REVIEW: The release of the Asus ROG Phone 6 took mobile gaming to the next level, but is that enough to change the game?
This week, I had the pleasure of testing the ROG Phone 6 Pro. This latest gaming phone from Asus has the kind of specs that are giddy enough to give you a nosebleed; a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, 18 GB of RAM, a refresh rate of 165 Hz and a touch sampling rate of 720 Hz.
The incredible internals, combined with the dazzling screen, gave me a wonderful gaming experience that I had never enjoyed before, even on high-end devices like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus or the OnePlus 10 Pro. So if mobile gaming is going to grow exponentially and totally eclipse the popularity of console gaming, could this be the device to do it?
Well, the answer to that is twofold; First, to a large extent, mobile games actually don’t need any extra help. Right now it’s in poor health, accounting for 50% of total global gaming revenue according to leading market research firm Statista, and things are only getting better from there with this market key which is expected to reach a value of 100 billion dollars in 2023.
That makes a lot of sense considering that each of us has a smartphone with us all day, and they’re loaded with increasingly powerful chipsets that can even run very demanding cross-platform games; yet they still seem like they haven’t earned the accolades that consoles enjoy. The talk rarely focuses on smartphones as a platform, and the gaming world continues to revolve around the PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X.
If smartphones are going to convert their considerable market value into the kind of cultural cachet that consoles currently enjoy and become the go-to platform for all gamers, I think we still have a bit of time to go; but change might just be around the corner.
What the ROG Phone 6 Pro does is deliver the best possible gaming experience within the traditional settings of mobile gaming as we know it today. That means it runs existing games from the Play Store easier than ever on a large, lush screen with maximum responsiveness. However, its hefty price tag and niche appeal mean its audience is a hard core of enthusiasts. For mobile gaming to progress, it needs to transcend the console and become something bigger.
One of the reasons for the dazzling success of the Nintendo Switch is its hybridity. Being able to play it both on the go as a portable and on your TV like a traditional home hub console gave it unparalleled flexibility. It won’t be long before mobile games can produce the same effect; we’ve already seen efforts from Samsung’s DeX and Motorola’s Ready For to translate smartphone action to a bigger screen. While early iterations of this kind of feature may have been clunky, if the concept is successfully implemented, smartphone gaming could appeal to many gamers who prefer the big-screen experience.
Second, when mixed reality and the metaverse take off, it’s likely that the smartphone will be the primary vehicle with which we experience these exciting new alternatives. While there are informative and commercial uses of mixed reality, ranging from a virtual heads-up display during surgery to remote management of industrial spaces, much of the heated discussion about its potential focuses on games. After trying out some of these early demos, it’s clear that this technology has great potential for immersion like never before.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro shows us how far we’ve come from the early days of mobile gaming and delivers a truly engrossing experience – but I’m convinced that the best is yet to come from mobile gaming, and paradoxically what can come from making the phone itself- even just a starting point for bigger and better things.