualcomm’s all-powerful Snapdragon 855 processor. In fact, just like the speed-binned Snapdragon 845 on the earlier ROG Phone, its successor comes with the recently-announced Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset which is clocked at 2.96GHz. While the bump in clock speed might not be too much, the bigger change is in the GPU department. The Adreno 640 on the Snapdragon 855 Plus runs at 675MHz, which is 15 percent faster than the clock speed of the graphics chip in the Snapdragon 855.

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That, coupled with up to 12GB RAM, easily makes the ROG Phone 2 the fastest Android smartphone around. Sadly, I couldn’t spend enough time to put the combination through its paces. For storage, the device ships with 128GB or 512GB memory onboard with the latest UFS 3.0 standard. Taking care of thermal efficiency is a three-layer system, which comprises a 3D vapour chamber, PCB vents and external fan.

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The screen on ASUS’ ROG Phone 2 also gets a massive upgrade. The 6.65-inch Super AMOLED panel offers punchy colours and impressive contrast, but what gamers would actually love is its ultra-smooth frame rate of 120Hz. The screen also features a touch response of 240Hz. The HDR 10-compatible display comes with full HD+ resolution. Protecting the screen against scratches is a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 6. For authentication purposes, there’s an under-display fingerprint scanner, though you could also use the face unlock feature instead if you wish.

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Imaging-wise, the ROG Phone 2 features a 48-megapixel IMX 586 rear shooter, which is paired with a 13-meg ultra-wide sensor. If you notice closely, then it’s the exact same combination as the ASUS 6Z (review) and that means the brand’s latest offering should also offer incredible stills and videos. Unlike the flipping camera setup on the 6Z however, ASUS’ newest sports a 24MP shooter for selfies.

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At a time when batteries up to 5,000mAh have become common in smartphones, the ASUS ROG Phone 2 pushes the boundaries. The device sips juice from a gargantuan 6,000mAh cell, a capacity which is rather unprecedented in a mainstream smartphone. The battery supports Quick Charge 4.0 with a 30W adapter and has a similar dual-port design as its previous avatar.

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Speaking of that, the ASUS ROG Phone 2 continues with the same combination of metal and glass. In fact, the bezels on the top and bottom are the same as before, which should come in handy while handling the device in landscape orientation. What really is impressive is the fact that despite weighing 240g, the handset doesn’t seem bulky. The similarities with its predecessor continue in terms of the button and port placement too.

The audio output is also among the USPs of the ROG Phone 2 as it comes with five-magnet speakers. The stereo speakers are fairly loud, and the device also comes with DTS: X support.

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Similar to its predecessor, the ASUS ROG Phone 2 can work with a wide range of accessories. The prime among them is the TwinView Dock, which has got some serious upgrades as compared to the previous version. Unlike earlier, where the phone was placed in the top compartment, it can now be placed in the bottom which helps in maintaining a better balance. Moreover, the screen on the dock also features a 120Hz refresh rate. The gaming controller comes from Kunai this time around, and can be placed along the top and bottom edges when the device is held horizontally. You could also choose to use the controllers separately. The AeroActive Cooler also features better ventilation. There’s a Mobile and Professional Dock available too. ASUS claims that these accessories will be future proof, meaning you could use them with the next-gen ROG Phone as well.

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The ASUS ROG Phone 2 launch in India hasn’t been confirmed yet, but considering that its predecessor did arrive on our shores, I expect the new handset to land sooner than later. The only thing that remains to be seen is how the ROG Phone 2 will be priced in India, as it’ll be up against some powerful gaming-oriented devices such as the Black Shark 2 (review) and nubia Red Magic 3 (review).