Not too long ago, I reviewed the ASUS ROG Phone 6 Diablo Immortal Edition, an impressive powerhouse of a phone that targeted a niche within a niche – fans of the Blizzard series - who also wanted a gaming phone. Now, the team is back with the ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, which aims to appeal to ASUS' usual, though still somewhat niche group - mobile gamers who want a dedicated gaming phone.
The ROG Phone 7 sports a Samsung AMOLED display that the folks at ROG have tweaked to provide better performance. The result is a 6.78” screen with a refresh rate of 165HZ, although you can choose between 144, 120, 90, or 60 or an Auto refresh rate if you want the battery to last longer. Regardless, it's a fantastic-looking screen that particularly shines if you're playing brightly-coloured games like Genishin Impact or Sky: Children of the Light, as the colours truly pop.
Games looking great is one thing, but for more hardcore players, performance is equally important. The ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate certainly delivers on that front too. It boasts 23ms touchscreen latency, meaning each of your inputs is incredibly responsive, allowing those who regularly indulge in competitive multiplayer experiences to have an edge on their opponents, particularly in games where speedy reaction times are key to victory.
Are you likely to notice that increased performance? If you're upgrading from the previous ROG Phone, probably not. And, having tested the ROG Phone 6, I don't see the improved performance as a reason to upgrade if your device is still ticking along nicely. But as someone whose daily phone is (still) a Google Pixel 3a that's practically begging to retire, it's a stark contrast. Games load quicker, and the framerate is higher, smoother, and, as a result, much more enjoyable.
A concern that often follows these high-performance phones is whether or not they'll get too hot. To mitigate this, ASUS has included the GameCool 7 cooling system, an upgrade on the version used in the previous model. Apparently, its Rapid-Cycle Vapor Chamber design dissipates up to 2.1 times the heat. That's all lovely marketing jargon, but what does it mean in reality? Well, it certainly does a great job of keeping the phone cool when playing less intensive games.
When playing the likes of Pink, Two Dots, Into the Breach and Rumble Stars Soccer, I had no issues with the phone heating up whatsoever. However, as is often the case, a more intensive game like Genshin Impact soon saw it reach hand-warmer status, albeit not as notable as the previous ROG Phone. Still, the inbuilt cooling system mostly does a good job, but there will always be more demanding titles that it can't cope with.
However, heat aside. The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is perfectly capable of handling long gaming sessions. I spent several hours playing the aforementioned games in one stretch, and the battery didn't dip as low as I expected. Of course, playing games for extended periods will drain the battery more quickly than regular usage, and it certainly needed charging after that stint, but it held up remarkably well. It's also a nippy charger, taking around 40 minutes to get from 0 to 100%.
There are also different system modes to choose from that affect how long the battery will last. Ultra-durable, as the name suggests, will make the phone prioritise saving power by adjusting the settings accordingly. Meanwhile, X Mode will throw caution to the wind when it comes to power, pooling all the phone's resources to improve gaming performance.
Beyond that, a lot of the usual ROG features are present here. The phone has a side-mounted port, which allows you to charge the phone while playing in landscape orientation without worrying about cables getting in the way. It retains a 3.5mm headphone jack, a welcome edition by folks like me who refused to completely accept our new wireless world. However, this does mean the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate's IP rating is 54, meaning it's far from waterproof.
In terms of looks, the 7 Ultimate is a sleek-looking phone, so long as you enjoy an aesthetic that leans towards the gamer side. The back is white with bits of detailing that give it a more techy appearance, while the sides are black. There's a smattering of blue on the power button, SIM card slot and around one of the camera lenses. It's a subtle touch helps the handset look a little more interesting than some of its competitors. It certainly won't be for everyone, but I appreciate that it's not too over the top.
As you might imagine given the specs, it's a hefty phone, weighing 239 grams. That places it in the iPhone 14 Max realm of bulkiness. Since most people are used to a larger phone nowadays, that might not be an issue. For me personally, though, it's a touch heavy and always felt awkward in my pocket.
That takes nothing away from how impressive the phone is, however. But I do continue to wonder how large the audience is. At £1199.99, it's far from cheap. The non-ultimate version comes in slightly less pricey, starting at £999, but still, how many people are willing to shell out for it when an iPhone or cheaper Android phone can play games to perfectly enjoyable standards?