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ASUS ROG Phone 3 buyer's guide: Everything you need to know
The ASUS ROG Phone 3 is a beast and one of the best gaming phones around, even though it was announced in 2020. It’s big, it’s loud, and it’s powerful. But is it right for you?
That’s what this buyer’s guide is for. It contains all the best resources on the ROG Phone 3 that should help you figure out whether or not to get the phone. We’ll take a look at how good or bad the cameras are, what the performance is like, how much battery life to expect, where to buy it, and much more.
Editor’s note: This ROG Phone 3 buyer’s guide is current as of December 2021. We will update it with new content regularly.
ASUS ROG Phone 3 at a glance
The ROG Phone 3 (launch price: $999/€999/49,999 rupees) is aimed at gamers. Not only does it pack high-end hardware, but it also has a few gaming-centric features on board and is available with several accessories that improve the gaming experience. These include the AeroActive 3 cooling fan that also doubles as a kickstand.
You’ll find the Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset under the hood and up to a whopping 16GB of RAM. The display is massive at 6.59 inches and sports an industry-leading refresh rate of 144Hz. The battery is huge as well, with its capacity of 6,000mAh, which should ensure you’ll be able to game for hours on end.
The phone sports shoulder buttons, a surprisingly good triple camera setup, and two front-facing speakers for a more immersive sound experience. ASUS released a software update enabling Dirac’s headphone optimization technology. This effectively improves the audio quality of all compatible ROG gaming headsets when paired with the ROG Phone 3. The design is a bit toned-down compared to the previous generation but is still quite striking and, therefore, not to everyone’s liking.
There are a few drawbacks to the phone compared to its rivals. It doesn’t support wireless charging and doesn’t have an IP rating. It also lacks a headphone jack, although one is included on the AeroActive 3 cooling fan accessory.
Is the ROG Phone 3 worth buying?
If you’re in the market for a gaming phone, the ROG Phone 3 should be on your shortlist. It offers everything you need, including outstanding performance, a big screen, a large battery, shoulder buttons, and more. However, all this comes at a price. The ROG Phone 3 is expensive, launching at $999 for the 12GB/512GB model and going all the way up to $1,099 for the variant with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Unfortunately, as the phone becomes harder to track down, the asking price has risen beyond the launch price.
If gaming isn’t your thing, the ROG Phone 3 likely isn’t for you. Most people will be turned off by the bold, gaming-centric design with RGB lighting at the back and extra gaming features they probably won’t use. Additionally, there’s no wireless charging or an IP rating you get with most phones in this price range. There’s also no headphone jack or a microSD card slot, which is available on rival devices such as the LG V60 ThinQ, among others.
However, if you’re not a gamer but love the phone’s design and don’t care about the lack of wireless charging, headphone jack, and IP rating, the ROG Phone 3 may still be for you. It’s got everything a power user needs and more.
What experts think of the ROG Phone 3?
Our own David Imel reviewed the ROG Phone 3 and loved many things about it. He said it’s the fastest phone on the market at the time of writing and sports fantastic speakers and great cameras. He also loved the 144Hz display and the shoulder buttons that are even better than the ROG Phone 2.
The phone offers a great software experience.
The software experience also gets a thumbs-up since you can choose between a gaming-centric or stock-like interface. Additionally, David liked the overall battery life of the device, despite being a bit inconsistent at times.
He also pointed out a few drawbacks of the phone, including the lack of wireless charging and IP rating. Both these features are available on most other phones in this price range. The phone can also get quite hot, so using the AeroActive 3 cooling fan that ships with the phone in several markets is a good idea.
What other reviewers from around the web think
To give you the best overview of the ROG Phone 3, I took a look at a bunch of reviews of the phone from other publications. The overall opinion of reviewers from around the web was similar to David’s. Most of them highlighted the smooth display of the phone, the great performance, loud speakers, and the large battery. They also felt that the device’s lack of wireless charging and an IP rating is a significant drawback and mentioned that the phone’s design isn’t for everyone.
However, not everyone was in the same boat regarding the cameras. While David and many other reviewers loved them, some had different views. For example, Tech Radar’s David Lumb said that the phone’s cameras are “so-so,” while PCMag’s Steven Winkelman wasn’t impressed with the macro lens of the phone, saying it produces “flat photos with mushy detail.” Other cons of the phone highlighted by various reviewers include that while AirTriggers are generally great, they only work with select games.
How good are the cameras on the ROG Phone 3?
The phone sports a 64MP primary camera, a 13MP wide-angle shooter, and a 5MP macro lens. Our own David Imel thinks they are pretty good. In fact, he said he prefers the camera system of the ROG Phone 3 to that of the Samsung Galaxy S20.
The images captured had great color and an excellent dynamic range. They also showed a decent amount of shadow detail without looking washed out. However, low-light photography isn’t the best, especially when compared to other phones such as the Pixel 4.
David also had good things to say about the selfie camera, which is 24MP. He said it can capture great selfies with good color and sharpness, even in dimmer situations. If you want to see image samples taken from all four cameras, you can do so here.
Does the ROG Phone 3 have good battery life?
A gaming phone needs a big battery, and the ASUS ROG Phone delivers with its 6,000mAh cell. The battery should get you through the day with ease and is good enough for long gaming sessions.
While reviewing the phone, the best battery life David got on the ROG Phone 3 was nine hours and 21 minutes of screen-on time with 5% battery left. However, battery life was inconsistent, achieving only seven hours of screen-on time on some days, which is still pretty good. This inconsistency is probably because of the variable refresh rate display of the device.
We tested the phone’s battery life using our in-house Speed Test G benchmark to see how it stacks up against the competition. The results are impressive but not industry-leading. The phone came in third, behind the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro and HUAWEI P40 Pro Plus. But it did beat popular phones like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Pixel 4 XL, and LG V60, as you can see from the chart below.
ASUS ROG Phone 3 alternatives
There are plenty of great alternatives you should keep in mind when deciding whether or not to get the ROG Phone 3. One of them is the REDMAGIC 6, which is lighter on specs but much lighter on your wallet, too.
Then there’s the Black Shark 4 series, which offers a bit less in some areas and more in others. For example, you get a smaller battery but faster 120W charging. The regular model is a better choice if you’re on a budget, while the more expensive Pro version is for those who want a bit more with its Snapdragon 888 chipset.
Read next: The best phones for gaming you can get
Another great gaming phone is the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel. You get a smaller battery than the ASUS ROG Phone 3 but a pop-up selfie camera for a more modern look and feel. But keep in mind that the availability of the phone is quite limited.
There are other alternatives, which aren’t specifically designed with gamers in mind but have the required hardware to run the most demanding titles. These include the Galaxy S21 and Note 20 series, LG V60 ThinQ, the OnePlus 9 series, and Xperia 1 III.
Most of these devices have an IP rating and wireless charging that the ASUS ROG Phone 3 lacks, but they don’t come with shoulder buttons and fancy accessories like the AeroActive 3 cooling fan.
Unfortunately, ASUS doesn’t have a great track record for software updates. The ROG Phone 2 launched with Android 9 Pie and was updated to Android 10 in March, six months after the OS launched. For reference, the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro got Android 10 just 18 days after its launch, while Samsung rolled out the update to the Galaxy S10 series around two and a half months after becoming available.
It also got Android 11 this July. Luckily for all of us, the ROG Phone 3 has been tapped for an H1 2022 release of Android 12. This means it should see the update sometime before July.
If fast and frequent updates are what you want, the ROG Phone 3 likely isn't for you.
Things get even worse from there. The original ROG Phone released in 2018 with Android 8 Oreo has not and will not receive Android 10, meaning it only got one major OS update. Meanwhile, the OnePlus 6 and 6T released at roughly the same time got the update just two months after Google released it. Samsung was a bit slower with its Galaxy S9 series, but it still managed to get the update out in around four months after it hit the market.
If software updates are important to you, and they should be, one of the latest Google Pixel or Galaxy devices is a much better option, with all of them getting three years of Android updates.
ASUS ROG Phone 3 accessories
There are several first-party ROG Phone 3 accessories to choose from. These include the already-mentioned AeroActive 3 cooling fan, which will make sure that your phone doesn’t overheat during long gaming sessions. The good news is that it ships with the device in multiple regions, including the US.
Other useful accessories include TwinView Dock 3, which gets you a dual-screen gaming experience, and the ROG Clip, which lets you attach the phone to a physical controller. Then there’s the ROG Kunai 3 Gamepad that transforms the phone into a Nintendo Switch-like console. A few other interesting ones have been announced, which you can check out on the ROG Phone 3’s promo page on the company’s website.
Top ROG Phone 3 questions and answers
Q: Is the ASUS ROG Phone 3 waterproof?
A: No, the phone does not have an IP rating.
Q: Does the ROG Phone 3 support 5G?
A: Yes, but only the sub-6GHz standard. There is no mmWave support.
Q: Does the ROG Phone 3 support wireless charging?
A: There’s no wireless charging on the ROG Phone 3.
Q: Does the ROG Phone 3 come with a headphone jack?
A: Unfortunately, you won’t find a headphone jack on the ROG Phone 3. However, the included AeroActive 3 cooling fan accessory does have a headphone jack, allowing you to use wired headphones when it’s attached.
Q: Does the ROG Phone 3 support expandable storage?
A: No, there’s no microSD card slot on the device.
Q: How fast does the ROG Phone charge?
A: The phone supports 30W charging that gets it from zero to 100% in 107 minutes, according to our testing. It charged 51% in 30 minutes and 87% in one hour.
Q: Is the ROG Phone 3 a dual-SIM device?
A: Yes, the phone has dual-SIM capabilities. However, the phone only supports GSM networks, so Verizon SIM cards will not work.
Q: Is the ROG Phone 3 available in the US?
A: Yes, you can buy the phone from Amazon.com.
Q: Does the ROG Phone 3 have front-facing speakers?
A: Yes, the ROG Phone 3 has two front-facing stereo speakers, tuned by Dirac and kitted out with seven magnets for improved bass response. According to Dirac Cofounder Nilo Casimiro, the ROG Phone 3 uses multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology to enable the phone’s primary speakers and receiver speaker. In other words, listeners get something akin to a surround sound experience directly from the handset without the need for headphones.
Q: What color is the ROG Phone 3 available in?
A: The phone comes in a single color called Black Glare.
Where to buy the phone?
The ASUS ROG Phone 3 is available in the United States, India, and Europe, among a few other places. Some retailers have exclusive rights to sell the phone in specific areas of the world.
Key ASUS ROG Phone 3 specs
|ASUS ROG Phone 3
144Hz refresh rate
1ms response time
270Hz touch sampling rate
113% DCI-P3 Color
Gorilla Glass 6
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus @ 3.1Ghz
12/16GB (standard edition)
8GB (Strix Edition)
512GB (standard edition)
256GB (Strix Edition)
30W fast charging
64MP Sony IMX686 sensor
13MP ultra-wide sensor
5MP macro sensor
802.11ax Wi-Fi (four antennas)
Ultrasonic air triggers
Dimensions and weight
171 x 78 x 9.85mm
Help other readers out
Do you own the ROG Phone 3 or plan on getting it? If so, make your voice heard in our polls below, and then go ahead and post your own mini-review in the comments!