Asus ROG Phone 5s was launched earlier this year and is quite expensive if a particular user is looking for a smartphone specifically designed 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 continues this legacy. However, after using it for a few months now, I have understood some of the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the device. Stick with me to figure out how this device actually is.
Asus ROG Phone 5s review: body and design
So, there is this thing about Asus ROG series smartphones. They don’t really look good from afar, but they do have a certain feel when you notice the craftsmanship up close. The ROG Phone 5s doesn’t have a unique design, to be honest. We saw the same with the ROG Phone 5.
However, for people unfamiliar with the design language of the Asus ROG Phone 5s, there are a few cool things and a few not-so-cool things. Let’s review the coolest ones first.
On the right side of the device there are two Air Triggers. These are intended to help users with games. We will see later what Air Triggers are. In the back you have Aura Atmosphere lighting. Simply put, it’s a back light, which is cool but not really of much use. But, it’s enough to differentiate the ROG Phone 5s as a gaming phone from other usual high-end flagships in the same price range.
You have two Type-C ports on the device. One is at the bottom when you charge the device on a regular basis. The second is side-mounted so users can comfortably play games in landscape mode and still charge the device without the interference of a charging cable.
The camera bump is a familiar one and something all ROG Phone users have grown accustomed to looking at. Hopefully with the ROG Phone 6, Asus will change that because it’s getting boring. The power button is covered with some sort of reddish-colored metal on the sides.
You will see the SIM card holder on the left side of the device which can also be spotted very easily as it is completely red in color. The power button and volume rockers are on the right side between the Air Triggers. This device also comes with a 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom.
Up front we have a large display, which we’ll talk about when we get to the display segment of our review. The device is naturally quite large and cannot be used with one 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 good. Yes, they stand out from other devices on the market, but are they also stylish smartphones? I really can’t say that, and that’s a big ‘uncool’ thing about the device. Anyway, let’s get to the display.
Asus ROG Phone 5s display and sound
The Asus ROG Phone 5s comes with a 6.78-inch Samsung AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution and 144Hz refresh rate support. It’s covered with Gorilla Glass Victus and has no cutout or notch on top. There’s a full display and the front camera sensor is up on the bezel. It came at a cost, however. To keep the screen large and also have the front camera sensor at the top, outside the screen area, the device had to be enlarged.
There’s a chin at the bottom, which is quite thick by the standards of a flagship today. But who am I kidding? ROG Phone 5s is not designed to be beautiful but to be functional for gamers. This is what the ROG Phone 5s reflects in its overall design and display. It may be a beautiful device for others, but for me, I don’t find it particularly elegant.
Anyway, the display experience is really great and one of the best I’ve ever had. It has a reason behind it. First of all, since it is a gamer’s smartphone, its screen is high performance. The touch is very responsive and the fact that it supports 144Hz refresh rate is phenomenal.
You can play the highest quality content on the screen of the device and enjoy a very good viewing experience. But the display isn’t the only factor in determining whether a device can deliver a great content viewing or gaming experience. There are also speakers and audio output involved.
When it comes to sound with the ROG Phone 5s, you won’t be disappointed. No one on the planet can be disappointed with the kind of sound the ROG Phone 5s can deliver. At its maximum level, it’s so loud you won’t even be able to figure out if it’s actually a smartphone pumping out sound or if it’s a goddamn external speaker!
In terms of 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 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ SoC. This is the upgraded version of Qualcomm’s 2021 flagship SoC. You can get the ROG Phone 5s with up to 18GB of RAM (Pro variant), which is just crap because I don’t think anyone really needs it. Additionally, the device comes with UFS 3.1 internal storage up to 512GB which is decent.
When I started the device about three months ago, it was running on Android 11 out of the box. Much to my disappointment, the ROG Phone 5s still hasn’t received the Android 12 update (at least on my device). Either way, I’m not disappointed with the user interface or the operating system; both are great. The device is ultra-soft to use. Note that I’m using the 8GB + 128GB variant and still haven’t found any issues with gaming or multitasking.
The Asus ROG Phone 5s is a dark horse when it comes to overall performance. The device is equipped with so many tools that for a person who is using the Asus ROG phone for the first time, he will be really amazed or overwhelmed to see so many things to improve the performance of the smartphone for gaming.
There’s Game Genie, which Asus ROG Phone fans really love. It lets you control the type of gaming experience you want. Thanks to Game Genie, you can also enable/disable air triggers during gameplay.
However, Game Genie can only be accessed by playing a game. To make other changes to how your device is configured for games, you need to access Armory Crate. It is a pre-installed application that allows you to do several things like interact with other players around the world and more.
There is 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 controlled manually according to the user’s wish. But it is ideal to keep it turned off most of the time as it will suck a lot of battery. In terms of performance, there is never a boring experience with the ROG Phone 5s. However, there is one thing that bothered me a lot about the device. It’s that its fingerprint scanner is somehow not the best to read my fingerprint. For a device like the ROG Phone 5s, I certainly expected more.
As a gaming device, ROG Phone 5s must have good battery performance. First of all, it packs a 6000mAh battery with support for standard 30W fast charging. Oh how I wish it could have supported faster charging. Either way, the device offers pretty good battery backup. But it can heat up very well. Donned the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+, the device is more apt to be kept in cool conditions. Here in India, when I took the device to the outside porch, which has no AC power, it got so hot that I didn’t want to keep it in my pocket or hands anymore.
Even while charging, make sure to leave the device in a cool room as it can heat up very well. Note that Asus offers a fan as an accessory for heavy gamers, which can keep the device cool most of the time. Also, a device designed for gaming is expected to overheat, so there’s nothing too serious or surprising about that.
Let’s talk for a moment about the Air Triggers 5 built into the device. It’s a very distinct feature/specification of the device and I think it makes a lot of difference. If you’re 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 your whole experience while playing games like PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India, Call of Duty, etc. These Air Triggers can act like buttons on your screen. Remember that they are very efficient and work very well, giving commands in real time. It’s something you’ll have to experience for yourself as it’s technology you won’t find on your regular smartphone.
On that note, let’s see how the camera of the device is.
Asus ROG Phone 5s Camera Review
I don’t have much to say about the Asus ROG Phone 5s camera. In its full capacity, I would say it is correct. But I seriously expected more. So what is a gaming phone; if you take me Rs 50,000 and above, I would seriously expect a great photo experience. However, as I said, it’s not really bad. But it’s not great either. The device comes with a Sony IMX686 64MP primary sensor paired with a 13MP ultra-wide angle sensor and a 5MP rear sensor. On the front, you will get a 24MP front sensor for selfies and videos.
Anyway, below are the sample cameras for your reference.
Asus ROG Phone 5s review: price and conclusion
The Asus ROG Phone 5s is one of the most powerful devices I’ve had experience with. There are many unique things and features about this device that help it stand out in the market. This is a 5G-enabled device and may be a good option for gamers once 5G is widely launched in the country (it’s still a long way to go).
You can expect an excellent display and sound experience as well as powerful performance for intensive multitasking and gaming. But you can’t really expect a flagship-like camera experience or a very nice and sleek 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 top variant comes with 12GB + 256GB for Rs 57,999. As mentioned above, there is also a Pro variant with 18GB + 256 GB for Rs 79,999.
If you are planning to buy a gaming phone, the ROG Phone 5s may be one of the best choices today.