While mobile games have been traditionally scoffed at by hardcore gamers, that trend is changing quickly with the release of AAA titles like Call of Duty Mobile, Fortnite and PUBG Mobile across iOS and Android. And what better way to take advantage of a new wave of mobile games than with a gaming-focused smartphone?
The Asus ROG Phone 2 is amongst the best available right now, but what about the ROG Phone 3? It’s 2020, so it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing it for the first time in the coming months. Here’s all you need to know about the ROG Phone 3, from release date and pricing predictions to our wishlist of features and changes.
When will the Asus ROG Phone 3 be released?
While the Asus ROG Phone 3 isn’t official just yet, we can look at past releases to make an informed prediction on when to expect the next-gen smartphone. The ROG Phone 2 was revealed in July 2019, and went on sale months later in September 2019, and we expect the same to happen this year – manufacturers tend to keep the same yearly cycle when it comes to smartphone announcements, after all.
That’s backed up by a report from Taiwan’s Commercial Times, which says that Asus plans to reinvigorate its smartphone business with high-profile launches in Q3 – that’s July-September – and that the ROG Phone 3 and Zenfone 7 specifically will be announced for China at either the end of the second quarter or beginning of the third.
Of course, there is a slim chance that there simply won’t be a ROG Phone 3. Why? The Razer Phone was amongst the first gaming-focused phones available on the market, and Razer followed up with a second-gen device in 2018, but there was no subsequent release in 2019. Does this indicate a lack of interest in gaming smartphones? We think 2020 is an important year; if we see fewer gaming-focused releases from big manufacturers, it might indicate a dwindling market.
With flagship smartphones now offering 120Hz displays and powerful internals, there’s an argument that we simply don’t need gaming smartphones – especially when gaming phones lack innovation in other areas, usually the camera setup, and the fact that you can buy controllers that fit a variety of smartphones. Does this mean the USP of gaming phones isn’t really a USP anymore? Possibly.
How much will the Asus ROG Phone 3 cost?
The Asus ROG Phone 2 has an RRP of £829/$899, putting it in line with flagship smartphones from the likes of Apple and Samsung – and that’s just for the base model. It’s also more expensive than competing gaming-focused smartphones like the Black Shark 2 and Red Magic 3s that are available for less than £500/$500.
The price actually increased compared to the first-gen ROG Phone, which cost £799 in the UK, suggesting that we could actually see a slight price increase with the ROG Phone 3, although that’ll depend largely on the specs and features available.
What are the ROG Phone 3 specs?
We don’t know anything for sure, but thanks to a couple of Geekbench listings we think we know a little about the ROG Phone 3.
Results for what may be two variants of the ROG Phone 3 were spotted on Geekbench by My Smart Price. Both share the same model number – I003D – and run Android 10 with a Snapdragon 865. The only difference is that one popped up with 8GB of RAM and another with 12GB, which is mostly why we think this must be the ROG Phone: that much RAM is usually only found on gaming devices, though of course there are exceptions.
More recently, the upcoming smartphone appeared on China’s certification database, TENAA, giving us our first look at the smartphone along with a few key specs.
It seems the ROG Phone 3 could be a refinement of the ROG Phone 2, rather than an all-new design. Per the TENAA listing, the upcoming gaming phone sports similar dimensions to its predecessor, complete with the same LED logo and horizontal camera cutout with dual-LED flash on the rear.
On the front, you’ll find a 6.59in AMOLED display (2340 x 1080) and while the refresh rate isn’t detailed, it’ll at least offer the same 120Hz rate as last year’s model, if not more. After all, the competitively-priced £539/$579 Red Magic 5G sports a 144Hz display alongside flagship-level specs. You’ll also find the same volume and power buttons, housed on the right, and the inclusion of two USB-C ports for added connectivity.
You’ll also be able to choose from either 8-, 12- or a whopping 16GB of RAM, and either 128-, 256- or 512GB of storage if the listing is correct.
Most of this was also backed up by the appearance of the alleged ROG Phone 3 in a short nine-second hands-on video, posted to Chinese social networking site Weibo. The post has since been removed, but MySmartPrice has embedded it in an article for those that want a closer look.
Per the leaked video, it seems the ROG Phone 3 looks slightly cleaner than its predecessor, with fewer accent lines on the rear, but that’s not the only change. It seems the upcoming smartphone may have three cameras on the rear, as opposed to two in the earlier leaks, and the marking under the main rear lens reads ’64MP’ so we should expect a 64-megapixel main shooter too.
Asus ROG Phone 3 wishlist
While there isn’t much to go on right now, we’ve listed a handful of improvements we’d like to see from the upcoming ROG Phone 3.
Improved display refresh rate
The 120Hz display on offer with the Asus ROG Phone 2 is great for gamers, offering a solid improvement on the 90Hz of the original, but it’s not the 144Hz- or even 240Hz refresh rate that’s available to PC gamers.
Asking for a 240Hz refresh rate on a smartphone might be asking too much, especially as games will have to render at 240fps to fully take advantage of the heightened refresh rate, but the jump from 120Hz to 144Hz seems more attainable.
The jump from 120Hz to 144Hz would also give the ROG Phone 3 the title of the fastest refresh rate of any smartphone – a great look for a company that has arguably been playing catch-up with the120Hz refresh rate that Razer offered on its’ first-gen gaming phone back in 2017.
It should go without saying that we want beefier internals from the ROG Phone 3. Don’t get us wrong; the ROG Phone 2 is a powerhouse of mobile processing power, but a new year means a new processor, right?
The ROG Phone 3 doesn’t need much improvement in terms of RAM or storage with the second-gen smartphone offering between 8 and 12GB and 128GB and 1TB respectively, but we expect the ROG Phone 3 to feature Qualcomm’s flagship 2020 chipset, the Snapdragon 865, along with a beefier GPU to handle the rise in high-end mobile games coming to market at the moment.
The ROG Phone 2 was a good looking smartphone, there’s no denying it. It appeals to the stereotypical gamer, ditching the glass-and-metal combination of most flagship phones for a full metal body with improved durability, and the customisable ROG RGB light on the rear adds a little something for PC gamers accustomed to RGB lightshows when gaming.
We’re not expecting a complete redesign when it comes to the ROG Phone 3, but we’d like to see a refinement of last year’s design, possibly stretching the display to the edges and removing the (admittedly thin) bezels on the forehead and chin of the smartphone.
Asus could also take a cue from Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro and embed the speakers within the display of the ROG Phone 3, providing a clean, high-end look that could rival other flagships, but we’ll have to wait and see what the company has planned.
The cameras of the second-gen ROG Phone, though a big improvement on the original, are still lagging behind most flagship rivals despite the high-end price tag of the smartphone. There seems to be a flawed logic amongst manufacturers across the industry that gamers don’t care about taking photos, and we’re not sure why that’s the case. We want to shoot bad guys AND take arty photos, okay?
We’d love to see the ROG Phone 3 with a trio of rear-facing cameras included in most flagships, consisting of a main snapper alongside telephoto and wide-angle sensors. The ROG Phone 2 already has standard and wide-angle cameras, so it’s almost there. We’d also like a general refinement of the camera tech as, despite boasting a 48Mp main camera, the ROG Phone 2 wasn’t the best at taking photos.
Bundled gaming accessories
The ROG Phone 2 was compatible with a range of accessories designed to enhance the mobile gaming experience, from controller add-ons to a cooling plate to help keep the phone performing well over extended periods of play. The issue is that none of those were included in the box, despite the high-end price tag of the smartphone.
Considering the premium consumers are paying to get their hands on a ROG-branded phone, we’d love to see at least a controller included in the box, if not more. You don’t have to buy a DualShock 4 separately when you buy a PS4, do you? It’ll also help solidify its place as the gaming phone as, without the gaming-specific accessories, the ROG Phone is essentially the same as most other smartphones on the market.