System Performance

System performance of the ROG Phone III should be interesting given its gaming phone nature, as well as for the fact that it’s the first Snapdragon 865+ device we’ve come to test. As always, system performance doesn’t necessarily just depend on the hardware of a device, but also on the software tuning that a vendor does to its DVFS and SoC scheduler settings.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0  

In the PCMark web-browsing test, the workload is quite sensible to scheduler and DVFS settings. Here the ROG Phone III is rather conservatively tuned in its 60Hz setting, only catching up due to the higher 144Hz refresh rate when in that mode.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing sub-test is the most important of PCMark, and the ROG3 here fares slightly better than most other Snapdragon 865 devices on the market, but falls just short of Kirin 990 phones as well as the Snapdragon Galaxy S20.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

We see a similar positioning for the photo editing test.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

The data-manipulation test seems refresh-rate bottlenecked and here the ROG3 sees a big jump when scaling from 60 to 144Hz.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance 

Overall, in the PCMark performance scores, the ROG Phone III only falls short to the Snapdragon Galaxy S20 Ultra in our tests. There are a few details I want to expand in regards to this positioning and why it doesn’t fare better:

The test scores here were performed under the phone’s default operating conditions, with X-Mode being disabled. Unfortunately, it seems that under these conditions, the phone’s performance is very conservative and doesn’t really stand out much from the crowd.

The scores are significantly improved when enabling X-Mode, however I take issue in publishing these figures into our charts given that what this mode does is simply cripple normal DVFS operation of the SoC by raising the minimum operating frequencies, or essentially just pegging them to their maximum.

There’s been a delicate balance by various vendor’s performance modes, some which implement quite reasonable settings, whilst other simply are akin to just enabling a benchmark cheat mode. Samsung’s and Huawei’s performance modes are still reasonable as they still use the full dynamic range operating frequencies of the SoC, only increasing the aggressiveness of the scaling behaviour.

Other vendors such as OPPO, and ASUS here, just enable a rather dumb “all-out” mode that in my view isn’t very realistic for a battery powered device, and that I wouldn’t recommend anyone on actually using. I’ll get into more detail about this in the GPU performance section, but I don’t find the default X-Mode levels particularly well implemented when it comes to the balance between performance and power consumption.

JetStream 2 - OS Webview  WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

The ROG Phone III did adequately in the browser Javascript benchmarks, although WebXPRT 3 does showcase its rather conservative performance tuning when in its default operating mode.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView

I had some really odd issues with Speedometer 2.0, in that the ROG Phone III kept performing quite horribly in WebView containers as well as Chrome. I’m not sure what happened here, as the same versions of the apps performed quite well on other Snapdragon 865 devices, which points out to possibly some OS-specific issue on the ASUS device. Using Samsung Internet for example made it perform normally – really odd.

Update: The issue has been resolved with the latest firmware update.

Overall, system performance of the ROG Phone III is excellent, but generally I wouldn’t say that it’s in any way class-leading or able to distinguish itself from other 120Hz phones. The 144Hz mode isn’t something that you will notice over other 120Hz phones, and whilst the phone is very snappy, without the questionable every-day use of X-Mode, it lags behind Samsung’s devices. In this regard, the ROG3 doesn’t perform much differently to any other high-refresh rate Snapdragon 865 phones.

ASUS's Gaming Features GPU Performance & Power
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  • s.yu - Monday, August 31, 2020 - link

    iPhone batteries are still small for their screen size, while iPad batteries are not.
  • Great_Scott - Monday, August 31, 2020 - link

    Forget using the phone for games. I'd lock the screen to 60Hz and charge it every other day (every 3rd day?).
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - link

    Yeah, the display thing is dumb. Remember when people said over 1080p was a waste for phones? Well.... They were right. And here we go again with the display thing.
  • Kishoreshack - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    Always felt Snapdragon Plus versions were a gimmick
    This review proves it
    The plus versions suck a lot of power
  • s.yu - Monday, August 31, 2020 - link

    Not really, it's pretty clear that last year's ROGP2 with 855+ was a notch above the regular 855. Either Asus made a mistake here or 865 doesn't scale as well.
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - link

    Pretty sure it's the fault of the 856+ - they just pushed it further than it really needs to go.
  • Kishoreshack - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    Want Anandtech to do more phone reviews
    Many devices are pending
  • Quantumz0d - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    No 3.5mm jack and no SD card slot is a joke on this. Not interested at all, It's just a chastity block with zero freedom.
  • ads295 - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    Agreed, this is one device where even ASUS agreed that size doesn't matter. Such a dumb decision
  • Tchamber - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    I hear this a lot, no 3.5 jack means no buy. I love good music, with quality sound, but when I'm on my phone I have given in to the convenience of Bluetooth. And I've been impressed with the audio fidelity some headphones deliver. I have two sets right now, LG Tones, which are really comfortable, and Beats PowerBeats3, which sound amazing, and even deliver nice bass. So I'm wondering, when was the last time you tried Bluetooth? Not to say wireless headphones are as good as wired, but there are some really good options.

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