Asus ROG Phone 5 is a gaming phone that rivals Samsung's S21

Asus ROG 5
(Image credit: Future)

The Asus ROG Phone 5 is the brand’s latest gaming phone, but a ton of little improvements add up to the most powerful Android smartphone released yet in 2021 – which can even outperform the Samsung Galaxy S21 in some benchmarks.

That’s no surprise given the phone packs some monstrous specs: all versions of the phone pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset and the basic model can have 8GB, 12GB, or 16GB of RAM. There’s also two pricier editions of the phone: the Asus ROG 5 Pro, which comes in 16GB of RAM, and the limited-run Asus ROG 5 Ultimate, featuring a world-first 18GB of RAM.

Those pricier versions come with a slightly more refined design and OLED panel on the back to display a customizable message or logo. But even the stock Asus ROG 5 is powerful and versatile, with ultrasonic shoulder buttons, fantastic speakers, wildly fast 65W recharging for its 6,000mAh battery – and a 3.5mm headphone jack. 

With big specs and features comes big prices: the baseline Asus ROG 5 starts at €799 (around $950 / £680 / AU$1,230) for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, €899 (around $1,070 / £770 / AU$1,400) for 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, and €999 (around $1,200 / £850 / AU$1,550) for 16GB RAM and 256GB of storage.

The fancier versions are priced even higher, with the Asus ROG 5 Pro costing €1,199 (around $1,430 / £1,030 / AU$1,850) for 16GB RAM and 512GB storage, putting it around the same price as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Asus ROG 5 Ultimate’s price tag is suitably supreme at €1,299 (around $1,550 / £1,100 / AU$2,000) for 18GB RAM and 512GB storage.

The Asus ROG 5 will be released in March, with the Asus ROG 5 Pro following in April and the Asus ROG 5 Ultimate coming in May – but only in limited quantities. We've yet to hear exact pricing for the US, UK or Australia but we're hoping to hear more soon.

Asus ROG 5

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus ROG 5: for gamers and media fans, but not shutterbugs

The Asus ROG 5 is designed with mobile gamers in mind with hardware and software perks, but there’s plenty in the phone that appeal to more mainstream consumers, from the extensive battery life to impressive sound from the pair of forward-facing speakers. 

In many ways, the ROG 5 is a leading Android smartphone that rivals the Samsung Galaxy S21 range.

But not in photography: the ROG 5’s triple rear camera doesn’t include a telephoto lens, putting it at a utility disadvantage compared to the Samsung S21’s 30x ‘Space Zoom’ capability – let alone the generally superior photo processing software in Samsung’s phones. 

Like its predecessors, the ROG 5 focuses on gaming, not cameras, which is a trade-off that may be fine with some consumers, but should be kept in mind for those who are shopping for the best camera phones.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.