Asus has been doing great things with laptops in the past few years, and it’s evident the company is now focused on making high-quality Android phones. Zenfone 9, Asus’ latest smartphone supports this statement; It’s an all-rounded compact smartphone, offering great battery life, a robust software experience and a refreshing design.
Sporting a 5.9-inch display, the Zenfone 9 is extremely portable and easy to hold. On the right side, the phone rocks one of the most responsive fingerprint sensors on any smartphone, and volume buttons. On the top is a headphone jack, which is a feature that a lot of manufacturers are removing. The back is made of plastic and it houses 2 camera lenses; a 50MP main camera and a 12MP Ultrawide.
In addition, the device will come in 4 colors: Starry Blue, Moonlight White, Sunset Red and Midnight Black. Overall, the Zenfone 9 has a pleasing aesthetic and its size will be a good selling point.
Hilariously, there was a time when 5.9-inch was not considered compact, but rather humongous. Remember when the iPhone 5 used to have a 4-inch display or the then laughable oversized Galaxy Note 1 at 5.3-inches? It just shows how far tech has come, in terms of design and how we perceive it.
The Zenfone 9 features a 5.9-inch (2400 x 1080), 120Hz Samsung AMOLED display that peaks at 1100 nits maximum brightness. The display is colorful, bright and sharp, with good contrast levels, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. (Though it’s not as bright as other flagship smartphones like the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro).
Note: The display doesn't have an adaptive refresh rate like the iPhone 13 Pro, which is when the display changes the refresh rate depending on the content that is being displayed. However, on the Zenfone 9, the display can only be used on 60Hz, 90Hz or 120Hz modes.
- IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
- Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on display
- CPU: Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
- GPU: Andreno 730
- Storage and RAM: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 16GB RAM
- Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
- Dual stereo speakers
Software and features
Asus didn’t go too crazy with their version of Android, ZenUI, which is very close to stock Android. It’s minimal, simple and pleasant to use. If you want a similar software experience to pixel phones, this might be a perfect replacement.
The fingerprint sensor is snappy and never fails to unlock. But it also acts as a multi-function button. You can swipe up and down to pull notifications, and double-click for different functions like opening a specific app, launching a voice assistant and more.
The Zenfone 9 houses 3 cameras. A 50 MP Sony® IMX766 main camera with gimbal support, 12MP Sony®IMX363 ultrawide camera and a 12 MP Sony® IMX663 front selfie camera.
Overall, the camera system is good; definitely better than the Asus ROG camera. On the main camera, gimbal support does improve stabilization with videos but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The picture quality is punchy and the dynamic range is really good. Though sometimes, too much HDR makes the images look over-processed. The Ultrawide and selfie cameras are also just okay, good enough for the average user.
The phone packs a 4300mAh battery, which easily lasts a day, and maybe even a day and a half. With the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1’s efficiency, paired with a small screen and Asus’ ZenUI optimization, the Zenfone offers amazing battery life at a really good price point. Speaking of price, scroll to the next section.
Zenfone 9 will start at $699
One of the best midrange phones
For only $699, the Zenfone 9 is a great smartphone. While $699 is still quite a big chunk of money, the price is easily justified, considering how feature-packed the device is. The only major feature missing is wireless charging, and that can be overlooked by most people. (Of course, the competition is stiff at this price point, and there are many options; but for now, the Zenfone 9 might be the king of midrange/compact phones.)
Note: Samsung and Apple will offer better ecosystems, especially if you have their other devices such as smartwatches, tablets and laptops. So that’s also a thing to keep in mind when buying a new smartphone.
- 30W charger included in the box
- Software experience is closer to vanilla Android
- Snappy performance (Snapdragon 8+ Gen1)
- Supports WiFi 6
- Great price
- Dual sim card
- Amazing battery life
- Good camera
- Easy to use with one hand
- No wireless charging. therefore no features like reverse power sharing to charge other devices like smartwatches and earbuds
- Plastic back
- Doesn’t have a robust ecosystem like Samsung, Google and Apple
- People with bigger hands might find it too small