November 15, 2018 // 7:30 p.m.
Asus' Republic of Gamers (ROG) arm has finally made good on its promise to release a gaming phone, announcing that its imaginatively-named ROG Phone will hit the UK on December 14th with discounted pre-orders opening up tomorrow.
Asus first revealed it was getting into the gaming-centric smartphone market during Computex, showing off a ROG-branded handset it promised would include powerful hardware. Now, at an event in London, the company has made its launch plan concrete: The ROG Phone will be available to pre-order from tomorrow with a December 14th shipping date.
Designed to appeal to the high-end gaming market, the handset is built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip with eight Arm cores, the fastest of which runs at 2.96GHz, alongside an Adreno 630 graphics processor. Here, Asus claims to be adding value compared to rival devices using the same hardware by speed-binning the components - ensuring, it claims, maximum performance by discounting any that can't run at its demanded high-end clock speeds.
To keep the handset cool - mobile devices often promising high clock speeds only to throttle down after mere minutes of sustained workload bring it to a thermal peak - Asus has included a 'GameCool' vapour-chamber-based cooling system which is claimed to offer a 16-fold increase in surface area compared to a traditional smartphone cooling system. The result: a handset able to sustain maximum clocks for around five times longer than the competition, which can be improved with the addition of the bundled 'AeroActive Cooler' fan system which clips onto the exterior.
Elsewhere, the handset packs up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage depending on model chosen, Cat 16 Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile connectivity, and 'gigabit-class' 802.11ad Wi-Fi. All the hardware is housed behind an AMOLED display running at a 90Hz refresh rate, while the addition of 'ultrasonic AirTrigger touch sensors' - two at the top of the display optimised for use as triggers in landscape gaming, and a third optimised for use in portrait mode - is claimed to offer improved game control with haptic feedback.
The feature list continues from here: The handset includes a secondary side-mounted USB Type-C port, designed for use during landscape orientation gaming, which can charge the phone while also providing HDMI, gigabit LAN, and headphone connectivity; the handset's front-facing speakers are connected to a 24-bit 192KHz audio system; there's a 4,000mAh battery; and, naturally, RGB lighting through the rear ROG logo.
Asus is also offering a family of optional expansion platforms for the handset: The TwinView Dock adds a secondary six-inch 2,160 x 1,080 AMOLED display and a front-facing quad-speaker system, two physical trigger buttons, dual-haptic force-feedback engine, enhanced cooling system, and an extended 6,000mAh battery pack; the Gamevice controller and WiGig Dock, meanwhile, combine to turn the ROG Phone into a portable console for big-screen gaming and brings with it dual analogue joysticks with push-to-click additional button mode, left and right triggers and bumpers, a D-pad, and four buttons.
All this, though, comes at a cost: Asus has confirmed that the base model of the handset will start at £799 from its own web store, though a limited number of handsets will be available to pre-order at a £100 discount for £699 (both inc. VAT). Pricing for the TwinView Dock, WiGig Dock, and Gamevice controller have not yet been confirmed.