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Asus Zenfone 9 evaluation: the flagship you’ll be able to use with 1 hand | Virtual Tendencies

The Asus Zenfone 9 held in hand, showing the back of the phone.

Asus Zenfone 9

MSRP $699.00

“The Asus Zenfone 9 is sufficiently small for use with one hand, however nonetheless has the entire energy of a large flagship cellphone. Whilst this compromises battery lifestyles and digital camera options, it’s going to be a suitable trade-off for some.”


  • Compact and simple to care for
  • Robust processor
  • Neat, light-weight design
  • Sturdy audio options
  • Primary cameras take excellent footage


  • Gimbal disappoints
  • Display screen doesn’t get shiny sufficient
  • No wi-fi charging

Since flagship smartphones should squeeze in additional cameras, larger displays, or even styli to enchantment nowadays, the whole dimension of the gadgets has larger too. Thus, there were requires manufacturers to additionally do the other — make small telephones with flagship processors. Asus has listened for your calls and made the Zenfone 9, and it has a complete lot going for it.


The Zenfone 9’s dimension follows Asus’s personal directive of constructing a smartphone that’s lower than 70mm huge and beneath 150mm tall to make it best possible for one-handed use, which started with the nameless and relatively overpassed Zenfone 8. This time, the corporate has used a squared-off form and right-angle corners to verify it might pack as a lot throughout the cellphone as conceivable, and grew to become to aluminum for the body and a polymer subject matter relatively than glass at the rear panel to cut back weight.

The back of the Asus Zenfone 9.
Andy Boxall/Virtual Tendencies

The result’s the Zenfone 9 weighs 169 grams, it’s 68mm huge, and 146mm tall. This makes it a couple of millimeters much less huge than the iPhone 13 and the Galaxy S22, and about the similar peak, however the slab-like design makes it thicker than each at 9.1mm. The display is quite smaller than the iPhone 13 and S22 at 5.9-inches. If the 6-inch Google Pixel 5 was once your closing ideally-sized cellphone, then the Zenfone 9 would possibly fit your needs as it’s much less huge, best 2mm taller, and about 15 grams heavier.

I’ll be fair at this level and say the Zenfone 9 (and its contemporaries discussed above) are too small for my very own non-public liking, however I recognize others will really feel otherwise. That stated, it’s extraordinarily handy to slide the telephone right into a pocket and omit it’s there, and to make use of the whole lot of the working gadget with my thumb as I dangle the telephone in a single hand. The sunshine weight may be advisable, as there may be completely no fatigue when the usage of the Zenfone 9 for lengthy sessions of time.

It’s extraordinarily handy to slide the telephone right into a pocket and omit it’s there.

In spite of the flat facets, the brand new polymer rear panel has been curved well on the edge, so the telephone by no means digs into your palm or arms. The abnormal subject matter has a singular, virtually textile-like texture — and in contrast to glass or steel, it received’t gather fingerprints or smudges. The 2 huge cameras are set inside of steel rings to provide the again some id, and I in reality like the sunshine gray textual content, numbers, and shapes used round them. The again of the Zenfone 9 appears and feels incredible.

The side of the Asus Zenfone 9, held in hand.
Andy Boxall/Virtual Tendencies

What are the downsides of the Zenfone 9’s small dimension? There in reality aren’t any whilst you best believe the design. It’s handy, it’s beautiful, it’s going to be quite sturdy, and it’s appropriate for everybody to make use of — irrespective of hand dimension. However this isn’t our verdict at the cellphone as a complete, and the downsides of a small cellphone come in a while.

Display screen and function

The 5.9-inch, Samsung-made AMOLED display has a 2400 x 1080 pixel answer, a 120Hz refresh fee, a 240Hz contact sampling fee, plus Gorilla Glass Victus over it. Inside of is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, the similar as the only used within the ROG Telephone 6 gaming cellphone, and both 8GB or 16GB of RAM. The elemental model comes with 128GB of cupboard space, however you’ll be able to pay extra for a 256GB type. For reference, our evaluation type is the 16GB/256GB model.

The Asus Zenfone 9's screen.
Andy Boxall/Virtual Tendencies

Whilst the diminutive dimension is excellent for comfort, it doesn’t make the Zenfone 9 impressive for multimedia. It’s no longer that the display is dangerous, however in the event you spend a number of time gazing video, taking a look at footage, or enjoying video games, a large display makes the entire revel in extra relaxing. It nonetheless all appears excellent at the Zenfone 9, simply smaller. And when you’ve got this quantity of energy at your disposal, it’s somewhat of a disgrace to not benefit from it.

Sure, energy. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is an absolute beast. Not anything turns out to hassle it, and it performs Asphalt 9: Legends and Diablo Immortal with out a downside, so it shrugs off common on a regular basis duties very easily. The extra RAM will stay extra apps operating within the background, even if 8GB it will likely be sufficient in the event you’re no longer a prodigious multi-tasker. Whilst Asus has inbuilt a vapor cooling chamber, the Zenfone 9 nonetheless will get relatively heat to touch when enjoying video games. It’s by no means burning, however you’ll realize it.

Watch movies, and the display’s prime stage of distinction and wonderful colours in reality leap out, and it’s way more colourful than the herbal tones of the iPhone 13. It’s standard efficiency for a Samsung AMOLED, and it intently fits the Galaxy S22. Alternatively, in spite of a claimed 800 nit outside brightness, it by no means relatively will get shiny sufficient for my style. I steadily reached for the brightness keep watch over, best to search out it was once both at its most, or about 80% of its max environment, the place the overall 20% didn’t in reality make a lot distinction to visibility.

I’ve left the display on its Auto environment for the refresh fee. It has confirmed efficient, with 120Hz smoothness delivered once I need it, and if it does drop to 60Hz at any time, I haven’t spotted. I’ve spotted the audio system, despite the fact that. There are twin audio system at the Zenfone 9 and Asus has labored with Dirac (because it has at the ROG Telephone) to song them. They get very loud however aren’t particularly delightful above about 70% quantity, and there may be lots of vibration in the course of the polymer rear panel from 50% or so.

Holding the Asus Zenfone 9 to show how it's able to be used one-handed.
Andy Boxall/Virtual Tendencies

Play with the AudioWizard app, and you’ll be able to manually modify the equalizer or choose between 4 other sound profiles. It’s set to Dynamic through default, however I discovered switching to Tune diminished one of the vital harshness and positioned higher emphasis on voices, which is useful when gazing video. Proceeding the Zenfone 9’s superb audio package deal is strengthen for Snapdragon Sound, AptX Adaptive, and AptX Lossless (with decided on headphones just like the NuraTrue Professional). And there’s a three.5mm headphone jack too.

The Zenfone 9 in point of fact delivers flagship smartphone efficiency, visuals, and audio — simply in a compact package deal. That might be sufficient for some, however in the event you in reality wish to take advantage of all this uncooked skill, then do assume exhausting about whether or not a bigger display would imply you find yourself getting extra out of your cellphone through the years.

Digital camera

The Zenfone 9 has a 6-axis gimbal to make the digital camera stand proud of the contest. It operates when taking video or stills, and in contrast to optical symbol stabilization (OIS), all of the digital camera module strikes through as much as 3 levels in any path to catch up on motion, leading to easy video and sharp stills with out symbol deterioration. Asus then throws in digital symbol stabilization (EIS) to suppress movement additional, plus the digital camera even intelligently predicts motion forward of time.

The Asus Zenfone 9's camera module.
Andy Boxall/Virtual Tendencies

There are two cameras at the cellphone. The principle 50-megapixel Sony IMX766, which has the gimbal connected, and a 12MP Sony IMX363 113-degree wide-angle digital camera. Each have autofocus, there’s 8K video recording, a macro mode constructed into the wide-angle digital camera, and a 12MP selfie digital camera with autofocus inside of a hole-punch cutout within the display.

It’s no longer the primary time a gimbal has been used on a smartphone, with Vivo together with one at the X70 Professional+ and X80 Professional, and it’s probably right here at the Zenfone 9 to provide the digital camera some further enchantment within the face of heavy festival. Sadly, in my checks thus far, it hasn’t in reality inspired me.

I attempted the #AsusZenfone9's video-steadying gimbal digital camera function out when strolling, operating, and using.

See it right here in comparison to OIS at the iPhone 13 Professional. It's first rate – protecting a topic central, when operating – however inconsistent as within the automotive, the iPhone's video is healthier.

— Andy Boxall (@AndyBoxall) July 28, 2022

It’s at its best possible when capturing video hand-held and making an attempt to stay an object within the body, the place it compensates for herbal, flowing movement successfully. However whilst you shoot whilst in movement, the consequences aren’t as excellent as different telephones that don’t have a gimbal.

As an example, I fastened the Zenfone 9 in my automotive and drove down a in particular bumpy piece of street, then did the similar with the iPhone 13 Professional. The iPhone’s photos is clearer and steadier and with much less glaring virtual correction. The Zenfone 9’s video is shakier and not more transparent, and the publicity and general high quality aren’t as excellent both. It was once a identical scenario when operating with the Zenfone 9 and capturing video. It’s no longer a nasty function, however don’t be expecting it to be dramatically higher than an excellent OIS gadget.

Stills glance nice, equipped you don’t thoughts some heavy-handed HDR results, because the Zenfone 9 likes to sharpen up scenes with further distinction and saturation. The effects are steadily immediately shareable, however received’t at all times please purists. Consistency between the primary digital camera and the wide-angle digital camera is excellent, and the selfie digital camera takes balanced footage with excellent pores and skin tone (however can get flustered in deficient lighting fixtures). Something to notice is previews at the cellphone’s display make footage glance worse, and it was once best after taking a look on the footage within the gallery — and on a observe — that the robust efficiency shone via.

Instrument and different options

Asus’s ZenUI is excellent, and probably the most best possible non-Pixel device reports you’ll be able to have on an Android cellphone. It’s speedy, cleanly introduced, and most commonly freed from filler. Sure, there are some foolish pre-installed apps — a calculator, a climate app, a guidelines app, and such things as Fb and Netflix — however not anything too obnoxious. It’s in accordance with Android 12, and maximum of Google’s primary design components stay, so it’s beautiful and suitably customizable.

It’s necessarily the similar gadget you get at the ROG Telephone 6, simply with out the solution to turn on the Republic of Players theme, which isn’t in reality an issue. It’s been very dependable, I haven’t overlooked notifications, and it has run the entire apps I require. It’s very delightful to make use of each day.

ZenUI is excellent, and probably the most best possible non-Pixel device reports you’ll be able to have on an Android cellphone.

The fingerprint sensor is within the energy key and takes some being used to, because it’s flush with the frame and I discovered it relatively exhausting to find briefly. It additionally homes the Asus Good Key, which provides gesture controls for some options. Just like the outdated Pixel 5’s rear-mounted sensor, a downward swipe opens the notification colour, or you’ll be able to assign it to play media or refresh webpages. Whilst the function works, it’s very delicate, and I needed to flip it off after some time because the notification colour was once at all times showing once I didn’t need it to.

Battery and charging

A 4,300mAh capability battery would possibly not sound like a lot, however Asus best has a restricted quantity of room to paintings with throughout the Zenfone 9. It’s every other problem of difficult prime specifications inside of a small tool, and the use time displays this. In the event you don’t push the telephone exhausting (in which we imply no longer enjoying video games and gazing video), it’ll simply closing two days with out requiring a recharge. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is proving to be very environment friendly when it’s no longer being challenged.

The Asus Zenfone 9's charging port.
Andy Boxall/Virtual Tendencies

Alternatively, in the event you exploit the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and benefit from the beautiful display, be expecting the battery lifestyles to fall relatively dramatically through about 10% for half-hour of gameplay or 1440p video playback. Hit the Zenfone 9 exhausting with an hour of this, plus the entire same old job and a few footage or video, then it’ll closing an afternoon. It’s no longer horrible, and most commonly anticipated for a battery with this capability, however in the event you’re going to make use of the telephone as its specifications inspire you to do, then be ready to seek advice from the charger on a daily basis.

A 30W charger is integrated within the field, and the telephone helps Energy Supply 3.0 and Fast Fee 4.0, nevertheless it does no longer have wi-fi charging. You’ll want greater than an hour to completely price the battery the usage of the Asus charger.

Worth and availability

The Asus Zenfone 9 might be to be had within the U.S. within the close to long term, and the 8GB/128GB model will price $699. In Europe, the cost has been set at 799 euros, and pre-orders will start on July 28 via Asus’s on-line retailer and decided on companions.

Our take

If small and strong is what you need from a smartphone, the Asus Zenfone 9 delivers, nevertheless it’s no longer relatively the overall flagship cellphone revel in in a tiny package deal some would possibly nonetheless crave, and the explanation why is natural physics. The dimensions of the battery and the complexity of the digital camera are constrained because of the scale of the telephone. You merely can’t have compatibility a whopping battery and 6 cameras inside of.

You find yourself with a compromise. In the event you don’t care a lot a few in reality incredible, feature-packed digital camera however need the overt energy to play the most recent video games and multitask for your middle’s content material — however in a cellphone two-thirds of the scale of a Galaxy S22 Extremely or Pixel 6 Professional — it’s a robust possibility. Alternatively, in the event you plan on making complete use of the Zenfone 9’s skill, the battery lifestyles would possibly not at all times stay up. The display, even if sexy, isn’t as shiny as we’d like both.

Asus is superb at making succesful, thrilling smartphones for small segments of the phone-buying public. The ROG Telephone 6 is the advisable selection for cell avid gamers, and the compact Zenfone 9’s sheer, giant-killing energy method it’ll immediately enchantment to any individual uninterested in juggling a tablet-sized tremendous cellphone.

Is there a greater choice?

Do you need a small cellphone with large energy? The iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy S22 compete in dimension, weight, and worth. Each are superb. The iPhone 13 Mini is even smaller than the Zenfone 9, as is the iPhone SE (2022) and each use flagship-spec processors. However the dimension is much more of a compromise than the Zenfone, and in the event you plan to play video games, nor is your best choice.

How lengthy will it closing?

The Zenfone 9 has an IP68 water resistance ranking, so it’s moderately secure in opposition to water and dirt, and must be high-quality with a light dunking. The device is recently up to the moment, and Asus says it plans to ship two main model updates and two years of safety updates. That is moderate, however no longer so long as device commitments from Samsung and Google. Differently, the telephone is state of the art, with an enormous quantity of energy inside of. It must simply closing you for 2 or 3 years ahead of you want to consider an improve.

Will have to you purchase it?

Sure. The Zenfone 9 is as just about a real compact flagship smartphone because it’s conceivable to get, and equipped the drawbacks that should include that, it’s a super acquire.

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