Asus Zenfone 9 Review: The Zenfone 9 is a compact smartphone that is very different from other compact smartphones out there. In a world where top premium smartphones are getting bigger screens, Asus packs the Zenfone 9 with a smaller display while also maintaining the premium vibe for this device. This is one of the reasons why the Zenfone 9 stands out from the lot.
Generally speaking, smartphones with smaller screen sizes are found mostly in the mid-range category. Especially in the Android space, only Samsung offers premium devices with smaller screens (Samsung Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S21 FE as examples).
So, in this Asus Zenfone 9 review, I’ll be sharing with you how good the device is and why you should or should not consider buying it. There are two things that make the Zenfone 9 different from other compact phones. I’ll explain these two reasons in the concluding part of this review.
Asus Zenfone 9 Review
Asus Zenfone 9 Review: Display, Design, and Durability
I’ll start this review from the display of the device. The Zenfone 9 has a 5.9-inches AMOLED display with support for a 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, and the screen has a peak brightness of 1100 nits (under direct sunlight). Your hands can easily reach the top of the phone without issues making the phone very suitable for one-hand operations.
Another feature of the device that looks really cool is the design. It has a flat screen on the front with a simple punch hole on the top left corner of the screen. And on the rear, it has two rings that house the dual rear camera sensors.
The back panel is made of polymer which is a fancy plastic that has a nice texture and feels. The rear back panel feels solid and strong. The bezels on the screen are noticeable and not the slimmest you’ve seen in an Android phone. The display is FHD+ resolution (1080 x 2400 pixels) and has 445 PPI density (very colorful display).
As for durability, Zenfone 9 is made of a Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), polymer back, and an aluminum frame. It is certified to be IP68 dust/water resistant and can survive underwater for up to 30 minutes.
The power button and volume rocker are located on the right side of the frame. Then the speaker, microphone, and USB Type-C port are located at the bottom of the frame. It might come as surprise to you but the Asus Zenfone 9 has a 3.5mm headphone jack port. Yes, this is one of the few 2022 flagship phones to retain the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Asus Zenfone 9 Review: Chipset and Performance
The chipset inside the Asus Zenfone 9 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip. Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a 5G chipset that is built on TSMC’s 4nm process technology. This chipset has the Cortex-X2 high-performance core with a speed clocked at 3.19GHz. Zenfone 9 might be small but it has very big performance numbers.
This device can play graphics-intensive games without any issues. There is no lag or throttling even when games like Genshin Impact and PUBG Mobile are set to the highest graphic settings. One of the reasons for its impressive performance is the cooling system inside the device.
Underneath the battery of the device is a copper VC (vapor chamber). This VC helps in cooling down the temperature of the battery and prevents the device from getting hot. The chipset area also has good thermal paste and copper covering to calm down its temperature.
The fact that the phone is small restricted the number of things Asus could do with regard to the cooling. But this also means the screen won’t require more energy and less cooling is also needed. And somehow Asus was able to find the balance.
from my testing and time of using the phone, the Zenfone 9 does get warm but not hot. Even while plugged in and using it, it does not get excessively hot but it does get a little warm. And this explains why the device could perform at optimum level without dropping frame rate for a long time.
On the AnTuTu benchmark test, the Zenfone 9 recorded over 1,042,821 scores while on Geekbench its single core score was 1241 and its multi-core score was 4093. As impressive as these numbers and as good as the Zenfone 9, if you need a dedicated gaming phone from Asus, you should check out the Asus Rog Phone 6 Pro or Rog Phone 6.
Asus Zenfone 9 Review: Camera
Now, this won’t be a proper review of the Zenfone 9 without camera tests. So, let’s talk about how good the cameras of the Zenfone 9 really are in real life. What is the photography and videography experience like? let’s find out next in this Asus Zenfone 9 review.
The Zenfone 9 has two rear cameras and one single front camera. It has a 50MP main camera that has PDAF and gimbal OIS features. This main camera is supported by a 12MP ultra-wide lens with an AF feature and a 12MP front-facing camera. The main camera uses the Sony IMX766 sensor while the ultra-wide camera uses the Sony IMX363 sensor. These are not the latest and most sophisticated sensors from Sony but the quality of photos from these cameras are good.
Some of the good things about the cameras are that the main camera has a very good stabilization feature and the ultra-wide camera can focus on objects almost immediately. The front camera can record steady videos in 4k resolution and the back camera can record steady videos in 8k resolution.
The portrait mode is really good and can separate the subject from the background with good details. In low light conditions, the main camera can still click decent photos but is not consistent when there is too much light. Sometimes it’s overly exposed and other times it’s normal. But overall, the camera experience of the Asus Zenfone 9 is not back (but it could have been better if flagship sensors were used).
Asus Zenfone 9 Review: RAM, Storage, and Software
The RAM options available in the Asus Zenfone 9 are 8GB or 16GB. These RAM options are paired with 128GB or 256GB of internal storage. Good luck with the 128GB storage version because there is no storage expansion via a microSD card slot in the Zenfone 9. So, it’s better you buy the 256GB of storage version if you don’t want to frequently delete files or pay for cloud storage.
Asus Zenfone 9 boots ZenUI based on Android 12 out of the box. Asus is promising two years if guaranteed major software updates with a probability to extend it for one more year depending on sales volume. You can download and install software from the Google Play Store on the Zenfone 9.
Asus Zenfone 9 Review: Battery and Charging
Asus Zenfone 9 is powered by a 4,300mAh battery with support for a 30W wired and wireless fast charge. also has support for reverse charging but no support for wireless charging. It took me about 60 minutes to fully charge the Zenfone 9.
For heavy users, a single charge of this phone can take you about 8 to 10 hours. While for light users, you’ll comfortably get more than 24 hours of use when you fully charge the Zenfone 9. Although the battery is small, the screen is also small and needs to draw less power. Then there is also the power-efficient Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip that has very amazing power-efficient CPU cores.
Asus Zenfone 9 Review: Price
The starting price of the Asus Zenfone 9 is about $799 for the base model with 8GB RAM + 128GB storage. The models with 8GB RAM + 256GB and 16GB RAM + 256GB are priced at $849 and $899 respectively. This makes the Zenfone 9 a pretty expensive device but is it worth it?
Buy Asus Zenfone 9
|Asus Zenfone 9||Price|
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Asus Zenfone 9 Review: Conclusion
The Asus Zenfone 9 is a compact smartphone that stands out in the middle of other compact phones. The only compact smartphone that is as good as the Zenfone 9 right now is the iPhone 13 Mini.
Asus Zenfone 9 features a very powerful chipset, has an impressive performance, decent cameras, a long-lasting battery, retains the 3.5mm headphone jack, and is durable. But, it’s also relatively expensive and has no wireless charger support. So, the Asus Zenfone 9 stands out in two areas, price and performance.
There is no doubt that if you love compact phones, the Asus Zenfone 9 is on top of the list to buy right now. But, the ultimate question is, are you willing to pay $799 for a compact smartphone that has great performance? I mean for an extra $100, you can currently buy the vivo X80 Pro and get a wireless charge feature, better camera sensors, etc.
Whatever your decision, just know that the Zenfone 9 is the most powerful compact android phone on the market right now. However, below is a list of phones powered by the same Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 with bigger screens and complete flagship specifications.