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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  • hansmuff - Saturday, August 29, 2020 - link

    No Qi charging, yet again from a new ASUS phone. My LORD that shit has to be in any new phone that's over $200.
  • juhatus - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    "It’s a pity that this is the only way to get audio out of the phone"

    Umm, doesn't it support Bluetooth-audio?
  • flyingpants265 - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    No front speakers = no buy.
    No 3.5mm = no buy, I'm not falling for a scam.
    I didn't check, but no wireless charging/waterproofing = no buy.

    Video/YouTube, music, and gaming necessitate front speakers. Otherwise, don't bother me. This should have been a standard feature even before wireless charging. These should all be standard features.
  • Lolimaster - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    Basically you're looking at the Xperia 1 MKII. Sadly Sony insist with that annoying extra wide design.

    19:9-19.5:9 is the limit for me.
  • Revv233 - Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - link

    Same Sentiment here - if it was normal height I would already have it. Love that it even has a real finger reader still.

    V60 Same thought - I finally got to hold one this week and its mandatory 2 hands even before the case. Too bad because I love that DAC.

    After years of wanting bigger screens MFG have shot well past the sweet spot. For whatever reason budget phones are the only ones with features customer wants... but then you give up the new SOC's.

    I have s9+; decided to skip the S10 generation but having watched the market with a lot of anticipation this year I think it's the only option.
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - link

    I prefer 17:9. Too tall and I cannot reach the top. If I can't reach notifications it's unusable.
  • Lolimaster - Sunday, August 30, 2020 - link

    In the end the + version are more or less a gimmick while also drawing a lot more power.

    In my samsung SD devices I'm happy with the 70% of soc speed in the energy saving options. All games at around 70-80% of max image quality + 30fps cap on intensive 3d content.
  • PeachNCream - Monday, August 31, 2020 - link

    Gaming phone with no way to connect a 3.5mm set of headphones. Also that performance is pretty unimpressive for a design meant to cater to people that want to see the best results from their games. Not sure what Asus' folks are smoking, but it must be some good stuff.
  • Notmyusualid - Monday, August 31, 2020 - link

    No 3.5mm jack. Wow.

    Well, one year on with my ROG2, and I still don't have a single game on it. Tried a few initially, and then one-by-one, they all became 'sign in with an account', so I just removed them all.

    It has been buggier than the Samsung's I've had to date. Noticably.

    I ended up buying a beefier case for it, over the free one that shipped with it.

    And some of the Chinese junk characters left behind (I never did get around to changing the ROM - something I normally do do) are annoying to see.

    But the speakers are great, and the battery also. My reason for buying it.

    And when replacement time comes, I can always find another phone with a 3.5mm jack, somewhere on the market. I'll vote with my feet.
  • NightShot - Friday, September 4, 2020 - link

    This phone really is more appealing for normal use. Its rather conservative power management when outside of X Mode are the reason for its incredible battery life most likely. Thermals shouldn't be THAT much of a deal breaker as it is a gaming phone. It ships with a cooler. Why not use it when you're about to game? And as we have seen, it improves the experience. It respects the +10% performance boost claims as well. It is a phone that does what it was advertised for and nothing more. So it's fine to me.

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