The Asus ROG Phone 3 is a beast and one of the best gaming phones around, even though it was announced almost a year ago. It’s big, it’s loud, and it’s powerful. But is it right for you?
That’s what this buyer’s guide is for. It includes all the best resources on the ROG Phone 3 to help you figure out whether or not to get the phone. We’ll take a look at how good or bad the cameras are, how the performance is, how much battery life to expect, where to buy it, and more.
This ROG Phone 3 buyer’s guide is current as of June 2021. We will update it regularly with new content.
Asus ROG Phone 3 at a glance
ROG Phone 3 (Launch Price: $999/€999/Rs 49,999) is for gamers. Not only does it pack high-end hardware, but it also has some gaming-centric features on board and is available with a host of accessories that enhance the gaming experience. These include the AeroActive 3 cooling fan that also doubles as a kickstand.
You’ll find the Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset under the hood and up to 16GB of RAM. The display measures in at a massive 6.59 inches and sports an industry-leading refresh rate of 144Hz. The battery is huge as well with a capacity of 6,000mAh, making sure that you will be able to play for hours on end.
The phone sports shoulder buttons, a surprisingly good triple camera setup, and two front-facing speakers for a more immersive sound experience. Asus has released a software update that enables Dirac’s headphone optimization technology. It effectively improves the audio quality of all compatible ROG gaming headsets when paired with the ROG Phone 3. The design is a bit toned-down as compared to the previous generation but still quite flamboyant and hence, not liked by everyone.
The phone does have a few drawbacks when compared to its rivals. It does not support wireless charging and does not have an IP rating. It also lacks a headphone jack, although the Aeroactive 3 cooling fan accessory does include one.
Is the ROG Phone 3 worth buying?
If you are in the market for a gaming phone, then the ROG Phone 3 should definitely be on your shortlist. It offers everything you need including great performance, big screen, big battery, shoulder buttons and more. However, all this comes at a cost. The ROG Phone 3 is on the expensive side, launching at $999 for the 12GB/512GB model and going up to $1,099 for the variant with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. However, you can get it for less now as it has been in the market for almost a year and because its successor has already been announced.
If gaming isn’t your thing, then the ROG Phone 3 probably isn’t for you. Most people will be put off by the bold, gaming-focused design with RGB lighting on the back and the extra gaming features they won’t use. Additionally, you don’t get any wireless charging or IP rating with most phones in this price range. There’s also no headphone jack or microSD card slot, which is available on rival devices like the LG V60 ThinQ.
However, if you’re not a gamer but love the design of the phone and don’t care about the lack of wireless charging, headphone jack, and IP rating, the ROG Phone 3 may still be for you. It has everything a power user would need and more.
What do experts think about the ROG Phone 3?
Our own David Immel reviewed the ROG Phone 3 and liked a lot of things about it. He said that it is the fastest phone on the market at the time of writing and has great speakers and great cameras. He also liked the 144Hz display and shoulder buttons which are even better than the ROG Phone 2.
The phone offers a great software experience.
Since you can choose between a gaming-focused or stock-like interface, the software experience gets a thumbs-up. Additionally, David liked the overall battery life of the device, despite being a bit inconsistent at times.
He also pointed out some drawbacks of the phone, including wireless charging and lack of IP rating. Both these features are available in most other phones in this price range. The phone can also get quite hot, so in many markets it is a good idea to use the Aeroactive 3 cooling fan that comes with the phone.
What other reviewers from across the web think
To give you the best overview of the ROG Phone 3, I looked at a bunch of phone reviews from other publications. The overall opinion of reviewers across the web was similar to David’s. Most of them highlighted the smooth performance of the phone, great display, loud speakers and big battery. He also felt that the lack of wireless charging and an IP rating is a major drawback of the device and he mentioned that the design of the phone is not for everyone.
However, not everyone was on the same boat when it comes to cameras. While David, along with many other reviewers, loved them, some had different views. for example, tech radar David Lumbo said the phone’s cameras are “so-so”, while PCMag’s steven winkelman Wasn’t impressed with the phone’s macro lens, saying it produces “flat photos with famous details”. Other cons of the phone, highlighted by various reviewers, include the fact that while AirTriggers are generally great, they only work with select games.
How good are the ROG Phone 3’s cameras?
The main 64MP camera on the phone, 13MP wide-angle shooter and 5MP macro lens. Our own David Immel thinks they’re great. In fact, he said he prefers the ROG Phone 3’s camera system to the Samsung Galaxy S20.
The images captured had great colors and a good dynamic range. They also showed a decent amount of shadow detail without looking washed out. However, low-light photography isn’t the best, especially when compared to other phones such as the Pixel 4.
David also had good things to say about the selfie camera, which comes in 24MP. He said that it can capture great selfies with good colors and sharpness even in foggy conditions. If you want to see sample images taken from all four cameras, you can do so by click here.
Does ROG Phone 3 have good battery life?
A gaming phone needs a big battery, and the Asus ROG Phone certainly delivers with its 6,000mAh cell. The battery should easily last you a full day and is good enough for long gaming sessions.
When reviewing the phone, David found the best battery life on the ROG Phone 3 with a screen-on time of nine hours and 21 minutes, with 5% battery left. However, battery life was a bit inconsistent, getting only seven hours of screen-on time on some days, which is still pretty good. The reason for this incompatibility is probably due to the variable refresh rate display of the device.
We tested the phone’s battery life using our in-house speed test G Benchmark to see how it stacks up against the competition. The results are impressive, but not industry-leading. The phone came at number three after Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro Plus. But it outperformed popular phones like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Pixel 4 XL and LG V60, as you can see from the chart below.
Asus ROG Phone 3 Alternatives
There are several great options you should keep in mind when deciding whether or not to get the ROG Phone 3. One of them is the Red Magic 5S, which has weaker specs than the ROG Phone 3, but is cheaper.
Then there’s the Black Shark 3 series, which offers a little less in some areas and more in others. For example, you get a smaller battery but a faster 65W charge. The regular model is a better option if you’re on a budget, while the more expensive Pro version is for those who want a little more.
Read The best phones for gaming you can get
Another great gaming phone is the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel. You get a smaller battery than the Asus ROG Phone 3 but a pop-up selfie camera for a more modern look and feel. But keep in mind that the availability of the phone is quite limited.
As far as new phones go, the ROG Phone 5 is clearly something to consider, although it is more expensive. Then there’s the Lenovo Legion Phone Dual 2, the Xiaomi Black Shark 4 series, and the Red Magic 6.
There are other options, too, that aren’t specifically designed with gamers in mind, but have the necessary hardware to play the most demanding titles. These include the Galaxy S21 and Note 20 series, LG V60 ThinQ, OnePlus 9 series and Xperia 1 II.
Most of these devices have IP ratings and wireless charging that the Asus ROG Phone 3 lacks, but they don’t come with fancy accessories like shoulder buttons and the AeroActive 3 cooling fan.
Unfortunately, Asus doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to software updates. The ROG Phone 2 was launched with Android 9 Pie and was updated to Android 10 in March, six months after the OS was launched. For context, the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro got Android 10 just 18 days after its launch, while Samsung rolled out the update to the Galaxy S10 series about two and a half months after it became available.
If you want fast and frequent updates, then ROG Phone 3 probably isn’t for you.
From there the situation gets worse. The original ROG Phone that was released in 2018 with Android 8 Oreo is yet to receive Android 10. No word on when or what it will get. Meanwhile, the OnePlus 6 and 6T which were released around the same time got the update only two months after it was released by Google. Samsung was a bit slow with its Galaxy S9 series, but it still managed to get the update about four months after it hit the market.
There’s no word on how fast the Asus ROG Phone 3 will get the OS upgrade and how many of them we can expect. But based on its predecessors, the phone is not for…