Asus ROG Phone 5 review

A fully armed and operational smartphone with plenty of power and battery power for days.

Image of ASUS Rog Phone 5
ASUS ROG Phon 5
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5

Even at full RRP, the ROG Phone 3 is appealing, but saving hundreds with savvy shopping makes it a no-brainer contender.

July 03, 2021
6 min read
Our verdict: Asus ROG Phone 5 review

It doesn’t feel like so long ago that the Asus ROG Phone 3 impressed me with its speedy performance and powerful battery life. Fast-forward a year or so and its successor, the ROG Phone 5, is an upgrade pretty much everywhere across the board. (If you’re wondering what happened to the ROG Phone 4, it never existed.)

Apart from half the internal storage capacity of the ROG Phone 3 (256GB vs 512GB) and an almost identical camera, everything else is an upgrade. The ROG Phone 5 will handle everything you throw at it, including top-of-the-line mobile games, and it both looks and sounds good while doing it. If Asus had addressed familiar foibles of the ROG Phone 3—namely, no wireless charging, no meaningful waterproofing, an okay-but-not-amazing camera and an AWOL MicroSD port—the ROG Phone 5 would be dangerously close to high-end perfection.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Incredible battery life
Pro Bullet Insanely fast charging
Pro Bullet Plenty of power
Pro Bullet Big smartphone sound
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No wireless charging
Con Bullet No waterproofing
Con Bullet Still just an okay camera
Con Bullet No MicroSD for storage expansion

How much does the Asus ROG Phone 5 cost in Australia?

You're looking at $1,599 for the local model.

Asus embraces its gamer roots and leans into a customisable approach with its ROG Phones, and the Asus ROG Phone 5 is no different. The review model I was sent comes with 256GB of internal storage and 16GB of RAM, but there’s also a version with 8GB of memory and 128GB storage, plus another variant with 12GB of memory and 128GB of storage. The lower the specs, the cheaper the price you can expect to pay, but for the model most readily available in Australia (the same as our review model), you’re looking at a $1,599 RRP.

Asus ROG Phone 5 prices

Retailer
Price
Go to site

BecexTech

$1,019 (Tencent version)

Kogan

$1,049.99 (Tencent version)

Amazon

$1,148 (Tencent version)

Mighty Ape

$1,433

JB Hi-Fi

$1,599

Data effective 2/7/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Asus ROG Phone 5 specs

The table below compares the core specs between the Asus ROG Phone 3 and its ROG Phone 5 successor.

Specs
Asus ROG Phone 5
Asus ROG Phone 3

Price (RRP)

$1,599

$1,399

Operating system

Android 11

Android 10

Weight

238g

240g

Dimensions (h/w/d)

173x77x10mm

171x78x10mm

Display

6.78-inch AMOLED HDR10+ display (800 nits)

6.59-inch AMOLED HDR10+ display (650 nits)

Refresh rate

144Hz

144Hz

Resolution

1080x2448 (~395ppi)

1080x2340 (~391ppi)

Chipset

Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5nm)

Qualcomm SM8250 Snapdragon 865 5G (7nm+)

Internal storage

256GB

512GB

Memory (RAM)

16GB

12GB

Rear camera

Tri-lens camera 64MP f/1.8 (wide)13MP f/2.4 (ultrawide)5MP f/2.0 (macro)

Tri-lens camera64MP f/1.8 (wide)13MP f/2.4 (ultrawide)5MP f/2.0 (macro)

Selfie camera

24MP f/2.5 (wide)

24MP f/2.0 (wide)

Video

1080p@30fps

1080p@30fps

SIM

Nano-SIM, dual standby

Nano-SIM, dual standby

Audio

3.5mm headphone jackDTS:X stereo speakers

3.5mm headphone jackDTS:X stereo speakers

MicroSD

No

No

Battery

6,000mAh with 65W charging

6,000mAh with 30W charging

Asus ROG Phone 5 vs ROG Phone 3

My Asus ROG Phone 3 review set the scene for a high-end Android phone that may be built for gamers, but also has plenty to offer for non-gamers seeking a big-screen, long-battery smartphone with power to spare. Fast-forward to the release of the ROG Phone 5, and while the ROG Phone 3 has held its value at $1,399RRP, really, the only edge it has over the ROG Phone 5 is double the internal storage (512GB vs 256GB).

The ROG Phone 5 ships with Android 11 (reportedly coming to ROG Phone 3), is marginally lighter (238g vs 240g), plus it has a slightly bigger, better display. More importantly, the ROG Phone 5 has a more powerful processor, 4GB more memory and the included 65W charger runs rings around the ROG Phone 3’s 30W charger. According to Nano Review, the ROG Phone 5’s processor is a 12% overall improvement over the ROG Phone 3, with a 17% boost to gaming performance and a 16% increase in battery life.

What’s in the Asus ROG Phone 5 box?

More than just a gaming phone

As you’d expect, you get the usual stuff: the smartphone, a charging cable and, in this case, a chunky 65W fast charger. With my review unit, I also got a basic but functional plastic case alongside some very gamer-centric inclusions: an attachable AeroActive Cooler and the Asus ROG 5 Kunai 3 Gamepad.

Asus ROG Phone 5 design and display

Gamer chic meets giant screen

Looking at the ASUS ROG Phone 5 screen, you wouldn’t know it’s a gamer smartphone. But once you flip it over, the gamer-centric aesthetic is in full force with a ROG LED logo. While the back of the phone is plastic (not of the cheap-feeling variety), the sides of the handset are metal, which adds to an overall durable feel.

There’s a USB-C charging port on the bottom left of the phone and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right. The right side of the phone has the expected power and volume controls but, unique to ROG Phones, the left flank has a USB-C port and connector for the attachable AeroActive Cooler, which is an optional cooling add-on for those looking to push the ROG Phone 5 to its limits while keeping it cool.

Even with the huge 6.78-inch display, the ROG Phone 5 feels more robust than hefty. That said, even as someone with big hands, it does feel a smidge too wide for practical one-handed texting, but given the size of the screen, this is clearly a handset that’s meant to encourage landscape use whenever possible.

The only initial configuration challenge I had was the SD card slot only appears to be compatible with the mercifully included tray-removal eject pin. Regular pins aren’t quite long enough to pop out the tray. Definitely don’t lose the included one if you intend on switching SIMs at some point.

From the first time you turn on the ROG Phone 5, through to typical daily use, music streaming and gaming, the AMOLED FHD HDR10+ display is a thing of beauty. It still feels like a missed opportunity to not have a QHD+ display (or higher) to bolster this big-screen beauty, but this is one pretty customer no matter what you’re doing, helped along by the silky-smooth 144Hz refresh rate.

Asus ROG Phone 5 battery and charging

Plenty of longevity plus lightning-fast charging

I recently lauded the two-day (plus) battery life of the Motorola Moto G10 handset, which is a budget smartphone with a 5,000mAh battery. As you’d hope with the $1K+ price difference, the Asus ROG Phone 5 is on a whole other level. When my ROG Phone 5 review unit arrived, it was completely flat, but it only took 53 minutes to go from 0% battery to fully charged.

The only negatives for this insanely fast charging speed are that it gets warm while recharging (though not uncomfortably hot) and that 65W fast charger is a chonker of a thing, which you may have issues fitting next to another in-use power outlet because of its noticeable width.

Minor gripes aside, everything else is a win when it comes to battery life. During my casual-use tests—a mix of everyday use, including browsing, social media and videos—it got to day four without powering down or recharging before the ROG Phone 5 dropped below 15%. When I ran a 10-hour YouTube video at Full HD resolution overnight after a full charge, the ROG Phone 5 still had 56% battery left when the video finished, so that’s more than 20 hours of video playback time in your pocket.

That’s a lot of everyday use, that’s a lot of video watching, that’s a fair chunk of gaming time and, ultimately, it doesn’t matter how low you run the battery because you can get a whole lot of juice out of the fast charger in a handful of minutes. Seriously. Just check out the table below for proof of that.

Time
Asus ROG Phone 5 battery percentage
Charging time

6.55pm

0%

0 minutes

7.00pm

23%

5 minutes

7.06pm

38%

11 minutes

7.11pm

48%

16 minutes

7.15pm

55%

20 minutes

7.31pm

81%

36 minutes

7.37pm

89%

42 minutes

7.42pm

92%

47 minutes

7.48pm

100%

53 minutes

Asus ROG Phone 5 performance

Never runs out of puff

After trying to make it skip a beat, all I can say is good luck trying to get ahead of the Asus ROG Phone 5. The potent combination of the powerful Snapdragon 888 processor and a whopping 16GB of RAM means this smartphone is built to keep up with furious multitaskers as much as it is hardcore handset gamers.

You can get lazy with your multitasking if you like, leaving all of your daily apps (and then some) open simultaneously, then delight at being able to speedily scroll through and restore them without a hitch. If you’re the kind of smartphone user that gets distracted easily or frantically inspired to jump between apps, the ROG Phone 5 keeps up. Basically, don’t expect any input or app-switching delays.

The big target market for the ROG Phone 5, though, is the one that likes to target hit markers in smartphone gaming. Even after hours of testing Call of Duty Mobile, the ROG Phone 5 didn’t break a sweat. It didn’t even heat up beyond the level of charging warmth, so it’s very useable for long mobile gaming sessions even without the AeroActive Cooler and you don’t necessarily need to use a controller like the Asus ROG 5 Kunai 3 Gamepad.

That said, on the topic of Call of Duty Mobile and any other mobile shooters with controller support, you absolutely should use a controller if you want to dominate. The ROG Phone 5 is the smartphone equivalent of investing in a more powerful PC with a high-refresh-rate monitor for a competitive edge in online gaming.

Call of Duty Mobile, for instance, can run at 120Hz, which the ROG Phone 5 easily handles without dropping frames thanks to its powerful processor and 144Hz display. More impressively, the genuinely great speaker setup offered a competitive edge, where I was able to identify the direction of footsteps (beyond just left or right) and pre-aim for where the enemy player appeared for an easy kill. Put simply, this is a killer handset for mobile gaming.

Asus ROG Phone 5 camera

Decent results but not so premium

Let’s keep this brief because not a lot has changed between the Asus ROG Phone 3 and the ROG Phone 5. The power perks outlined above mean this is a speedy snapper, so don’t expect blurred results because of a delay after pressing the shutter button. If you’re not an avid photographer, the results are perfectly respectable. For those who care more about their photography, the ROG Phone 5’s regular pics aren’t as detailed and have a tendency to look more washed-out in comparison to main camera and selfie shots from the Google Pixel 5, even if the 7x zoomed shots were better.

Is the Asus ROG Phone 5 worth it?

If you’re serious about smartphone gaming, you seriously need to consider the Asus ROG Phone 5. For casual smartphone gamers or those not at all interested in it at all, despite some odd omissions, there’s still a lot to love thanks to an incredibly responsive handset and fantastic battery perks.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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