The Asus ROG Phone 3 is a beast. It’s the best gaming phone you can currently get as well as one of the best phones overall. 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 January 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 the latest and greatest 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 latest and greatest 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 massive as well with its capacity of 6,000mAh, which should make sure 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 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 flamboyant and, therefore, not to everyone’s liking.
There are a few drawbacks to the phone when comparing it to its rivals. It doesn’t support wireless charging and doesn’t have an IP rating. It also lacks a headphone jack, although there is one 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 at the top of your list. It offers everything you need including great performance, a big screen, a large battery, shoulder buttons, and more. However, all this comes at a price. The ROG Phone 3 is on the expensive side, starting 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.
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 likely 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 design of the phone 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 very own David Imel reviewed the ROG Phone 3 and loved a lot of things about it. He said it’s the fastest phone on the market right now and sports fantastic speakers and great cameras. He also loved the 144Hz display and the shoulder buttons that are even better than the ones on the ROG Phone 2.
The phone offers a great software experience.
The software experience gets a thumbs-up as well 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, which include 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 a number of 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 that of David. Most of them highlighted the smooth display of the phone, the great performance, loud speakers, and the large battery. They also felt that the lack of wireless charging and an IP rating is a major drawback of the device and mentioned that the phone’s design isn’t for everyone.
However, not everyone was on the same boat when it comes to the cameras. While David, along with a number of 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 the fact 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 main 64MP camera, a 13MP wide-angle shooter, and a 5MP macro lens. Our very 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 a good 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 comparing it to other phones such as the Pixel 4.
David also had good things to say about the selfie camera, which comes in at 24MP. He said that 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 by clicking here.
Does the ROG Phone 3 have good battery life?
A gaming phone needs a big battery, and the Asus ROG Phone definitely 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 a bit inconsistent, achieving only seven hours of screen-on time on some days, which is still pretty good. The reason for this inconsistency is probably because of the variable refresh rate display of the device.
We tested the battery life of the phone 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 Red Magic 5S, which has weaker specs compared to the ROG Phone 3 but comes in way cheaper, starting at just $579.
Then there’s the Black Shark 3 series, which offers a bit less in some areas and more in others. For example, you get a smaller battery but faster 65W 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 the best from the company.
Read next: The best phones for gaming you can get
Another great gaming phone is the newly released Lenovo Legion Phone Duel. You get a smaller battery compared to 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 as well, which aren’t specifically designed with gamers in mind but have the required hardware to run the most demanding titles. These include the Galaxy S20 and Note 20 series, LG V60 ThinQ, OnePlus 8 series, Xperia 1 II, and Xiaomi Mi 10 series, among others.
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 when it comes to software updates. The ROG Phone 2 launched with Android 9 Pie and was updated to Android 10 back 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.
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 that was released in 2018 with Android 8 Oreo has yet to receive Android 10. There’s no word on when or if it will get it. Meanwhile, the OnePlus 6 and 6T that were 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.
There’s no word on how fast the Asus ROG Phone 3 will get OS upgrades and how many of them we can expect. But based on its predecessors, the phone isn’t for you if fast and frequent updates are what you want. One of the latest Google Pixel or Galaxy Note devices is a much better option, with all of them getting three years of Android updates.
That said, Asus did release an over-the-air update in October of 2020. This improved audio performance with Dirac’s headphone optimization solution. It’s not quite an OS update, but it does show that Asus is committed to extending the life of the ROG Phone 3.
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 will ship with the device in multiple regions, including the US.
Other useful accessories include TwinView Dock 3 ($329.99) that gets you a dual-screen gaming experience, and the ROG Clip ($39.99) that lets you attach the phone to a physical controller. Then there’s the ROG Kunai 3 Gamepad ($149.99) 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.
The problem is that it’s very hard to get your hands on these accessories for now, as they haven’t yet been released in most markets.
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, its included AeroActive 3 cooling fan accessory does have a headphone jack, allowing you to use wired ‘phones 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 in two different configurations.
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. The speaker that creates sound during calls, to produce more engaging audio. 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.
Unfortunately, Asus has not confirmed any United Kingdom availability for the ROG Phone 3.
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
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus @ 3.1Ghz|
|RAM||12/16GB (standard edition)|
8GB (Strix Edition)
|Storage||512GB (standard edition)|
256GB (Strix Edition)
30W fast charging
64MP Sony IMX686 sensor
13MP ultra-wide sensor
5MP macro sensor
|Connectivity||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!