Asus says screw it: Here's the ROG Phone 5s Pro with 18GB of RAM
The amount of RAM in the ROG Phone 5s Pro.
Asus is no stranger to packing its ROG phones with envelope-pushing gaming features. Big batteries, ridiculously fast displays, air triggers — Asus phones often feel too far ahead of their time. So Asus did what it does best: It made an even more overkill gaming phone.
Much like a supercar that can’t reach its top speed on the highway, the new ROG Phone 5s and 5s Pro are powerhouses in their own right. The only problem: Games that could take advantage of all this hardware just don’t exist.
Spec tops — The most recent ROG Phone 5 that launched earlier this year was a monster of a phone, and still is, really. We’re talking up to 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 6,000mAh battery, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chip. That’s not to mention the myriad other features such as the 8K capable cameras, slick 144Hz AMOLED display, and the extremely obnoxious “look at me, I’m a gamer” design. The new ROG Phone 5s and ROG Phone 5s Pro are equally as beefy, obnoxious, and overpowered.
The phones are very similar and definitely feel like “S” models. The main upgrade to both the Phone 5s and 5s Pro is the slightly faster Snapdragon 888+ 5G chip (the Adreno 660 GPU is the same as on the 888 chip) and a 360Hz touch sampling rate. The ROG Phone 5s has a max 16GB of RAM, matching the highest specced ROG Phone 5, but the 5s PRO takes things further with 18GB of RAM that might be the most RAM currently found on any smartphone. It’s so much RAM, actually, that when I tried to compare it with other phones on GSMArena, the RAM slider topped out at 16GB.
The few changes made to the ROG Phone 5s and 5s Pro are robust but also incremental, but I can’t imagine what else Asus could have done to spruce up its already-turboed-up phone. If you already own the ROG Phone 5, there aren’t many reasons to upgrade, except to flex. The two extra GB of RAM is beyond overkill for a smartphone unless you’re upscaling 4K to 8K video, which I guess is possible. I can’t imagine many users are doing anything that really uses up all 18GB of RAM. I doubt even pro gamers can max out 18GB of RAM; these higher-end specs will likely lay dormant and underutilized.
Show me the games — Android is low-key one of the biggest gaming platforms in the world, especially outside of the U.S. Gamers in countrries, where it’s nearly impossible to get a mainstream console due to price or availability, have flocked to mobile games. They’re affordable, easily accessible, and there are tons of free-to-play games. Since the number of devices that use the Android platform is so vast, developers shoot for the lowest specs to serve the largest amount of customers. That means most games can essentially run on low-budget hardware, making the existence of an overpowered gaming phone obsolete.
That’s not to say there aren’t games that test the limits of the hardware. Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile are two 3D titles that run best on phones with at least mid-range specs; the former is able to reach 120fps and the latter 90 fps. Genshin Impact, a Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild waifu clone, is one of the most popular free-to-play games on Android, and the cell-shaded graphics and particle physics really shine when running on a powerful phone like the Galaxy S21 Ultra or OnePlus 9 Pro. That doesn’t mean you need 18GB or RAM to play any of these games well, though. 8GB is more than enough for them to run smoothly without dropped frames.
Too OP — I’ve been reviewing the $500 mid-range Nokia XR20 and it runs Genshin Impact perfectly fine. Sure, I experience some framerate drops here and there, and it slowed to a crawl on one particular in-game cutscene, but I managed to play it and get through a good chunk of the intro. My three-year-old Google Pixel 3 XL can handle all three of the games I mentioned without any issues, too. So why would anyone need a $1,000+ gaming phone with specs that games and apps can’t even tap into? I still don’t know — again, to flex, is all I can think of. For my money, the upcoming Steam Deck is a much better proposition to game on the go for less money. Even the OLED Nintendo Switch is a better buy for portable gaming and it’s only going to cost $350.
The ROG Phone 5 and 5s Pro, while undoubtedly beasts for mobile, are a well of untapped potential. They read more like expensive what-ifs that could be so much better if they had the games to go along with. If you want to get your hands on either phone to see for yourself, you’re out of luck unless you live in China or Taiwan. Asus hasn’t announced pricing, but based on the ROG Phone 5 from earlier this year, it should be around $1,000 for the standard 5s and even more for the 5s Pro. A word of advice: wait a few years. Asus is starting the party for phones with 18GB of RAM early — like five years early.