Asus ROG Phone 5 product shot of the ROG logo on the included case
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

When it comes to gaming phones, few OEMs can top the ROG-branded devices we see each year from Asus. Now, the company’s 2021 entry is finally official: the Asus ROG Phone 5!

In the article below, we’re going to tell you everything you could ever want to know about this new series of smartphones. Do keep in mind that just because Asus pushes this phone towards the gamer community, it’s actually something non-gaming power users should also check out. Let’s dive in!


Editor’s note: This Asus ROG Phone 5 buyer’s guide is current as of May 2021. We will update it with new content on a regular basis.

Asus ROG Phone 5 at a glance

Asus launched the ROG Phone 5 series on March 10, 2021. That’s a much earlier launch date than last year, which saw the latest ROG Phone land in July.

The ROG Phone 5 is the direct follow-up to 2020’s ROG Phone 3. No, you’re not seeing things: Asus skipped over the number four with this series. We’ve seen other Chinese manufacturers do this, such as OnePlus. The reason behind the omission is that the Chinese word for “four” sounds a lot like the Chinese word for “death.” This has created a prevalent superstition in East Asian cultures that the number four is unlucky.

Related: The best phones for gaming: Play faster and better

Regardless, the ROG Phone 5 series features the 2021 upgrades one would expect. It includes the latest and greatest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. It has a higher RAM limit than last year, Android 11 out-of-the-box, and faster wired charging. It also brings back the headphone jack, which was missing from the ROG Phone 3 (although an included accessory enabled a quick workaround).

Of course, this is a gaming phone, so it also features both hardware and software tricks specifically tailored towards gamers. That includes shoulder triggers, the Asus Armoury Crate app for gaming optimization, and an overall design aesthetic that matches the other Asus Republic Of Gamers products.

Additionally, there are three different versions of the phone this year. The Asus ROG Phone 5 is the basic model, while the ROG Phone 5 Pro ups the ante a bit. The Rog Phone 5 Ultimate represents the peak of the series. The phones start at €799/£799/$999, €1,199 (~$1,425), and €1,299 (~$1,540) respectively.

Is the ROG Phone 5 worth buying?

Asus ROG Phone 5 product shot of the RGB LED logo customization page
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

If you are looking for a phone that is specifically catered to gaming, you can’t do better than the Asus ROG Phone 5. With its high-powered CPU, terrific 144Hz display, crystal-clear audio, and built-in gaming-centric features, this is probably the best gaming phone on the market.

Related: Asus ROG Phone 5 review: King of the hill

That being said, this phone is also worth a look even if you’re not a gamer. First, there’s the CPU, display, and audio, which we’ve already mentioned. Additionally, the camera system on the ROG Phone 5 is actually a lot better than one would expect. It’s not super versatile since it doesn’t have a telephoto lens, but it delivers the basics at a surprisingly high quality.

Even the software of the ROG Phone 5 is great. Scroll down a bit for our full take on ROG UI and Zen UI.

Of course, all that power doesn’t come cheap. The chances are good, though, that if you’re in the market for a gaming phone of this caliber, you’re not surprised. Regardless, we believe that the value you receive for the money spent on this phone is well worth it.

 
The vast majority of Android Authority readers seem to love the new ROG Phone 5. We conducted a poll asking readers whether or not they think Asus’ new flagship is hot or not. Around 78% of survey participants think the phone is hot, while the rest aren’t loving it — learn more here.

Asus ROG Phone 5 specs

ROG Phone 5ROG Phone 5 ProROG Phone 5 Ultimate
Display
ROG Phone 5:
6.78-inch AMOLED
20.4:9 ratio
2,448 x 1,080
395ppi
144Hz
1ms response time
HDR10+
Gorilla Glass Victus
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
6.78-inch AMOLED
20.4:9 ratio
2,448 x 1,080
395ppi
144Hz
1ms response time
HDR10+
Gorilla Glass Victus
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
6.78-inch AMOLED
20.4:9 ratio
2,448 x 1,080
395ppi
144Hz
1ms response time
HDR10+
Gorilla Glass Victus
Rear display
ROG Phone 5:
None (RGB Logo)
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
ROG Vision
Color PMOLED
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
ROG Vision
Monochrome PMOLED
Processor
ROG Phone 5:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
2.84GHz
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
2.84GHz
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
2.84GHz
GPU
ROG Phone 5:
Adreno 660
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
Adreno 660
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
Adreno 660
RAM
ROG Phone 5:
Min: 8GB
Max: 16GB
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
16GB
LPDDR5
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
18GB
LPDDR5
Storage
ROG Phone 5:
Min: 128GB
Max: 256GB
No microSD slot
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
512GB
UFS 3.1
No microSD slot
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
512GB
UFS 3.1
No microSD slot
Battery/power
ROG Phone 5:
6,000mAh
(2 x 3,000mAh cells)
65W wired charging
Charger included
No wireless charging
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
6,000mAh
(2 x 3,000mAh cells)
65W wired charging
Charger included
No wireless charging
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
6,000mAh
(2 x 3,000mAh cells)
65W wired charging
Charger included
No wireless charging
Cameras
ROG Phone 5:
Rear:
64MP primary, 0.8μm, ƒ1.8, 1/1.7-inch sensor
13MP ultra-wide, ƒ2.4, 125-degree FoV
5MP macro, ƒ2.0
Front:
24MP, 0.9μm, ƒ2.45
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
Rear:
64MP primary, 0.8μm, ƒ1.8, 1/1.7-inch sensor
13MP ultra-wide, ƒ2.4, 125-degree FoV
5MP macro, ƒ2.0
Front:
24MP, 0.9μm, ƒ2.45
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
Rear:
64MP primary, 0.8μm, ƒ1.8, 1/1.7-inch sensor
13MP ultra-wide, ƒ2.4, 125-degree FoV
5MP macro, ƒ2.0
Front:
24MP, 0.9μm, ƒ2.45
IP rating
ROG Phone 5:
None
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
None
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
None
Audio
ROG Phone 5:
3.5mm headphone port
HyperStream II Quad-DAC
Dual front-facing speakers
Bluetooth 5.2
LDAC + aptX support

ROG Phone 5 Pro:
3.5mm headphone port
HyperStream II Quad-DAC
Dual front-facing speakers
Bluetooth 5.2
LDAC + aptX support

ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
3.5mm headphone port
HyperStream II Quad-DAC
Dual front-facing speakers
Bluetooth 5.2
LDAC + aptX support

Ports
ROG Phone 5:
Side-mounted USB-C port
Bottom USB-C port
3.5mm port
Dual-SIM, dual-standby (DSDS)
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
Side-mounted USB-C port
Bottom USB-C port
3.5mm port
Dual-SIM, dual-standby (DSDS)
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
Side-mounted USB-C port
Bottom USB-C port
3.5mm port
Dual-SIM, dual-standby (DSDS)
Wireless
ROG Phone 5:
Wi-Fi 6E support
IEEE 802.11 a, b, g, n, ca, ax
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
Wi-Fi 6E support
IEEE 802.11 a, b, g, n, ca, ax
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
Wi-Fi 6E support
IEEE 802.11 a, b, g, n, ca, ax
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Extra sensors
ROG Phone 5:
Air Triggers 5
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
Air Triggers 5
Two rear touch sensors
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
Air Triggers 5
Two rear touch sensors
Software
ROG Phone 5:
Android 11
ROG UI or ZenUI
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
Android 11
ROG UI or ZenUI
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
Android 11
ROG UI or ZenUI
Dimensions and weight
ROG Phone 5:
172.8 x 77.2 x 10.29mm
238g
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
172.8 x 77.2 x 10.29mm
238g
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
172.8 x 77.2 x 10.29mm
238g
Colors
ROG Phone 5:
Phantom Black
Storm White
ROG Phone 5 Pro:
Glossy Black
ROG Phone 5 Ultimate:
Matte White

How good are the ROG Phone 5 cameras?

Asus ROG Phone 5 product shot of the camera bump close up
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

The camera system in the Asus ROG Phone 5 is pretty much the same as what we saw in the ROG Phone 3. On the back, you’ll find a 64MP primary lens flanked by a 13MP ultra-wide and a 5MP macro. On the front, you’ll find a 24MP selfie shooter.

Last year, we gave the ROG Phone 3 camera 4.5/5 stars. We found it to be fast, color-accurate, and with good dynamic range. Considering nothing’s changed this year, we found the camera to be along the same lines.

See also: The best camera phones you can get

The biggest omission, though, is a telephoto lens. This type of lens helps with zooming in on faraway objects. Without it, the Asus ROG Phone 5 relies on digital zoom, which is essentially just cropping. As such, even a little bit of zoom is going to degrade your image quality.

Asus told us flat-out that the camera on the ROG Phone series isn’t a top priority. Regardless, it’s nice to see the company is still delivering a high-quality imaging experience. It’s not going to top a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it will get the job done.

Does the ROG Phone 5 have good battery life?

Asus ROG Phone 5 product shot of the included charger
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

Inside the ROG Phone 5, you’ll find two 3,000mAh cells. Combined, they establish a 6,000mAh power supply in the phone. That’s a lot of juice! For the sake of comparison, the previously mentioned Galaxy S21 Ultra caps out at 5,000mAh.

Unfortunately, the integral features of the ROG Phone 5 suck up power fast. If you’re gaming a lot using a 144Hz display refresh rate along with those Air Triggers, the battery is going to deplete pretty quickly.

See also: The best Android smartphones with the best battery life

However, in our review period, we found the phone lasted at least a full day without a charge, even with a lot of usage.

The good news is that even if you game for hours straight and run the battery down, it doesn’t take long to top it back up. Thanks to the 65W in-box charger, you can bring the phone’s battery level from 0-100% in about 55 minutes. In other words, a quick 15 minutes on the charger should get you back to gaming on the go for at least another few hours before you need to seek out an outlet.

Unfortunately, there is no wireless charging support on the Asus ROG Phone 5. You’ll be using a USB-C cable for all your power needs. Do note, though, that the ROG Phone 5 has the same dual-USB-C-port as its predecessor. This allows you to charge the phone from the bottom or from the side, which is very convenient for accommodating specific play styles.

Asus ROG Phone 3 vs Asus ROG Phone 5: What’s changed?

Asus ROG Phone 3 back up on table
David Imel / Android Authority

Below, you’ll find a table with the significant differences between this year’s model and last year’s. Keep in mind that the table only shows the major differences. If it’s not listed here, that means it’s either the same or the differences are negligible:

Asus ROG Phone 3Asus ROG Phone 5
Display
Asus ROG Phone 3:
6.59-inch AMOLED
Gorilla Glass 6
Asus ROG Phone 5:
6.78-inch AMOLED
Gorilla Glass Victus
Rear panel
Asus ROG Phone 3:
RGB logo
Asus ROG Phone 5:
RGB logo
Pro and Ultimate models only:
Secondary display
Rear-mounted triggers
Processor/GPU
Asus ROG Phone 3:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus
3.1GHz
Adreno 650
Asus ROG Phone 5:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
2.84GHz
Adreno 660
RAM
Asus ROG Phone 3:
Max of 16GB
Asus ROG Phone 5:
Max of 18GB
Charging
Asus ROG Phone 3:
30W wired
Asus ROG Phone 5:
65W wired
Ports
Asus ROG Phone 3:
No 3.5mm port
Asus ROG Phone 5:
3.5mm port included
Software
Asus ROG Phone 3:
Android 10
Asus ROG Phone 5:
Android 11
Dimensions and weight
Asus ROG Phone 3:
171 x 78 x 9.85mm
240g
Asus ROG Phone 5:
172.8 x 77.2 x 10.29mm
238g
Color options
Asus ROG Phone 3:
Black only
Asus ROG Phone 5:
Two black variants
Two white variants

Overall, the biggest differences this year are the chipset, the design, and the wired charging speed. Outside of those three categories, the core specs are mostly the same. The front and rear cameras are essentially identical. There’s still no wireless charging, no IP rating, and no expandable storage. The RAM count for the Ultimate model went up a bit, but the vanilla and Pro models stick to the same capacity as last year. The same goes for the internal storage, which still maxes out at 512GB.

Related: The best Android phones with expandable memory

That being said, there are a lot of new things on offer here once you venture past raw specs. The side-mounted Air Triggers received an update that makes them far more versatile and accurate. The Pro and Ultimate models now feature an additional set of triggers on the back, too. There’s a nifty secondary display on the back of those higher-end models and there are more software tweaks than ever before. Also, the headphone jack is back, which is a welcome change.

It will be up to you whether or not an upgrade to the Asus ROG Phone 5 from the ROG Phone 3 would be worth it. There are enough upgrades here to make it enticing, but it would have been nice to see Asus give a bit more of what fans want — namely wireless charging, expandable storage, and a telephoto lens.

ROG Phone 5: Competition and alternatives

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra back in hand 3
David Imel / Android Authority

The Asus ROG Phone 3 was one of the few devices in 2020 to feature the Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset. This overclocked variant of the SD865 only appeared on a few flagships, most notably the ROG Phone 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra.

The chipset powering the Asus ROG Phone 5 isn’t as unique. There are already a few devices with the Snapdragon 888 on the market and there will be many more launched before the end of the year. In other words, to get the integral aspect of the ROG Phone 5 that makes it so powerful, you don’t need to get a ROG Phone 5.

See also: Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 vs Snapdragon 888: 2021 high-end chips compared

The Galaxy S21 Ultra has the same chipset and also has a terrific display. With tons of RAM and the same limits when it comes to internal storage, it either matches or beats the ROG Phone 5 when it comes to raw specs. The OnePlus 9 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro also have similar specs and are both great alternatives to the ROG Phone 5.

Of course, it’ important to note that very few phones have the specs and the gaming-centric software and hardware features of the ROG Phone 5. So in that regard, the ROG Phone 5 is quite a unique device. It is your best bet if you depend on the included gaming features. If not, you have plenty of other options.

Where to buy the Asus ROG Phone 5

Since the phone’s launch, Asus has released a few more details about where to buy the Asus ROG Phone 5. Let’s start with pricing:

  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    • 8GB/128GB — €799 (~$950)
    • 12GB/256GB — €899 (~$1,065)
    • 16GB/256GB — €999 (~$1,185)
  • Pro Variant
    • 16GB/512GB — €1,199 (~$1,425)
  • Ultimate Variant
    • 18GB/512GB — €1,299 (~$1,540)

In the UK, the ROG Phone 5 starts at £799. There’s no word on exactly how much the Pro and Ultimate Variant will cost. 

Asus did confirm that the phones will only be sold directly to consumers. In other words, there are no carrier partnerships here.

The vanilla Asus ROG Phone 5 went on sale in March 2021. The Pro variant was said to land in April and the Ultimate edition is expected to drop in May, although the two don’t seem to be available in the UK, Germany, and many other EU countries for now.

You can buy the Asus ROG Phone 5 with 16GB of RAM for $999.99 directly from Asus. However, we’d recommend buying the device from Amazon (link below), as the retailer offers more buying options.

Software and updates

Asus ROG Phone 5 product shot of the home screen front on
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

The Asus ROG Phone 5 comes with Android 11 out-of-the-box. Interestingly, you can choose between two similar-but-different Android skins on the ROG Phone 5.

Android skins

The first skin onboard is known as ROG UI. It provides an aesthetic experience that matches the exterior design of the phone. There are lots of neon colors and everything has a futuristic metal sheen.

On the flip side, there’s Zen UI. This is the same Android skin that appears on “normal” Asus phones, such as those in the ZenFone series. This skin is quite similar to the one Google uses with its Pixel phones. It’s much simpler and less “gamer” looking.

See also: Are there any truly bad Android skins still out there today?

When you first set up the phone, you will be able to choose between one of these two skins. If you change your mind later, you can always swap back and forth until you figure out which one you like best.

No matter which skin you choose, you’ll be happy to know that it’s a generally bloat-free experience. There are some pre-installed apps related to the unique hardware features of the phone as well as its various gaming-centric software suites. Other than that, though, it’s mostly Google apps.

Android updates

While the choice of skin is a fun perk for ROG Phone 5 buyers, Asus doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to software updates. Last year’s ROG Phone 3 is still on Android 10, even though Android 11 dropped in September 2020. Security patches also come at an infrequent pace.

Related: Which manufacturer updates its phones the fastest? (Android 11 edition)

It’s possible Asus could up its game this year when it comes to these deficiencies. However, we can only go on the company’s past track record for now, and that record is mediocre.

The bottom line here is that if updates to Android are important to you, this might not be the phone for you.

Top ROG Phone 5 questions and answers

Q: Does the Asus ROG Phone 5 have wireless charging?
A: Unfortunately, no. Just like last year, wireless charging is a no-show. If wireless charging is very important to you, here’s a great list of options.

Q: Does it have an IP rating?
A: No. The phone features no protection against water or dust, so please keep it safe. If this is a deal-breaker, check out some other choices.

Q: Does it have a headphone jack and front-facing stereo speakers?
A: Yes! Just like last year, there are two speakers on the front of the phone. They help to create some of the best standalone sound of any smartphone we’ve tested. There’s also a built-in 3.5mm port so you can use your favorite wired headphones with no dongle or adapter necessary.

Q: Can you drop the display refresh rate to conserve battery?
A: You sure can. You can set the display refresh rate to 60, 90, 120, or 144Hz. The lower you go, the more battery power you’ll save. Keep in mind that these are not adaptive rates. In other words, if you leave 144Hz on, it will refresh your screen 144 times each second continuously until you turn it off.

Q: Will there be accessories for the Asus ROG Phone 5?
A: Yes. Inside the box, you’ll find a 65W wall charger, a case, and, with the premium models, the Aeroactive Cooler accessory. Additionally, Asus will sell you RGB cases, mobile phone gaming clips, port extension docks, and more. The most notable accessory is the ROG Kunai 3 Gamepad. This controller can turn your ROG Phone 5 into a Nintendo Switch-esque portable powerhouse. Many of these accessories also work on the ROG Phone 3 and are available now.

Help other readers out

Do you own the Asus ROG Phone 5? Do you plan on getting one? If so, make your voice heard in our polls below, and then go ahead and post your own mini-review in the comments!