Asus ROG Phone 5 Review: A Great Gaming Phone (Yes, Really!)
I do not consider myself a mobile player. Playing games on a slab of glass has never been so comfortable for long periods of time. It was a subway ride activity in the Before Times, but my free time mostly spent playing games on my PC and Nintendo Switch at home. Many mobile games are… bad. There is valid titles, but they’re not easily discoverable, and if I run into them I still don’t like playing games on my phone the whole time.
Asus’ new smartphone, the ROG Phone 5, makes mobile gaming more tactile and fun. Two touch-sensitive buttons integrated into the side of the phone enhance the experience, as does useful software that makes physical controllers compatible with any game, and custom accessories like a clip-on fan to keep things cool.
To be clear, you don’t need a “gaming” phone to play mobile games. Most work very well cheap or expensive phones. But ROG’s raw power and useful add-ons go a long way, like a secondary charging port to prevent an annoying cable from interrupting your outlet, or a headphone jack. I can spend hours playing on this phone, and this is a first.
Many mobile games do not support a controller, including popular titles like Genshin impact, The Elder Scrolls: Blades, and PUBG Mobile. There are some wacky ways you can try to get it to work, but that’s what sets ROG Phone 5 apart. Asus’ Game Genie software allows you to map a game’s touchscreen controls to a controller. incredibly easy.
You can do this with an Xbox, PlayStation, or Google Stadia controller if you have one lying around, but I prefer Asus’ ROG Kunai 3 GamePad. It works as a traditional bluetooth or wired controller or can be attached to the edges around the phone like Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons.
To use it, you launch a game, open the tab in Game Genie’s in-game, and spend a few minutes placing buttons on the touchscreen controls so the controller can trigger them. You can simulate swipes and taps, and even record a gesture and activate it with a physical button, so you can get commands for almost every action. Believe me, games like Genshin impact and Oddmar worth playing with a controller. The tactile sensation is so much more satisfying, and your hands won’t be as tight.
If you don’t have a controller that’s fine. The right shoulders of the ROG Phone 5 are equipped with AirTriggers, two ultrasonic touch buttons you can configure with almost any game. I always prefer to use a physical controller, but they are useful in titles where you often find your fingers blocking the screen. AirTriggers are not working perfectly (I had issues with the Viking game Oddmar), but you’ll wonder why more phones don’t.
Game Genie can do all kinds of other useful tricks, like turning off calls and alerts when you’re playing, keeping your brightness steady, and preventing you from accidentally shutting down a game. You can also use it to monitor the temperature of the game. your phone, frames per second (fps), record game clips or show google search results without interruption (in case you get stuck on a puzzle).
Another important software is X mode, which allows you to customize how the phone works in games. Do you want the best possible performance? Turn on X Mode + to extract as much power as possible from the CPU, GPU, and RAM, and it will even limit background CPU usage from other apps. Want to make sure the battery lasts longer instead? You can edit the profile to be so.