Asus ROG Phone 5s launched earlier this year and is quite a pricy deal if a particular user is looking for a smartphone that is built specifically for gaming. There are a ton of gaming phones out there, but ROG Phones have built their own legacy and brand in the Indian market. The Asus ROG Phone 5s carries on with that legacy. However, after using it for a few months now, I have figured out some of the strong points as well as weak points of the device. Bear with me to understand how this device actually is.
Asus ROG Phone 5s Review: Body and Design
So, there’s this thing about the smartphones from the Asus ROG series. They don’t really look good from afar, but they have a certain feel to them when you notice the craftsmanship from close. The ROG Phone 5s doesn’t have a unique design, to be honest. We have seen the same with the ROG Phone 5.
However, for people who are not aware of the design language of the Asus ROG Phone 5s, there are a few cool things and a few not-so-cool things. Let’s go over the cool ones first.
On the right side of the device, there are two Air Triggers. These are meant to help users with gaming. We will get into what Air Triggers are later. At the back, you have got Aura Atmosphere lighting. In simple words, it is lighting on the back, which is cool but doesn’t really serve a big purpose. But, it is good enough to differentiate the ROG Phone 5s as a gaming phone from other regular high-end flagships in the same price range.
You have got two Type-C ports on the device. One is at the bottom for when you are charging the device in a regular way. The second one is mounted on the side so that users can play games comfortably in the landscape mode and also keep charging the device without the interference of a charging cable.
The camera bump is the usual and something that all the ROG Phone users have gotten used to watching. Hopefully, with the ROG Phone 6, Asus will change that because it is getting boring. The power button is coated with sort of a reddish colour metal on the sides.
You will see the SIM card holder on the left of the device, which can also be spotted very easily as it is completely red in colour. The power button and the volume rockers are on the right side in between the Air Triggers. This device also comes with a 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom.
At the front, we have got a big display, which we will talk about when we come to the display segment of our review. The device is naturally quite big and can’t be used by a single hand by a majority of the population.
I guess, in terms of design, Asus still has a long way to go to make its ROG Phones look beautiful. Yes, they do stand out from the rest of the devices in the market, but are they elegant smartphones as well? I really can’t say that, and it is a big ‘uncool’ thing about the device. Anyway, let’s move on to the display.
Asus ROG Phone 5s Display and Sound
Asus ROG Phone 5s comes with a 6.78-inch Samsung AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution and 144Hz refresh rate support. It is covered with the Gorilla Glass Victus and doesn’t have a punch-hole cutout or a notch at the top. There is a complete screen, and the front camera sensor is at the top on the bezel. This came at a cost, though. To keep the screen big and also have the front camera sensor at the top, outside the screen area, the device had to be made bigger.
There’s a chin at the bottom, which is quite thick as per the standards of a flagship today. But whom am I kidding? The ROG Phone 5s isn’t built to be beautiful but to be functional for gamers. That is what the ROG Phone 5s reflects in its overall design and display. It might be a beautiful device for others, but for me, I don’t find any particular elegance about it.
Regardless, the display experience is really awesome and one of the best I have ever had. This has a reason behind it. First of all, since it is a gamer’s smartphone, its display is geared to be high performance. The touch is very responsive, and the fact that it supports 144Hz refresh rate is phenomenal.
You can play content in the highest quality on the screen of the device and enjoy a very good viewing experience. But the display is not the lone factor in determining whether a device can deliver a great content viewing or gaming experience. There are also speakers and sound output involved.
When it comes to sound with the ROG Phone 5s, you are not going to be disappointed. No one on the planet can be disappointed with the kind of sound that the ROG Phone 5s can deliver. At its max levels, it is just so loud that you won’t even be able to comprehend whether it’s actually a smartphone playing the sound or whether it’s a damn external audio speaker!
In the display quality and sound output, the ROG Phone 5s is arguably one of the best devices in the global market. Let’s talk about what the device can actually do when it comes to performance in other areas.
Asus ROG Phone 5s Performance and Battery Review
The Asus ROG Phone 5s comes powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ SoC. It is the enhanced version of the 2021 flagship SoC from Qualcomm. You can get the ROG Phone 5s with up to 18GB RAM (Pro variant), which is just bollocks as I don’t think anyone really needs that. Further, the device comes with UFS 3.1 internal storage up to 512GB, which is decent.
When I booted the device around three months back, it ran on Android 11 out of the box. To my disappointment, the ROG Phone 5s still hasn’t received the Android 12 update (at least on my unit). Regardless, I am not disappointed by the UI or the OS; both are great. The device is ultra-smooth to operate. Note that I have been using the 8GB+128GB variant and still haven’t found any issues with gaming or multi-tasking.
The Asus ROG Phone 5s is a dark horse when it comes to overall performance. The device is geared with so many tools that for a person who is using the Asus ROG Phone for the first time, he/she will be really amazed or overwhelmed to see so many things for enhancing the performance of the smartphone for gaming.
There’s Game Genie, which Asus ROG Phone fans really love. It allows you to take control over the kind of gaming experience you want. Through Game Genie, you can also activate/deactivate Air Triggers while inside the game.
However, Game Genie can only be accessed while playing a game. To make other changes to the kind of setting your device is running on for games, you have to go to Armoury Crate. It is an app that you will find is pre-installed and allows you to do multiple things such as interact with other gamers around the world and more.
There’s an ‘X-Mode’ that users can activate whenever they want the device to go under the highest performance settings for gaming. The Aura Lightning can be manually controlled as per the user’s wish. But it is ideal to keep it off most of the time because it will suck up a lot of battery. In terms of performance, there’s never a dull experience with the ROG Phone 5s. However, there’s one thing that has bugged me a lot about the device. It is that its fingerprint scanner is somehow not the best at reading my fingerprint. For a device such as ROG Phone 5s, I certainly expected more.
Being a gaming device, the ROG Phone 5s needs to have a good battery performance. First of all, it packs a 6000mAh battery with support for standard 30W fast-charging. Oh, how I wish that it could have supported faster charging. Anyhow, the device does give a pretty good battery backup. But it can heat up pretty good. Donning the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+, the device is more apt to be kept under cool conditions. Over here in India, when I took the device to the porch outside, which doesn’t have AC, it heated up to the level where I no longer wanted to keep it in my pocket or my hands.
Even while charging, ensure you are leaving the device in a cool room as it can heat up pretty good. Note that Asus does offer a fan as an accessory for heavy gamers, which can keep the device cool most of the time. Also, it is expected that a device made for gaming will overheat, so there’s nothing too bad or surprising about it.
Let’s talk about the Air Triggers 5 integrated into the device for a second. It is a very distinguishable feature/specification of the device and one I think that makes a lot of difference. If you are a gamer and want a more convenient gaming experience, the ROG Phone 5s literally comes with console-like buttons. You don’t need to press anything here; just touch the part of the body where the Air Triggers are present.
It will change the whole experience for you when you are playing games such as PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India, Call of Duty, and more. These Air Triggers can act as buttons on your screen. Mind that they are very effective and work super well, giving real-time commands. It is something that you will have to experience for yourself as it is a technology that you won’t find on your usual smartphone.
On that note, let’s see how is the camera of the device.
Asus ROG Phone 5s Camera Review
I don’t have a lot to say about the camera of the Asus ROG Phone 5s. In its full capacity, I would say it is okay. But I seriously expected more. So what that it is a gaming phone; if you are taking Rs 50,000 and upwards from me, I would seriously expect a great camera experience. However, as I said, it’s not really bad. But it isn’t great either. The device comes with a primary Sony IMX686 64MP sensor paired with a 13MP ultra-wide-angle sensor and a 5MP sensor at the rear. On the front, you will get a 24MP sensor at the front for selfies and videos.
Anyway, attached below are the camera samples for your reference.
Asus ROG Phone 5s Review: Price and Conclusion
The Asus ROG Phone 5s is one of the most powerful devices I have had an experience with. There are a lot of unique things and features about this device that help it stand out in the market. It is a 5G supportive device and can be a good option for gamers once 5G is launched widely in the country (that’s still a long way to go).
You can expect a great display and sound experience along with a powerful performance for multitasking and heavy gaming. But you can’t really expect a flagship-like camera experience or a very beautiful and elegant design/body from this gaming phone.
The Asus ROG Phone 5s is available in two variants in India. The base variant comes with 8GB+128GB for Rs 49,999 and the superior variant comes with 12GB+256GB for Rs 57,999. As mentioned above, there’s also a Pro variant with 18GB+256GB for Rs 79,999.
If you are considering buying a gaming phone, the ROG Phone 5s can be one of the top choices today.