Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate
“Serious mobile gamers will get the most from the incredible Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, but its audio prowess and long battery life should rightly tempt others willing to put up with its size.”
- ROG Vision screen is fun
- Amazing audio ability
- Vibrant screen under flat glass
- Gaming features are varied and useful
- Huge amounts of power
- Long battery life
- Big and bulky
- Lots of hidden features to uncover
- No wireless charging
Do you take playing games on your phone seriously? I mean, really seriously? If so, the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate should be right at the top of your shopping list, as this big, bold, and immensely powerful smartphone is tailor-made for gaming.
Don’t entirely dismiss it if gaming is only one part of your daily phone use, though, as the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate also happens to be an excellent multimedia device too. There’s a lot to know about the phone’s ability, so let’s dive into what makes it special.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: design
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Let’s get this out of the way now: the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is a very big and seriously heavy smartphone. It’s not impossible to deal with, but if you’re coming from any moderately sized smartphone then it’ll take a couple of days to adjust to it. It’s 77mm wide and 173 tall, plus 239 grams. For comparison, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is 78mm wide, 163mm tall, and 233 grams, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max is 160mm tall, 77mm wide, and 240 grams.
The dimensions only tell part of the story. You always know the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is in your jeans pocket, and bags feel somewhat heavier than normal when it’s stowed inside. Carrying the ROG Phone around as your all-day, everyday device is a compromise. You’re accepting that it’s big and a bit ungainly in return for the game-centric ergonomics, features, and controls. If you’re not prepared to accept that, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate probably isn’t for you.
What about the positive side of the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s design? The substantial chassis makes it great to hold in landscape orientation when playing games, and most of the time, it’s fine in portrait orientation too. However, for regular web browsing and messaging, the phone eventually feels top-heavy, and fatigue sets in after a while. The thick, carefully curved chassis means it doesn’t slide around in your hand, there’s lots of grip, and your index fingers fall naturally to the AirTriggers on each shoulder. The flat screen is perfect for gaming but not for the overall style.
The USB Type-C connector on the side means the phone can easily be charged while you play, and the central placement of the processor inside the phone means the chassis doesn’t get hot around your fingers and palms.
Asus has taken the motorized cooling port from the ROG Phone 6D and incorporated it into the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s body, but it’s only functional when you use the Asus AeroActive Cooler fan accessory. Otherwise, it sits flush with the back of the phone, and you’ll never know it’s there.
The back of the phone is a cool, eye-catching mix of polished and matte glass, and the now iconic ROG Vision RGB display shows fun animations and some system notifications. It’s one of my favorite parts of the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, as it adds a lot of visual excitement to the otherwise familiar design, which hasn’t changed all that much over the ROG Phone 6 Pro. Even with the exhaust port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate even has an IP54 splash-resistant rating, so it’s moderately durable, and good on Asus for putting it through the accreditation.
Asus’s Republic of Gamers (or ROG for short) division knows its audience. It understands what matters to people who play a lot of games for long periods of time, and that’s why the ROG Phone 7 is shaped and designed like it is.
If you’re wondering if you fit into Asus’s target demographic, ask yourself how long you spend playing games on your phone. If it’s 30 minutes or more per day on games like Genshin Impact, PUBG, Fortnite, or Arena of Valor, then you’re absolutely the person Asus thinks should buy — and will benefit from — the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate.
There is another reason to consider the phone if you’re not a hardcore gamer, which we’ll come to in a while, but if you only play Wordle and 10 minutes of Super Mario Run every so often, then think long and hard about whether you can handle the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s size day in and day out.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: gaming experience
The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, but it’s not a special “binned” version or one that has been tweaked for the phone, like inside the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It comes with up to 16GB of the fastest LPDDR5X RAM and 512GB UFS 4.0 storage space. Asus has redesigned the cooling system for 168% greater thermal efficiency over the ROG Phone 6 Pro, and it has tuned the game-specific X Mode to take advantage of all the changes and additional power.
It practically goes without saying that the performance is superb. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has already proven itself, and it means the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate takes gaming in its stride. Use the phone’s X Mode, where the performance can be maxed out or tailored to your needs, and games are super smooth.
Asus tuned the software with a stable 60 frames-per-second as its goal in games like Genshin Impact, Diablo Immortal, Arena of Valor, and PUBG. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also future-proofs the phone for gaming too, as it supports hardware-level ray tracing for realistic graphics. I say future proofing because, at the time of writing, there aren’t any mobile games with ray tracing to try out.
We don’t rely on benchmarks to assess smartphone performance, but we put the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate through the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test alongside the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra — just to see if we could spot the differences in extended gaming situations. This is one of the areas where the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is supposed to excel over mainstream high-performance smartphones, rather than during quick gaming sessions where differences will be minimal. The results are interesting because they highlight where serious players will benefit from the phone’s ability.
The Asus phone did get warm but not roasting during the test, and most of the heat was centered in the middle of the device, so it was never uncomfortable to hold. The battery reduced by 13% during the 20-minute intensive test, it scored a 3769 Best Loop with 99.7% stability, the temperature ranged from 22 degrees centigrade to 43 degrees (about 71 to 109 Fahrenheit), and the frame rate ranged from 17 frames per second (fps) to 28 fps.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s results are what makes all this interesting. It got a tiny bit hotter, but the heat was spread over the entire rear panel, and while it scored a higher 3818 Best Loop, the stability was markedly lower at 76.1%. The frame rate dropped lower too and ranged between 12 and 28 fps. The battery fell by 16%. The test shows that while outright performance probably won’t be much different if you use the S23 Ultra, the Asus gaming phone is a lot more stable and cooler to hold, which translates into greater efficiency and an improved gaming experience over longer periods of time.
I can’t say I noticed a big difference between playing my games of choice on the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate over the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but what is obvious is if I was playing for an hour or more, I’d much prefer to do so on the Asus phone. It’s not just the stability or the heat management, it’s all about the controls and the battery too, which we’ll go on to next.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: screen and controls
Asus uses a bespoke Samsung AMOLED screen with a 2448 x 1080 pixel resolution, a variable refresh rate topping out at 165Hz, a maximum 1,500 nits brightness, 23 millisecond latency, and 720Hz touch sampling. It’s set under flat Gorilla Glass Victus, and there are substantial bezels (by today’s standards) above and below it. Again, this makes a difference to games, as not only do you grip these parts of the phone so any screen would be obscured anyway, but they also house the big 12mm x 16mm stereo, front-facing speakers.
The screen is super sensitive, and it often only takes the merest press or tap to activate something on the home screen by accident, and it can be a little annoying. It’s also very sensitive in apps too, where my haphazard swipes that are fine on other devices, result in different, more “accurate” actions on the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate. It’s something you’ll get used to and also something that will pay dividends when gaming. The under-display fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate, plus there’s face unlock to fall back on if it gets things wrong.
On the “shoulders” of the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate are AirTriggers, a pair of ultrasonic buttons that can be assigned to different in-game actions, and each has nine possible gestures with sensitivity adjustment under the X Mode menu. They really are a big selling point of the ROG Phone 7 for anyone who plays games with a lot of controls. The haptic feedback is fast, precise, and natural-feeling, so they really do feel like little buttons.
Asus’s Game Genie is swiped in from the top left of the screen when you play a game. The menu lets you customize everything from screen refresh rate, X Mode settings, incoming notification alerts, screen recording, control macros, and adding a crosshair. It’s this, along with X Mode and Armoury Crate app where all your games and individual settings are stored, that makes the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate special, as you really can set the phone up exactly how you want for every game you play.
There are other new additions to the ROG Phone’s repertoire, too, including X Capture, which lets you record key events during a game when the system recognizes a particular pattern (such as for boss kills). There’s also Background Mode, where the game runs behind the scenes when it’s set up for auto-combat. You can even tailor different haptic effects to different parts of the screen, so you can easily recognize if you’ve selected the right action.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: audio and visual
The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is made to play games, and I do think you need to play graphically intensive games every day to make the best use of the phone’s capabilities, but there is another reason to consider it: the amazing audio and visual ability. The vibrant screen is beautiful, but the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate also excels when it comes to audio, providing a more comprehensive package of enhancements and connectivity than almost any other phone available at the moment.
Audio experts Dirac have worked on the phone’s audio, and the dual speakers sound brilliant — even at loud volumes and even when there’s a substantial amount of bass (for a phone) involved. The AeroActive Cooler 7 accessory comes with the phone, and it has a tiny 13mm x 38mm subwoofer inside, giving the phone a 2.1 audio system when connected up. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired headphones, assisted by Dirac’s Virtuo tuning, and a full suite of Bluetooth 5.3 options: AptX Adaptive, AptX Lossless, Hi-Res and Hi-Res Wireless, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound. It’s rare to find one of these features, let alone all of them on a single device.
The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate also excels when it comes to audio.
I’ve been using the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ and the NuraTrue Pro earbuds with the phone and music sounds fantastic. Masses of bass, huge presence, and crystal clear definition. Pair the cracking audio with the stunning screen, and you’ve got a superb all-around multimedia phone. If you also watch video and listen to music on your phone a lot, in addition to playing games often, then the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is a great choice.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: camera
No one will be — or at least they shouldn’t be — buying the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate solely for its camera. However, you won’t be disappointed by its performance, as despite this being a gaming phone and not a camera phone, the camera does a good job.
There are three cameras on the back, with a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 camera leading the pack, joined by a 13MP wide-angle and a 5MP macro camera. There are also plenty of different modes to play with, including a macro mode, night mode, a light trail mode, and even 8K resolution video recording at 24 frames-per-second.
Daytime photos are filled with natural colors, the HDR effect is strong enough that your pictures have that instantly shareable look, and the 2x zoom returns surprisingly good-quality images. There’s not much consistency between the main and wide-angle camera, but this isn’t a problem specific to the ROG Phone 7, so it can be forgiven on a phone where the camera is not the focus … if you’ll forgive the pun.
The 32MP selfie camera takes bright, colorful, and lifelike photos, but edge recognition isn’t always very accurate when you use portrait mode. The high megapixel count and good standard image quality mean it will be great for streaming.
On the whole, for a phone that isn’t about the camera, the ROG Phone 7 takes good photos you’ll be happy to share.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: battery and charging
The Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is a battery superstar. The combination of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and 6,000mAh cell works perfectly, with the chip’s efficiency making the most out of the sheer power of the battery. Use the phone lightly, with around two hours of screen time, and it’ll still be above 70% at the end of the day. But it’s even more impressive when you push it hard.
On a six-hour screen time day, starting at 8:00 a.m. with a mix of GPS, video calls, games, and app use, it ended with 36% remaining at 1:00 a.m. This is superb performance, and outside of gaming deliberately until the battery’s flat, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s battery will last you a true, very full day of use without any problem.
The Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is a battery superstar.
Inside the box is a 67W HyperCharge wired fast charger and a lovely braided USB Type-C to Type-C cable, which recharged the phone in 50 minutes. The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate does not have wireless charging, a feature that has never been a part of the ROG Phone series. Asus has repeatedly said it’s not something that works with the ROG Phone’s design, and fast wired charging and long battery life makes up for its absence. It’s not a feature I’ve missed, and I’d rather Asus made the phone it wants to make instead of squeezing in wireless charging just to fill a supposed “gap” in the specification list.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: software and connectivity
There are two choices regarding the software on the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: either go full-ROG or keep things sensible with Asus’s ZenUI. Both are different takes on the look of Android 13, with the ROG theme adding flashy icons, sound effects, and special wallpaper to the OS, while ZenUI is a more standard, Pixel-like version of the Android. The features are the same across both themes; it only affects the design. Plus, you can mix and match elements to create a hybrid look.
The software has been reliable, and it’s easy to use, plus it’s not high maintenance, nor is it always suggesting things for you to try or do. While I think this is a positive, it’s also where the problems lie with the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s software. There are so many features and game-specific modes to try out, many of which are hidden in the X Mode menu or the Armory Crate app, it can be hard to find them at first. There is a tips page introducing a selection of them, but not all of them.
It’s a difficult balancing act. Put all these features front-and-center, and Asus risks making the phone too complex and annoying, but hide them too much, and those who may find them useful may end up missing them. I definitely like the direction Asus has chosen, but you should be prepared to put on some effort to learn the ROG Phone’s features after purchasing. Asus will support the software with two major OS updates and four years of security updates. This is acceptable but behind Samsung and OnePlus’s length of support.
Calls sound good, a by-product of the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate’s great speakers, but I have found that Wi-Fi Calling isn’t as reliable as it often is on other phones. However, this may be a network issue rather than one caused by the phone. The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate supports Wi-Fi 7, and it has been rock solid.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: price and availability
Asus has announced the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate for Europe and Taiwan at the time of writing, and it costs 1,399 euros which includes the AeroActive Cooler 7 accessory. This converts over to $1,533, or 1,225 British pounds. Preorders begin on April 13.
The price is 100 euros more than the ROG Phone 6 Pro released in 2022 and compares to the very top-level Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max. A OnePlus 11, which shares the same processor, starts at 850 euros and costs $699 in the U.S., giving you a better idea of just how expensive the ROG Phone 7 is.
Does this mean the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is too expensive? No, it’s a question of priorities. We recommend the similarly priced top Galaxy S23 Ultra for its superb camera, S Pen stylus, and huge amount of ability. The ROG Phone 7 is recommended for its gaming-specific features, excellent screen and processor, and the huge battery. Both are expensive phones, but one is likely to serve your own needs slightly better than the other.
What about the ROG Phone 7?
We have reviewed the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, but Asus has also announced a standard ROG Phone 7. It is essentially the same phone inside, with the same processor and screen, but with a slightly different design and a few features dropped to help lower the price. It does not have the ROG Vision RGB screen on the back or the AeroActive Portal vent, and it comes in a black color along with Storm White.
It does not come bundled with the AeroActive Cooler 7, unlike the Ultimate version, and that’s worth 110 euros or around $120. The ROG Phone 7 will be available from April 13 and costs 999 euros, which is around $1,095.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate: verdict
Asus states that a massive 4 million hours are spent gaming on ROG Phones around the world every week, a figure that increased by 36% during 2022. With those kinds of numbers, it’s hard to still pass mobile gaming off as a niche, as there’s clearly a big audience for a phone that makes mobile gaming more fun and you a better player. The ROG Phone series has long led the pack, and the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate continues that tradition.
It’s enormously capable, the design is cool without being silly, the special features are well thought-out and useful, and the software is mature and reliable. It’s definitely focused on gaming, but the twist is if you’re after a strong multimedia phone in general, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate fits the bill too. It’s expensive, but so is every top-spec flagship smartphone today.
It’s not a big leap forward over the ROG Phone 6 Pro, but Asus has refined and improved the device in all the right places. Is it only for mobile gamers? Yes, and no. The vast majority of the features are most relevant to people who play top, power-intensive games for a minimum of 30 minutes every day — but it’s also worth considering if video and audio performance is also important. The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate excels in all these areas and provided you’re happy to accept the compromises, this is a great purchase and a phone that will last you for years.