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The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate is a love letter from Asus to its most hardcore fans

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate is not only the ultimate version of Asus’s newest gaming smartphone, it’s also the ultimate smartphone for the ultimate fan of ROG (that’s Republic of Gamers, Asus’s dedicated gaming brand). With it, Asus has proven once again that it fully understands how to make an exciting limited-edition pack, and that it also knows how to treat its most dedicated, hardcore followers.

More than just a pretty box

Yes, the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate comes in a very pretty box, but we’ll get to that in a moment, because it’s so much more than that. Not content with using the top Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and giving it 512GB of storage space, Asus turned the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate into the most powerful smartphone on the planet, because this limited-edition model is the first smartphone to come with a massive 18GB of RAM.

That’s a lot. More than a lot of computers, actually. Whether it needs this amount of RAM is beside the point, seeing as the normal ROG Phone 5 with 12GB of RAM performs faultlessly. This is a the ultimate version of the top gaming phone, so taking the specs to the extreme suits it. The 512GB of storage is more useful, as the ROG Phone 5 does not have a MicroSD card slot.

This is the @ASUS_ROG #ROGPhone5 Ultimate. It has *18GB* of RAM ????, and a monochrome PMOLED screen on the back of the beautiful matte white body… that does this:

— Andy Boxall (@AndyBoxall) March 10, 2021

It’s not just what’s inside the phone that’s special. Flip it over to see an exclusive satin matte white finish, and the new ROG Vision screen. This replaces the RGB lighting and illuminated logo on the standard ROG Phone 5 with a cool monochrome display, which really fits in with the visual theme, and reminds us a little of a Nintendo Game Boy. It’s bright and eye-catching, but what does it do?

Inside the Armoury Crate feature on the phone, where game-related tweaks can be made, you can set the ROG Vision screen to activate when you receive a call, when the battery is on charge, when you’re playing a game, and when X Mode (which boosts game performance and optimizes settings) is active. The monochrome animations are smooth and detailed, and it makes the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate look even more unique than the RGB ROG logo on the normal version.

Finally, there are two additional touch-sensitive buttons on the back of the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate. These are similar to the AirTriggers set on the phone’s shoulders, and can be swiped to activate different in-game features. Assigning them a function is performed using Game Genie, a settings screen swiped in from the left when playing a game. I found them a little difficult to quickly locate, despite the textured area marking them out.

However, when you add these two to the existing virtual button array, and the two fitted to the new AeroActive Cooler fan accessory, the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate has an astonishing total of 18 configurable buttons onboard. Another neat bonus with the Ultimate model is the AeroActive Cooler 5 comes in the box, but is an extra with the normal version. Now, let’s talk more about the box, or should I say, boxes.

What else?

To get the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate, you’re going to have to splurge — and also be mindful that it’s a limited-edition phone, meaning supplies will be somewhat scarce. It’s also not being made available everywhere, so there’s a chance you may not be able to buy one at all. The phone itself is worth the effort, but what else does Asus give you?

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You will get the Ultimate Fan Gift set, a large box full of Republic of Gamers goodies. Inside is an ROG cap, an ROG towel, three ROG patches, an ROG sticker set, a pack of ROG-themed playing cards, a kit to build an ROG logo out of tiny bricks, and an ROG face mask. You will certainly be able to show your love for the ROG brand with this haul of extras.

The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate costs 1,299 euros, with the U.S. price to be confirmed closer to the launch date in May, but this converts over to around $1,550. That’s a lot of money, but seeing as the 512GB Galaxy S21 Ultra on its own costs 1,429 euros, it’s decent value considering the ability of the phone and all the bonuses you get.

Asus gives good fan service

Just to recap: The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate has 18GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, the fastest Qualcomm processor, its own fan for extra cooling, and 18 different buttons for total control over your gameplay, plus a massive 6.7-inch AMOLED screen with a 144Hz refresh rate and a QHD+ resolution. Buy it, and you also get a box full of Republic of Gamers swag.

Asus is one of the few companies that really looks after its hardcore fanbase. It could easily not have made the Ultimate version at all, or at the minimum simply made the normal ROG Phone 5 in the matte white color and called it a day. The ROG Phone 5 is a niche phone already, so the Ultimate is a niche version of a niche phone, but that’s why it’s a limited edition. It’s not for everyone, but those who it is targeted toward will absolutely love it.

Just like the crazy suitcase version of the ROG Phone 2 and ROG Phone 3, the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate is the perfect example of what a limited-edition piece of tech should be — technically superior to the basic model, exciting to look at, exclusive, and packaged alongside related goodies. The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate isn’t just a phone, it’s currently the definitive smartphone gaming machine, and Asus goes out of its way to reward you for buying it.

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