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ASUS ROG Phone 5 Classic with Aero Active Cooler Gaming Review - Smartphone gaming redefined!

OPPO
Huawei
We share our full experience with the ASUS ROG Phone 5 after a month of use as our daily driver and handheld gaming device.
ASUS ROG Phone 5 Classic with Aero Active Cooler Gaming Review - Smartphone gaming redefined!
ROG Phone 5 RGB

Back in September 2020, we shared our experiences with the ASUS ROG Phone 3 and we loved almost everything about it except for the camera's low light performance. Seven months later, the new ROG Phone 5 was announced in the Philippines in April 2021 and here are our thoughts after a month of use.

To recap, the ROG Phone 5 has a 144Hz AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC with 3D Vapor Chamber, LPDDR5 RAM, UFS 3.1 ROM and a massive 6,000mAh battery with 65W fast charging.


Our first impressions of the build, design, and unboxing of the ROG Phone 5 are solid.

In the Philippines the ROG Phone 5 Classic comes in 8GB/128GB (PHP 39,995) and 16GB 256GB (PHP 49,995) variants.

Let's dive in!

Multimedia Experience

Daniel Dae Kim on Netflix
Daniel Dae Kim on Netflix

The ROG Phone 5's front is made up of a Samsung-made 6.78-inch AMOLED panel with an in-display fingerprint scanner, 2448 x 1080 resolution, and 144Hz refresh rate. It is surrounded by super-slim bezels and thick top and bottom bezels that house the stereo speakers, earpiece, and 24MP selfie camera.

The panel has a 1200 nits peak brightness with an 800 nits typical brightness which makes the display very visible in outdoor environments. This is even with the sun directly hitting the display.
ROG Phone 5 with case and Aero Cooler

The panel is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus and supports 10-points of multi-touch. The 10-point touch screen is quick, responsive, and accurate. We didn't notice any delay, misread taps or gestures.  We are satisfied with the display overall.

We never felt that the 1080p panel was lacking in sharpness or in-text crispness. 
Bottom view

At the bottom of both phones are the antenna lines, 3.5mm audio jack, USB Type-C port, and a microphone port.
Right side

On the right side is another microphone along with the volume rocker, power button, and ultra-sonic triggers.

Amazing audio experience for a smartphone!

Before the phone's launch, the ROG Phone 5's audio was reviewed by DxOMark and at that time, the ROG Phone 5 had the highest scores in audio from the benchmarking website. The ROG Phone 5 has one of the best audio experiences ever on a smartphone in our experience. This is because of the powerful front-facing dual speakers that produce a powerful, clear, and full sound. Also, we appreciate how polished the

The microphone recording with the ROG Phone 5 is very good at up to a meter away from the phone. The noise cancellation is good enough that gives our callers little to complain about voice quality.

Performance

Breaks the 800K mark!
Breaks the 800K mark!

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G, Adreno 660, LPDDR5 RAM, UFS 3.1 was able to score a record-breaking 812,448 in AnTuTu.

Monster benchmark scores!

It is worth noting that the ROG Phone 5 only raised the temperature by 6 degrees and immediately lost 8 percent of the battery after the test.
GeekBench 5
GeekBench 5

In GeekBench 5.3.2, ROG Phone 5 managed to score an impressive 1,117 in single-core tests and 3678 in multi-core tests.
3DMark Wild Life benchmark
3DMark Wild Life benchmark

In the new 3D Mark Wild Life benchmark, the ROG Phone 5 was able to get an overall score of 5,817 with an average FPS of 34.8. This puts the ROG Phone 5 ahead of 95 percent of the scores submitted.
Genshin Impact Smooth
Genshin Impact Smooth

With the latest games like Genshin Impact, the Snapdragon 888 was able to push the graphics up to the Medium settings. This is pretty impressive given how demanding Genshin Impact is. We recommend playing at medium for the best possible graphics but for the best possible frame rate, we recommend lowering the graphics settings to take advantage of the 60fps setting on Genshin Impact.
Call of Duty: Mobile
Call of Duty: Mobile

In older games like NBA Live 2K20, the graphics and frame rate can be pushed high. While in Call of Duty: Mobile, the user can either push the frame rate to Max but be limited to Very High graphics only. We recommend tweaking it to your needs. Our recommendation is Medium Graphics and Max-Frame rate for framerates between 100 to 144Hz.

Below is our battery usage and as you can see, we played Call of Duty for 5 hours continuously and the ROG Phone 5 was able to remain cool with the Aero Active Cooler.
17 hours on PCMark Battery Test!

Inside the ROG Phone 5 is a massive 6,000mAh battery with 65W HyperCharger that also supports Power Delivery or PD 3.0 and Quick Charge 5.0. There is no support for wireless and reverse wireless charging.

In our usual PCMark Battery benchmark, the ROG Phone 5 managed to endure 17 hours and 7 minutes. To test how enduring the phone was, we played Call of Duty Mobile on WiFi with 144Hz refresh rate and Ultra-frame rate turned on continuously for 5 hours and 16 mins and we managed to get a total of 6 hours and 49 minutes of on-screen time. The ROG Phone has an impressive battery.

The ROG Phone 5 also uses a new dual-cell design that allows the phone to maintain the 6,000mAh capacity of the ROG Phone 3 but with an even faster 65W charger while lowering the charging temperature.

From 0 percent, it only takes 30 minutes for the ROG Phone 5 to fill up to 70 percent. And it takes a total of 65 minutes from 0 to 100 percent with the included 65W charger.
ZenUI with ROG Theme

Under the hood is Android 11-based ZenUI with the choice of the classic ZenUI design language or the ROG Phone 5's aggressive gaming design language. ZenUI over the years has been known to be a very good skin on top of Android. It isn't the fastest but it does almost everything right. The design is clean and it isn't heavy to run. A few years ago, our only concern was the ASUS equivalents of the common Google apps that are no longer here. We also like that ASUS allows users to pick between ZenUI and ROG themes. 

Navigating thru the OS and opening apps is fast and responsive. This is done because of a combination of the lightweight ZenUI, internal hardware and the 144Hz refresh rate. It is a breeze to use. Newcomers however will need some time to get accustomed to the gaming-related additional features.

Both the face unlock and the in-display fingerprint scanner set-up process is fast and straightforward. The face-unlock tech quickly detects my face and unlocks the phone as soon as the display is active. It is also able to detect my face even if I take off my glasses. It does struggle when you are trying to face unlock in a dim environment or when the user is wearing a mask.

The display brightens up to be able to compensate for this. It would be great if the Face Unlock has an alternative look feature for when the user is wearing a mask. While the optical in-display fingerprint scanner detects our finger as soon as it hits the scanner. It could be faster but it isn't slow. It then unlocks the phone instantaneously.

WiFi, Bluetooth, 5G, and LTE connections are stable. We've never experienced forced disconnections or the like while the GPS acquires our locations immediately and accurately.
customizing the ultra-sonic and cooler trigger buttons

We also love that the ROG Phone can connect both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz WiFi bands at the same time to the best possible connection. 

But our most favorite feature are the ultrasonic trigger on the side of the phone and the cooler trigger buttons on the cooler. It has its own settings page at the Armory where you can customize which part of the screen it will simulate a touch. This can be mapped differently per game. 

Having hardware buttons is a god-send for fast paced games like Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG and more. We can't imagine playing on on-screen buttons after. 

What is impressive is that the ultra-sonic buttons are super responsive and accurate. We did not experience lag and it virtualized the taps as soon as we pressed on it. We highly recommend it.
Aero Active Cooler with trigger buttons and kick stand
Aero Active Cooler with trigger buttons and kickstand

The Aero Active Cooler is one of the best accessories for the ROG Phone 5. It adds two additional physical trigger buttons and a kickstand while keeping your phone actively cooled. It also carries the 3.5mm audio jack for those who want a wired headphone gaming experience. If you can get it, we highly recommend you get it if you can. We almost never removed it from our phone. It even lights up with its own RGB ROG Logo.

Pros - Solid build materials, unique design, customizable RGB, Ultra-sonic triggers are the best, 144Hz 1080p panel, bleeding-edge specs, cooling is good, Aero Active Cooler is a must accessory, front-facing speakers are the best
Cons - 3.5 mm headphone jack is on the Aero Active Cooler otherwise n
o downside Android gaming-wise, 

Verdict

ROG Phone 5 with RGB at the back
ROG Phone 5 with RGB at the back

ASUS continues to build on and polish the ROG Phone since the original. Now in its fourth iteration, the ROG Phone 5 is the most polished in terms of design, build, and performance.

The gaming design aesthetic is there but it is done more tastefully. The RGB is elegant and can be customized. The SIM tray is in a different eye-catching color that adds to the overall design.

In terms of performance, the ROG Phone 5 has the bleeding edge in specs that perform impressively without being limited by thermals as the phone was designed to dissipate throughout the phone. Even after playing 5 hours of Call of Duty: Mobile, the phone only became warm and never became uncomfortably hot. 

The 6,000mAh battery is also one of the most enduring on a Phone ever. It can push the 144Hz display for hours and it even charges in exactly 65 minutes from 0 to 100 without getting too hot.

Gaming features like the ultra-sonic buttons, powerful speaker, Aero Active cooler with trigger buttons and kickstand, and the RGB make it unique and also improve the overall gaming experience. In fact, the ultra-sonic buttons and cooler trigger buttons gave us a big advantage in games like Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile.

In terms of gaming, the ROG Phone 5 is already one of the best for 2021. We can't wait to see how the rest of the gaming phones in 2021 will perform.

Our one nitpick is that the 3.5mm audio jack is on the Aero Active Cooler so people who want the wired audio experience may need to use a USB-C earphones or carry the Aero Active Cooler with them a lot.


What do you guys think?

Build/Design - 4.25
Multimedia Experience - 4.5
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.42/5
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