You might think ASUS couldn’t improve the gaming phone any further, but then it unveils the ROG phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro. Now, let’s be clear. ASUS and its ROG Phone line aren’t the only ones breaking any ground on the gaming phone market. These days in fact, there are more options than ever for a gaming-focused smartphone.
But there’s just something about ASUS and the ROG Phone. That little something extra you almost find it hard to put into words. Then it hits you. The ROG Phone series just does a better job than the competition. And I’m entirely convinced of that, even more so now with the ROG Phone 6 Pro. This is the final boss of gaming phones. That next level ascension that you never see coming.
Just when a hot new gaming phone comes out with shiny new features, you think the game has been won, but then you hear boss music. An interdimensional portal opens up and out comes the ROG phone 6 Pro with five times the amount of HP and powerful abilities that are twice as strong. Is that explanation maybe just a tiny bit melodramatic? Absolutely. But it gets the point across. That’s how good this phone is. That being said, it isn’t perfect.
I always think there’s room for improvement. But ASUS is closer than ever to having released the perfect gaming phone. And after having spent the last couple of weeks with the ROG Phone 6 Pro, here’s what I think about it and whether or not it’s worthy of your money. When there’s finally a definitive price tag of course.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro stays cooler for longer
One of the main pain points of any gaming phone is that they tend to get fairly warm (some almost hot) after playing demanding games on them for any length of time longer than 15-30 minutes.
Games like Genshin Impact, Diablo Immortal, Tower Of Fantasy and other similar titles are the games that you could use to benchmark the performance of a gaming phone. Not too unlike using titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 and DOOM Eternal to really push the limits and test the hardware of a gaming PC or laptop.
When playing these mobile titles, gaming phones rise in temperature significantly. Which can cause the frame rates and performance to dip or even become uncomfortable to hold. Even the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate suffered from this issue. And, the ROG Phone 6 Pro is no different. It still gets warm after 30 minutes of Genshin Impact gameplay. However, it stays cooler for longer than the competition. And ASUS has improved the temperatures over its own past devices.
According to ASUS, the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro stay cooler than other top phones. During some of its own testing, the company says the phone didn’t raise above temperatures of 44.2 degrees Celsius on the back cover after 30 minutes of Genshin Impact in X Mode. That’s compared to 47.8 Celsius on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, 49.2 Celsius on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and 46.5 Celsius on the Xiaomi 12 Pro.
All while maintaining a better frame rate. And this is without the use of the new AeroActive Cooler 6 fan attachment which brings the temps down even further to 37.2 Celsius.
My own personal testing
Now I couldn’t compare the ROG Phone 6 Pro to those other phones personally, because I don’t own them. But I could compare it to the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate and it does seem to stay cooler when playing the same games for the same length of time. Both with and without the use of each device’s respective AeroActive Cooler attachment.
And since it won’t always be practical to carry that fan around, having the ROG Phone 6 Pro stay cooler than the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate when playing demanding games without the fan is an important detail worth highlighting. Naturally, I highly recommend bringing the AeroActive Cooler 6 with you though if you have space for it. Say in a bag or purse pocket. Because it does make a big difference.
One might even say it’s the cheat code for lowering phone temps. And it’s all thanks to ASUS’s use of the Peltier element. This is basically a tiny thermoelectric heat pump that works alongside the centrifugal fan. In most cases you’ll get the best performance if you set the AeroActive Cooler 6 to Frosty mode. But if you can plug the phone in while using the AeroActive Cooler 6, you can turn it to Frozen mode which makes things a little bit cooler.
And the phone supports bypass charging so you can keep the phone powered up while you play. All-in-all, using the AeroActive Cooler 6 definitely makes for the best experience. But I found playing games to be perfectly fine without it too. All that being said, using the fan does drain the battery noticeably faster. So it’s not a bad idea to keep a charger on you just in case if you plan to play for more than an hour or two.
Faster charging than the ROG Phone 5 so you can get back to gaming
Both the ROG Phone 5 and ROG Phone 6 come with 65-Watt HyperCharge adapters in the box. And both charge up pretty quickly. Especially when you consider the large capacity 6,000mAh battery in both devices. What’s interesting is that the ROG Phone 5 charges about one minute faster than the ROG phone 6 when going from 0% to 60%. But from that point on the ROG phone 6 picks up speed. Overall, ASUS says it charges from 0% to 100% in about 42 min compared to 51 minutes on the ROG Phone 5.
Obviously this is based on ASUS’s own internal lab testing and your own results may vary. But I did find that the 6 was a little faster at charging the battery back to full. The phone also now has this cool graphic when you plug it in where it actively shows the battery percentage climbing after it kicks into HyperCharge. This is purely an aesthetic thing but it’s pleasing nonetheless. And little details like this still make the user experience more enjoyable.
Getting back to the quicker charge rates, this was a good improvement since the phone is meant for gaming. And as much as you’re going to want to game on this device, you’re going to need power to do it. But you won’t always have loads of time to sit around and wait. So any time saved here is a good thing and ASUS ever so slightly managed to shave off some time to a full battery.
Of course if you just need some juice to get you through the day or the rest of the night, you can always simply turn on Ultra Durable mode. This extends power by regulating numerous features. And it’s perfect for when you might only have 5-10 min to charge your phone but still need it to stay powered on for 5-10 hours or more.
The Game Genie dashboard has been massively improved
ASUS has completely redesigned the Game Genie from the ground up and it’s a really big improvement over the version in the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate. It now sits at the bottom of the screen and instead of swiping in from the left edge, you swipe in from either the left or right top corners of the screen.
The new placement and activation are merely preferences, but it feels like these are a big step up from before. You also get access to more functions than before and you can still access the Game Genie without having to leave the game you’re playing.
During my time with the phone so far, this dashboard has made playing games a much better experience. You can open up the dashboard to access a range of different functions. What I found to be most useful were the sliders for screen brightness and audio volume. Simply open the Game Genie Dashboard, then tap on the arrow across the top. This will open up the slider bars for those features. Then you can lose the dashboard and get back to gaming.
Should you need to, you can also access a ton of other functions here. Such as blocking all types of notifications or activating/deactivating the AirTrigger 6 functions. And my personal favorite, the system performance bar.
With this you can keep an eye on device temps and frame rates. And once enabled, this bar can be moved around. Letting you place it in an optimal spot. Overall, the Game Genie dashboard has been improved quite a bit. Definitely make sure to use it for an enhanced gaming experience.
Still the best audio experience of any smartphone
There are a lot of options out there for phones these days. And even with all the choices, the ROG Phone still holds the crown for the best audio experience. The dual front-facing stereo speakers provide ample immersion for gaming and produce a clear sound for any other entertainment.
While I still think the audio experience is best when using headphones if you’re streaming music, the speakers are perfectly fine for it. Where they really shined for me is when streaming video through YouTube and playing games. As I simply prefer to not wear headphones for these activities unless I’m out in public. ASUS worked with Dirac again to tune the audio. And it’s clear the two teams worked hard at delivering upscale sound experience for whatever you’re doing on the phone.
The speakers now provide a better center sound stage and audio content playing near the center has improved clarity. The speakers also now have better immersion and sound localization in gaming mode. The best way to describe this is with first-person games like Call Of Duty: Mobile.
If you hear an enemy run by you from left to right, you get a clearer sound of their footsteps coming in softly from the left side, with steps getting louder as they approach the center and then taper off as they exit the right side of you. ASUS says the bass is also deeper and more punchy this time around too. Which is great if you like bass and listen to a lot of audio that is fairly bass-heavy. Overall, the speakers are once again stellar and in my personal opinion, unmatched when it comes to smartphone audio.
A solid camera that doesn’t feel like an afterthought
I won’t spend too much time here since most people probably aren’t buying gaming phones for the amazing camera experience. That being said, if you’re buying a gaming phone and it’s your only phone, you might still want the camera to provide decent pictures.
I can say that the ROG Phone 6 Pro comes through on this front and since the ROG Phone 2, ASUS has vastly improved the image quality.
While image quality definitely seems better overall compared to past ROG Phones, the camera app also provides more features. Slo-mo, time lapse, regular photos, portrait, panoramic, night, and macro are all options for different photo modes. There’s also a pro mode for both photos and video. And the camera now shoots video in 8K Ultra HD, which is great, even if those videos won’t really look 8K on the phone’s Full HD screen.
In short, the camera is pretty good. I don’t think it’s going to win any awards for best smartphone camera. But it probably won’t disappoint either. At least not for those who want a gaming phone more than having the best phone camera.
Should you buy the ROG Phone 6 or ROG Phone 6 Pro?
I think if you’re looking for a gaming phone, then I would highly recommend considering the ROG Phone 6 series. While ASUS hasn’t announced official pricing or availability for the US at the time of this review, we know it won’t be cheap.
That being said, I still think you get what you pay for in most cases. And hands down, you’re paying for the best gaming experience on mobile when you buy a ROG Phone. With the ability to map up to 14 touch points on screen with use of the AirTrigger 6 system, better audio, a bright clear display with a fast refresh rate, and a large battery, the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro are powerhouses.
This is the best of the best of gaming phones. And while I do think there are still some things ASUS could have done to make the phones even better, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is the best mobile gaming experience on the market. Plus, the phone finally comes with at least some official water resistance. ASUS knocked it out of the park again, and I’m not surprised.