Cameras have never really been high up on the priority list for the ROG Phone line. We get it, ASUS is consistently delivering the best mobile gaming experience it can to users. Everything else ends up further down the priorities list. Even so, past ROG Phone models have managed to include a solid, if unimpressive, camera setup.
The ROG Phone 6/6 Pro is poised to do the same, going by specs alone. While the ROG Phone 5 and 5s pretty much carried forward the camera setup from the ROG Phone 3, the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro has a brand new sensor for its main snapper. It is now based on the 50MP Sony IMX766. A 40% larger sensor than last year. It is a fairly-popular Quad Bayer sensor used by a number of BBK devices like Oppo, vivo and OnePlus models. It has a 1/1.56" size with 1.0µm individual pixels. It replaces the older 64MP IMX686, which still actually appears in some configuration references on the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro, likely as a leftover attribute.
Nothing too glamorous or spectacular. There is no OIS, Laser AF and just a simple one-LED flash setup. Even so, the sensor itself is solid. Plus, Asus also has a nifty habit of making the most out of the hardware at its disposal. In this case, the excellent Spectra triple 18-bit CV-ISP has allowed an impressive feature set out of an otherwise modest camera. Especially in the video capture department, where the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro has impressive 3-axis EIS, all the way up to 8K@24fps resolution, 120fps slow-motion at 4K, as well as HDR video capture and even a full-featured Pro video capture mode. Mind you, this is not exactly new coming from the ROG Phone 5 and even the ROG Phone 3. Still, even though the feature set is more or less carried forward, Asus has made continued improvements to quality behind the scenes.
Complementing the main 50MP camera, the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro has a rather unremarkable 13MP ultrawide (OmniVision OV13B, as reported by the OS). It has a 125-degree field of view. Last and probably least - a 5MP macro, f/2.0 camera. As per our hardware-digging efforts, it actually uses an OmniVision OV8856 sensor, which has a native resolution of 8MP. It acts as a dedicated macro shooter, which is arguably, a bit better than simply having a depth sensor. The ultrawide and macro cameras are carried over from the ROG Phone 5/5s and are not too dissimilar from those on the ROG Phone 3 either. Not that we have anything against such a practice.
The ROG Phone 6/6 Pro borrows the 12MP snapper from its Zenfone 8 sibling on the selfie side. It is based on the Sony IMX663 - a 1/2.93" sensor with 1.22µm individual pixels. Unfortunately, in the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro it lacks autofocus for some reason.
The ROG camera app UI is a fairly custom affair. We would say it is surprisingly feature-rich without being chaotic.
The options on the main camera UI are all self-explanatory. Perhaps with the exception of achieving separate spots metering for exposure and autofocus. This is done by long-pressing on a spot to fix both and then sliding the AF circle to a different location.
There is just a single beauty slider to the right, with no additional options. If you want more control over that, you have to switch over to the dedicated Portrait mode. Besides a slider for the intensity of the blur effect, it also features in-depth controls to thin cheeks, enhance eyes, brighten skin, soften skin and change its tone.
The camera app does a fair bit of automatic scene detection. This is indicated by a small scene icon in the top left corner, as well as a Night Mode UI, which automatically pops up in the bottom right corner, when the camera decides it is dark enough. Clicking on the Night mode icon itself presents two options for exposure duration. The numbers themselves are dynamic and also dependent on ambient light conditions. One denotes a shorter exposure, while the other - a longer one.
If, for instance, the light is almost enough to pull off a good shot without night mode, but the ROG Phone 5 still automatically decides to turn it on, you usually get an exposure time of around 3 seconds. If you then enter the quick selection menu, the 3-second mode should be set as the "longer exposure" value, with the lower one simply turning Night Mode off.
Alternatively, if it's really dark, you might find that the lower exposure time is in the 5 to 8-second range, with the longer option potentially going all the way up to 25 seconds. This dynamically populated selector is definitely a custom Asus control and one that is surprisingly convenient.
On top of that, the camera app also has a dedicated Night mode, which always applies at least some minimal value to the shorter exposure option.
Pro mode is surprisingly versatile. You get a level meter in the middle of the frame, as well as a histogram in the bottom left corner. WB adjustment goes from 4500K to 7500K. Exposure compensation can be set between -2 and +2. ISO goes from 25 to 3200. You can do shutter speeds between 1/60 and 32 seconds, and the is a manual focus slider.
Pro mode has the ability to save up to two distinct sets of settings. These are denoted as C1 and C2 and can be flipped on the fly. Neat! Auto Exposure Bracketing is also quite convenient. In Pro mode, you can set up a range of up to plus and minus two stops for exposure. The camera will then capture successive shots with different shutter speeds/ISO values and combine those into a single one with greater dynamic range. Perfect for scenes with lots of backlight.
There is a Pro video capture mode, as well. It offers the same set of controls on the right-hand side as Pro photo mode and a nifty smooth zoom feature. You can just click on an area in the frame and have the phone gradually zoom in. The ROG camera app also allows smooth switching between the main and ultrawide cameras while filming.
Video options on the left side of the frame are the same for regular Video recording mode and Pro mode. Interesting among these is the stabilization toggle. It enabled and disables HyperSteady, which goes one step beyond the regular EIS video stabilization, controlled via a central toggle in the Video setting screen. HyperSteady is only limited to FullHD resolution and only works on the ultrawide camera. You can't use it together with the smooth zoom feature either.
There are plenty of settings to play around with in the camera app, both for stills and video capture.
Let's kick things off with the main 50MP camera. It captures photos in 12.5MP by default, and these look great overall. They are bright and clean with plenty of detail and nice, mostly true-to-life colors.
Regarding criticism, we did notice some mild issues here and there, like slight sharpening artifacts, especially around patches with very fine detail that would otherwise look soft in the frame. Also, these shills could use some more contrast. Though, that's subjective.
Though the main camera is not meant to operate at its full resolution, you can force it to do so. Asus has made the process rather convoluted since the 50MP mode is not listed in the regular image aspect and size selector in the camera UI. You have to know to look for it in the same menu in camera settings, which takes three clicks. But that's nitpicking.
The 50MP stills retain most of the excellent quality characteristics of their regular counterparts. You get a bit more fine detail, though you really need to pixel-peep to notice it since sharpening at the same general level oftentimes makes the 12.5MP still look even sharper at 1:1 zoom.
You do give up some of the HDR stacking by shooting in 50MP, which can result in a narrower dynamic range at times and clipped shadows and blown-out highlights. It's just a very moderate issue and not one to really worry about in good lighting conditions. If you are ok with the larger file size and slower capture times, then 50MP can make sense for the odd panorama shot.
The ROG Phone 6/6 Pro can do up to 8x zoom on its main camera in 12.5MP mode. It is digital zoom in nature, but Asus says that 2x zoom is pretty much lossless and has it as a quick toggle on the camera UI right next to the 0.6x selector for the ultrawide camera.
Indeed, 2x shots look great and are practically indistinguishable from 1x ones. We have no complaints.
Another thing the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro does a generally excellent job of are portrait shots. These are also captured from the main camera at 12.5MP with excellent subject detection and separation and great and convincing bokeh.
You and your subject do need to stand still for everything to work right since focus can be a bit fiddly on the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro at times. But it's a minor issue.
We are happy to say that portrait mode works just as well on non-human subjects too.
Before we move on, here are shots of our standard posters as taken by the main camera on the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro. You can compare them against our extensive photo database.
The 13MP ultrawide camera captures perfectly decent, though mostly unimpressive shots. The level of detail is good, even great for an ultrawide. Colors also look fine and are well in line with the main camera. There is practically no noise to speak of.
The overall softness, especially near the edges of the frame, is probably the biggest issue with these shots. The camera algorithm is definitely trying its best to sharpen up most things in frame with generally good results, but some noticeable artifacts as well. If you don't pixel-peep, you will likely be perfectly happy.
The 5MP macro camera captures surprisingly clean and usable photos. You can get really close to your subject, thanks to a rather liberal focal plane. Detail is plenty, colors look great. Realistically, we can't ask for anything more.
We are pretty pleased with the performance of the 12MP selfie camera as well. It also captures plenty of detail. Skin texture looks nice and convincing with pleasing tones.
There is no autofocus, which is a real shame, but even so, the focal plane is pretty wide. Plus, the camera does a great job of detecting faces and marking them while they are in focus.
Portraits from the selfie camera live up to expectations as well. The overall quality is the same as far as the subject is concerned. Detection and separation are great, even if not perfect, and the bokeh quality is really high and convincing.
The ROG Phone 6/6 Pro can capture video at up to 8K resolution. That's not exactly something new since the old ROG Phone 5 and even the ROG Phone 3 could do the same. Oddly enough, the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro is limited to 24fps in 8K. We tried to find where this limitation comes from since Qualcomm's own site claims that the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 should be able to do 8K@30fps. We would definitely expect as much, seeing how the Snapdragon 888 can. Then we thought it might be a sensor limitation, but other devices like the OnePlus 9 Pro manage to do 8K@30fps from the IMX776, so that shouldn't be the case. It's a perplexing predicament and one that the ROG Phone 6 Pro seems to be sharing with other devices like the Realme GT2 Pro, which has the same chipset and main sensor combo.
Anyway, fps issues aside, 8K footage from the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro looks stunning. Detail is great, and so are the colors. You can choose whether you want to capture in standard h.264 or save some space and increase the compression to a modern h.265 (HEVC) encoder. In the former, for the best possible quality, clips get saved with an AVC video stream at around 130 Mbps and stereo 48kHz AAC audio inside an MP4 container.
Let's face it, though, 8K is still a bit of a gimmick, particularly the way it's being captured on a smartphone. Most users aren't and frankly shouldn't bother with it and stick to 4K instead. The objective difference in detail between the two is negligible in practice, even on a high-end 4K display. And 4K is still much less of a hassle to decode and playback nowadays.
Dynamic range is also great in 4K. Colors look vibrant without going overboard. They are not dull and have a little "pop" to them, but they are not oversaturated either. We think Asus struck a good balance.
We should point out that our review unit has some weird audio recording issues. We weren't able to fix it ourselves, but this should be an isolated occurrence, so we won't hold it against the phone.
Here is the ROG Phone 6 Pro in our video compare tool in both 4K and 8K.
The ROG Phone 6/6 Pro has a couple of different levels of stabilization. First, there is the 3-axis EIS that is available across both rear cameras and the selfie and generally does an almost perfect job of smoothing out the footage. Plus, it can work at any resolution, even up to the full 8K for the main camera. Beyond that, there is HyperSteady, which only works on the ultrawide since it crops away so much of the frame and only at 1080p. We don't think we would ever resort to it in general use, but you can judge for yourself.
The ultrawide camera can capture at up to 4K@30fps. It does a decent job of it as well. There is plenty of detail considering the hardware at play. Noise is barely noticeable and only in very small fringing objects. The colors look great and are nearly perfectly matched with the main camera.
The selfie camera on the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro does great in video capture. The detail is there, colors are pleasant. Even dynamic range is not too bad.
As we mentioned, you can enable EIS on any camera, including the selfie, and it does an excellent job of smoothing out the footage. Just make sure to hold the phone at a good arm's length while using it since it does crop out a fair bit of the frame.
The 50MP main camera captures decent, but unremarkable low-light photos. The detail is thee, and noise is well contained. Colors can be a bit too yellow and warm at times but are overall good.
The primary complaint we have about these shots has to do with dynamic range. It's a bit too narrow for our taste. Light sources often get blown out, and darker areas are almost entirely crushed and devoid of detail. Most shots are overall a bit too dark.
2x zoom shots aren't any different. At times they come out darker still.
The ROG Phone 6/6 Pro has an automatic night mode, and it kicks in way more often and more aggressively for the ultrawide camera. Its effects are clearly visible since, even at first glance, ultrawide shots look noticeably brighter than those from the main camera. Shadows are obviously boosted, and HDR stacking is also helping contain light sources better. To be clear, the ultrawide is still merely ok in low-light and struggles quite a bit.
The selfie camera arguably has the worst time in low-light, though. It seems to be greatly affected by small shakes and jitters and often produces very blurry shots. With enough persistence, you can get usable results, but nothing beyond that.
There is a dedicated Night mode on the ROG Phone 6/6 Pro. The way it works is kind of particular. It is an extension of the constantly enabled automatic night mode that adjusts the suggested capture times a bit and makes them longer. That means more shots are captured on average, and more HDR stacking is done.
The effects of night mode on the main camera, which often skips on auto night mode, are prominent and positive. Dark areas get a major boost to detail and overall appearance. The same goes for light sources. We definitely recommend switching over to night mode on the main cam at night if the camera app doesn't want to kick it on automatically.
Since the ultrawide and selfie cameras already get the automatic night mode treatment by the camera app anyway, there is very little difference to be observed with manually turning on night mode.
4K low-light video from the main camera looks great. Detail is plenty, noise is low, and colors look natural. The ROG Phone 6/6 Pro does struggle with light sources a bit, but other than that a great showing overall.
The ultrawide camera isn't terrible but is still noticeably worse than the main one. Nothing out of the expected. Well, sans for the weird audio recording bug that persists.