ROG Phone 8 Pro : A Change In Direction..For The Better?

ROG Phone 8 pro
rog phone 8 pro
This is the first time ROG places its phone on a journey beyond gaming. Still, the DNA of what makes a great gaming is intact, but what really motivated the tech giant to take steps in the opposite direction? Are we realizing gaming phones and flagship phones will be the same? or is ASUS on a grand ambition towards something else?
Battery Life
Camera (rear)
Camera (front)
New Design Direction is nice and shiny
Customizable Matrix LEDs
Top-performance gaming
Massive Camera overhaul
Not all variants include AeroActive cooler
Priced too high
Image sharpening too aggressive in some cases
AirTrigger surface area smaller due to thinner frame

Out of 10

Key Specs

CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
512GB UFS 4.0 storage
1TB UFS 4.0 storage
Display6.78’’ FHD+ 165Hz LTPO AMOLED
Camera50 MP, f/1.9, 24mm (wide) PDAF, gimbal OIS

32 MP, f/2.4 (telephoto) 3x optical zoom

13 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide)

32 MP, f/2.5 22mm (selfie)
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.4, USB Type-C 2.0, Up to WiFi 7
OSAndroid 14, ROG UI
Battery5500 mAh, 65W Fast Charging
15W wireless charging
Available ColorsBlack, Grey
Retail Price16GB+512GB – RM 4799
16GB+1TB – RM 5999

What’s It Like To Use?

The ROG Phone 8 Pro marks a significant departure from its predecessors. Gone is the blocky, unapologetically gamer aesthetic. Instead, Asus has opted for a sleeker, more subtle design that wouldn’t look out of place in the hands of a non-gamer.

Compared to previous ROG Phones, the 8 Pro feels remarkably thin and light. It’s still larger than most flagships due to its 6.78-inch display, but significant slimming of bezels contributes to a more manageable form factor. While the overall look is less gamer-centric, some design choices cater to the target audience. The phone retains its side-mounted charging port for comfortable landscape gaming, and the flat edges provide a secure grip during intense sessions.

The centerpiece is the gorgeous 6.78-inch AMOLED display. Bezels are noticeably reduced, pushing the screen-to-body ratio to an impressive 94%. The inclusion of a 165Hz refresh rate and 720Hz touch sampling ensures smooth visuals and responsive gameplay.

The ROG Phone 8 Pro’s design overhaul reflects a strategic shift. It caters to a wider audience seeking a powerful phone without the overt “gaming phone” look. This may appeal to users who prioritize performance for tasks beyond gaming while still offering the features hardcore mobile gamers crave.

The phone utilizes a 6.78-inch AMOLED panel, offering rich colors, deep blacks, and excellent contrast. This translates to vibrant visuals for everyday tasks like watching videos or browsing the web. A high 165Hz refresh rate ensures butter-smooth visuals. This is especially crucial for gaming, where fast-paced action requires a display that can keep up. Gamers will appreciate the minimal screen tearing and ghosting, contributing to a more immersive experience. The display is protected by the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2, offering increased scratch and shatter resistance.

New AI Features

The ROG Phone 8 Pro boasts a few AI-powered features aimed at enhancing the gaming experience. Let’s delve into what these features offer:

AI Grabber: This feature utilizes machine learning to recognize text directly within games. Imagine encountering in-game tutorials or dialogue you want to quickly reference. AI Grabber can potentially extract that text, eliminating the need for switching windows or taking screenshots.

Limited Applications: While the concept is intriguing, AI Grabber’s usefulness might be restricted. Its effectiveness likely depends on the game’s user interface and the clarity of the text.

Semantic Search: This AI functionality aims to understand the context of your in-game searches. Imagine being stuck on a specific level and needing a solution. Semantic Search could potentially analyze your search query and provide relevant results that go beyond just keywords.

Potential for Improvement: Similar to AI Grabber, the true value of Semantic Search hinges on its ability to accurately interpret context.

AI-generated Wallpapers: This feature utilizes AI to create personalized wallpapers based on your preferences. While a neat addition, it likely won’t be a deciding factor for most users.

AI Noise Cancellation: This AI-powered noise cancellation aims to enhance voice chat clarity during gameplay. By filtering out ambient noise, your voice communication with teammates could be significantly improved.

The Gaming

The phone boasts the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor and a generous 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM. Storage comes in large as well, offering 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage for fast read/write speeds. Just like all ROG Phones before this, you are at complete liberty to set every game you install to its maximum graphic settings and dialing the refresh rate up to 165Hz to your heart’s content. Be sure to check if the games you’re playing are compatible towards refresh rates higher than 60 FPS though, and if you’re not sure where to look, the Armory Crate app has always listed out games that are compatible across all triple-digit refresh rates, including links to download them, so that there’s always an available library of games for you to play that supports up to 165Hz!

How’s AirTrigger Now?

At this point, it’s a wide-known fact that every gaming phone should have trigger buttons, and the ROG Phone 8 Pro continues on that legacy with its own AirTriggers, which you can customize and set using Game Genie when you swipe up the screen when you’re in-game. After setting them up with your game, it’ll simply comply whenever you’re playing that game, and in Game Genie you can pretty much map anything PER Game.

Good examples include : Using Left trigger for ADS and Right trigger for shooting in COD Mobile, while Mobile Legends I usually set my Ultimate for Left Trigger and Teleport for the right. It’s a simple affair, but I can’t help but feel that the AirTriggers weren’t as responsive and easy to trigger as they used to be. Perhaps it’s because we’re used to a thicker ROG Phone, and therefore the are for the triggers are thinner and therefore not as great-feeling as before. After all, it’s a new design for the ROG Phone series, which gives us lighter weight, thinner profile in exchange for less real estate for more responsive, prominent AirTriggers*

*This is just about the physical aspect of the ROG Phone 8 Pro. Initially, I also had a hard time managing just how much force or lead time I needed to press to determine how fast or slow the AirTriggers would respond to that touch. As of update version number 34.1420.1420.325, the ROG Phone 8 Pro has been added with a ‘Release Speed’ Function that allowed me to adjust the responsiveness of my taps. This is a good fix and would really impact players who require customized touch input levels, besides just e-sports athletes.


As much as you can game to your hearts content with everything dialed up to the ceiling, your next problem will be the heat that comes with it. Standalone, the ROG Phone 8 introduces the GameCool system, which not only includes an additional layer of copper as the heatsink, but also an additional layer of Boron Nitride, which is coined to be their “Rapid Cooling Conductor”. Finally, carried forward since the ROG Phone 6 till now, is the fact that the chipset is still positioned at the centre of the phone, which is meant to distribute generated heat evenly, as well as giving the AeroActive cooler the exactly space it needs to cool, which in turn distributes the cooling evenly as well.

To really understand and learn how to balance or push any ROG Phone to its limits, you must know about the performance profiles you can set to suit your current needs :

The ROG Phone 8 Pro offers a trio of modes to fine-tune performance and battery life: Dynamic mode, X Mode, and X Mode+. These cater to different scenarios, letting you optimize your phone for the task at hand.

  • Dynamic Mode: This is the default setting, striking a balance between performance and battery efficiency. It adjusts power delivery based on your activity, ensuring smooth operation for everyday use without draining the battery too quickly.
  • X Mode: When you need a performance boost, X Mode kicks things up a notch. It prioritizes processing power, potentially increasing frame rates in games or enhancing performance in demanding apps. This comes at the expense of some battery life, as the phone draws more power to deliver the extra oomph.
  • X Mode+: This is the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s ultimate performance mode. However, there’s a catch: X Mode+ only activates when the AeroActive Cooler X accessory is attached. This cooler helps dissipate heat, allowing the phone to push its performance further without overheating. With X Mode+ engaged, expect maximum processing power for the most demanding games or applications, but battery drain will be significant.

In essence, these modes provide a tiered system (Genshin Impact is used as the game to test threshold, maximum graphics with 60 FPS):

  • Dynamic Mode – Balanced performance for everyday use, can also use for gaming, but throttling threshold is about 20-minutes, frames drop to 45-55 FPS
  • X Mode – Performance boost for demanding tasks, with throttling kicking in 15 minutes, frames drop to 50-60 FPS
  • X Mode+ (with AeroActive Cooler X) – Maximum performance, with low throttling happening only 1 hour+ , barely dropping much frames. Mode only available when cooler is attached, replaces X Mode.

That being said, it’s a general improvement when there’s no cooler attached, though I still recommend slapping it on if you plan to game long term. X Mode is still very impressive, though it can get very uncomfortable to hold since there’s no longer the AeroActive portal and this new conductive system pushes heat out of the internals to the back of the phone, where your fingers are resting.

Choosing the right mode depends on your needs. If you’re browsing the web or checking emails, Dynamic Mode is perfect. For a more responsive gaming experience, X Mode is a good option. And when you absolutely need the best performance, X Mode+ with the cooler attached unleashes the full potential of the ROG Phone 8 Pro.


Perhaps the biggest noticeable upgrade are the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s camera systems. I mean if you’re trying to be an all-rounder now, surely you’d have to work on improving other aspects of the phone besides performance and design. Let’s take a look at how the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s triple camera setup fared.

Main Sensor : 50MP Sony IMX890

At face value, the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s 12.5MP photos actually look good, sporting a good amount of detail, flat, natural colors and workable dynamic range. The thing is, these photos look and feel oversharpened in post, causing some jagged lines to appear on lined textures (refer to top image curtains, below image Phil’s Pizza wordings). This happens in all lighting scenarios, most evidently towards trees and foliage. It doesn’t make it a bad camera, it’s just how the phone chooses to post-process. It’s such a great improvement over previous models that it really doesn’t feel like a downgrade at all, considering how much emphasis is given to the ROG Phone 8 series to be an every day phone now.

 Zooms : Samsung JD1 32MP 3x Telephoto

The dedicated telephoto lens promises 3x of zoom in a quad-bayered 32MP image, but by default outputs 8MP stills. Beyond this point is digital zoom, in which Asus has developed their own algorithm called Hyper Clarity AI to clean up shots after cropping. At this point, the sharpening is more subdued than the mains, which makes it more natural, complimented by a wide dynamic range that handled highlights and skies pretty well. The image has a slight warm bias which I personally like, though some colors tend to look more saturated (refer to the windows versus the sky,see how deep in emerald the windows get).

I am however loving how clean Hyper Clarity cleans up to 10x. Sure, there’s a lot of visible softness, low-key artifacting and bouts of oversharpening, but you for now you won’t find any other gaming phone out there that would give you this level of quality from digital zooms. Optical 3x is great, 5x-10x is the sweet spot and 30x is just the limit where smartphones without dedicated periscopes just smudges everything and that’s exactly what’s happening here too (refer to last image). Anyway, I can say with confidence that the ROG Phone 8 Pro takes capable zoom shots up to 10x, but pay close attention to your lighting for best results, along with a stable hand.

ULTRAWIDE : 13MP OmniVision OV13B sensor, 120-degree

The ROG Phone 8 Pro’s ultrawide is definitely a hot-favorite of mine. Distortion is minimal, the sharpening isn’t as aggressive and the level of detail is astounding at 13MP. Colors are consistent with the main sensor’s, overall a good experience and lots of fun to be had on this focal length.

Portrait Mode

While not a highlight, the ROG Phone 8 Pro still takes very very decent portrait shots, offering good details on the focused subject with nice blurs. There are two levels of zoom, they both render very different results. The default 1x seperated my body and background well, with very little noticeable artifacting. I do however look very photoshopped into the photo, while some edges aren’t blurred out completely as well.

Dialing into 3x zoom the level isn’t as well defined but that’s because it’s a crop. Finer details such as my shirt wrinkle and the variations of light bouncing off my shirt is a notable plus, making it a good portrait shot overall.

The Verdict

While this entire new direction was a lot to digest, it’s a solid message to us all on what ROG is up to when it came to the creation of the ROG Phone 8 series. It’s by large trying to be an all-rounder phone that happens to be skinned as a gaming phone, fulfilling legacy obligations such as peak gaming performance, external cooling and improved photo image quality in a now subdued housing. The IP rating is welcome, the choice of material for the finish is comfy, and there are still LEDs at the back that light up when you’re engaging in activity (which you can turn off).

As I still see it as a gaming phone more than a camera phone, it has a great camera system, but if I were to look at it as a camera phone or look at its price tag again, sheesh, there’s still too many competitors in the space to say that the ROG Phone 8 Pro is worth the immediate buy. However, top-tier gamers and die-hard royalists can easily buy into the idea that the ROG Phone 8 Pro is still the ROG Phone they remember from yesteryear, just with a different skin and with major bumps in the camera department, which I’m sure has been a topic for many years.

“I love gaming phones but their cameras are crap.” – Well gamers, ROG has changed that with this release. Have you bought it then?

I believe this is still not the best ROG Phone ever released (which I regard to be the 6D Ultimate). It’s a bold step, but a step necessary to show growth and improvement as a gaming brand that makes smartphones. I believe after all this feedback, the ROG Phone 9 Pro might be a monster to be reckoned with, either that or it’ll be called the Ally Phone.

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