Devil Immortal shows that video game phones need to be taken seriously

Immortal Devil is one of the biggest mobile editions of the year, and it will certainly be as challenging to operate for mobile devices as it is for a player to perform. Gaming smartphones are sold with the promise of having all the right technologies and programming tools to make games fly and, in theory, you are a better player.

Is a video game phone necessary to get the best deal? Immortal Devil, or is iPhone equally capable? To find out, we played the game on the Asus ROG Phone 5 and the iPhone 13 Pro.

Power and ergonomics

The Asus ROG Phone 5 appeared in early 2021, but remains the pinnacle of video game smartphones due to Asus ’extensive software kit, gigantic amount of processing power, shoulder-mounted buttons, lots of accessories and much more. We tried the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and 18GB of RAM for power, and the 6.78-inch, 144Hz refresh rate AMOLED display for the images. The 360Hz touch sample rate should also speed it up to react.

Immortal Devil on the iPhone 13 Pro and the Asus ROG Phone 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The iPhone 13 Pro came out at the end of 2021. It features Apple’s powerful A15 Bionic processor for power, and a 6.1-inch OLED screen with the refresh rate of Apple ProMotion 120Hz. Apple does not publicly talk about RAM or touch on sample rates. It also doesn’t have a specific game mode like the ROG Phone 5, so you have to rely on Apple to deliver the performance goods when needed. Qualcomm’s Adreno 660 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) powers the Asus phone, while it’s Apple’s own 5-core GPU on the iPhone.

Both are technically very different, and they are also different in design and feel. The ROG Phone 5 weighs 238 grams compared to the iPhone’s 204 grams, and the phone is considerably longer in landscape orientation. The handy feel of the ROG Phone 5, however, is drastically more comfortable than the iPhone 13 Pro, which is frustrated by the sharp edges of the chassis. Playing on both of them for a while, I found the ROG Phone 5’s screen also a little less reflective, helping to make the endless dark scenes easier to examine.

The main screen of Diablo Immortal on the Asus ROG Phone 5.
Asus ROG Phone 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Neither phone came close to overheating, although the iPhone 13 Pro did heat up to the touch even within a case when I was playing. The ROG Phone 5 manages its temperature well, and I could have added the accessory of a cooling fan if it ever became unmanageable, but I didn’t feel it was approaching a need for it.

If you need to charge the phone while playing, the side charging port of the ROG Phone 5 means that the cable does not extend the end of the phone as it is with the iPhone. There are little things like this that make the ROG Phone 5 video game phone, while the iPhone 13 Pro (quite rightly) should be suitable for everyone, regardless of intent. But we play here, and the benefits of the dedicated design of the ROG Phone 5 really shone.

Audio and visual

The big screen of the ROG Phone 5 does Immortal Devil It looks amazing, but it’s the audio that really stands out. The stereo separation is pronounced, giving the game an amazing, wide sound stage. If you haven’t thought a smartphone might sound so great, try the ROG Phone 5 and it will change your mind.

Playing Diablo Immortal on the iPhone 13 Pro.
iPhone 13 Pro Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The game runs at 30 fps and is mostly very smooth on the 144Hz refresh rate of the ROG Phone 5, but there are a few stammers as you walk through the game world. It’s not detrimental to the game, but it’s noticeable. The iPhone 13 Pro plays smoothly without stuttering, giving the game a more polished look, and the beautiful natural colors and dynamic range of the screen make it look amazing. The audio is good, but it can’t match the clarity and depth of the ROG Phone 5, often sounding a bit sharp at higher volumes.

I couldn’t see any differences between the phones in terms of graphics, and at full brightness both phones make the best of the game’s bleak color palette. The ROG Phone 5’s ever-so-slight stuttering (which may be due to Android rather than the phone) lets it down compared to the iPhone’s beautiful smoothness, but the audio is certainly a step forward.

In-game touches

When you play Immortal Devil on the iPhone, what you see is what you get, because there’s no way to change any of the phone’s settings to change performance. It is worth setting a Focus mode remove distractions as incoming notifications if you plan to play for a while, in addition you must remember to turn off silent mode if you want to hear the in-game audio.

Playing Immortal Devil on the Asus ROG Phone 5.
Game Genie on the Asus ROG Phone 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Asus ROG Phone 5 is much more customizable. I played the game with X-Mode active so it used every bit of the available power and RAM, but I can’t say it was always noticeably higher than when it was turned off. The phone’s multiple virtual buttons are much more successful. I set the right shoulder button as the general fire button, and the left one for one of the special attacks. It doesn’t work for those who require you to aim once activated, but it’s fine for weapons with an automatic target. X-Mode also disables notifications for uninterrupted gameplay.

But have these changes and special buttons actually made it play better than on the iPhone, where you’re limited to the on-screen controls? The shoulder button activating your main weapon is useful during shooting and shooting because you can see more from the main screen. It also frees up fingers and space on the screen so you can use additional weapons (I play as a demon hunter, for reference) at the same time as your main weapon. It certainly makes combat more fluid, and depending on how you use the shoulder buttons, it may also make you more deadly in the game.

Playing Diablo Immortal on the iPhone 13 Pro.
iPhone 13 Pro Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate has virtual buttons on the back of the phone, and even more customizable buttons if you use the back-mounted cooling fan accessory. Setting them up is simple with the Game Genie menu (it’s activated by swiping to the left side of the screen), but I personally haven’t found any advantage in setting up other buttons. Immortal DevilThe on-screen controls are already pretty good, but pressing just two buttons on the shoulders can make it easier to control the game and give you the opportunity to use more than one weapon at a time.

Conclusion

Of course, we don’t expect anyone to choose a phone according to how one game works, but what’s interesting here is how a dedicated video game phone can really enhance a game, and how it feels to play it.

From the audio to the shoulder buttons, I felt more connected to the game on the ROG Phone 5, and while the iPhone 13 Pro’s smoother performance was visible, I felt like I was just “playing”. It’s hard to define and explain, but if I were to confront the two phones, I would choose the Asus device, mostly because of the superior sound and the helpfulness of the shoulder buttons.

There are definitely advantages to playing Immortal Devil on a video game phone, but unless you’re very serious about the game, you’ll enjoy playing on the iPhone 13 Pro. If you are interested in how the game is played on the Galaxy S22 Ultrawe go through it here, and we have a few too tips for beginners here if you are just starting out.

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