WE’RE all used to iPhones and Samsung dominating the smartphone market.
ut what if you want to have the absolute cutting edge in power and visual technology? In the desktop and laptop world, that space is often taken up by ‘gaming PCs’, with their massive graphics power and bleeding-edge resolution.
And that is exactly what is happening in the arena of smartphones, too. This week Asus unveiled its ROG 3 handset. It’s something of a rocket ship for raw power and, especially, screen technology.
It’s also designed with a range of accessories that makes it genuinely easy to use as a powerful gaming device. Best of all, it doesn’t quite hit the absolute pricing heights of some of the traditional flagship phones. (There are two editions: an 8GB/256GB model for €829 and a 16GB/512GB model for €999.)
Lest anyone think this is some sort of geeky corner of the tech world, consider this: mobile gaming is the biggest single tranche of the gaming industry which, itself, is now the single biggest audio-visual entertainment economy. Sure, some of this is Candy Crush. But an increasing chunk of it isn’t.
And this is what devices like the ROG 3 handset is perfectly designed to play with. First-person shooter games, in particular, rely on ultra-high screen refresh rates and very low latency.
The ROG 3 blows almost every competitor away in this regard.
It has a jaw-dropping 144 Hz (1 ms) refresh rate on its Amoled display and a ridiculous 270 Hz touch-sampling rate that brings latency down to 25 ms.
What does this mean? An almost unprecedented touch experience - smoother, more responsive scrolling and lightning fast reaction.
It’s hard to feel the full benefit when using email, but you soon notice it in a game or a video.
For separating colours and light from dark, the 10-bit display also supports HDR10+.
That’s probably the obvious tech highlight when using the phone. But there’s some fairly astounding stuff under the hood, too. Chief among these is the whopping 6,000 mAh battery. For non-gamers, this is literally twice as much battery reserve as many iPhones launched in recent years. Yet the phone isn’t a bulky handset - it feels little bigger than, say, a Samsung Note 10.
There’s also a Snapdragon 865 processor in there, while my test model had a gigantic 16GB of Ram. To put this into perspective, you’ll rarely get 16GB of Ram on anything but a high-end laptop.
So this phone is simply a beast to use and a visual feast to operate.
What relevance might this have to a work-focused user? Possibly many. First, don’t rule out the possibility that there is a growing number of people who want a handset that can effortlessly handle workday functions as well as provide high-end entertainment outside work hours. This thinking is now a permanent feature of the market anyway: Sony changed the entire design of its Xperia phones to make them the right narrow shape for movies.
So if I want the very best display with a battery that can support it, this is a very compelling proposition.
Second, it’s phones like this that push other marques along. If I decide that my iPhone or Samsung is too slow relative to what Asus is providing, those tech giants won’t hang around. Before you know it, the entire user experience for all phones gets an upgrade.
The ROG 3 is a 5G model with some clever technology built in to allow it switch from 5G to wi-fi and back, depending on which is the better, more reliable signal at the time.
If you are a dedicated gamer, it also has an upgraded cooling system with a large to eliminate hotspots.
There’s also an external AeroActive Cooler 3 clip-on fan accessory in case you really need to distribute more airflow to the hotspots on the casing.
In fact, the modular accessory options here are pretty flush.
There’s a new modular ROG Kunai 3 Gamepad, which adds physical console-like gamepad controls, as well as a ROG Clip to attach the phone to selected console controllers. A Mobile Desktop Dock allows gamers to connect a desktop keyboard and mouse for a desktop-like gaming experience on an external TV or monitor, while the AirTrigger 3 system includes a motion sensor, in addition to the programmable ultrasonic touch sensors, to help control the action.
The ROG 3 lineup comes in two variants: the regular full-fat 16GB/512GB model that I tested and a lower-cost Strix Edition, which is the same except with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.