The Asus ROG 3 and Lenovo Legion Android gaming phones feel like the end of an era

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The Asus ROG 3 and Lenovo Legion Android gaming phones feel like the end of an era

While the gaming world anxiously awaits the next piece of information about the next-generation of Playstation and Xbox consoles arriving later this year, Asus and Lenovo are targeting a different kind of gamer who may or may not actually exist.

The Asus ROG Phone 3 and Lenovo Legion Phone Duel are being marketed as gaming phones, and they certainly have the goods to back it up. Both phones are powered by the Snapdragon 865 Plus processor and up to 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM with 144Hz displays; side- and bottom-mounted USB-C ports; sport top-of-the-line cameras; and weigh more than half a pound. And of course, they’re loaded with over-the-top “console-inspired” design choices that proudly show off their thickness and aggressive bezels and contours. And you get plenty of the appropriate gaming bells and whistles:

Asus ROG Phone 3

  • GameCool 3 Heat Dissipating System
  • Invisible ultrasonic buttons
  • Motion sensor triggers
  • 7-magnet stereo speaker with dual NXP TFA9874 smart amplifier

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel

  • Dual liquid cooled copper tubes
  • Embedded virtual joystick
  • Dual ultrasonic trigger buttons
  • Dual stereo front-facing speakers with dual AWINIC 88264 amplifier

And I thought the Galaxy S20 Ultra was overkill. Along with the bleeding-edge specs, you’ll also gigantic batteries (5,000mAh in the Lenovo Legion and 6,000 in ROG Phone 3) as well as a tremendous array of customization options both for gameplay and the add-on accessories. And like a true gaming device, everything has RGB lighting.

asus rog 3 back fan Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

A clip-on fan helps keep the ROG Phone 3 cool—and look futuristic.

But while the ROG 3 and Legion have obvious gamer aesthetic appeal and will run circles around nearly every other phone they’re pitted against, something about these two phones feel like the end of an era of niche luxury. And I for one won’t be sad to see it go.

Wherefore art tho mobile gamers?

I review, read about, and react to a lot of Android phones, but lately, it seems like the quest for greatness has left the consumer behind. Premium Android phones no longer appeal to anyone but the most enthusiastic fans, and the ROG 3 and Lenovo Legion are the ultimate testaments to that philosophy.

lenovo legion battery Lenovo

Dual batteries in the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel allow for a centered logic board, which helps keep the chip cool.

I’m not ever sure hardcore Android gamers exist outside of a few popular YouTube channels, but if they do, they’re an extremely small group, even smaller than the one who needs the upcoming Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. And even if they did exist in large numbers, why do they need such mind-blowing speed in a phone?

Asus points out that the mobile gaming market is poised to account for some $75 billion of global games revenue, of which smartphones account for $65 billion. So logically, this means “more and more people are playing games on smartphones, that games are becoming better and better, the need and wish for gaming smartphone devices will also grow accordingly.”

asus rog 3 front Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Asus ROG Phone 3 is a gaming phone through and through.

But if you look at the top games in the Play Store, you need to go pretty far down to find a game that needs the kind of power these phones provide. If the Xbox can run brand-new AAA titles on a years-old processor, then why does the Asus ROG Phone 3—which will be priced “around the same ballpark” as the ROG Phone 2 when it hits U.S. shelves in September, according to an Asus representative—need annual updates? Are mobile games so much more demanding than console ones that dual-cooling and clip-on fans are necessary enhancements?

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