Can you still remember your first cell phone? Back then, the focus was clearly on making calls and texting. But it was already possible to play a little game or two. I personally like to think back to my hour-long sessions with “Snake” on the Nokia 3410 – good old times. But if you look at today’s smartphones, there are a lot of things that will knock your socks off in direct comparison to the old phones. It starts with the display and doesn’t stop with the partly stunning camera performance.
After all, it’s not just Snake that can be gamed these days. Smartphones hardly differ from current consoles in terms of graphics and can be perceived as a serious gaming alternative for on the go. Today, we want to take a look at a device that wants to start as a real gaming smartphone. The Asus ROG 5 Ultimate attacks the smartphone market as the TOP model of the Taiwanese manufacturer’s tailor-made gaming series. We would like to take a closer look at whether the device delivers what 18 GB of RAM and special sensor keys promise in our test today.
|Display||6.78-inch AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution and 144 Hz|
|Processor||Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 888 SM8350, Octa-Core, 2.842 GHz|
|Memory and storage||18 GB LPDDR5 RAM, 512 GB flash memory|
|Camera||Triple Camera 64 MP with IMX686 Sony sensor /.
13 MP wide angle and LED flash + front camera 24 MP
|Connectors||2 x Nano SIM, 3.5mm audio port, 1 x Type-C USB 3.1 (Gen.1) + 1 x Type-C USB 2.0|
|Battery||Lithium polymer battery (6000 mAh / non-removable) with ROG HyperCharge, 65W USB power adapter (with fast charging function)|
|Dimensions||172.83 mm x 77.25 mm x 9.9 mm, 239 grams|
|Operating system||AndroidTM 11.0 with new ROG UI (switchable to ZEN UI)|
|Sensors||Sensors for e-compass, proximity, ambient light, fingerprint sensor (in-display). G- Sensor,Gyro-Sens.Ultrasonic Buttons,Ultrasonic Sensors Grip/Press*2|
|Price||from 1,299.99 euros|
Scope of delivery
In addition to the actual Ultimate set, our test package also included matching accessories in the form of the Aero gamepad.
Inside the box of the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate are:
- ROG Phone 5 Ultimate
- HyperCharge charging adapter
- USB-C cable
- Quick Start Guide
- AeroActive Cooler 5
- SIM card pin
- Transparent case
- Warranty card
Inside the box of the ROG Kunai 3 gamepad are:
- Gamepad holder
- Aero sleeve for installation on smartphone
- USB-A to USB-C charging cable
- Transport bag
Design and workmanship
If you take a look at the Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate, you can quickly classify it as part of the ROG Phone 5 series. After all, the design of the Ultimate edition hardly differs from the classic ROG Phone 5. The reason for this is not only the identical dimensions. The other exterior of the two devices is also almost identical.
But of course there are also differences that justify the epithet “Ultimate” according to Asus. For one thing, there is the back. This now features a ROG Vision display. Similar to the ROG Phone 5 Pro, the gaming smartphone displays animations here. One design decision that we particularly like is the color scheme of the small display, which is primarily to facilitate interaction with the device.
Namely, while it still shone in colors on the Pro model, Asus opted for a monochrome color scheme on its Ultimate edition. A very cool look! But not only the small display is a real eye-catcher on the back of the noble gaming smartphone. On top of that, you get to see two practical sensor keys that are used for gaming.
In terms of controls, these are somewhat reminiscent of Sony‘s PS Vita. As with the handheld from Japan, swiping motions are supposed to be the key to success. In order to make the sensors easily recognizable even without turning the device, Asus has built in intentional bumps in the form of chic little engravings in the corresponding places.
But the rear sensors are not the only controls of the smartphone. In addition, the compact gaming machine has six more buttons that are supposed to be used during gaming. Besides the AirTrigger 5, which is based on a sophisticated ultrasonic technology, you can also use the included fan.
It is called AeroActive Cooler 5 and also offers input options when attached to the smartphone’s back. All in all, Asus delivers the best build quality here. Nothing creaks and everything feels wonderfully high-quality in the hands. Mobile gaming is a lot of fun for the hands, too!
Let’s take a quick look at the features of the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate. Here, too, hardly any differences can be found compared to the other devices in the series. Thus, the gaming smartphone once again has two USB-C ports that are supposed to fulfill different tasks. While one of them is supposed to be used as a power supply during gaming, the other one can be used for image transmission to monitors or TVs thanks to HDMI and DisplayPort support. The gaming smartphone also has a 3.5 mm jack so that you do not have to rely on Bluetooth on the go. We also like the SIM card slot, which supports dual-SIM and can thus accommodate two nano-SIM cards at once.
Asus enjoys a good reputation in the smartphone community, among other things, because the Taiwanese leave Android almost untouched. Google‘s operating system is as smooth and tidy on their devices as it is on Google’s own Pixel devices. This looks a bit different for the ROG phones. Due to the gaming approach, Asus gives the device Android 11 with a slightly modified ROG UI. But do not worry. If you are an Android purist, you can easily switch to pure Android. A very commendable freedom of choice.
Not only the connectivity of the gaming smartphone is impressive. Only the most modern wireless components are available here as well. Besides 5G, you also get WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. With all the exciting gaming features, it is easy to forget that this is still a classic smartphone in its basic concept. Thus, the question of how the device actually performs in such rudimentary disciplines as making calls is all the more important. There is very little to complain about here. The ROG Phone 5 scores with clear intelligibility and a great microphone.
Razing fast display
The similarities with the conventional devices of the ROG Phone 5 series do not break off. Thus, Asus also relies on the identical features for the display. A high-quality AMOLED panel is used, which measures a full 6.79 inches. The FHD+ resolution is not nearly as impressive as the refresh rate of 144 Hz. Here we notice that we are in the gaming field. Everything runs as smooth as butter and we did not experience any judder during the entire test phase. No matter if scrolling or gaming. The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate always cuts a great figure thanks to its powerful and lightning-fast display.
But not only the frame rate is nothing less than impressive. Due to the extremely high touch sampling rate of 300 Hz, it is also ensured that your inputs are passed on to the device almost latency-free. That can make up for the important milliseconds in tricky gaming moments. Thanks to AMOLED technology, the display not only shines with impressive contrasts and vivid colors. On top of that, the maximum brightness of 806 cd/m² ensures that you can gamble without problems even in bright environments.
A fingerprint sensor is also hidden under the display itself. It always worked reliably in the test and was easy and quick to set up. Of course, there are some competitors in the flagship segment that respond more quickly, but the speed of the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate is completely sufficient. Alternatively, you can also use the facial recognition option. However, this only works according to rather insecure 2D standards, so we do not recommend it. You cannot expect secure facial recognition a la FaceID from Apple.
The camera: Solid pictures
The camera module also does not feature any changes to the standard edition of the ROG Phone 5. Thus, the gaming smartphone features a triple camera that relies on Sony sensors. Besides the main camera (64 megapixels), there is an ultra-wide-angle camera and a macro camera. Of course, this is not a smartphone that will meet the high demands of photo fetishists. Nevertheless, the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate can take quite good photos.
This is not only true for the camera module on the back. Asus installs a front-facing camera with an astonishingly high resolution of 24 megapixels on the front. Those who prefer shooting videos can of course do that as well. While the camera module on the back allows for recordings with a maximum resolution of up to 8K at 30 frames per second, you can shoot videos in 1,080p (Full HD) with 60 frames per second at most with the selfie camera.
Performance: What a gaming machine!
At the heart of the Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, so far so familiar. After all, the sister devices also rely on Qualcomm’s flagship CPU. However, it becomes clear why Asus calls this gaming smartphone the Ultimate when it comes to the working memory. After all, the CPU is supported by a whopping 18 GB of working memory. Thus, it can boast 2 GB of RAM more than the ROG Phone 5 in its maximum features. Of course, this is mainly juggling with numbers. After all, this really impressive performance for a smartphone cannot really be used to its full potential at the moment due to the lack of demanding games.
Accordingly, the smartphone also delivers a really brilliant performance in its main discipline, gaming. Not only the powerful hardware pays off here, but also the well-thought-out operating concept. At times, the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate feels more like a compact handheld than a smartphone. We especially liked the touch input on the smartphone’s back in practice! However, the simultaneous operation of the touch elements and the two AirTriggers on the top is a bit fiddly. If you have small hands, you could possibly get a cramp here.
But let’s get to the most important part: gaming. After all, Asus wants to do nothing less here than deliver the ultimate gaming machine. I really haven’t held a smartphone in my hands that has managed so reliably without any jerks. There is virtually no challenge that this bulide cannot master. This is especially evident in X-mode, which was especially designed for gaming. Here you can play performance-hungry applications like Genshin Impact with a high level of detail as smooth as butter.
To ensure that the frame rate remains reliably stable, Asus includes a separate fan in its Ultimate Edition. You can easily attach the AiroActive Cooler 5 to the specially created PIN connector. It does not work completely without fan noise, but it did not disturb us in practice. To ensure a cool processor and thus a stable frame rate in hot ambient temperatures, this gadget is the perfect choice.
But that’s not all for the practical gaming gadgets Asus offers for its Ultimate Edition. On top of that, you can control the smartphone with a separate gamepad called ROG Kunai 3. This will especially please those who prefer classic input mechanics and do not like “newfangled” touch controls. Using the gamepad turns the smartphone into a really great handheld that offers enough operating comfort to play for many hours without cramps. But the added value goes even further. Since you can also easily connect the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate to your monitor or TV, the gamepad also enables convenient control without having to hold the smartphone in your hands.
The Battery Performance
When it comes to the battery, Asus doesn’t spill the beans. The Taiwanese are really chomping at the bit. The technology experts have installed a battery with a capacity of 6,000 mAh in their gaming smartphone. That is anything but standard and ensures that even long gaming sessions are possible without problems. However, you should not lose sight of the fact that the display with its 144 Hz also needs a lot of power. Once the battery is empty, it can be recharged comparatively quickly with the included power plug thanks to the quick-charge function. The 65 watts of power ensure that the battery is fully recharged after about an hour. Asus relies on a battery split in two and thus installs two 3,000 mAh strong batteries.
Conclusion: Every mobile gamer’s dream
The Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate is undoubtedly a real niche product. After all, the Taiwanese manufacturer has created a gaming machine that cannot compete with pure-bred smartphones in terms of practicality. This is already obvious at first glance in view of the dimensions and weight. However, those who really use their smartphone a lot for gaming should definitely take a look at this device. The Taiwanese technology company has not only installed a lot of hardware power, but also developed a practical and sophisticated operating concept.
Especially the touch sensors on the back worked really well in practice. However, if you have rather small hands, you might have some problems with the simultaneous operation of shoulder keys and touch sensors. The added value of the Ultimate Edition compared to the conventional ROG Phone 5 models is impressive. Besides 2 GB more RAM, you not only get the practical AeroActive 5, but also some other fan utensils. So if you’re interested in the series anyway, you’ll probably make the best catch with the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate Edition.