The ROG Phone 6 is superb device, offering everything most people should look for in a gaming phone. Unless you value a secondary display or need an advanced cooling system, there’s no need to spend more.
If you’re familiar with dedicated gaming phones in 2022, one brand probably comes to mind: Asus.
The ROG (Republic of Gamers) Phone made its debut four years ago, and has since established itself as the go-to handset for mobile gamers. That’s despite fierce competition from brands such as Red Magic, Black Shark and even Poco.
But even if you’re set on an Asus handset, there are four devices in the latest ROG Phone 6 Series to choose from. The regular 6 is the second cheapest of these, coming in at just under $1,000/£1,000 when paying full price.
As it turns out, this is the sweet spot for most people – the extra features on Pro and Ultimate handsets don’t justify the increased cost. Here’s my full review.
Design & Build
Near-identical design to 6 Pro
Secondary display replaced with RGB light strip
Two USB-C ports and a headphone jack
There are plenty of similarities between the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro, starting with design. But that might isn’t obvious from most of the photos in this review, which show the Diablo Immortal special edition I tested.
Here’s what you can expect on the regular version:
You’ll probably be buying the regular version instead, which shares its Pro sibling’s gamer aesthetic without being too wacky or garish. Only being available in black or white emphasises this, although you still get some RGB lighting, something that rarely makes its way to regular phones.
However, not all RGB lights are created equal. The secondary ‘ROG Vision’ display from the 6 Pro and 6D Ultimate is gone, replaced by a large light strip on the right side.
This can be customised in Settings and works in tandem with the small ‘Dare to Play’ logo on the opposite side, alerting you of incoming calls or notifications. As someone who often has their phone on silent, this was a great subtle way to ensure I didn’t miss anything important.
Of course, it’s not quite as capable as that secondary display, which can also be used for battery percentage and accessory details. But given the ROG Vision screen doesn’t support notifications or respond to touch, I’d argue this is actually an upgrade.
You’ll notice splashes of colour and branding elsewhere on the back of the phone, but the only other core design element is the rear camera module. It adopts an irregular hexagonal shape and extends across the top of the phone, but I quite like its quirky design.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
One minor gripe is that it protrudes from the back of the phone, though that’s quite usual these days and can easily be solved by applying the case included in the box. Even without it, there’s no adverse effect on gaming in landscape mode.
The most demanding games all use this orientation, so it’s great to see Asus include two USB-C ports. Alongside the regular one at the bottom, there’s another on the left side (this becomes the bottom while gaming). It’s a great feature, meaning you can easily charge and play at the same time.
But the ROG Phone 6 has another port you won’t find on most 2022 phones: a 3.5mm headphone jack. It’s great to still have the option for wired headphones, which still provide a superior audio experience to wireless.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Either side of the regular power and volume controls are shoulder triggers, a useful alternative to on-screen controls, which can become fiddly at times. These can be customised to your liking via the Game Genie software once you boot up a relevant app.
As you might expect from a 6.78in gaming phone, the ROG Phone 6 is a bulky device. At 239g, it’s identical to the 6 Pro and one of the heaviest handsets out there. The size of that screen and 10.3mm thickness makes it unwieldly and not easily pocketable, but that probably won’t come as a surprise.
Let’s talk about that 6.78in screen, then. Asus has gone for the exact same display as the 6 Pro, which reflects well on this cheaper phone.
It’s a 1080×2448 OLED panel, giving it a very specific 20.4:9 aspect ratio. That makes it a tall phone, but not quite to the same degree as Sony’s Xperia handsets.
However, the headline feature here is that 165Hz refresh rate. It’s the joint-highest you’ll find on any phone, alongside the other ROG Phone 6 handsets and recent Red Magic phones.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
However, I’d recommend setting it to ‘Auto’ mode, which automatically switches between 60-, 90-, 120-, 144- and 165Hz to help conserve battery life.
Combined with 720Hz touch sampling (how many times the display can register touch input each second) everything feels incredibly slick and responsive. Performance on this phone is outstanding, but it’s the display that gives it the real wow factor.
The screen delivers rich, vibrant colours which really pop – helping to enhance the gaming experience. Despite only being Full HD, I have no complaints about the level of detail on offer.
It also gets impressively bright, hitting a maximum of 515 nits during testing. I had no problem using the phone outside, even if direct sunlight is in short supply at this time of year.
Within the display, you’ll find the main unlocking method: an under-display fingerprint scanner. These have been commonplace in phones for a while now, and this one is particularly impressive. It’s easy to set up, reliable and relatively quick – I couldn’t ask for much more.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Alternatively, you can use face unlock via the 12Mp selfie camera. It’s incredibly fast, but lacks the extra security of something like Apple’s Face ID or the fingerprint sensor. As a result, I wouldn’t recommend using it as your main unlocking method.
That selfie camera is located within some large bezels by modern phone standards, but that’s actually one of the ROG Phone 6’s strengths. The absence of any notch gives it an attractive symmetry, while having something to hold onto while gaming is helpful.
Asus has put this area to good use, as you’ll also find dual front-facing stereo speakers. The audio they produce is far superior to most phones, with great detail and an impressive depth to the sound. One of these doubles as the earpiece, meaning calls are very clear and get plenty loud enough.
They certainly add to the experience while gaming, although you’ll still want to connect headphones for the absolute best quality.
Specs & Performance
Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and 12- or 16GB RAM
Stellar performance across all tasks
Very few games output at 165Hz
Like the 6 Pro, the ROG Phone 6 is powered by the 5G-enabled Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip. This is no longer Qualcomm’s latest and greatest, following the release of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, but it remains a supremely capable chipset.
While you might be tempted to wait for a gaming phone that uses the 8 Gen 2, there’s really no need. The ROG Phone 6 delivers truly excellent performance, blazing through everything I could throw at it with ease.
Of course, that included some of the most demanding games on the Google Play Store. Call of Duty: Mobile was a particular highlight, with ultra-slick gameplay and shoulder triggers that felt like they gave me the upper hand over opponents.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
That also applies to PUBG Mobile, although there are a few more controls there that you’ll need to master. But don’t worry if you’re not a fan of combat games – the likes of Asphalt 9 and FIFA Mobile are just as impressive, with not even a hint of stutter or hesitation.
In all four of those titles, the high refresh rate and 720Hz touch sampling combine for an impressively slick and responsive experience. That’s despite none being able to output at that ultra-high refresh rate.
There’s a much smaller selection that can, but nothing that will properly test the ROG Phone 6. Popular casual games such as Hill Climb Racing and Subway Surfers were fun to play, but phones that cost a fifth of the price can still handle them fine. It’s certainly not what you should be buying a dedicated gaming handset for.
It’s worth noting that my impressions only apply to the top-spec model with 18GB of RAM. The cheapest version is limited to 12GB, but I’d be very surprised if there was a noticeable drop-off in performance.
In general, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is considered slightly more powerful than the MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ that powers the ROG Phone 6D and 6D Ultimate. The benchmarks below certainly suggest that’s the case.
But it wouldn’t be a gaming phone without accessories, and the ROG Phone 6 has plenty that are compatible.
The one you’ll probably want to use is the AeroActive Cooler 6 fan, which attaches via the side-mounted USB-C port. This is particularly effective during longer gaming sessions, when the phone is prone to running on the hot side.
It includes two physical buttons which can be used to control games, but I still wish Asus had included a fan within the body of the device. Nubia’s Red Magic phones have shown how effective this can be – the hassle of an extra accessory doesn’t seem necessary.
The other one you might want to use is the Kunai 3 Gamepad, which delivers an effective console-esque controller experience. You can either use it wirelessly like an Xbox controller or attach either side of the phone like a Nintendo Switch.
While the model I tested has a generous 512GB of storage, the cheaper version drops down to 256GB. This should still be fine for most people, but you’ll need to make sure – there’s no support for expandable storage.
Camera & Video
Decent 50Mp main lens
13Mp ultrawide and 5Mp macro less impressive
All four ROG Phone 6 handsets share the same four cameras. That reflects the fact that they’re not a priority on gaming phones, but some of the lenses are better than you might expect.
That’s particularly true of the 50Mp main sensor, which delivers decent stills across a range of scenarios. I was especially impressed with the way it handled architecture, preserving key details without blowing out the exposure of the background.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
Landscape shots are also solid, although that’s when you’ll probably want to switch to the 13Mp ultrawide lens. It has a 125° field of view, but unfortunately there’s a noticeable drop-off in quality. Many photos are still usable, but dynamic range is clearly affected.
There is a separate 5Mp macro lens, which I enjoyed using for close-up shots of flowers and plants. It worked better than on most phones, but still doesn’t feel like a good use of space.
A dedicated telephoto sensor would have been much more useful. Without it, moving beyond 2x zoom (it can go to 8x digitally) isn’t worth it for anything more than reference purposes.
There’s also no depth sensor, but it’s not a requirement for great portrait-style photos these days. The ROG Phone 6 can produce an attractive background blur, but struggles with edge detection like so many phones.
Both the main and ultrawide lenses benefit from a Night mode, which is automatically enabled when taking a shot in low light. You’ll have to wait a few seconds for the photo, but it does a good job of brightening without losing the key details.
On the front, you’ll find a single 12Mp lens. The selfies it produces have an impressive level of detail and handle exposure well – just make sure you turn off beauty mode for the best results.
Check out some of my camera samples in the gallery below:
It’s also worth mentioning video. The ROG Phone 6 can capture footage up to 8K at 24fps, but the default Full HD at 30fps is a better option for most people. Its colour accuracy and level of detail is fine, but without optical image stabilization (OIS) footage is juddery with any significant movement.
Battery Life & Charging
6,000mAh battery capacity
Comfortably lasts a full day, can stretch to two
65W wired charging, no wireless
Asus is usually generous with battery capacity on its gaming phones, and that’s no different here. The ROG Phone 6 has two 3,000mAh cells, giving a total of 6,000mAh.
Battery life is solid as a result. You can expect a full day on a single charge, even with the refresh rate set to 165Hz. But of course, it’ll last significantly longer on ‘Auto’ mode, which can automatically drop down to 60Hz (or something in between) depending on what you’re doing.
That’s the setting I used for PCMark’s battery benchmark, which simulates real-world usage at a typical 200 nits of brightness. A score of 12 hours and 43 minutes is impressive, although long gaming sessions will deplete the battery much more quickly.
When you do run out, just plug the 65W charger into either of the USB-C ports. Unlike many phones these days, it’s included in the box, albeit not the fastest.
I recorded 39% in 15 minutes, then 80% in 30 minutes. You’re still looking at under 45 minutes for a full charge, but it’s not particularly impressive by modern standards.
Disappointingly, Asus is yet to add wireless charging to any of its gaming phones. This isn’t a dealbreaker, but should be available on a device that costs almost $1,000/£1,000.
Software & Updates
ROG UI & Zen UI over Android 12
Good balance between gaming and general use
Only two years of software updates
The ROG Phone 6 is built for gaming, but Asus also wants you to use it as a regular phone. That’s reflected in the software, with a combination of the Zen UI and ROG UI skins over Android 12.
Zen UI is what you’ll find on other Asus phones, and it’s surprisingly close to the experience on Pixel handsets. Android 12’s distinct quick settings menu, rounded corners and Google Discover feed are all here, and Asus has kept bloatware to a minimum.
But turning on what’s known as ‘X Mode’ changes the wallpaper, shifts the colour scheme to red and makes it clear you’re ready to game. It’s not a huge change, but I like the distinction between the two.
You can launch games like usual, but Asus would prefer you used the Armoury Crate companion app instead. It offers a wide range of settings to fine tune your experience, while Game Genie offers an extensive toolbar once you’ve started playing.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
In terms of updates, Asus commits to only two major versions of Android. That means it’ll get Android 13 (expected in Q1 of 2023) and Android 14, but only security updates until 2024 after that.
Many Android phone makers are more generous these days, so it’s an area Asus could improve on.
Price & Availability
The ROG Phone 6 is undoubtedly a premium handest, but it’s far from the most expensive gaming phone Asus has released in 2022.
It currently starts at $899.99/£899.99/€999 for 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, although stepping up to the 16GB/512GB model I tested will cost you $999.99/£999.99/€1,149. Both are currently $100 off in the US, but full price in the UK.
That’s not cheap by any means, but looks affordable when compared to the 6 Pro (from $1,299/£1,099) or 6D Ultimate (from £1,199).
However, the regular 6D is less at £799/€949, while the latest Red Magic 7S Pro is cheaper still at $729/£669/€729
The ROG Phone 6 offers a lot for the price you pay, but some other gaming phones offer better value for money.
There are loads of options when it comes to gaming phones in 2022, but I believe the regular ROG Phone 6 is the best for most people.
It excels at the fundamentals, delivering stellar performance, a stunning display and great battery life. With decent cameras, two USB-C ports and even a headphone jack, there’s a lot to like here.
However, it’s not perfect, with a lack of wireless charging and poor software update commitment the most prominent. You’ll also need to connect a fan for long gaming sessions.
But none of these are dealbreakers for most people, and the ROG Phone 6 provides such a well-rounded experience elsewhere. If you’re serious about gaming on your phone but just want the best core experience, this is the phone to buy.