The Asus ROG Phone 5 is shaping up to be the most exciting gaming smartphone of 2021. Its beautiful and smooth 144Hz OLED display will allow for quick reactions during gaming, while its powerful dual stereo speakers will surround the player with rich and clear sound, just like the previous ROG Phone did. But is this phone really such a jump from the ROG Phone 3 that it warrants skipping a number and naming it the Asus ROG Phone 5?This is an early look at the Asus ROG Phone 5 based on leaked information, along with our experience with its predecessor. Stay tuned, as this article will change into a full-fledged review once we get a hold of the upcoming phone.

Design

On the front, the Asus ROG Phone 5 will feature the familiar top and bottom bezels, each holding a speaker, just like its predecessor. Because of the quality of those speakers and the fact that the top bezel will also have an LED indicator light, those bezels are well worth it.The back of the phone will be slightly redesigned, but will still feature angular shapes and a triple camera module. Perhaps most interestingly – it will have a small secondary display instead of the usual RGB “Republic of Gamers” (ROG) logo. We’re yet to see if that secondary display will be useful, as it will likely show game-related information that the user won’t be able to see.

Generally, the design of the phone will feature smooth curves, Gorilla Glass-covered front and back, and a metal frame.

Due to its large battery, the Asus ROG Phone 5 will weigh a bit more than the average phone out there, but those who are already accustomed to large, big-battery phones will hardly notice it. And as the screen will be tall but not too wide, the phone will be comfortable to hold in one hand just like the ROG Phone 3 is.

Aside from the usual power and volume keys on its right side, the Asus ROG Phone 5 will likely also have the same Air Triggers we saw on its predecessor. Those are small touch-sensitive areas that work similarly to trigger buttons on a gamepad, with vibration substituting for tactile feedback.

Display

The ROG Phone 5 will sport a large 6.6-inch OLED display with a screen refresh rate that can go up to 144Hz, making it just perfect for both fast-paced gaming and movie watching. At a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, the ROG Phone 5’s display matches its predecessor, and similarly, it’s expected to produce beautiful colors and solid, deep black.

The always-on display feature, called “Always-on Panel” in ZenUI, will be returning too. If enabled, the Asus ROG Phone 5’s display will always show the time, date, battery percentage and notification icons, even when locked.

In the Display settings of the phone, the screen refresh rate can be set from the average 60Hz all the way up to 144Hz. This can also be set to Auto, in which case the phone will adjust the refresh rate based on what’s on the screen instead of always refreshing at 144Hz, potentially saving up a bit on battery life. For those who want more vivid, colder or warmer colors, ZenUI has a setting for that too.

Speakers

The speakers are why I personally fell in love with the Asus ROG Phone 3 and I’m excited to see if they’ll be even more impressive on the ROG Phone 5. Hopefully we’ll get the same loud and full stereo sound with perhaps the best low-end on a 2021 Android phone. Users will be able to additionally tune the sound of the Asus ROG Phone 5 via AudioWizard. The latter is essentially a ZenUI equalizer feature, allowing for easily boosting the bass and treble.

Rich stereo sound like that is essential for a good gaming experience, as one can clearly hear where in-game sounds like explosions and gunshots are coming from in multiplayer games, for example. And the Asus ROG Phone 5 will almost definitely deliver either the same great speaker performance as its predecessor, or better.

Needless to say, those speakers make the ROG Phone a fantastic pick for watching movies or videos too. Pair that with the gorgeous OLED display – it’s a match made in heaven.

Camera

Despite this being a gaming phone, which normally means the camera quality is an afterthought, the Asus ROG Phone 3 had a respectable camera that could capture sharp and detailed photos and up to 8K video.

We expect that the Asus ROG Phone 5 will sport the exact same trio of a 64MP main camera, 13MP ultra-wide camera and 5MP macro camera on the back, along with a 24MP front-facing selfie camera. Thus, the camera performance of the Asus ROG Phone 5 will be on par with, or slightly improved over its predecessor. For reference, we have Asus ROG Phone 3 camera samples below.

Accessories

The ROG Phone 3 (pictured above) is compatible with Asus gaming accessories such as a cooling fan with a kickstand and even a dual screen case. We’re yet to know whether Asus will release new accessories for the Asus ROG Phone 5 or it will simply be compatible with the old ones. The latter seems reasonable to expect, as judging by leaks, the overall form factor and size won’t be changing between the two.

Software and performance

The Asus ROG Phone 5 is expected to run Android 11 at launch, with Asus’ ZenUI on top. When the phone is first booted, ZenUI will let users choose between a gamer-oriented user interface aesthetic with flashy red app icons, or a more casual Android look as seen on most phones.

The ROG Phone 5 will see the return of X Mode, which can be enabled for gaming sessions and aims to increase the phone’s gaming performance by disabling background apps. X Mode also allows gamers to see the phone’s CPU speed and even change it, in addition to using it as a game launcher.

ZenUI also brings other helpful features such as a screen recorder, though of course, users can choose to avoid all of the gamer-oriented features and simply use the Asus ROG Phone 5 as a regular daily driver.

In terms of performance, as its predecessor – the Asus ROG Phone 3 – the ROG Phone 5 will likely be among the most powerful smartphones of the year. It’s expected to pack the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with an overkill of at least 12GB of RAM. And as is customary for a 2021 flagship, the Asus ROG Phone 5 will be a 5G phone too.

Battery life

The Asus ROG Phone 5 will have the same large 6,000 mAh battery as its predecessor, which should similarly offer impressive screen-on times between charges. Enabling always-on display had a noticeable effect on the ROG Phone 3’s battery life, however, and we’re yet to see if the Asus ROG Phone 5 will perform the same or better in that scenario.

In our battery tests, the ROG Phone 5’s predecessor lasted just over 12 hours of web browsing, 10 hours and 41 minutes of YouTube playback and just under 8 hours of 3D gaming on a single charge (at 60Hz screen refresh rate).

The ROG Phone 5 is expected to have 65W fast charging support, so that large battery shouldn’t take too long to top up when needed. The phone will most likely not support wireless charging, though.

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