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 - Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - link

    I have more faith in the sound quality of a C port powered active adapter than a wireless adapter powered by a tiny battery.
  • flyingpants265 - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    I love sdcards, but I'm willing to sacrifice for waterproofing. Also you can expend $ to get like 1tb storage. You can't pay more to get front speakers.. LAME.

    BS3 is cool, but also missing other stuff. And Xiaomi's crapware is bad
  • Lolimaster - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    Any flagship phone had "waterproof" +sd/sim slot. In fact, if a phone has a sim slot, there's no excuse for no sd support.
  • benedict - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    So the specs are almost the same as Xiaomi Mi 10, but the price is much higher. Asus is not a luxury brand when it comes to phones, so there's no excuse for the huge price premium.
  • hemedans - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    they always sell cheaper version with 8gb/128gb configuration, around $500.
  • GC2:CS - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    Does that mean S865+ is basically S865 with higher voltages allowed ?
    And a fan is needed to bring it back to regular temperatures.

    Why ask a premium for it then ?
    Also it is strange that the iP SE competes on GPU without people complaining that it burns their hands down.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    So far on the 3 S865+ phones that I have, they all have increased power for the increased peak perf, with worse sustained performance. So in that regard it does look disappointing.
  • Luminar - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    How is this disappointing? I thought you anticipated this situation of more peak performance and more peak power.

    You said this would be the case in your first article about the 865+. You said the 865+ would hit >3.0GHz but the 865+ would be able to consume the same or less power, due to being able to do more work in less time thanks to higher frequencies.
  • Luminar - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    Correction: *the same or less energy.
  • Lolimaster - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    Increasing voltages, throwing aside efficiency. Phones can't simply comply with energy requirements using passive cooling, even if it's "liquid"

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