Don’t tell me about PC Master Race because I take my gaming very seriously and there is no game developed today that my LaFerrari couldn’t handle. That doesn’t dismiss the fact that I also enjoy consoles and even more, portable gaming devices, as I’ve owned the Gameboy (original, color, advance, SP), PSP, PS Vita, Nvidia Shield, Nintendo 3DS and even the Nintendo Switch. Having these options at hands, it gives you the power to satisfy your gaming cravings the way you want it. So, getting the ROG Phone Gamevice controller was just my way of getting more serious with mobile gaming.
Unboxing the ROG Phone Gamevice Controller
That’s really all that is in the box. The Gamevice controller and the user guide. That is all you need anyway. If you look closely, you would realize something rather important here though. They have included a leaflet inside that, in large letters, says “PLEASE DO NOT RETURN TO RETAIL STORE”. That is because, this product is exclusively supplied to ASUS and supported by the manufacturer, GAMEVICE. It is not manufactured by ASUS, so ASUS is not responsible for any technical support or customer service for this product. In the subsequent lines, Gamevice does mention that they are dead serious about their product quality so if you have any problems, you just need to head over to this page.
The only thing I believe ASUS should have bundled with this? A carrying pouch!
Toggles, buttons, triggers, the ROG Phone Gamevice controller has it all. It has two pods and they’re both separated by a partially retractable and fold-able strap so you wouldn’t lose either pod, of course apart from functioning as the electrical ribbon that interconnects both pods. Let’s take a look at what is where in detail.
The left pod has a 5-way analog thumbstick at the top most which includes the inward pressing motion much like most of the modern controllers. Next to it is a function button that usually only works when the game being played is supported by Gamevice app (more on this later). Slightly below is the 8-way D-Pad and underneath it where the Gamevice logo sits is another function button that again only works with Gamevice supported games. You don’t lose much from the two function buttons actually.
The right pod looks neat. Again, we have a 5-way analog thumbstick at the top and a function button to the left. Weirdly enough, this function button can actually be dropped in the Key Mapping and assigned accordingly unlike the other two function buttons. Next to this function button is a speaker port which basically are just holes with no speakers under them. To the right, we have the face buttons with A, B, X and Y marked on them. If you look closely, you would also see a status LED below these buttons.
On the inside of the right pod, you can find the USB Type-C connector that connects directly to the ROG Phone. The position of this Type-C port shows that this Gamevice controller was specifically designed for the ROG Phone and cannot be used with other devices. The strap itself is made of rubber and around the controller, you would also see the rubber teeth inside the pods that secures the ROG Phone firmly.
At the bottom of the right pod, you can find the 3.5mm audio socket and the USB Type-C port that you can use to charge the phone with. You might think its redundant considering the ROG Phone already has a side USB port (bottom when held in landscape mode), but actually, you can plug in a Type-C headset to this one while charging on the other port of the ROG Phone. Neat?
Finally, at the top are the L1, L2, R1 and R2 triggers that PUBG Mobile players are going to really appreciate.
All in all, the ROG Phone Gamevice controller is a pretty simple hardware. The body is made out of Polycarbonate that should make the controller last pretty long too.
As you can see, I added the rows for Phone Case and AeroActive Cooler Support because these accessories come together with the units shipped to Malaysia and not having it cross-supporting will be a bummer.
Out of all the accessories that came out from the ROG Phone suitcase, this was the first one that I decided to review first. I find this as the most useful accessory among all of them and the fact that it gives physical buttons and triggers to your ROG Phone, it will be applicable in usage with other accessories too.
The ROG Phone Gamevice controller folds into a rather compact size where the strap makes a three-fold and the pods magnetically attract themselves. The problem with this is that the buttons are facing outwards and because there is no pouch or hard case included with it, you might want to be careful in transporting it around, or you would risk snapping the thumbsticks off. Then again, extend it and you have one of the most elegant controllers for your ROG Phone.
How to put on the Gamevice controller on the ROG Phone?
Putting it on is pretty easy. First, put the right pod on by aligning the USB Type-C port. Then, pull the other pod until it stretches enough to fit on the ROG Phone. Once you release it, it will retract to fit upon which, you can secure the fitting and it’s ready to go.
Once it’s fully assembled, it looks like this. This controller was specifically designed for the ROG Phone, so the fitting is just perfect from end to end. It doesn’t wobble if you shake it, neither does it come off easily. However, upon putting it on, you might start finding the early nuisances.
If you are using the fingerprint sensor to unlock your phone, this is going to be a major pain for you as you now have to unlock the device using the PIN instead. Not just that, you will also realize that one of the two cameras are hidden behind the strap together with the LED flash. Look, I’m fine with that personally. If I’m putting the Gamevice controller on, I’m about to have some serious gaming session and not about to join a beauty pageant. I get it. But what about the ActiveCooler? If I’m getting dead serious with gaming, I need to use the ActiveCooler with it which by now, you have realized that it doesn’t support when Gamevice controller is put on.
The Gamevice controller requires a little power especially for the toggles to work with the embedded software in the ROG Phone and to show you the LED status when needed. The good thing about this, though is that you do not need to have a separate power adapter to power it on. Instead, it draws the power from the ROG Phone. If you want to charge the phone with the Gamevice mounted, you can opt to charge it with the USB Type-C socket at the bottom of the right pod, or, your ROG phone has its side USB Type-C, just use that. By now, you would also realized that the ROG Phone Case is a no-no when you are using the Gamevice controller and it’s rather a hassle to take it off everytime just so you can mount the Gamevice controller.
Because this controller was made by Gamevice, you can now download the Gamevice app from Google Play Store which enlists about 300+ games at the time of writing this review, that supports this controller natively. In other words, these games will provide you a console like experience and you don’t have to map any buttons to get it working. The advantage of this is that when the game’s UI changes, the position of the buttons are altered and Key Mapping limits you in this sense but native integration works just perfectly.
Speaking of Key Mapping. The integration of the Gamevice controller is seamless! In fact, it’s so beautifully done, it completes the ROG Phone. The first time when you plug it in, your ROG Phone will even prompt you that the Key Mapping function is now available and it gets activated inside Game Genie. It just feels like its part of the whole phone and not an isolated accessory unlike the 3rd party aftermarket accessories that you would otherwise opt for.
Assigning the keys are pretty easy. Once you activate the Key Mapping, it will give you a short brief of how to do this. Once it’s enabled, press the button and it will drop it onto the screen so you can move it around and assign it to the area where you would want it to trigger.
For each game, a profile is created and your customzations are stored accordingly. This is how I have setup my key mapping for the Contra:Return game by Garena which is the current mobile game that I’m actively playing. Since it’s not natively supported, I just mapped my own keys and within 5 minutes, I was all good to go. The Gamevice controller uses USB connectivity, so there is no latency between your trigger and activation on the phone. After using it for a while, you will even forget that you actually are using an attachment on the ROG Phone. I’m not exaggerating here.
You can also long press the buttons during which the option to remove them appears. Once you have set them all, it will be stored on your device and the next time you load up the game, it will pull back the same profile. I like it, but this is not something new to me. Nvidia Shield has had this since its first generation device and they allowed users to create their own profiles and then share it on the cloud so other gamers can download them instead. It spoils you with choices because you can try different key mappings and I’ve been surprised how some unfamiliar key mappings worked better than what I was using.That part is missing here.
You might run out of drinks, but the game goes on. It’s portable and makes an excellent teh tarik companion.The size is perfect. It feels like carrying the Nintendo Switch’s Joycon controllers around. The only problem I had to transport around was like I mentioned earlier, the lack of a pouch or hard case. Otherwise, this is one awesome accessory for the ROG Phone.
Finally, you might want to consider the screen protector that you are getting for your ROG Phone if you are planning to use the Gamevice controller. The typical screen protector will get pushed off when you mount the controller. Thick glass screen protector is not the solution either because the pods are pretty tight that any thick glass would make it almost impossible to put on. What you need is a thin glass screen protector that doesn’t bend – which is rare in the market at the moment for the ROG Phone.
There were some problems that were detected with the Gamevice controller. First of all, while the controller is mounted, using the touchscreen can be an event between doomsday and flashing unicorns. You can never be sure if its a good idea to do so. Occasionally, the controller would be disconnected from the smartphone when you touch the screen like as if it’s jealous or something. It does come back online again, but by then, you’re probably dead in game.
Another major nuisance (and this is reproducible at the time of writing) is how the audio socket misbehaves. To test this out, follow the sequence:
- Mount the Gamevice controller on the ROG Phone
- Run any game of your choice
- While the game is running, plug in the earphone to the Gamevice controller’s audio socket
- Now run Discord application
You would realize that the audio is no longer channeled through the earphones anymore, but rather output from the smartphone instead. At this point, the audio system of ROG Phone would go haywire. Even when everything is plugged off, the volume rocker will react to in-ear audio instead of game audio for whatever reason. All this is fixed again once you restart your phone and this is a very specific test behavior. Since it happens everytime and is reproducible and the fact that we’re talking about a gaming smartphone, this is a problem that needs to be fixed. Credits to TommyAhmad from the Malaysian Division Agent group for pointing this out.
The Gamevice controller is the accessory that your ROG Phone needs. In fact, this one was already on my wishlist the moment I laid my eyes on it for the first time. It transforms your ROG Phone into a serious gaming console and grants you all the flexibility that you would need from the ultimate gaming phone. Sure, there are some shortcomings, but if we look at dead serious smartphone gaming, this is the companion for the ROG Phone that you need. The only problem? Once you’re too used to it, getting back on the touch screen can be pretty hard. The RM349 price lacks justice because even Nintendo Switch’s Joycons are priced lesser than that.