ASUS today is unveiling the all-new ROG Phone 8 series devices at CES, and they come with some much-needed, not to mention, highly requested improvements. Each year ASUS tends to iterate on its popular mobile gaming smartphone series with meaningful advancements. This year the company has outdone itself with what could be the most meaningful improvements to date.
Not the least of which is wireless charging (Qi 1.3 standard only) and big improvements to the camera. The ROG Phone 8 will come in three SKUs. The standard ROG Phone 8, the ROG Phone Pro, and the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition. All three phones are essentially the same across the board save for a few details.
The Aura RGB ROG logo on the back of the standard model gets swapped out for the ‘AniMe Vision’ display on the ROG Phone 8 Pro and ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition models. These are similar to the AniMe Matrix displays on the backs of ASUS’s ROG Zephyrus laptops. They’re comprised of 341 programmable Mini-LEDs and support animations in both GIF and PNG formats. So you can upload your own files and use those to customize the display. The phone also comes with more than 20 preloaded animations to play with.
ASUS is also using Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile platform for unparalleled performance, and it features 6.78-inch flexible AMOLED display with a 165Hz refresh rate and a 720Hz touch sampling rate. In short, expect buttery smooth gaming and some extremely low input latency. The display is ultra-bright as well at a peak of 2500 nits.
The ASUS ROG Phone 8 series will launch in Q1
ASUS plans to launch these phones in the US market and globally in the first quarter of this year. Prices will start at $1,099.99 for the standard model which comes in Rebel Gray and Phantom Black. ASUS is also going to offer an early bird promotion where you can save $100. This model will come with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
If you bump up to the ROG Phone 8 Pro, you’ll get 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, and the phone comes in a matte Phantom Black with a retail price of $1,199.99. ASUS will offer an early bird promotion on this model as well that comes with a free AeroActive Cooler X attachment instead of a phone discount. The AeroActive Coller X is going to be $99.99, and you really do want it. So we’d recommend picking up the phone in the early bird promotion if you can.
The last model, the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition, will come with a whopping 24GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. It even comes bundled with the AeroActive Cooler X. It will retail for $1,499.99, however, so be prepared to spend a little more for this model.
A new, more subtle design takes the ROG Phone 8 series ‘Beyond Gaming’
The ROG Phone line will always be a collection of gaming phones at their core. That will never change. But ASUS has made some improvements this year that take the phone series ‘beyond gaming’ as the company puts it.
This starts with the new, more subtle design that uses, quite frankly, a lot less “gamer aesthetic” than previous models. This really comes out in the ROG Phone 8 Pro and ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition thanks to the matte black colorway. These also use the AniMe Vision LED display, and unless the LED animations are enabled, they’re not visible at all and are completely hidden. So both models just look like normal ASUS phones. It’s also 15% thinner than the ROG Phone 7 series and slightly lighter. That being said, the size reduction also comes with a reduction in battery capacity, moving down from 6,000mAh to 5,500mAh.
Another big improvement this year is the change to an IP68 rating. Last year’s phone was only IPX5 rated. Which was still good, but not fully weather-resistant. That changes this year and should give consumers who buy the device a little more peace of mind.
ASUS promises better cameras for an improved photo and video experience
The Beyond Gaming moniker also comes in the form of a new and improved camera system. These are “pro-level cameras” ASUS says and they’re loaded with AI features and software to enhance things further, such as the OZO audio tech that lets you opt to eliminate wind noise for better sound in recorded video. Speaking of video, the phone also now features the 3.0 version of the 6-axis Hybrid Gimbal Stabilizer. So videos should come out much smoother than in prior ROG Phone devices. I never really experienced major issues with video in my testing but it was clear that things could do with a little less shakiness.
While not bad by any means, many of ASUS’s past ROG Phone models have simply had “just ok” cameras. They did the job and that was that. This time around, ASUS says it has recognized that its users want more out of the camera for times when they’re not gaming. The setup on the back uses an all-new 50MP Sony sensor for the main image sensor, but it also now includes (for the first time) a 3x telephoto lens that supports 10x and 30x zoom features. There’s also a 13MP ultrawide lens to make sure you capture everything in your shot. Pair that with the 32MP ultrawide selfie camera and this is ASUS’s most advanced camera system yet. At least on paper.
All-in-all, the ROG Phone 8 series is a much more well-rounded gaming smartphone thanks to it being more capable in non-gaming situations.
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