New year, and new gaming phone from Asus.
Now the ROG Phone 7 has been released, and like the vast majority of other mobile manufacturers, this year’s version is a little better on small things here and there, but at the same time overall still relatively similar to the previous model.
Is the ROG Phone 7 worth the money to upgrade and is it still the best gaming phone?
Design and aesthetics
As for the design of the ROG Phone 7 series, Asus is still sticking to the “gamer” aesthetic they’ve had on their phones since the beginning.
It may be a bit more discreet now, but this is hardly the prettiest phone you can get your hands on. The two-tone design might be called bold and eye-catching, and at least gives the phone an unmistakable character. However, I would have preferred that they had muted it a bit, and made the phone notch more discreet and a bit cleaner in design. It’s more or less exactly the same thing I thought about the previous version.
There is otherwise nothing to complain about in terms of build quality or the design of the phone. It still comes with two charging ports, which I’m still amazed no one has copied, and the phone feels comfortable to hold. The size and design have remained unchanged in the latest versions, and fit the vast majority of hands well.
It is worth noting that the phone is among the largest on the market of “regular” phones, and weighs the same as an iPhone 14 Pro Max, and thus 40 grams heavier than, for example, the Samsung S23 Plus.
Air Triggers are further improved and I am getting comfortable with this feature after many years of trying. Various swipes and taps to perform actions or in games are incredibly useful, and Asus has really fine-tuned this feature so that it works more or less flawlessly, depending on what you want it to do.
The ROG Phone 7 once again comes with an impressive 6,000 mAh battery, which provides excellent battery life even with continuous use at 165Hz frame rate. For regular users, this could mean the phone lasts up to two days before needing a charge.
Then when you need to charge, the phone comes with a 65W fast charger that fills the battery quickly – I tested the phone from 0% – 100% and it takes pretty much exactly 1 hour, with almost 70% taking 30 minutes, and the last 2-3 percent took 10 minutes alone. Not the fastest charging you can get in today’s market, but more than fast enough for everyone.
The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor is also apparently efficient, giving the ROG Phone 7 amazing battery life. Even with X-Mode enabled and the AeroActive Cooler attached, the battery will last at least five to six hours of screen time with heavy use. Flow-through charging is also available, which allows you to play games without charging the battery so that the phone does not heat up.
The Asus ROG Phone 7’s 6.8-inch AMOLED screen provides a stunning visual experience. The screen has a 165Hz refresh rate and a touch sampling rate of 720Hz, which provides smooth image updates and quick response when playing. Another important feature that improves the experience is the HDR10+ support, which ensures vivid colors and deep contrasts. The display also has a high brightness of up to 1,200 nits, which makes it work quite well even on sunny days.
The screen is also excellent for daily use and media consumption.
The resolution of 2448 x 1080 pixels provides crystal clear images and videos, and the adaptive refresh rate ensures that the screen automatically adjusts to the content you are viewing. This means that when you’re watching movies, surfing the web or checking email, the screen will deliver a smooth and energy-efficient visual experience. The screen is impressive as always, and it is definitely comparable to the other top models from other mobile manufacturers. There are no major upgrades on the screen from the previous version, so right here there isn’t much new to pick up. The resolution is still not the highest you get on mobile, but 165Hz frame rate is significantly more important than higher resolution on this screen.
The phone I tested has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Compared to the 6 Pro, there is a little less memory, but it is more or less not noticeable, and 16 GB is still a lot of memory in such a small device. It has also been upgraded compared to last year, and measurements show that it is over 30% faster.
Along with the previously mentioned Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, the phone has a Qualcomm Adreno 740 GPU. The new hardware is the biggest upgrade of the year, and gives the phone a performance boost. Even graphics-intensive games such as Fortnite, Call of Duty or Genshin Impact run at the highest graphics settings with little or no problems. The frame rate is stable, the phone stays cooler than my iPhone 14 Pro, and with the AeroActive Cooler 7 it gets even better.
There is nothing to say about the performance. In fact, no other phone can match the gaming experience that the Rog Phone 7 provides. It is simply impressively good, and despite the fact that all benchmarks show that certain models are a notch sharper, I would still say that the overall package of the ROG Phone 7 is better.
AeroActiv Cooler 7
Asus’ signature accessory for active cooling of the ROG phone series has undergone many design changes and deserves a little more attention this year. The AeroActive Cooler 7 builds on the features of the AeroActive Cooler 6, including an active peltier cooling element inside the unit.
New this year is a powerful 5-magnet, 13x38mm subwoofer built into the AeroActive Cooler 7. Together with the two front-facing speakers, it creates an impressive 2.1 sound system. The AeroActive Cooler 7 also has a 3.5 mm audio output.
The design is quite similar to last year’s and has a “game oriented” look with bold, strong lines and geometric shapes. Unlike last year’s model, the AeroActive Cooler 7 doesn’t just use a USB Type-C port. It still has a port that connects to the phone and performs all the functions (charging, HDMI out, etc.), but now there are also two POGO sticks that connect to the phone.
Another novelty is a secondary air channel built into the top lock of the AeroActive Cooler 7. In this way, air can be directed to blow on the screen surface, not just the back of the phone. Asus claims that this can reduce the screen surface temperature by up to 8 degrees, while the rear surface temperature is reduced by as much as 25 degrees.
This is perhaps the very best accessory you can get for the Rog Phone 7, and it works exactly as Asus claims. Of course, it makes the phone bigger and more bulky, but if you are going to play slightly more demanding games, this does the job exactly as expected. An accessory worth the price.
ROG Phone 7 Ultimate comes with camera improvements compared to the previous model. The phone has a 50-megapixel main camera, a 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera and an 8-megapixel macro camera. The front camera has a 32-megapixel sensor. Portrait mode and night mode are also available. You can record videos in 8K 24 FPS (frames per second) and in 4K with either 60 FPS or 30 FPS.
The image quality is satisfactory. The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate does a good job in different conditions, and I’d say that the photos taken in slightly less than optimal lighting seem to be a notch better this year. Although this is not a phone for taking the best photos, it works well enough for taking photos in most settings.
Overall, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate images lack detail, especially when compared to images from the iPhone 14 Pro. The general impression of the ROG Phone 7’s cameras is that they have strengthened compared to the most popular models now, but it lacks that last bit of sharpness and richness of detail that the latest iPhone, Samsung or other top brands can boast of.
One compromise has been made on the ROG series, and that is precisely the camera.
The ROG Phone 7 has no notable weaknesses other than the camera. The battery lasts a long time, with fast and efficient charging, and even without AeroActive Cooler 7, the phone stays noticeably cooler under stress than the iPhone 14 Pro.
The screen is very good, the frame rate of 165Hz is superb where it works, and the software that comes with it offers a wealth of customization options. I haven’t tested a better gaming phone ever, and for that very purpose, the ROG Phone 7 is perhaps the very best phone you can get your hands on right now.
But is it worth the price?
Yes, if you don’t have a ROG Phone 6 Pro, the upgrade is enough to make it worth the price of around NOK 15,000. And even if you were to have last year’s, these are still a good pair of trousers. But, and here comes the thing that might stop someone from making this purchase, the camera is still a notch worse than other top models.
Should it be the case that you don’t need the most resilient camera, but can take more than good enough photos, and want the best gaming phone, then the ROG Phone 7 is perhaps the best purchase you can make.