Asus listened to your requests and developed the Asus Zenfone 9, which is great. Since flagship smartphones need more cameras, bigger screens, and styli to appeal, their size has expanded. Some have urged businesses to produce tiny phones with flagship processors.
The Asus Zenfone 9’s dimensions continues Asus’s direction to build a one-handed smartphone less than 70mm wide and under 150mm tall, which began with the Zenfone 8. This time, the business employed a squared-off design and right-angle corners to cram as much as possible within the phone and used aluminium for the frame and polymer instead of glass on the rear panel to cut weight.
The result is a 169-gram, 68mm-wide, 146mm-tall Zenfone 9. It’s a few millimetres narrower than the iPhone 13 and Galaxy S22, but its slab-like shape makes it 9.1mm thicker. 5.9-inches is smaller than iPhone 13 and S22. Compared to the 6-inch Google Pixel 5, the Zenfone 9 is less wide, 2mm taller, and 15 grammes heavier.
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The Zenfone 9 (and its contemporaries) are too small for me, but others may disagree. It’s really convenient to slide the phone into a pocket and forget it’s there, and to utilise the full operating system with one thumb. The Zenfone 9’s small weight prevents fatigue from long-term use.
Despite having flat edges, the new polymer back panel is contoured so it won’t scrape into your palm or fingers. Unlike glass or metal, the strange material won’t accumulate fingerprints or smudges. I appreciate the light grey lettering, numbers, and forms around the two huge cameras set in metal rings on the back. The Zenfone 9’s back is gorgeous.
What are the Zenfone 9’s disadvantages? Design-wise, there aren’t any. It’s convenient, beautiful, durable, and fits all hand sizes. The downsides of a tiny phone are discussed later.
Screen and performance
The 5.9-inch Samsung AMOLED panel boasts 2400 x 1080 pixels, 120Hz refresh, 240Hz touch sampling, and Gorilla Glass Victus. Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor and 8GB or 16GB of RAM are inside. Basic version has 128GB of storage, however 256GB is available for extra. Review model is 16GB/256GB.
While small, the Zenfone 9 isn’t great for multimedia. A huge screen makes watching film, seeing images, or playing games more engaging. Zenfone 9 looks excellent, but smaller. It’s a shame to waste such power.
Power. Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is amazing. It plays Asphalt 9: Legends and Diablo Immortal without a problem and handles everyday duties easily. Additional RAM will keep more apps running in the background, but 8GB should be adequate if you’re not a prodigious multitasker. Despite Asus’ vapour cooling chamber, the Zenfone 9 feels warm when gaming. You’ll notice it never burns.
Watching films, the screen’s strong contrast and lovely colours pop, and it’s more colourful than the iPhone 13. It equals the Galaxy S22’s performance for a Samsung AMOLED. Despite 800 nit outside brightness, it’s never bright enough for me. I regularly looked for the brightness slider and found it either at maximum or 80% of maximum, where the final 20% didn’t make much difference.
I left the refresh rate on Auto. It delivers 120Hz smoothness when I want it, and I haven’t experienced any 60Hz drops. I’ve seen the speakers. As with the ROG Phone, Asus worked with Dirac to calibrate the Zenfone 9’s dual speakers. They’re loud but unpleasant above 70% volume, and the polymer rear panel vibrates heavily from 50%.
You may manually tweak the equaliser or choose from four sound profiles in AudioWizard. By default, it’s set to Dynamic, however switching to Music lowered roughness and emphasised voices when watching video. Zenfone 9 supports Snapdragon Sound, AptX Adaptive, and AptX Lossless. 3.5mm headphones are included.
The Zenfone 9 is a flagship smartphone in a tiny design. If you want to get the most of your phone’s sheer power, consider whether a larger screen will help.
The Zenfone 9’s 6-axis gimbal camera stands out. The entire camera module moves by up to three degrees in any direction to compensate for movement, resulting in seamless video and clear stills without image loss. Asus adds electronic image stabilisation (EIS) to reduce motion, and the camera predicts movement.
Dual phone cameras. 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 with gimbal and 12MP Sony IMX363 wide-angle camera. Both cameras have autofocus, the wide-angle camera has a macro mode, and the 12MP selfie camera has autofocus inside a screen cutout.
Vivo included a gimbal on the X70 Pro+ and X80 Pro, and it’s likely on the Zenfone 9 to give the camera an edge over the competition. My tests haven’t impressed me so far.
Software and other features
ZenUI is one of the best non-Pixel Android software experiences. Fast, clean, and mainly filler-free. There are some ridiculous pre-installed apps, like a calculator, a weather app, and a tips app, but nothing too annoying. It’s built on Android 12, so it’s nice and customisable.
It’s the same system as the ROG Phone 6, but without the Republic of Gamers flair. I’ve never missed a notice, and it runs all my apps. It’s easy to use daily.
The fingerprint sensor is in the power key and can be hard to find because it’s flush with the body. The Asus Smart Key adds gesture controls to some functionalities. A downward swipe activates the notification shade, or you can designate it to play media or refresh webpages. The feature works, but it’s very sensitive, so I turned it off because the notification shade always appeared when I didn’t want it to.
Battery and charging
Asus only has room for a 4,300mAh battery in the Zenfone 9. High-end specs in a compact gadget reduce battery life. If you don’t use your phone much (playing games and watching videos), it will last two days. When unchallenged, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is efficient.
For 30 minutes of gameplay or 1440p video playback, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1’s battery life drops by around 10%. An hour of this, plus normal use and images or video, will drain the Zenfone 9 in a day. It’s not horrible and anticipated for a battery this size, but if you use the phone as its stats suggest, be prepared to charge it daily.
Power Delivery 3.0 and Quick Charge 4.0 are supported, but wireless charging is not available. Using the Asus charger will take over an hour.
Price and availability
The 8GB/128GB Asus Zenfone 9 will cost $699 in the U.S. In Europe, pre-orders begin July 28 through Asus’s online store and selected partners.