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HomeTechnologyASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate review: Gaming prowess and performance

ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate review: Gaming prowess and performance

The ASUS ROG Phone series has long been a flagship contender in the gaming phone arena and the latest iteration, the ASUS ROG Phone 7, is no exception.

This premium gaming phone is designed to cater to the needs of avid mobile gamers, offering top-notch specifications, eye-catching RGB lighting, and outstanding performance that goes beyond what you’d find in your typical flagship smartphone.

However, a true gaming phone should also double as an exceptional everyday smartphone — especially for the price you’re paying. In this review, we delve into the ASUS ROG Phone 7 to see if it excels in both areas.

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ASUS provided 7NEWS.com.au with a ROG Phone 7 Ultimate device for this review. However, ASUS has had no input into our thoughts or general editorial process.

How do I get it?

ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is priced very competitively for what it brings to the smartphone table. The device is available for $2099 (for the Ultimate model, which we reviewed) at stores such as JB Hi-Fi and Dick Smith, as well as a number of online retailers.

It also comes in the stylish colour pattern of storm white.

In the box you’ll also find a USB power adaptor with a USB-C charger and an Aero case.

  • ROG Phone 7 (Black) – $A1799
  • ROG Phone 7 (White) – $A1799
  • ROG Phone 7 Ultimate (White) – $A2099 (reviewed device)

What we think

In a world where high-end smartphones try to excel in all areas, this dedicated gaming phone boldly steps forward, prioritising performance, cooling and battery life. As the name implies, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate leaves little to be desired, but its hefty price tag prompts the question whether it’s worth the investment when there are other flagship options available in 2023.

One glance at the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, and it’s evident that it caters to a specific audience: gamers. Its sci-fi themed decals, striking black-and-white colour scheme and prominent ROG branding make it stand out.

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However, the real showstopper is the ROG Vision Display, a colourful dot matrix-style PMOLED panel that provides dazzling effects and animations for incoming calls, notifications, charging and gaming. Customisation options abound, offering a touch of personalisation akin to RGB lighting on a gaming PC.

Design-wise, apart from the decals, not much has changed from its predecessor, the ROG Phone 6 Pro. The phone sports a robust metal frame sandwiched between matte glass on the rear and Gorilla Glass Victus on the front. The curved rear offers a comfortable grip, but at 240g, it’s a substantial handset.

Air Trigger touch-sensitive buttons on the sides provide an excellent alternative to touchscreen controls. The in-display fingerprint sensor makes a swift return, and the phone boasts improved IP55 splash resistance.

One unique feature of this phone is the inclusion of twin USB-C ports — one at the bottom and another on the side — to accommodate the Aeroactive Cooler 7 accessory. This cooling attachment, which comes bundled with the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, is a must-have for serious gamers.

It combines a thermoelectric chiller and cooling fan, reducing CPU temperatures by up to 25C during gaming. The device is powered by the phone itself, rapidly cooling the thermal pad.

The accessory’s USB-C and 3.5mm pass-through options enable charging and audio output simultaneously, and its physical buttons can be mapped to on-screen actions. Furthermore, it features eye-catching rainbow LED effects and a built-in kickstand for hands-free video viewing.

The AMOLED display remains largely unchanged from the previous model. It offers a 2448×1080 resolution stretched over a 6.78-inch screen with a cinematic 20.4:9 aspect ratio.

The display maintains full sRGB and DCI-P3 colour coverage, and its gamer-friendly 165Hz refresh rate ensures a smooth gaming experience. Peak brightness has been improved, reaching 1500 nits in high brightness mode, and we had no issue seeing what was on the display in direct sunlight. OLED technology ensures exceptional contrast and excellent definition in darker images.

The dual front-facing speakers complement the display, delivering clear and balanced audio with a touch of bass, while the Aeroactive Cooler 7 enhances the audio experience with a ‘subwoofer’ driver. For critical listening, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate offers support for Snapdragon Sound, aptX Adaptive, aptX Lossless, and a 3.5mm headphone port with zero latency.

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Inside the gaming powerhouse is the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a generous 512GB of onboard storage. This combination offers a 15 per cent boost in CPU performance, a 20 per cent faster GPU and 15per cent more power efficiency compared to the previous model, which used the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip.

In addition, ASUS has improved thermal efficiency with reshaped graphite heat spreaders and an upgraded vapour chamber cooler. These enhancements allow the CPU to maintain higher clock speeds for extended periods, resulting in improved performance across the board, especially when combined with the AeroActive Cooler accessory.

Synthetic tests from benchmarking sites show that the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate outperforms the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. The phone excels in responsiveness, with swift app launches and smooth animations. Even the most demanding games from the Play Store consistently run at 60fps or higher, thanks to ASUS’s specific tuning for heavy hitters like Diablo Immortal, Genshin Impact and PUBG.

The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate comes equipped with ASUS’s Armoury Crate game launcher and Game Genie tweaking software, which offer fine-grained control over performance, thermal management, and other settings. These tools also allow you to customise vibrations based on screen interactions and keep your game running in the background with a live internet connection.

While it may take some time to explore all these features, an augmented reality space combat game provides a hands-on tutorial, making it easier for gamers to get acquainted with the phone’s capabilities.

On the software front, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate runs a standard version of Android 13. It promises two major Android OS updates and four years of security updates, which, while decent, may leave some users longing for more extended OS support.

Battery life has always been a strong suit of ROG phones, and the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is no exception. With a large 6000mAh battery, divided into two cells to manage heat more efficiently, this phone excels in daily usage.

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It easily handles various tasks, including video streaming, gaming, and web browsing, even with the display set to its full 165Hz refresh rate. Pass-through charging allows the phone to draw power through one of its USB-C ports while gaming, contributing to the battery’s longevity.

Photography, often considered secondary in gaming phones, remains a mixed bag. The phone retains the same camera setup as its predecessor, featuring a 50MP main sensor, a 13MP ultrawide lens and a 5MP macro lens.

The front-facing camera sees an upgrade to a 32MP sensor, delivering impressive selfies with good detail, sharpness, and accurate colours. The main sensor performs admirably in well-lit conditions, capturing images with good definition, true-to-life colours and nuanced HDR.

However, the lack of optical image stabilisation and limited zoom capabilities hinder its performance in low-light scenarios and for distant subjects. Night mode is improved, but it still struggles with extreme contrast and shadows.

The ultrawide lens provides consistent colours but falls short in terms of sharpness, especially at the edges. Additionally, zoomed-in shots suffer from reduced detail. The macro lens, while serviceable, doesn’t deliver standout results.

The final call

The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate lives up to its “Ultimate” moniker with a stunning display, exceptional audio and superb battery life for non-gaming use. Its remarkable performance, optimised software and useful accessories cater to the gaming community.

However, it faces stiff competition in terms of frame rates and its camera system doesn’t quite match the quality of similarly priced rivals in this same price range — notably Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra. And while this isn’t a true “gaming” phone, it will still do the job quite nicely with the addition of a much better camera system.

If you’re a dedicated Genshin Impact player, this gaming phone is the ultimate choice. But for a more well-rounded flagship experience, you might want to explore other options.

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