One device for everything is the holy grail of technological convergence. ASUS is giving it a go, at least in the general sphere of mobile gaming, with the ROG Phone.
This massively powerful Android phone was announced way back in June, but it’s going up for pre-order in the US on October 18th. The $900 price tag sounds ridiculous, or at least it would have a couple of years ago, before Apple, Google, and Samsung decided that the ceiling on phone prices was more like a stratosphere. If you’re wondering, “ROG” stands for “Republic of Gamers,” ASUS’ dedicated gaming sub-brand a la Dell’s Alienware.
A grand with taxes gets you a 6-inch OLED screen blessedly free of bezels, an enormous 4000mAh battery, Qualcomm’s 2.9GHz Snapdragon 845 processor, and a generous 128GB of storage. (There’s a 512GB version coming for $200 more.)
It runs Android Oreo and cameras are numerous, with a dual 12MP shooters on the rear and an 8MP cam on the front. A unique feature is the “air triggers” on the side of the phone, which are integrated into the body but rigged to detect finger presses like a controller shoulder button. Dual front-facing speakers pump out quite a bit of sound, and the phone will be sold unlocked for GSM networks.
But that’s just the skeleton. The flesh on this mobile gaming beast is the collection of accessories ASUS is custom-making for it. The ROG phone is equipped with a second USB-C charging port on the side of the device, beneath a copper heat spreader.
This extra connection for charging and data allows the phone to be held in landscape mode—for the gaming, you see—while charging it up. And for those especially intense gaming sessions, you can strap on the active cooler, a massive plastic hunk that hugs the back of the phone and connects directly with the heat spreader on the processor and GPU. This clip-on accessory dissipates heat from the inside of the phone allowing for more intense processing during games, in addition to sporting a pass-through USB-C connection and headphone jack.
But that’s not all, as the showman says. There’s a solar system of add-on accessories to make the ROG Phone into a jack of all trades, like the original Motorola Atrix. (Remember the Atrix? Apparently ASUS doesn’t, either.) ASUS will be selling a desktop dock with HDMI, DisplayPort, USB, SD, wired Ethernet, and even SATA connections.
The idea is that slipping the phone into the dock turns it into a tiny gaming PC with easy support for keyboard and mouse controls. Not crazy enough for you? How about the WiGig Dock, a high-speed, low-latency wireless dock that plugs into your TV, intended to let you play on your touchscreen while watching your game on the television.
But even that’s not the most outlandish accessory planned for this thing. The ROG Twin View dock is an enormous case that fits over and around the phone, adding controller-style shoulder buttons and a secondary screen. It looks like the original NVIDIA SHIELD and the Nintendo DS had a love child and then amputated half its buttons. The custom software in the ROG Phone can display two apps at once, with Twitch streaming or game guides being the obvious draws. At the moment there’s no word on apps that will specifically take advantage of this dual-screen setup.
Compared to all that, the USB-C dongle with HDMI and Ethernet looks pretty tame. So does the Gamevice controller, supplied for ASUS by the third party manufacturer of the same name—they make a similar mobile controller for iPhones, Pixels, and Galaxies both S and Note. And how much will all of this hardware cost for the ultimate convergence device? Quite a bit, as you may have guessed. The desktop dock, WiGig dock, and Twin View dock will cost $230, $330, and $400, respectively. The “professional” dongle is a steal at $200, and the controller will cost $90. At least the detachable cooler bracket comes in the box.
The phone, Twin View, WiGig, and desktop dock together would be $1860, or $2060 for the 512GB version. (That’s enough to get a decent phone, console, and gaming PC, if you budget well.) A cheaper alternative—in the purely relative sense—would be the phone, Gamevice controller, and dongle at $1190. Any takers?
Image credit: ASUS