The ASUS ROG Phone 6 has a ‘wireless’ thermoelectric cooler add-on

After the ROG Phone 5 and 5s, ASUS decided to skip Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in favor of the more efficient 8+ Gen 1, which brings us today to the new ROG Phone 6 series – almost a year after the 5s. In short, this beastly gaming phone is all about its faster 165Hz 6.78-inch display, a 720Hz touch sampling rate, up to 18GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, a bigger one 6,000 mAh battery, an enlarged internal cooling system and IPX4 splash protection. in addition to its handy ultrasonic triggers and proven Dirac audio performance. The most notable change, however, lies in the redesigned clip-on cooler, which now has a thermoelectric chip integrated, yet still requires no external power supply.

This new AeroActive Cooler 6 is noticeably bulkier than before, partly because of its larger, more ergonomic physical buttons – and there are now four instead of just two. It also has a larger kickstand that flips out from the bottom (although that’s not required), and there’s a spring-loaded clamp at the top to secure (and activate) the cooler. The new Peltier cooling chip inside – which is positioned just above the phone’s processor when mounted – is sandwiched between the fan and a large piece of copper plate, and there’s also a humidity sensor nearby to prevent condensation.

ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro and AeroActive Cooler 6.

Richard Lai/Engadget

You can toggle between four cooling modes in the updated Armory Crate app’s console: “Smart” is basically automatic, “Cool” is fan only, “Frosty” is fan plus Peltier chip, and “Frozen” drives the Peltier chip up to the maximum , but this is only available when an external power supply is connected to the cooler. ASUS claims that when in “Frozen” mode, the AeroActive Cooler 6 can lower the surface temperature of the ROG Phone 6 by up to a staggering 25 degrees Celsius. The cool air blowing out the two sides is a nice bonus for players with sweaty palms (like me).

The company also provided some figures from more realistic scenarios. After a 60-minute session in the notoriously resource-intensive Genshin Impact (at 60Hz), Frosty mode lowered the phone’s surface temperature from 44.8 degrees Celsius to 37.2 degrees Celsius, and Frozen mode lowered it another degree. Under the same test environment, the ROG Phone 6 was apparently able to maintain an average frame rate of 59.7 fps while staying cool at 37.2 degrees Celsius in “Frosty” mode, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max apparently managed a lower 56.8 fps, but higher reached 46.3 degrees Celsius, and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra reportedly only managed 47.3 fps and reached 47.9 degrees Celsius. This shows how important cooling is to maintain a stable frame rate over a long period of time.

The AeroActive Cooler 6 can display the temperature of the ROG Phone 6 Pro with its RGB lights.

Richard Lai/Engadget

Unfortunately, the AeroActive Cooler 6 – along with its own bumper case – is an optional accessory for the ROG Phone 6 series, so you’ll likely have to pay extra for this handy piece of kit. But there’s good news for existing fans: ASUS plans to release a variant of this attachment for the ROG Phone 5 and 5s as well, and it’ll use the legacy pogo pins instead of the side USB-C connector. Release date will be announced later.

The ROG Phone 6 series comes in two variants: the regular ROG Phone 6 and the high-end ROG Phone 6 Pro, with the main difference being that the latter has the small “ROG Vision” PMOLED display on the back, to show customizable animation graphics, as opposed to an RGB-lit ROG logo. Internally, the Pro packs up to 18GB of LPDDR5 RAM instead of just 16GB. The downside – if you want to call it that – with the Pro is that it only comes in ‘Storm White’, while the regular model also offers a ‘Phantom Black’ version. Aside from the different camera module layout, “ROG Vision” positioning, and printed graphics, the two ROG Phone 6 variants bear a strong resemblance to their immediate predecessors – to the point where they share the same glass screen protector and ROG Clip -Controller can share.

An ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro mounted with a ROG Kunai 3 gamepad below, with an AeroActive Cooler 6 with bumper case in the top left corner and the gamepad's handheld grip on the top right.

Richard Lai/Engadget

The modular Kunai 3 gamepad – now available in both white and black – has been given another life extension with a bumper designed for the ROG Phone 6. If you’ve already had that controller since the ROG Phone 3 or 5, you just need to get the new bumper to attach those Joy-Con-like sticks. Or you can just plug them into the same old gamepad grip and use the entire assembly wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The ROG Phone 6 has an upgraded (apparently) main camera with a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 sensor, along with a 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera and a 5-megapixel macro camera. On the other hand, there’s a 12-megapixel selfie camera with a Sony IMX663 sensor – as seen on the compact Zenfone 8. The main rear camera can record video at up to 8K@24fps, although I imagine most people would default to 4K@60fps to get the best of both worlds.

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Richard Lai/Engadget

On the software side, the ROG Phone 6 runs on Android 12 with ROG UI (you can switch to the less flashy Zen UI), with ASUS promising at least two major OS updates and at least two years of security updates. There’s the usual Armory Crate app, mainly for accessing your games library, as well as the console for adjusting your system lighting, the rear “ROG Vision” screen (6 Pro only, of course), the AirTriggers and more. When you’re in a game, you can toggle the redesigned Game Genie dashboard by swiping in from either orientation of the top two corners of the screen. Here you can quickly toggle the screen frame rate, key bindings, screen recording, performance modes, do not disturb, crosshair and more.

The new AirTriggers 6 now lets you map up to 14 specific touch points, and you get a total of nine input methods using those two ultrasonic buttons, including the new “press and lift” – basically switching a series of actions to press the triggers and then Toggle a different set of actions when lifting from the trigger. However, casual gamers like me will likely only use the classic tap (to fire) and maybe slide (to reload). If needed, Armory Crate also allows you to map motion gestures with touch points.

ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro assembled with an AeroActive Cooler 6.

Richard Lai/Engadget

The ROG Phone 6 series includes a bumper case and a 65W USB PD charger (which takes just 42 minutes to fully charge). In terms of availability, ASUS has only said that the ROG Phone 6 series will be available in Europe at €999 (approx. 18GB of RAM with 512GB of storage for €1,299 (approx. $1,300). Prices and models vary of course in the different countries, so stay tuned for more updates.

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Russell Falcon

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