Over the years, multiple smartphone makers have tried to crack the gaming segment in India. We've had the Nubia Red Magic series, Black Shark gaming phones, and the Asus ROG Phone lineup, as some notable examples. While most competitors aren't in the picture anymore, Asus is still consistently churning out new gaming phones year after year. The Asus ROG Phone 5s is the latest such model from the Taiwanese tech giant, and is positioned as an upgrade over the ROG Phone 5. I got my hands on this new gaming smartphone, and here are my first impressions.
Asus ROG Phone 5s price in India
The Asus ROG Phone 5s is priced starting at Rs. 49,999 in India for the base variant which has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There's also an option with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, priced at Rs. 57,999. There's also the ROG Phone 5s Pro, priced at Rs. 79,999 with 18GB of RAM and 512GB of storage plus additional trigger buttons on the rear and a small secondary PMOLED screen on the rear. Asus offers the ROG Phone 5s in two colours, Phantom Black and a glossy Storm White.
Asus ROG Phone 5s design and specifications
The Asus ROG Phone 5s looks identical to the ROG Phone 5. Asus has not made any visual changes to distinguish it from the older model. The ROG Phone 5s sports a large 6.78-inch HDR10+ AMOLED display with a full-HD+ resolution and 144Hz maximum refresh rate. Asus has bumped the touch sampling rate on the ROG Phone 5s up to 360Hz, compared to the 300Hz on the ROG Phone 5, which is said to reduce touch latency even further.
The side-mounted USB Type-C port makes it more comfortable to charge the phone while gaming
The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, and there's an in-display fingerprint scanner that I found to be easy to reach and use. There are symmetrical thick bezels at the top and the bottom of the display which house the front-firing stereo speakers. The ROG Phone 5s is best suited for landscape usage with two hands given its size, and one-handed use wasn't easy.
From the moment you pick up the ROG Phone 5s, you'll notice that it's bulky. The 238g weight is also very evident. The Asus ROG Phone 5s has a metal frame while the back is made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The power and the volume buttons are on the right while the left has an additional USB Type-C port and proprietary connectors for the Aero Active Cooler 5, which Asus sells as an accessory (it's included with the ROG Phone 5s Pro). The SIM tray is also on the left and has a bright red accent colour.
Like its predecessors, the Asus ROG Phone 5s sports AirTriggers on the right side of the frame which act as shoulder buttons when the smartphone is in landscape. At the bottom, you'll see the off-centre USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the top of the frame is bare.
Ultrasonic Air Triggers on the ROG Phone 5s are meant to be used when gaming
The ROG Phone 5s has a triple rear camera setup consisting of a primary 64-megapixel camera with a Sony IMX686 sensor, a 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 5-megapixel macro shooter. For selfies, it has a 24-megapixel camera that's neatly hidden in the top bezel. The back of the phone has an RGB illuminated ROG logo that can light up for incoming calls and messages.
The ROG Phone 5s packs in a 6,000mAh battery that is split into two cells of 3,000mAh each, to help charge it quickly. The phone supports up to 65W fast charging but Asus only bundles a 30W charger in the box.
Asus has used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ SoC clocked at up to 2.99GHz, plus what it says is an improved cooling system compared to its predecessor. This is the second-most powerful SoC from Qualcomm in the market, behind only the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. The ROG Phone 5s offers up to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. My review unit had 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You can't expand storage since the phone lacks a microSD card slot. It has support for dual 5G, 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 6, and six satellite navigation systems.
The ROG Phone 5s has a triple camera setup
The Asus ROG Phone 5s runs ROG UI on top of Android 11, and my unit had the September 2021 Android security patch. The UI is highly customised and the look should appeal to gamers more than the average user. You do get a few apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Netflix preinstalled, apart from the usual suite of Google apps. These can be uninstalled to free up some space.
The Asus ROG Phone 5s has impressive hardware and is aimed squarely at gamers. There isn't any direct competition in the market for it, and Asus is simply building on its lead in this segment. With only small differences between the ROG Phone 5s and its predecessor, you'd be better off choosing the newer model, since prices are officially the same – unless you can find the ROG Phone 5 on sale while it's still in stock. I will address these queries in the full review of the Asus ROG Phone 5s, coming soon.