Gaming smartphones are a bit of an oddity in the mobile market. While all high-end phones are technically capable of running mobile games, these devices pull out all the stops to squeeze out everything they can from the hardware. Most of them also carry designs that are a bit over the top in order to appeal to gamers’ aesthetics and their love for glowing RGB lights. That, however, might have just been the youthful phase of this niche market. After six yearly iterations, it seems that ASUS’ Republic of Gamers brand, or ROG, has started to dial down its designs, pushing forward a ROG Phone 7 Series that hides over-the-top features behind a more moderate appearance.
The ASUS ROG Phone 7 definitely has all the makings of a top-of-the-line gaming phone, starting with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, a large 6.78-inch FHD+ screen, and an extra generous 6,000mAh battery. Like other ROG phones before it, it has gaming-specific features as well, such as touch-sensitive AirTriggers on the phone’s frame as well as a second charging port so that you can keep the phone plugged in comfortably while gaming.
All that power will naturally generate a lot of heat, and this is one area that gaming phones tend to go to extremes to address. In the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s case, the extra cooling help comes from the new AeroActive Cooler 7 that latches onto the back of the phone. This accessory introduces a thermoelectric Peltier system to really drag down the temperatures when necessary. This external fan works in tandem with the ROG Phone 7’s AeroActive Portal, which is basically a set of air inlets that direct the cooler’s air onto the phone’s vapor chamber.
Amusingly, that same AeroActive Cooler 7 accessory also brings a feature that’s unheard of on smartphones. The attachment houses a five-magnet super-linear subwoofer that complements the phone’s built-in stereo speakers, though that requires the cooler to be attached. Whether that makes a significant difference, especially when playing out in the open, remains to be heard.
Unlike its predecessors, the design of the ROG Phone 7, both the regular and the Ultimate models, are more low-key. The Ultimate still has that strip of LCD that lets you display symbols and icons as you wish, but the distinct lines that divide the back into separate areas are now gone. The non-Ultimate models have a distinct dual-tone color scheme, with the upper half of the phone using a translucent material. Compared to previous ROG Phones, this year’s generation looks a bit more minimalist, perhaps suggesting that the gaming smartphone market is finally coming of age.