Smartphones are the handheld games consoles of our time, but some are more committed to on-the-go play than others. For the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro it’s very much a top priority.
With a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 under the hood (the same chip found in Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra, and one that can hold its own against both Apple’s A13 Bionic and some of Intel’s laptop CPUs) plus 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a sharp 6.78in screen that offers a higher-than-strictly-necessary 165Hz refresh rate, it has all the stuff we’d be looking for in a top phone, gaming or not.
So what makes the ROG Phone 6 Pro particularly suited to mobile fragging? The additional USB-C port halfway up the left-hand side is a clue, because it comes with more accessories than any phone we’ve ever seen, including a dedicated clip-on controller and a fan to keep it cool when things get frantic.
Can it make the most of all that power?
Handful and Gretel
The first thing that strikes you about the ROG Phone 6 Pro is that it’s big and heavy. It’s tall and skinny, which means you’ll need big hands to operate it easily, or resort to using two. There’s a one-handed option built into the software, but it’s not great.
A tiny screen on the back of the Pro can display a small amount of information, such as the time, battery charge level and incoming call ID (the regular ROG Phone 6 does without it, in favour of a light-up ROG logo). It’s not always on, though: you have to invoke it with a tap. It sits separate from the camera module, and instantly lets you know this is a phone aimed at gamers.
Unsurprisingly, photography isn’t the main focus here. Images from the main 50MP camera are nicely balanced in good light, and if you’re happy to stick to 24fps, it can also shoot 8K video. The ultrawide lens has fairly limited use, but the front-facing cam can take a decent selfie.
Get your game on
With a powerful CPU and plenty of RAM, there’s not much that’ll slow this Asus down. Notoriously demanding games like XCOM: Enemy Within play just fine, editing video is a breeze and you can throw around browser windows and Google Docs without a hint of lag. There aren’t many games that’ll actually run at the phone’s 165Hz refresh rate, but the few that will are undeniably smooth.
The ROG UI is a bit garish, while the Armoury Crate app – which includes both social media feeds and lighting controls – is a strange combo of useful and totally useless. The Game Genie overlay is much more helpful, putting the phone’s full-power X-mode just a swipe away.
The battery will easily last a whole day or more if you stick to the standard stuff like WhatsApp and Twitter. Use the 165Hz refresh rate, switch on X-mode and attach the external cooler without plugging it in, however, and it’ll only give you a few hours before sputtering out.
Tappy, thumpy and squeezy
It may be just another black rectangle running Android, but the ROG Phone 6 Pro is packed with alternative ways to interact with it.
As well as an active cooling fan that doubles as a stand, you get a pair of Joy-Con-like controllers with analogue sticks and an additional button underneath. It’s when using these that the ROG Phone 6 Pro is at its best.
Like Nintendo’s Joy-Cons, these mini gamepads clip into a frame to become a single, more traditional ‘pro’ controller… although it’s very light and flexes alarmingly, while the triggers and face buttons don’t put up much resistance.
The phone itself also has built-in Air Triggers – sensitive areas that can be squeezed to provide another input option. There’s even a patch on the back that can be double-tapped to turn on the torch or open the camera app.
Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro verdict
Gaming phones, it turns out, are a bit like gaming PCs. Once you get past the obnoxious branding, you find a powerful bundle of components that’s good for most things.
Despite being bogged down with extra software, the ROG Phone 6 Pro is quick to use, while the accessories show that some thought has been put into actually using it for gaming.
This is a powerful phone built with the gamer in mind, but not in a way that makes it inaccessible to ‘normal’ user.
Powerful enough for any mobile game
Wide range of gaming-focused accessories
Obnoxious ‘gamer’ branding
Big and heavy
Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro technical specifications
|6.78in AMOLED, 1080×2448, 165Hz
|Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 octa-core
|50+13MP rear, 32MP front