Last Wednesday, ASUS announced the ROG Phone 3, the Taiwanese company’s third smartphone under its ROG gaming subbrand. The phone’s spec sheet is as massive as the phone itself, with features like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+, up to 16GB of RAM, a 6,000mAh battery, two USB-C ports, and a 144Hz refresh rate display. In the phone’s display settings, you can choose from the default “auto” refresh rate mode which lets the system decide what the display’s refresh rate should be, or you can choose to run the phone at 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, or 144Hz. Interestingly, it seems that ASUS has been testing a hidden 6th refresh rate mode: 160Hz.
While I was investigating how the ROG Phone 3 handles its refresh rate switching, I discovered references to the hidden 160Hz refresh rate mode in the Settings app. Digging deeper, I discovered a debug command that can be used to surface the 160Hz mode in settings! All you have to do is set up the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) on your PC (we have a guide on how to do that here) and then run the following command from a command prompt or terminal window:
adb shell setprop debug.vendor.asus.fps.eng 1
Once you enter this command, reboot your phone. After your phone boots back up, you’ll be able to toggle the 160Hz display mode in Settings > Display > Refresh Rate or from the Refresh Rate Quick Settings tile.
If you’re skeptical that this actually works, you can test the refresh rate in one of several ways. First, you can go to testufo.com to see the frame rate of UFOs cycling through space. Second, you can try the Fluid Simulation app and set the refresh rate to 160 in the app’s settings. (This is my personal favorite way to test since you can really see the impact of a higher refresh rate as the fluid movement becomes much smoother.) Lastly, you can try one of the many games that support playback at 144fps on the ROG Phone 3—if the game supports 144fps playback on the device, then there’s a good chance its frame rate is actually “unlocked” and can run at 160fps, too. The Pac-Man app, for example, ran at 160fps for me, and I’m sure many others will, too.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering at this point if this is safe to do. I don’t think ASUS would have tested this higher refresh rate if it were unsafe for the panel. I’ve been running my ROG Phone 3 at 160Hz for several days now, and I’ve not had any stability issues. However, it’s clear that ASUS left this display mode unfinished, as it appears that the display hasn’t been properly calibrated in this mode. You can tweak some of the display parameters in Settings > Display > Splendid until you find a configuration that looks appealing to you, but this refresh rate mode is hidden away for a reason—it isn’t end-user grade. Since the phone and display are capable of handling 2340×1080 at 160Hz, I hope that ASUS revisits this display mode and enables it in a future software update after properly calibrating it. The ROG Phone 3 certainly has the muscle (Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+) and battery (6000mAh) to handle it, so why not?