Custom kernel boosts the refresh rates of the ASUS ROG Phone II and ROG Phone 3

Custom kernel boosts the refresh rates of the ASUS ROG Phone II and ROG Phone 3

ASUS’s ROG smartphone lineup is quite popular among mobile gamers. With each generation of ROG phones, ASUS has continued to push the boundary of smartphone hardware. The recently released ROG Phone 5 is a prime example, offering a 6.78-inch 144Hz AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset, up to 18GB of RAM, a total 6,000mAh battery, 65W fast charging, and much more. Although the ROG Phone 5 leads the chart as the company’s most powerful smartphone yet, the previous phones such as the ROG Phone II and ROG Phone 3 still hold their own even in 2021.

Both phones also enjoy solid aftermarket community support from a handful of developers that bring new custom ROMs, kernels, and mods, unlocking new possibilities and giving users greater control over their devices. Case in point: XDA Recognized Developer Freak07 just released a new update to their Kirisakura kernel, which allows the ROG Phone II and ROG Phone 3 to push beyond their default maximum display refresh rates.

Warning: There is always some risk involved in overclocking the refresh rate of your device’s display. Do not increase the refresh rate of the display beyond its normal limit unless you are okay with the possibility that it might be damaged.

For the ROG Phone II, the developer has released Kirisakura v3.2.0, which overclocks the display to 144Hz. 120Hz is the maximum officially supported refresh rate on the ROG Phone 2, but it looks like the display is capable of handling a higher refresh rate. It’s not like going from 120Hz to 144Hz will make a world of difference in terms of perceivable smoothness, but those who like to squeeze every last Hz out of their display will undoubtedly be delighted.

ROG Phone 2 running at 144Hz refresh rate

After flashing the latest kernel build, selecting the 120Hz mode from the display settings will set the display to 144Hz — you’ll not see a 144Hz mode listed separately. While pushing a 120Hz display to 144Hz sounds certainly cool, the developer warns, “there’s a certain risk involved” as tends to be the case with overclocking refresh rates. If you understand the risk and would still like to try out the new 144Hz mode, head to the linked thread below, where you’ll find all the instructions and related details.

Download Kirisakura kernel v3.2.0 for your ROG Phone II

ROG Phone II Forums

Meanwhile, Kirisakura kernel v2.1.1 for the ROG Phone 3 bumps the refresh rate to 165Hz (from the default 144Hz). We already knew ASUS was experimenting with a hidden 160Hz mode which was possible to activate with an ADB command. However, Freak07’s custom kernel enables a slightly overclocked 165Hz mode, matching the recent Red Magic 6. Before you flash the new kernel zip, though, you’ll first need to activate the hidden 160Hz mode using the ADB command — which you can do so by following our guide.

ROG Phone 3 running at 165Hz refresh rate

If you’re interested in trying out the 165Hz mode on your ROG Phone 3, check out the linked thread below for more details. It goes without saying your smartphone must have an unlocked bootloader and a custom recovery like TWRP installed in order to flash this custom kernel.

Download Kirisakura kernel v2.1.1 for ROG Phone 3

ROG Phone 3 Forums

Besides the aforementioned risks, there is one more caveat with overclocking the display refresh rate. Since all the stock display modes supported by the ROG Phone II and ROG Phone 3 were calibrated by ASUS, that means the new, overclocked display modes haven’t been professionally calibrated by the company. The developer has been tweaking the gamma curve to improve the visibility of dark scenes at low brightnesses and to make colors seem more natural, but these changes may look odd to some users. Still, the developer says they tried to find a balance and are giving users the option to pick between the stock calibration and his.

Featured image: the ASUS ROG Phone 3 running at a 160Hz refresh rate

About author

Kishan Vyas
Kishan Vyas

A loyal Android user since Android 2.1 Eclair. Direct inquiries to [email protected]