Unashamed in design, the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro delivers specs in ways few phones do, getting flagship right in almost every way. Is it a gaming phone for everyone?
Most of us have phones and thanks to the positively massive selection of phones out in the world, these choices vary wildly. What you can pick to use as your daily driver doesn’t just come from how much you plan to spend, but what you want to use in your life.
For instance, if you want something with a great camera, you can choose a phone solely for that. And if you want something to be small and pocket friendly, there are phone options for that, as well.
And if you want to play games on your phone first and foremost, there are even options there, as well.
Gamer phones tend to be something a little bit different, changing the design to match designs gamers may find more interesting, while exaggerating the feature set for things a gamer may find more useful. In gamer phones, you can almost always expect some light-up components, much like you can in gaming laptops, and there’s likely going to be an emphasis on parts that perform.
With the Asus Republic of Gamers phone range, that has been a part of the idea since they first launched, and in the latest model, the ROG Phone 6 Pro, Asus may well have cracked the formula, with a spec sheet that reads about as well as any of its ROG gaming laptops do, too.
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Bigger than most phones, the ROG 6 Pro isn’t just designed with size in mind, but also a look gamers might find more intriguing. If you’ve seen a gaming laptop, you already know what I’m talking about, but we’re talking motifs, futuristic shapes, and the feeling that this phone isn’t made for everyone. It is made for gamers.
That shows up not just in the “storm white” look with gamer-centric designs all over it, one of which lights up — “dare to play” glowing as you use the phone — but also the inclusion of an OLED screen at the back, which lights up for notifications, charging, and can be tweaked using an app.
It’s a feature that feels wholly unnecessary, much like all the lighting strips a gaming laptop comes with. But it definitely adds to the design, and helps make the ROG Phone 6 Pro look nothing like any other phone out there, even prior models of the Republic of Gamers mobile range.
Aside for the features which stand out in design, glowing and offering light on the rear of the handset, there’s a full spec sheet underneath that stands out, too.
It starts with the year’s latest chip, as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 we saw in the Galaxy S22 Ultra makes its way to a slightly bigger performer in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. Yes, the plus makes it better, it seems.
Asus has matched that with a huge 18GB RAM and 512GB storage, arriving with Android 12 out of the box.
Unlike most phones these days, Asus has left a lot of the physical connection technology in the phone, even bolstering the usual one Type C port to two, though there’s a good reason why.
Specifically, you’ll find two Type C ports here, one at each “bottom” of the phone, be it the bottom in portrait or the bottom in landscape, allowing you to charge from either, or even snap on an accessory to cool the chip and use the phone for gaming, which is largely the point of the ROG Phone 6 Pro. There’s even a 3.5mm headset jack to let you plug regular headphones in, not just the Type C equivalent.
Wireless options are also quite varied, covering 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E, supporting Bluetooth 5.2, GPS, Near-Field Communication (NFC), and mobile support for 5G and below.
There’s a little extra functionality going on with the ROG 6 Pro, too, including an in-screen fingerprint sensor and some ultrasonic sensors on the right edge of the phone to trigger the “air buttons” for games, something Asus calls an “AirTrigger”, and it will also work with grip pressing the phone, too.
Three cameras can be found on the back, covering a 50 megapixel standard wide camera, a 13 megapixel ultra-wide, and a 5 megapixel macro, while the front offers 12 megapixel selfies.
It all sits beneath a massive 6.78 inch AMOLED display protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus, running a Full HD+ resolution of 2448×1080, and supporting a maximum refresh rate of 165Hz.
Media is also catered for with two speakers at the front supporting sound from Dirac HD, though if you plug in a pair of headphones, there’s support for hi-res audio, as well, thanks to a Qualcomm chip inside.
And it all comes in a body that weighs 239 grams and measures 10.4mm thick, making it one of the heftier phones we’ve seen recently, though it does support IPX4 water resistance, which is roughly akin to sweat and light water spray, maybe dropping a beer, though we wouldn’t exactly go swimming with the phone.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro also sports a 6000mAh battery, and supports both wired and wireless charging, arriving with a hefty 65 watt wired charger in the box, which itself is special and almost looks like the box was made to look like a spacecraft. Neato.
While Asus is offering a hand-sized phone in its Zenfone 9, the ROG Phone 6 Pro is not that phone.
Positively huge, the ROG Phone 6 Pro is one of the biggest phones you can find, marginally taller than even the sizeable Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and they’re already big phones.
Going this big affects usability, and it’s an issue you might have if you intend to stuff the ROG Phone 6 Pro in your pocket, or take it out and use it one handed.
Simply put, you can’t really use this phone one handed, because between the huge size and its 239 gram weight, it’s not really designed for one hand, even really big hands. Even the 10.4mm thickness is a touch surprising, basically making this a big, thick phone for people who don’t care about using their phone with one hand.
Rather, get used to two, though with air triggers on the right edge at the top and bottom, you’ll find those two hands come in handy for controlling games and tweaking functionality.
Likewise, you can opt for some of the Asus accessories, one of which is a cooling gadget for the back that also has buttons for playing in games.
It’s no substitute for a proper gaming controller, the likes of which the original ROG Phone came equipped with but now costs extra, but it’s a handy addition, even if it’s one that makes it impossible to shove it in your pocket.
If the huge screen made it awkward to keep the ROG Phone 6 Pro in your pocket, the add-on cooling accessory is so bulky that there’s no way you’ll intentionally drop it into your pants. That would be madness, like walking around with half an avocado protruding from your leg.
Even though that screen is huge, it is one of the nicest phone displays you can find to date. Bright, colourful, and sporting some very fast performance, Asus has a winner with the ROG Phone 6 Pro screen.
While flagship phones are squabbling with a maximum of 120Hz for their screen refresh time, the Asus’ ROG 6 Pro can deliver a 165Hz speed for Android games, which is just dynamite.
In short, it’s big, bright, clear, and fast. The inclusion of Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass Victus doesn’t hurt, either, since it’ll protect a massive set of specs inside the phone from harm, not just the beautifully fast screen.
That massive spec package comes with some blazingly solid performance, which will basically handle any and every game you throw the ROG Phone 6 Pro’s way, and possibly then some.
It’s not just a question of having the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 under the hood. That’s great, and something Asus is using in another of its phones, the ZenFone 9.
Asus has also provided a marvellously massive amount of memory, with a staggering 18GB RAM in the ROG 6 Pro, which is more memory than most laptops offer these days. More memory lends itself to performance, and it’s not the only thing, because you can tweak it to wrench a little more out of the phone.
Inside the phone, there’s a vapour chamber, a sheet of graphite, and the use of Boron Nitride for a thermal compound, with the processor found dead centre in the ROG 6 Pro design, allowing you to throw on the optional AeroActive Cooler 6 and cool it while gaming, which itself includes buttons for doing so.
Basically, if the solid performance of this phone isn’t enough, you can tweak it and push it like you’re overclocking a PC, with performance modes found on the phone itself. It is crazy, but totally understandable for a gaming phone, as the benchmarks suggest.
Understandably, this spec set and performance capability allows the ROG Phone 6 Pro to compete rather aggressively with other flagship phones out there, delivering something few other devices can really achieve.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro is like a fire breathing dragon, its performance demolishing nearly every phone you could think of. It is really impressive.
You'll also find decent 5G speeds on offer, though these are network dependent.
In our tests across Sydney on the Telstra 5G network, we found speeds ranging from 100-300Mbps, though depending on where you are, you may do a whole lot better. If you can ramp up a better connection, it should be enough to handle the likes of Xbox Cloud Gaming, though the support for WiFi 6E should mean upgraded networks at home will deliver solid high speeds, as well.
One area gaming phones aren't particularly known is cameras, and that might be because their target audience isn't really thinking about snapping photos, but rather playing games.
However, the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro is a flagship phone, so it needs a decent assortment of cameras. Does it have one?
Short answer: no. Marginally longer answer: no, not really.
For the ROG 6 Pro, Asus has gone with a three camera setup offering a 50 megapixel F1.9 wide, 13 megapixel F2.2 ultra-wide, and 5 megapixel macro without an obviously stated aperture (likely F2.4), which on paper all sounds totally fine.
There's no telephoto zoom here, which is a bit of a shame given flagships typically offer one, and instead this assortment of wide, ultra-wide, and macro sounds more like the sort of thing a mid-range phone camera might offer. We've certainly seen something like it on the recent Motorola G82 5G.
But it's still an acceptable assortment of cameras, or it would be if it performed like any other flagship phone camera.
Unfortunately, it does not.
In daylight, images out of the ROG Phone 6 Pro are more than acceptable, with the 50 megapixel camera taking point, and offering support for both 4K and 8K video. The macro is nice to use, but not stunning, while the ultra-wide certainly gets you very, very wide.
Turn the lights off, however, and the whole camera setup falters, struggling to get you decent shots the likes of which a flagship shouldn't have issues with.
Flagship phones from the past couple of years all feel like they'd do a fair sight better than what Asus is wrenching out of its three camera system on the ROG 6 Pro, and we're surprised this phone isn't equipped with a better camera, given the hardware is so good outside of it.
At least the front-facing camera is an acceptable 12 megapixels, though again, you've probably seen better here, too.
With such a big phone, you can expect a battery sized to match, and the 6000mAh battery found inside is certainly one of the biggest we've ever seen. More specifically, it's actually one of the biggest and most interesting, because much like how Oppo and LG have each split batteries for phones before, so too is Asus, with two 3000mAh batteries here adding up to 6000mAh of power.
So, what does 6000mAh look like in real-world battery performance?
Use the ROG Phone 6 Pro for games and you should see a day of regular phone life, needing a charge when you're done with a mammoth session or a big day of phone use.
Alternatively, if use the phone regularly for calls, texts, social, the camera, music, and so on and so on, and also connect it to wireless earphones for some of the day and a wearable for the entire day, you should find almost two days of battery life, likely needing a charge on that second night.
There's also support for wireless charging, plus a massive 65 watt wired charger in the box, giving you heaps of power to work with.
It's not unusual for us to complain about 5G flagship phones and mediocre battery life, and has become a bit of a norm in the industry. However, the ROG Phone 6 Pro bucks that trend, and thanks to a positively huge battery, this thing can really go the distance.
Going the distance, though, isn't cheap. Not. At. All.
In Australia, the ROG Phone 6 Pro will retail for $1999, making it two thousand dollar phone when all is said and done. That's $2K without the extra accessories, which will add a little more to the package, too.
Granted, the $2K gets you some of the best specs of any phone released to date. But at the same time, it's a $2K phone that also has some bugbears, which are admittedly things we're surprised a flagship phone priced like this haven't been ironed out.
What needs work?
As impressive as this big phone is, it is also really big. That's always been an issue for the ROG Phone range -- they are large phones -- but the ROG Phone 6 Pro can be wildly unwieldy.
That might be totally fine for you, though, and so it's not a problem, just something worth being aware of. If you hold your phone in a backpack, bag, or even if you happen to physically have deep pockets, the ROG Phone 6 will be fine.
It just still happens to be bigger than other big phones, and has some size on even the already large Galaxy Note S22 Ultra. Technically, the ROG Phone 6 Pro isn't as thick as the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but feels almost as cumbersome to carry.
A bigger issue is more likely the camera, which doesn't match the monumentally impressive feature set of the phone. The three cameras feel like the weakest part of the package, delivering a decent main camera, but less impressive tech in the other three.
That's a weak point for us, because flagship phones are supposed to come with flagship cameras.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro is definitely flagship -- the specs scream it -- but the cameras aren't as strong as the resort of the package, and feel more like something out of the mid-range. They are acceptable, but hardly amazing, and just not as strong as other camera modules you can find out there.
Along with not super amazing cameras, there's not super amazing water resistance, which is much lower than the type you can find on pretty much any and every high end phone.
An IP rating of IPX4 means the ROG Phone 6 can handle splashes of water, but it's far, far lower than the IP65 and IP68 immersive water rating. Seriously, don't go swimming with the ROG Phone 6 Pro. It might survive, but it's not rated for it, and clearly not worth the risk.
But we wish Asus has worked on that, especially since water resistance is a feature every flagship phone sports these days, and even some mid-range models, too. It's not the core feature for a gaming phone, we get that, but given that your phone is meant to do several things, it would have been a great inclusion.
Which is more than we can say for the 2 inch OLED screen on the back which is largely useless.
It's a little like the bright flashy LEDs on gaming computers: they light up for typically aesthetic reasons, but less so for functionality. That's more or less what's going on with the spare screen on the back of the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro is like, providing the occasional icon that you have notifications, but largely just being a place for animations and making the rear paint job of your phone look a little more exciting.
You won't get say an OLED screen that lets you see yourself for selfies like you can with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip models, and the rear displaying here is really just for show. It's gamer trim, but has little use, beyond siphoning the battery a little more. We eventually turned it off.
Final thoughts (TLDR)
Despite the niggles, the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro offers mobile gamers exactly what they may be looking for in a phone: a mobile spec'd as highly as a computer with a look just as crazy and possibly pleasing.
You might have seen phones for gaming before, but not like this. This is a gaming phone. This is the gaming phone.
The cameras could be better and in a more flagship way, and the water resistance should be improved, but if you buy a phone because you play a lot of mobile games, the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro sits at the height of what you're after. Surprisingly recommended.