Jun 8, 2018

Buyers Guide: ASUS ROG Phone vs. BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone vs. nubia Red Magic vs. Razer Phone

Which should you go for? The ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL, the Xiaomi BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone, the nubia Red Magic or the Razer Phone? Quite a tough choice isn't it? If you're having difficulty in choosing the best gaming smartphone for you here's a four-way comparison to help you decide.

Back in November 2017, it wasn't a surprise to hear Razer entering the mobile gaming scene, and they did with the Razer Phone. But nobody expected that Xiaomi and nubia would follow suit with their own gaming device, the BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone and the Red Magic respectively. Now, even the gaming guru ASUS did not hold back from releasing its own gaming-centric smartphone, the ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL.

Most people would prefer a device that is the most powerful, but to some, the little things count as well, and we're here to elaborate on that.

Design

Razer Phone

Razer placed a greater emphasis on the screen aspect of the Razer Phone knowing that it may either add to the overall experience or break it all apart. The Razer Phone sports a 5.7-inch IGZO display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440pixels plus an outstanding feature we'll mention later. Design-wise, the Razer Phone does not impress the majority as it has a squarish, blocky build just like the Nextbit Robin. Due to its chunky bezels, the phone is best for landscape orientation which is how a gaming device actually works. There are a couple of excellent speakers for an immersive gaming experience, a power button on the right side doubling as a fingerprint sensor, a volume rocker at the left edge, a USB Type-C port in the bottom, and no headphone jack.

BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone

The BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone on the other hand, looks quite more appealing when it comes to aesthetics. The BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone flaunts a 5.99-inch FHD+ resolution touchscreen with a tall aspect ratio of 18:9. Below it, we can spot a physical home button which doubles as a biometric reader. Going to the flip side, we can see a sporty-looking rear panel with a black metal and a green light bar. There you'll also find a dual-camera setup, flashlight and the BLACK SHARK logo. The power key and volume buttons sit at the left edge of the device.

nubia Red Magic

In order to make up for its not-so-powerful internals, the nubia Red Magic boasts a beautiful design which will definitely stun anyone. It features a 5.99-inch edge-to-edge display with a FHD+ resolution, a tall 18:9 aspect ratio, and 1500:1 contrast ratio. The aluminum-clad handset offers an ergonomic design that is friendly for prolonged gameplay. It is crafted using advanced thermal modeling techniques. And for a way more immersive sound experience, the Red Magic debuts with DTS Technology and Smart Amplifier.

ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL

The last but not the least, the ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL, sure looks special. It does not look like usual smartphones with an elegant metal and glass combo, albeit it resembles the ROG laptops design-wise. That being said, the phone comes with a lot of RGB lighting and hard corners. We can spot the iconic ROG logo emblazoned on the back cover. It ships with a 6-inch touchscreen having fashionably thin bezels while a bizarrely-shaped dual-camera setup and a fingerprint reader also sits at the rear plate. There's also a USB Type-C port at the bottom left side, which is an ergonomic location so that cables won't interfere with your hands when you are gaming while charging the phone.

Design Spec Comparison

SpecRazer PhoneXiaomi BLACK SHARK Gaming Phonenubia Red MagicASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL
Dimensions158.5 x 77.7 x 8mm161.6 x 75.4 x 9.3mm158.1 x 74.9 x 9.5mm158.8 x 76.2 x 8.6mm
Weight197g190g185g200g
Display5.7"5.99"6.0"6.0"
Resolution1440 x 2560pixels1080 x 2160pixels1080 x 2160pixels1080 x 2160pixels
Screen-to-body ratio73.22%76.0%78.5%76.80%
TypeIGZO IPS LCDIPS LCDTPS IPS LCDAMOLED
3.5mm jackNoNoYesYes
USB portType-CType-CType-CType-C
Speaker typeDolby Atmos stereo speakers (THX-certified amplifiers)stereo speakersstereo speakersstereo speakers
Fingerprint sensorside-mountedfront-mountedrear-mountedrear-mounted

Power

The Razer Phone was launched towards the end of 2017, and it still carries the previous-gen Snapdragon 835 processor coupled with 8GB of RAM and an Adreno 540 GPU. Storage wise, it arrives with only 64GB of internal memory but with a support for expansion up to 2TB of via microSD slot. The handset runs on Android 7.1 Nougat OS out-of-the-box and comes fueled by a hefty 4000mAh battery.

Xiaomi's BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone is powered by the latest Snapdragon 845 chipset paired with a monster 8GB RAM and 128GB built-in memory. An Adreno 630 GPU is in-charge of the graphics department while a 4000mAh battery provides juice to keep the lights on.

Despite being released after the BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone, the nubia Red Magic makes use of the older Snapdragon 835 like the Razer Phone. It comes in 2 memory configuration, an 8GB RAM/128GB ROM model and a 6GB RAM/64GB ROM mode. The Red Magic runs on Android 8.1 Oreo platform and gets its juice from a 3800mAh battery which should last up to 7 hours of gameplay on a single charge according to the company.

The ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL boasts an overclocked Snapdragon 845 processor running at up to a record-breaking 2.96GHz speed. A whopping 8GB RAM and up to 512GB blazing-fast storage complete the package. Everything is kept on by a massive 4000mAh battery which runs under an Android 8.1 Oreo based ROG Gaming UI.

Power Spec Comparison

SpecRazer PhoneXiaomi BLACK SHARK Gaming Phonenubia Red MagicASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 835Qualcomm Snapdragon 845Qualcomm Snapdragon 835Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
CPUOcta-core (4x2.35 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo)Octa-core (4x2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 385 Silver)Octa-core (4x2.35 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo)Octa-core (4x2.96 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4x1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
GPUAdreno 540Adreno 630Adreno 540Adreno 630
RAM8GB RAM6/8GB RAM6/8GB RAM8GB RAM
ROM64GB64/128GB64/128GB128/512GB
Expandable storageYesNoNoNo
Battery4000mAh4000mAh3800mAh4000mAh
Fast ChargeQualcomm Qucik Charge 4+Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0Yes (unspecified)Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+
OSAndroid 7.1.1 (Nougat), upgradable to Android 8.1 (Oreo)nubia Red Magic OS (Android 8.0 Oreo)Android 8.1 (Oreo)ROG Gaming UI (Android 8.1 Oreo)
Cooling SystemYesYes (Liquid-cooling)Yes (Air convection cooling system)Yes

Camera

Considering that these are gaming-centric smartphones and not a camera-focused one, these four devices offer a fairly mediocre camera configuration. The Razer Phone sports a dual 12MP (f/2.4 + f/.7) rear camera setup with an 8MP front-facing shooter. The BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone isn't really bad with a dual-camera setup comprised of a 12MP sensor with f/1.75 aperture and a 20MP lens with the same aperture at back and a 20MP snapper with f/2.2 aperture on the front. The nubia Red Magic features a single 24MP back camera with f/1.7 aperture, PDAF, and LED flash. Up front, it has an 8MP selfie sensor with f/2.0 aperture. ASUS seems to have given all its attention to the ROG Phone's performance and overlooked the cameras as it only debuts with a 12MP + 8MP dual-camera at the back and a standard 8MP front snapper.

Camera Comparison

specRazer PhoneXiaomi BLACK SHARK Gaming Phonenubia Red MagicASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL
Primary12MP + 12MP12MP + 20MP24MP12MP + 8MP
Primary Featuresf/1.8, 25mm) + (f/2.6), 2x optical zoom, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash(f/1.8, 1.25µm) + (f/1.8, 1.0µm), 2x optical zoom, dual pixel phase detection autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash(f/1.7), phase detection autofocus, LED flashphase detection autofocus, LED flash
Video2160p@30fps2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps, 720p@120fps2160p@30fps2160p@30fps
Secondary8MP20MP8MP8MP
Secondary Featuresf/2.0f/2.2, 1.0um, 1080pf/2.0N/A

Gaming Experience

There's a lot to take in to consideration before one can crown a device as the "best". For example, just because a certain device comes with the most powerful chipset doesn't mean that its better than the rest. One should look at the device and its features as a whole including the small things and even the accessories originally made to contribute to the overall experience.

The Razer Phone has been left undefeated in the screen department due to the fact that it sports an LCD panel which is able to deliver higher refresh rates and frame rates of 120Hz and 120fps accordingly. Needless to say, it boasts a silky smooth performance and still out beats everyone on this list.

The Xiaomi BLAK SHARK on the other hand, has stayed truthful to its goal of being a gaming-centric phone by launching with an additional accessory which is called the "Gamepad". This gave a true gaming experience and surpassingly satisfied every gamer who have experience it firsthand. The only downside though, is that you'll have to wear the free case that comes along the device every time, else the Gamepad won't fit in. There are couple more things to flaunt with the BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone, like its liquid cooling system and a dedicated Shark Key to unleash a gaming mode.

The nubia Red Magic's aesthetic helps a lot performance-wise. There's an all-new air convection cooling system which dissipates heat effectively across the device's diamond-cut design. The system ensures that the phone's performance won't throttle due to accumulated heat with continuous usage.

Lastly, the ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL also comes with an advanced cooling system but if that's not enough, the company has also prepared an accessory to help cool off the overclocked chipset anytime anywhere with the "AeroActive Cooler" accessory. Aside from the attachable cooling system, ASUS has also included other accessories such as the TwinView Dock, MobileDesktop Dock, and the Gamvice and WiGic Dock to take the mobile gaming experience to a new level.

Currently, the ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL has more available gaming-oriented accessories amongst other models in this segment and is on the level with Razer in terms of gaming roots. With that said, it is also expected to be the most expensive gaming-centric smartphone to be released. The latest rumors suggest that the ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL will be priced around PHP50K for the 8GB RAM/128GB model, PHP60K for the 8GB RAM/512GB model and a whopping PHP90K for the 8GB RAM/512GB model with all the accessories package.

Conclusion

Here's our pick on which is the best budget and best overall gaming smartphone:

Best Budget Gaming Smartphone

nubia Red Magic
nubia Red Magic

nubia Red Magic

Lowest Price in the Philippines P24,169.44

We'd go for the nubia Red Magic. Aside from the fact that it's almost PHP5K cheaper compared to the BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone and newer than the Razer Phone's OS ver, it's the only model on the list that comes in "Red" color which should probably be a big plus. And although it still sports the older Snapdragon 835 from last year, we're pretty sure that you won't even recognize the difference unless you compare it side by side with another device. The same goes with the display refresh rate of the Razer Phone. No doubt that the Razer Phone got the better screen, but you probably won't recognize the difference without the latter.

Razer Phone

Razer Phone

Lowest Price in the Philippines P33,000

Best Overall Gaming Smartphone

Xiaomi BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone
BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone

BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone

Lowest Price in the Philippines P24,990

The Xiaomi BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone has the best overall package. Well, at least in terms of gaming. Going to the disadvantages, the BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone is a bit heavy, chunky, not waterproof and doesn't come with an expandable memory. You also need to put on the protective case just so you can use the Gamepad controller or else it won't fit. Lastly, there's currently no official distributor in the country.

In terms of advantages, the BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone comes with the latest chipset, latest OS, abundant RAM and liquid cooling system in a much more affordable price compared to the ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL (if we were to believe the leaked pricing mentioned above).. Also, the device doesn't need to be thin since you'll need a fine grip to able to play comfortably, that means that the "chunky" disadvantage is also an "advantage" when playing the phone.

ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL

ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL

Lowest Price in the Philippines P73,535.11

The ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL no doubt has a very promising gaming performance and premium hardware. However, the pricing and heating issues of ASUS' phones keep us from naming it our best choice. For now, maybe. On other hand, The ROG Phone is also the only model on this list, that would probably be sold directly from ASUS' official store when it comes out in the country. This would largely affect one's decision since the ROG Phone ZS600KL can guarantee its buyers a more piece of mind in terms of warranty and services issue.

But again, the price point plays a big role in making a decision. We'll have to wait for the phone to officially launch in the market at Q3 this year and see how well it does in this new market segment.

Design, performances, and features. Each of us have our own perspective or personal preference regarding the matter. The nubia Red Magic and BLACK SHARK Gaming Phone was our best pick over the Razer Phone and ASUS ROG Phone ZS600KL. How about you? we'd love to hear which device would you pick and why?