As of a couple of years ago mobile games bring in more revenue than the PC and console markets combined. The scene has grown and evolved and there are proper AAA games on mobile, plus tournaments and Twitch streams featuring said games.
Gaming phones evolved alongside those games too – phones like the Asus ROG Phone 7 and the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate. In fact, Asus ROG was the official sponsor of the CoD: Mobile World Championship 2022, which promoted the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro.
All this build-up is to answer the question “Can’t I just play games on my flagship phone?” “Yes, you can” is the answer, but that’s not the point. Gaming phones are as much about the hardware as they are about the accessory ecosystem along with cross promotion during esport events and game streams. ROG excels at both after years of experience in the PC market.
In terms of hardware, gaming phones do bring a little extra to the table. For example, the two new ROG models carry on the family tradition of having two USB-C ports (the second is for accessories, which we’ll get to in a minute). The display prioritizes a high refresh rate over resolution (FHD+ 165Hz) and the phones are thick and heavy but pack a large 6,000mAh battery. A typical flagship might make different choices and go with a QHD+ display and a slender build instead.
Accessories are a key part of the experience
Additionally, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate comes with the AeroActive Cooler 7 in the box, plus the dedicated AeroActive Portal to increase the cooler’s efficiency. The Cooler also has other functionality – it acts as a kickstand, it has a 3.5mm headphone jack and four programmable AirTrigger buttons.
This is more or less the only difference with the vanilla Asus ROG Phone 7, which lacks the Portal (and the Cooler is a separate purchase). On the plus side, removing the physical opening on the phone allowed it to earn an IP54 dust and water resistance rating.
Naturally, you can buy a generic thermoelectric cooler from Amazon to use with any phone to improve sustained performance. What you’re getting with a gaming phone like the ROG models is the matching style and bespoke software integration. Speaking of software, there are so many settings and options that you if you have the time, you can tune the phone perfectly to your preferred games and play style.
Oh, we almost forgot – there is a 2” OLED display on the back of the Pro, but it’s mostly for show.
Asus ROG Phone 7 • Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate
We’ll have a (very) brief overview of the competition, skipping the non-gaming flagships – again, those can run games just fine, but if you’re in the market for a gaming phone, then you want a gaming phone. And that doesn’t leave a ton of options, not right now at least.
The nubia Red Magic 8 Pro and Pro+ have built-in cooling fans, which raise the level of sustained performance. Not as much as the AeroActive Cooler, but they do it without a bulky external accessory. On the flip side, the ROG Phone’s extra USB-C port is a boon for those who prefer using accessories instead of gaming on a bare phone.
ZTE nubia Red Magic 8 Pro • ZTE nubia Red Magic 8 Pro+
Okay, that was a pretty short list, but there is a reason for that. Lenovo pulled the plug on the Legion series, Black Shark is yet to unveil with its 2023 model (there is evidence it exists, though). We could have a look at Snapdragon 8(+) Gen 1 devices or even ones with a Dimensity chip, but the 8 Gen 2 is quite a bit faster than the 2022 chips and without it you would be getting a second-best experience.
Picture this – you’re looking for a new gaming phone. Is the Asus ROG Phone 7 that phone? Or is the Ultimate model more your speed?