“The ASUS ROG Phone is the latest entrant in the growing list of gaming-centric smartphones”

Our smartphones have become more powerful over the past few years, and that has meant that gaming on the go has now become mainstream. In fact, gone are the days of simple mobile games, and we’ve been seeing more serious, graphics-heavy titles in the recent times. But what’s been even more interesting is the fact that gaming smartphones have quickly become a thing. First, it was the Razer phone, which was then followed by the Xiaomi Black Shark. And now, the latest entrant in this niche market is the ROG Phone from ASUS. So if you’re one of those gamers whose fingers start to twitch every time you hear the “gaming”, we have an enticing comparison lined up for you. Here’s how the newly-launched ASUS ROG Phone compares against the Xiaomi Black Shark, on paper at least. 

Design and Display

Xiaomi Black Shark back official

The Black Shark smartphone flaunts a rugged body with unique X-shaped antenna bands. The company has also slipped in a breathing LED notification light under the “S” logo at the rear, but what it misses out on is a 3.5mm headphone jack. That’s not the case with the new ASUS ROG Phone, which not only comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, but also an additional side-mounted custom USB Type-C connector that supports direct charging, HDMI output, gigabit LAN and headphones. This means you can enjoy an unhindered gaming experience even in the landscape mode while charging. Additionally, the ROG Phone utilises a metal-framed, water-resistant design with its Aura RGB lighting in the rear ROG logo. Interestingly, the light can be configured to trigger according to phone events such as for incoming calls, notifications and more. All said and done, it’s a clear win for the ROG Phone in this department. 

ASUS ROG Phone design front

In terms of display, the Xiaomi Black Shark comes with a 5.99-inch In-Cell display with as aspect ratio of 18:9 and a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 pixels. In comparison, the ROG Phone is equipped with a 6-inch HDR AMOLED display with similar aspect ratio and resolution to the Black Shark. However, one thing worth noting here is that the Black Shark supports a refresh rate of just 60Hz, whereas the ROG Phone takes it one step further to 90Hz. That also means that the ROG Phone has taken a lead of yet another point over the Xiaomi Black Shark. 

Performance

Xiaomi Black SHark leak live

The Xiaomi Black Shark offers plenty of power with an octa-core Snapdragon 845 processor clocked at 2.8GHz, coupled with an Adreno 630 GPU. The device also uses a liquid cooling system to avoid overheating issues during long gaming sessions. It comes in two RAM and storage configurations – 6GB RAM + 64GB storage, and 8GB RAM + 128GB storage. Both phones come with 4,000mAh batteries. While all that might have sounded good, wait until you hear about the ROG Phone. While ASUS has also utilised the Snapdragon 845 SoC, the one inside the ROG phone is actually clocked higher at up to 2.96GHz. ASUS’s cooling solution involves the GameCool vapor-chamber cooling system, with a detachable AeroActive Cooler for an extra cooling boost. Lastly, the phone comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 512GB of internal storage. Yes, you read that right, 512GB of onboard storage inside a smartphone. 

Additional keys and controls

Xiaomi Black Shark FB official

The Black Shark houses a dedicated “Shark Key”, which allows its users to switch to a high-performance gaming mode at the press of a single button. ASUS has a similar mode, but it’s called X Mode there. It frees up background RAM, dedicates it to games, and optimises game-data processing performance. Additionally, the ROG Phone comes with three ultrasonic AirTrigger touch sensors on the sides of the phone. Two of these are optimized to work as left/right triggers at the top of the display during gaming in landscape mode, while the third is designed to be used in portrait mode. These are fully programmable to perform any on-screen action at the touch of a finger. 

Gaming accessories

Xiaomi Black Shark official

The Black Shark supports a one-sided gamepad that aims to make your gaming experience much better. It comes with a 340mAh battery of its own, and the company claims that should last for about 30 hours on a single charge. The wireless controller uses Bluetooth technology, and comes with an analogue stick, apart from a few other buttons. In comparison, the ROG Phone offers a wider range of accessories. 

The first in the list is the TwinView Dock which turns your phone into a powerful dual-screen console. It comes with a 6-inch FHD+ AMOLED screen, front-facing quad speakers, two extra physical trigger buttons, a dual-haptic force-feedback engine, as well as a high-capacity 6,000mAh extended battery pack. Then there’s the Mobile Desktop Dock which allows users to connect their ROG Phone to an external 4K UHD monitor, coupled with a keyboard and mouse. Lastly, the Gamevice controller and WiGig Dock can be used to convert the ROG Phone into a portable console of sorts, complete with dual analog joysticks, left/right triggers and bumpers, and a D-pad among other buttons. 

Camera

ASUS ROG Phone design back

The camera specifications of the ROG Phone include a dual camera setup at the back, comprising a 12MP main sensor and an 8MP secondary shooter. For selfies, the phone uses an 8MP front snapper. In comparison, the Black Shark seems to be faring better in this department as it ships with a 12MP + 20MP dual camera array on the back, coupled with 6P lenses, a dual tone LED flash and phase detection autofocus. At the front, the Black Shark features a 20MP shooter for selfies and video calling.

Closing thoughts

ASUS ROG Phone FB

Both smartphones are currently not available in India, and we don’t expect this to change anytime soon. The Xiaomi Black Shark is a powerful gaming smartphone. But the ASUS ROG Phone betters it in every which way. The latter comes with an AMOLED HDR display with a higher refresh rate, a higher-clocked processor, more buttons, and above all – supports tons of more gaming accessories than the former. The Black Shark does cover some ground in the camera department… but then again, if the best smartphone camera was on your wish list, you’d probably be better off with other smartphones available in the market.