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(Pocket-lint) - The ROG Phone 3 was revealed in July 2020 and it was October 2020 before that device spread its wings across the globe and landed in the US. It never reached some regions like the UK.

The ROG Phone 5 arrives pretty soon after, promising more versions, wider availability and a whole host of updates.

So what's changed and if you've recently nabbed the ROG Phone 3, are you really missing out?

Release date and price

  • ROG Phone 5:
    • 8/128: €799
    • 12/256: €899
    • 16/256: €999
  • ROG Phone 5 Pro: €1199
  • ROG Phone 5 Ultimate: €1299
  • ROG Phone 3:
    • 8/128GB 'Strix Edition': €799
    • 12/256GB: €999
    • 16/512GB: €1,099

As we said, the ROG Phone 3 was available in China and India in July 2020 and eventually made its way to the US in October 2020, but international availability has never been great.

Although the ROG Phone 3 started at the same price as the ROG Phone 5, the step-up versions of the ROG Phone 5 are cheaper than they were for the ROG Phone 3. The 12/256 ROG Phone 5 is likely to be the most popular, and it's €100 cheaper than the ROG Phone 3 was at launch.

However, the ROG Phone 5 adds the Pro and Ultimate versions providing those top prices, so it's more expensive overall for those more advanced models, although the Ultimate comes with a complete box of extras.

The ROG Phone 5 is expected to be available in March, the Pro in April and the Ultimate in May 2021.

Design

  • ROG Phone 5: 173 x 77 x 9.9mm, 239g
  • ROG Phone 3: 171 x 78 x 9.9mm, 240g

The design of the ROG Phone 3 and the 5 is broadly similar. As the measurements reveal, these phones are closely matched in terms of size and weight - even through the ROG Phone 5 has a slightly larger display.

The shape and positioning of the cameras is similar, although the ROG Phone 5 is slightly more angular, while there's an interesting change on the rear of the phone.

The ROG Phone 3 offered an RGB logo on the rear. There's a similar RGB logo on the rear of the ROG Phone 5, but it's now a dot display, to give it some retro charm, while also having two RGB zones for colour combinations - so it's more dynamic.

The ROG Phone 5 goes further with the Pro and Ultimate versions, offering the ROG Vision display on the rear which can display animations and custom graphics, so it has a lot more to offer in terms of customisation.

While the standard ROG Phone 5 comes in black - like the ROG Phone 3 - the Ultimate edition comes in white.

All these phones have Air Triggers on the top, but the ROG Phone 5 Pro and Ultimate offers two more touch zones on the rear you can customise as game controls. The ROG Phone 5 also supports programmable gestures to further aid your gaming, as well as packing in a 3.5mm headphone socket!

Overall, while looking similar, the ROG Phone 5 has a lot more to offer on the design alone, but it's a refinement - you can still see that these phones are related.

Display

  • ROG Phone 5: 6.78-inch AMOLED, 2448 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz
  • ROG Phone 3: 6.59-inch AMOLED, 2340 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz

The display on the ROG Phone 3 is very similar to the ROG Phone 5, supporting that 144Hz refresh rate and with a similar size and resolution.

But you'll notice that the ROG Phone 5 gives you a little more display space in a phone that's pretty much the same size as it was before, which is a win in our books.

Hardware

  • ROG Phone 5: Snapdragon 888, 8-18GB RAM, 6,000mAh, 65W charging
  • ROG Phone 3: Snapdragon 865 Plus, 8-16GB RAM, 6,000mAh, 30W charging

When it comes to the hardware, there's been a fairly big switch up to the internals. Both phones sit on the top Qualcomm Snapdragon hardware for the year that they were launched. That gives the ROG Phone 5 and inherent advantage because it's going to be more powerful.

But there's a big design change on the interior too. While the overall battery capacity is the same on both phones - 6,000mAh - on the ROG Phone 5 this is split into two cells which means Asus can be more flexible with the design and also support 65W charging - a big jump over the 30W charging of the ROG Phone 3.

Splitting the battery means that the SoC - system on chip, the brains of the phone - can now sit in the centre of the ROG Phone 5, rather than off to the side where it was previously. Sound familiar? Yes, that's exactly what the Legion Phone Duel offered too.

That is better for cooling, as the clip-on fan accessory can sit right over the part producing most of the heat. The slight downside might be that you feel the warmth with your fingertips, rather than just with one hand. Still, it's likely to be an improvement for the better for the ROG Phone 5.

Both phones offer a range of RAM options, partly tied to the storage and in both cases this is used to leverage price. There's actually not a huge difference here - both go up to 512GB storage - but to get that version on the ROG Phone 5, you're looking at the Ultimate which also has 18GB of RAM.

Yep, we're struggling to see that as anything other than a numbers game and we suspect most will be happy with the 12/256GB version - which is the model that's actually €100 cheaper in the ROG Phone 5 and the ROG Phone 3 launch prices.

There's also a small change on the side of the phone, switching the accessory port to a pogo pin system rather than a USB C, so now it's clearer what you have to plug your charging cable into on the ROG Phone 5.

Cameras

  • ROG Phone 5: 64MP f/1.8 main, 13MP f/2.4 wide-angle, 5MP macro, 24MP selfie
  • ROG Phone 3: 64MP f/1.8 main, 13MP f/2.4 wide-angle, 5MP macro, 24MP selfie

There's actually no change here. According to Asus there's no difference in the cameras so you can expect the same performance.

Conclusions

It's easy after a quick look through what's on offer that the ROG Phone 5 has things stacked in its favour, which is to be expected being the newer device.

But there are some important fundamentals here: the display on both is similar, both have top quality Qualcomm hardware and options for big RAM, as well as custom gaming features, so the day-to-day experience between the two is probably not going to be that big.

But given that you seem to be getting a lot more for your money on the ROG Phone 5, with more options to choose from an wider availability, it seems like the one to choose.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 10 March 2021.