ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Has Stupendous Gaming Power, That You Probably Don’t Need

ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Has Stupendous Gaming Power, That You Probably Don’t Need

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. 

A system with a really sweet OLED screen, cutting edge processor, ridiculous quantity of RAM, costs thousands of dollars that has an ASUS Republic Of Gamers Logo on it.

That description might make you think of any of a number of ASUS gaming laptops, but instead it also fits the ASUS ROG Phone 8, the company’s latest pitch at the premium Android gaming crowd.

Well, actually, the ROG Phone 8 isn’t just the one phone; it’s three, comprising the ROG Phone 8, ROG Phone 8 Pro and ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition. Yes, those are quite ridiculous names, especially when the core differences between all three aren’t – as you might find with other manufacturer’s ranges – around screen sizes or camera capabilities, but instead the internal storage and RAM differences, as well as whether the rear of the phone houses simpler RGB lighting or a monochrome Mini-LED display.

Image: Alex Kidman

ASUS has played around with fun “AniMe Vision” screens on prior phones and laptops, but what’s different on the Pro and Pro Edition models at least is that they’re very subtle this time around. RGB lighting is rarely subtle, but the use of a configurable monochrome Mini LED on the rear, off by default means that you genuinely could pick up the ROG Phone 8 Pro or ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition (which is what ASUS sent me for review) and not realise that it was there at all.

Which is my not-so-subtle way of saying that I did just that for a while until I went hunting around through ASUS’ Armory Crate app and saw it was there. Like previous efforts, AniMe Vision isn’t vital stuff, but it’s fun, and a gaming phone certainly should be fun, even if all you’re using it for is as a clock or battery indicator.

Is it still a gaming phone if it doesn’t look like a gaming phone?

Not that the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition looks much like a gaming phone, and that’s the biggest change in ASUS’ thinking for this particular generation of phones. Prior ROG Phones were huge chunky beasts that looked like the specifically shrunken cousins of their bigger laptop siblings, but from the front, the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition really just looks like any other Android phone. The crazy gaming excess is mostly gone, unless you dig deep. 

Just like gaming laptops are really about excess, the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition is an excessive creature when it comes to screen specifications, with a genuinely lovely and bright 6.78 inch 165Hz capable AMOLED display with peak brightness of 2500 nits. It’s bright, it’s responsive and its LPTO panel lets it shift from 1Hz up to 120Hz for genuinely slick screen motion. In-game, you can push that up 165Hz, though the range of Android games that actually supports that is painfully thin.

Secure unlocking is via your typical biometric sensor, and I’ve had no issues with that during my review period. You even get – wait for it – a headphone jack. In a flagship phone in 2024, a bit of revolutionary thinking from ASUS there given that basically no other premium flagships have supported the trusty 3.5mm jack for years. Presumably the thinking there is that the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition’s buyers might have also invested in some serious wired gaming headphones.

Mind you, a headphone jack isn’t the only extra aperture in the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition’s arsenal, because it’s also sporting not one, but two USB-C ports; one offset on the base and one on the left-hand side. This is primarily to allow the attachment of ASUS’ redesigned AeroActive Cooler attachment – a paid accessory on all but the Pro Edition model of the phone – which clips around the body of the phone to allow for extra cooling.

The AeroActive Cooler concept isn’t a new one for ASUS, but the way it’s incorporated it on the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition is slightly different to previous years. Gone is the direct open cooling socket into the rear of the phone – though this does now allow for proper IP68 rated water resistance – with a design that instead relies on a simpler heat pad connected to the rear of the phone. It’s an overall smaller unit too, which means it only houses two rear buttons where the previous generation ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s AeroActive Cooler had four.

The Pro and Pro Edition models only get the one colour choice – so you’d better like black – while the regular model can be yours in either black or grey finishes. Don’t go too wild on the colour choices there ASUS, somebody might get overexcited.

Colour flippancy aside, about the only design detail on the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition that I’m not particularly enamoured with is the oddly shaped camera block at the back. 

There’s a diagonal cut-out edge on it that always seems to catch either my fingers or my pants pocket when I’m pulling it out to take a photo. 

Is that a very minor problem? 

For sure, but when you’re spending the kind of money that ASUS wants for the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition, I don’t think it’s unfair to want just about every detail to be perfect.

A gaming phone with good cameras? What black magic is this?

For years now, the real price you paid for a “gaming” phone – beyond that weeping sound you hear coming from your bank account – was that their cameras really weren’t up to scratch relative to their price points. They were rarely terrible camera phones, but generally they were just ordinary, more in line with what you could get in a mid-range phone than with a serious premium flagship.

The ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition packs in a triple lens system at the rear, comprising a 50MP f/1.9 primary wide, 13MP f/2.2 120˚  ultrawide and 32MP f/2.4 telephoto lens, while you’ll get your selfies from front-facing 32MP f/2.5 sensor. 

The big story here is around the switch from a generally-mediocre macro sensor found in the ROG Phone 7 models to a significantly more appealing telephoto lens, because that’s far more in line with what you should expect from a flagship premium priced handset. 

ASUS even borrows from the Samsung playbook, offering up a hybrid digital zoom mode that jumps up as high as 30x for telephoto zoom… though predictably, and even with inbuilt gimbal stabilisation, 30x handheld shots aren’t likely to be great.

To give that some solid visual context, let’s take a shot of Sydney’s iconic Centrepoint Tower (and its ugly Westfield sign).

Here’s how the ultrawide sensor detects that shot:

Image: Alex Kidman

And again with the primary wide sensor:

Image: Alex Kidman

Here’s how the 3x telephoto sees it, all decent as you might expect:

Image: Alex Kidman

At 30x.. well, as with Samsung’s own “Space Zoom” silliness, it’s interesting that you can do this with a smartphone, but the results do leave a lot to be desired.

Image: Alex Kidman

If it were a genuinely mid-range priced phone, the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition’s camera would be an excellent buy – even with the limitations of 30x zoom – but in the premium space, it sits more in the frame of being good but not great. I hit some issues with slow focusing, and picking the right exposure for shots was also a matter it found difficult to manage.

Image: Alex Kidman

It couldn’t quite figure out where to focus on all that glass.

Though it did a reasonable job with colour here – many phones would oversaturate in post-processing.

My cat is not too happy with the quantity of detail lost here.

Selfies are fine – and there’s even a 0.7 wide mode to get all your friends into shot.

A little more lost detail in the dark sections of this shot than I’d like to see at this price point.

The ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition’s cameras are a decent step up from what you might expect out of a gaming phone, but they’re still behind the pace of the best of breed; if you’re after a truly great camera phone experience, look to something like the Galaxy S24 Ultra if you’re more Apple-inclined. 

Best-of-breed performance

Under the hood, ASUS has – very much again in classic gaming PC style – gone for overkill, or at least as close as you can get to that state with current Android hardware. The ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition (and regular and Pro versions) all run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC, the current state-of-the-art for Android processors, though your precise storage and RAM configurations will vary up depending on how much you spend. 

The base level $1,799 ASUS ROG Phone 8 ships with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage, up to 16GB/512GB on the $1,999 Pro model and then a somewhat OTT 24GB/1TB on the $2,499 Pro Edition model. 24GB of RAM really is into excess laptop territory, and while it does give the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition a lot of headroom for just about any task, there’s few apps built that really tax RAM that way in a real-world sense.

Not shockingly, the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition benchmarks well, just narrowly pipping the S24 Ultra in Geekbench 6 CPU tests with single/multi-core scores of 2274/7178 to the S24 Ultra’s 2260/7050, though both still sit under the iPhone 15 Pro’s 2955/7448 in the same test. The ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition did beat both phones in 3DMark’s Wild Life Extreme with a score of 5166 (S24 Ultra: 4749, iPhone 15 Pro: 3804) comparatively speaking.

However, while the benchmarks do show the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition to be a powerful phone – how could it be anything but? – you’ve then got to shift to what you can actually do with all that power. 

Image: Alex Kidman

I should pause and note that Zac already noted that Android gaming is somewhat trailing behind the very best that Apple’s offering to the iPhone crowd in direct relation to this specific smartphone… look, he’s not wrong, but I do think the comparison is a slightly unfair one given that the iPhone’s AAA gaming output extends only to a handful of titles.

These are great games that run quite well on the higher-tier iPhones – I did enjoy Resident Evil 4 on iOS even if the screen’s a bit small to make the most of it —  but the vast majority of the gaming market isn’t playing those games in a mobile fashion per se, and Apple’s pace on delivering new titles hasn’t exactly been all that rapid either. 

Mobile gaming is still, by and large, focused on mobile-first titles, and here the ASUS ROG Phone 8 is almost ridiculously over-equipped to handle them. That does mean that even the usual heavy hitters in the Genshin Impact, Diablo Immortal or Call Of Duty style all run as slick as slick can be for sure. If that level of Android gaming is your passion, the ROG Phone 8 will not let you down.

The implementation of side-mounted air triggers – touch sensitive areas at the top and bottom of the right hand side of the phone – can work well in specific game titles, though I was less taken with the physical buttons on the AeroActive Cooler. Maybe I have weird fingers, but I just didn’t find them all that convenient or comfortable – and ultimately there are only two buttons in play here, no actual controller pad or anything like that.

Here there’s a challenge in the way that ASUS has laid out the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition’s base USB-C port because if you want to use it with a sideways grip style Android game controller, it will have to be a Bluetooth-only style device. I’ve never yet seen a sideways grip controller that didn’t put the USB socket in the middle of the grip. The ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition base USB port is on the far left, where it typically either will sit weirdly at best, or fail to fit outright. 

Battery power to spare

On the battery front, prior ROG phones had 6,000mAh batteries, but the redesign of the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition to make it look more like a regular slimmed down phone has brought with it a slight reduction in battery capacity to 5,500mAh. That’s still higher than the standard 5,000mAh you’ll find in just about every Android phone right now. 

Using the Official Gizmodo Australia Battery Test, running the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition against the entirety of Avengers Endgame, it dropped to 96 per cent after the first hour, 92 per cent after the second hour and 88 per cent after the third hour. That’s better than the S24 Ultra in the same test, for what it’s worth, though the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition is starting from a higher battery capacity.

Realistically, while it’s fun to have a movie binge on the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition, that kind of battery life test really isn’t the point, though. It’s in gaming endurance that you’ll really test its prowess. Here ASUS’ Armory Crate app does provide some help, with a variety of performance modes to suit your gaming styles and battery needs. 

From my experience – and this was no surprise at all – if I threw enough higher-end gaming at the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition, I could send it flat within a few hours, but if I was more moderate (and there was other, more serious work to do) it would last out an entire day while still allowing me a few choice gaming breaks. Use of the Aero cooler didn’t significantly affect battery life, either.

Image: Alex Kidman

Should you buy the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition?

Gaming phones have always been niche devices, and within that space, the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition has a lot to offer.

It’s just that it wants a lot from your bank balance in return, and I’m not sure that it’s 100% the best value even in this high price space. 

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is the obvious Android competitor, with a better camera array and a much longer support cycle – globally it appears the ROG Phone 8 family will see 2 years of Android OS upgrades against the 7 years that Samsung’s offering right now – and the performance difference between the two isn’t that marked, especially when it comes to the vast majority of Android games. 

Amongst gaming phones specifically, it’s hard to fault the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition, but that doesn’t 100% make it the best phone for everyone to buy.

Image: Alex Kidman

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.