The Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate’s huge power truly shocked me

The Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate is a phone full of surprises. For starters, don’t expect a Qualcomm processor inside. For its 2022 Ultimate version of the ROG Phone 6, Asus relied on MediaTek to supply the power supply. Then don’t just look at the back of the phone and think it’s basically the same as the recently announced ROG Phone 6 Pro, because it actually has a bezel, motorized cooling hole.

We’ve used the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate alongside the excellent ROG Phone 6 Pro to see if all of that makes it as ultimate as Asus says it is.

A motorized cooling port – seriously

The big design difference between the ROG Phone 6D and the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro is the addition of a motorized cooling port on the back. It’s called the AeroActive cooling port, and it opens when the AeroActive Cooler 6 is attached to the phone. The Cooler 6 channels the cold air generated by the external fan directly into the phone itself, rather than just on the surface. Asus claims it offers a 20% increase in thermal efficiency.

Man holding the Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It’s a really neat little thing. When you attach the fan, it automatically opens inside; as soon as it disconnects, the port closes, eliminating the possibility of it remaining open when you don’t want it to. It can be opened manually to clean it, and from what I’ve seen so far, dust isn’t something that can be avoided.

Anyone familiar with Asus’ phones will understand why it works so seamlessly, as it uses technology the company has perfected with its Zenfone Flip cameras. Like those mechanisms, a stepper motor raises and lowers the port door, and of course, it’s accompanied by a cool sci-fi sound effect.

Close-up of the Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate AeroActive Cooling port.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Asus has tested it to 40,000 operations, so it should be very durable. It also uses another feature taken from its older Zenfone Flip camera phones: an automatic retraction system, so if you accidentally drop the phone, it closes the instant it detects the drop. Even though there is technically a hole in the back of the phone, Asus has still designed the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate to have an IPX4 rating, which means it will withstand water splashes.

Does it really work?

To see if the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate’s cooling port keeps temperatures low, I placed it against the ROG Phone 6 Pro with the AeroActive Cooler 6 attached and ran the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test. This provides data that includes temperature, and a previous test revealed the differences between the different modes of the AeroActive Cooler made at the overall temperature of the phone when worked hard. I activated Asus’ high-performance X mode for testing, making sure both processors were running at their maximum capacity.

The Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate with the AeroActive Cooler 6 installed.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We’ll look at the results in a moment, because at this point it’s also worth talking about the other big difference between the phones: the processor. Inside the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate is a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ chip, running at 3.2GHz and equipped with 16GB of new, more capable LPDDR5X RAM. By comparison, the ROG Phone 6 Pro has a 3.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 with 18GB of LPDDR5 RAM.

Asus used a Qualcomm processor in its Ultimate ROG Phone 5 series last year, so it’s a surprise to see MediaTek feature so prominently in its 2022 flagship gaming phone. MediaTek isn’t best known for its chips headlights, but it has worked hard to change that over the past few years. It’s quite the feather in its cap for sole rival Qualcomm here, but is it justified? After all, on paper, the two chips aren’t that far apart in terms of specs.

Asus shocked me with its performance

The difference is so noticeable that it shocked me. I had to do a double take on frame rates when both phones were running the Wild Life Extreme Stress Test, as the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate maintained a much higher frame rate. It’s not a small margin — it’s huge. It consistently ran between 40 and 60 frames per second (fps), while the ROG Phone 6 Pro struggled to hit 20 fps. I was surprised at such a difference and restarted the phones, checked everything was up to date and retested once the phones cooled down, just in case I missed something or a bug was causing issues . No, the results were the same.

The MediaTek-powered phone had a significantly higher frame rate, but the temperature remained about the same. Asus itself says that the cooling benefits of the AeroActive cooling port come after an hour of continuous gaming, and up to 45 minutes is about the same as the ROG Phone 6 Pro. We’ll get to why it’s important to know shortly, but it’s essential to help you understand which ROG Phone 6 is right for you.

A word about using a benchmarking app. We don’t tend to focus on benchmark scores in general, because they don’t have much real-world relevance. But when the best ROG Phone 6 Pro test loop score was 2,812 and the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate best loop score was 9,607, it’s pretty hard to ignore them. Play games, and the capacity of ROG Phone 6D Ultimate is also clear. It is incredibly smooth and maintains that smoothness seemingly at all times. But it’s not like the ROG Phone 6 Pro is weakly slow, and playing them back to back for a normal period of time, I couldn’t really see any difference between them. Again, I will come back to why it is important to know this.

The performance benefits aren’t just down to the CPU and direct cooling. The phone also uses MediaTek’s Hyper Engine 5.0 gaming platform, which constantly examines the frame rate and then anticipates any drop in performance to make it less noticeable. A combination of all of this is behind the very impressive stats of the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate.

It does, however, mean that the phone is eating through the battery, with almost 20% disappearing from both in the 20-minute 3DMark test alone. However, use the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate normally (without games) and the 6,000 mAh battery has enough power to last at least two full days and up to the third.

The rest of the phone

Apart from the processor and the cooling port, the two phones are very similar. The Space Gray color is exclusive to ROG Phone 6D Ultimate and ROG Phone 6D, a cheaper version that loses the colorful ROG Vision display on the back and settles for an RGB logo instead. The same 50-megapixel camera with 13MP wide-angle and 5MP macro cameras found on the ROG Phone 6 Pro sits on the back.

The camera module of the Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Nobody is going to buy the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate for the camera, but the main one takes good photos with lots of color and pop. While the wide-angle camera gets carried away with saturation and smoothing, it’s good enough for occasional use. The phone has the same weight and dimensions as the ROG Phone 6 Pro, so it’s a big, heavy beast. You get used to it, but it’s unwieldy to start with, especially using it one-handed to browse or scroll through Twitter.

Because the AeroActive Cooler 6 is integral to the operation of the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate, Asus included it in the box. It must be purchased separately for ROG Phone 6 Pro and standard ROG Phone 6D. Like the phone it is big and I found this not only added bulk to the phone when docked but also upset the balance. This is especially noticeable when using the shiny AirTriggers on the top edge of the phone. These virtual buttons have multiple functions and can really add benefits to games with different controls.

Who is the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate for?

The ROG Phone 6D Ultimate is really aimed at serious mobile players. Wondering if you’re a serious gamer? If you play demanding games (Genshin Impact, Diablo Immortal, PUBG, Call of Duty: Mobile, and so on) for more than an hour each day, or playing competitively, then the answer is probably yes. It’s during those longer gaming sessions that the steadier, higher frame rate will be noticed and appreciated, and the extra cooling will help keep temperatures in check. If you play less than an hour a day, or only a few times a week to kill time, then Ultimate’s capacity will likely be wasted.

Playing Asphalt 9 Legends on the Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Due to the performance of the phone and the motorized cooling port, a feature I’ve never seen before, the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate seems to have earned its Ultimate name tag. But the fact that it did makes it an even more niche version of an already niche phone. Even if you play mobile games a lot, the ROG Phone 6 Pro has more than enough power, battery, and features to keep you satisfied.

Like I said, I couldn’t see much difference between them when playing games for about 30 minutes, but the benchmark results prove that the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate will perform better the longer you play.

If you play games a lot, and we mean a lot, then the Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate is the ultimate phone for you. Everyone else will be very happy with the ROG Phone 6 Pro.

Price and availability

The Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate will not be released in the United States. It will be released in the UK and Europe, where it will cost £1,199 or €1,399. It’s about $1,365. The ROG Phone 6D is cheaper but doesn’t come with the AeroActive Cooler 6 and costs 799 pounds or 949 euros, or around $910. In the US, the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro will soon be available for pre-order via Amazon starting at $999.

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