With last year's ROG Phone 6, ASUS got our attention with the world's first "wireless" clip-on Peltier cooler, in the sense that it didn't require plugging into a power bank. That, along with a handful of dedicated gaming features — especially the customizable ultrasonic "AirTriggers" — already made it a seemingly solid gaming phone. While some of the competition struggled to keep up, ASUS attempts to keep mobile gamers interested with its brand new ROG Phone 7 series which, for the first time, incorporates AI for automatic gaming capture. The company also managed to throw in a surprise for the new clip-on cooler: it now doubles as a subwoofer to take full advantage of the ROG Phone's already excellent stereo speakers.
The aforementioned AI feature can be found in the phone's "Game Genie" dashboard. Dubbed "X Capture," this tool is based on ASUS' very own AI pattern recognition system, and it's supposedly able to detect key events such as a "kill, death, victory moment, etc." in supported games. Another new tool, "X Sense," uses the same algorithm and pop-up notifications to help the player with in-game decision making. The catch is that both AI features only support Arena of Valor for now, and only in "tier one" markets like Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. That said, the product team is apparently already working on supporting more titles, which will no doubt come in handy for gamers who like to show off.
You'll also find two more new gaming features: "vibration mapping" lets you add tactile feedback to your desired virtual buttons, and "background mode" — though already introduced to recent models via an update last year — lets games run in the background when you need to perform certain automatic boring tasks.
Naturally, the core specs here offer the latest and greatest that the market has to offer right now. The ROG Phone 7 series pack Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, up to 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and up to 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage — a more efficient offering than the earlier UFS 3.1, with at least twice the speed. You still get a generous 6,000mAh dual-cell battery with 65W fast-charging, which now offers a slightly shorter charging time of 42 minutes. The 6.78-inch Samsung AMOLED display features the same 2,448 x 1,080 resolution, 165Hz refresh rate and 720Hz touch-sampling rate as before, but its peak brightness has been bumped up from 1,200 nits to 1,500 nits for better viewing.
As with previous generations, the ASUS ROG Phone 7 series comes with improved thermal design. This time it's all about the bigger rapid-cycle vapor chamber design, and it has two nerdy features: the special trident-shaped wick columns on the long edges vastly increase the surface area for better heat dissipation, and the six liquid-return channels act as highways for cooled water to flow back to the processor. ASUS claims this design increases heat dissipation efficiency "by up to 168%." This is complemented with the Boron Nitride thermal compound on the other side of the CPU, as well as bigger graphite sheets covering the mainboard and RF board.
Then there's the new AeroActive Cooler 7 which continues to offer Peltier thermoelectric cooling, and without the need of external power. Similar to its predecessor, this attachment can apparently lower the surface temperature by as much as 25 degrees Celsius, as well as the touch panel temperature by as much as eight degrees Celsius. As with last year's Ultimate variant, the more premium ROG Phone 7 Ultimate comes with the "AeroActive Portal" which, when used with the AeroActive Cooler 7, allows cool air to be blown straight into the phone's body. As a bonus, both the regular and Ultimate models are now IP54-certified (so both dust- and splash-resistant), despite the latter's air vent.
According to ASUS' own hour-long tests using Genshin Impact, the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate (in "X Mode+" performance) equipped with the attachment (in "frosty" cooling mode) was at least 6.4 degrees Celsius cooler than the competition — namely the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra — on the back. Keeping the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate cool allowed the game to sustain an impressive frame rate of around 60 fps, which should avoid interruptions in an intense fight.
The AeroActive Cooler 7 also comes with a set of four extra mappable buttons and, for the first time, a subwoofer as well. So yes, together with the enlarged speakers on the ROG Phone 7, you're getting a 2.1-channel audio system tuned by Dirac. You can also stick to your 3.5mm headphones and take advantage of the "Dirac Virtuo For Headphone" spatial sound feature, or go wireless with Snapdragon Sound's super-low-latency Bluetooth.
There's nothing too exciting on the photography side. The rear cameras remain unchanged: you get a 50-megapixel main camera (Sony's IMX766 sensor), a 13-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera (125 degrees) and a not-so-useful 5-megapixel macro camera. That said, ASUS claims that the cameras here will benefit from an improved light trail mode for artistic captures. The selfie camera on the other side, however, has been upgraded with a new 32-megapixel OmniVision OV32C sensor.
For those who are in Taiwan and Europe, select models in the ROG Phone 7 series will be available for pre-order starting today. The regular model starts from €999, but if you're going for the Ultimate version for its AeroActive Portal and customizable ROG Vision screen on the back, it starts from €1,399 — you'll get a €110 AeroActive Cooler 7 for free. (All euro prices are inclusive of VAT.)
As for the rest of us, ASUS has confirmed that the ROG Phone 7 series will eventually be launched in the US, but we'll have to wait a bit longer for a date and pricing, so stay tuned.