Asus Zenfone 9: A tiny performance monster with cool cameras, but not without flaws

Asus Zenfone 9: A tiny performance monster with cool cameras, but not without flaws

In the last days of July, the company Asus presented its new flagship Zenfone 9. The device received not only an unusual stylish design, but also a rare (especially for flagships in recent years) diagonal of up to 6 inches. We were finally able to test the novelty and draw our conclusions. It has many significant advantages, but, as always, it is not without its drawbacks. Read all the details below.

Technical characteristics of Asus Zenfone 9

Display: 5.9 inches, OLED, 2400×1080, 120 Hz, 1100 nits, 112% DCI-P3, HDR10+, Gorilla Glass Victus;
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor (4 nm), 8 cores, clock frequency 3.19 GHz;
Graphics chip: Adreno 730;
RAM: 8/16 GB, LPDDR5;
Flash memory: 128/256 GB, UFS 3.1;
Battery: 4300 mAh, fast charging 30 W
Main cameras: 50 MP (Sony IMX766, f/1.9, OIS) + ultra-wide 12 MP (Sony IMX363, 113 degrees, PDAF);
Front camera: 12 MP (Sony IMX663, phase autofocus);
Modules and communication: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2 (aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX Lossless), dual 5G, GPS, NFC, USB Type-C
Stereo speakers: Yes;
Water protection: Yes, IP68;
Dimensions: 146.5 68.1 9.1 mm;
Weight: 169 grams;
Price: From 28,899 hryvnias.

Packaging and assembly

The Asus Zenfone 9 comes in a compact black box.

Asus Zenfone 9

Inside: the phone itself, a plastic case in the color of the case, a paper clip for opening the SIM card slot, a USB-C to USB-C cable and a 30 W power supply (in our case with a Chinese plug). There is no factory film on the screen or in the box.

Asus Zenfone 9

Design and ease of use

The dimensions of the Asus Zenfone 9 are 146.5 68.1 9.1 mm, and the weight is only 169 grams. It’s one of the lightest and smallest smartphones I’ve tested in the last few years.

Asus Zenfone 9

The device received rather wide frames around the screen, a slightly more protruding “chin”, a neat round cutout of the front module on the left side of the display.

Asus Zenfone 9

The novelty looks modern and bold. The design was made in the style of currently fashionable retrofuturism with touches of cyberpunk: there are various inscriptions on the back cover, and it is plastic and textured. It feels like a cross between ceramic and suede. At the same time, the case is protected against water according to the IP68 standard.

Asus Zenfone 9

The feeling of touching the lid is very pleasant. But the texture itself involves many pores, so it is better to cover it with a cover if you do not want it to get dirty or worn out quickly.

Asus Zenfone 9

In the case, the smartphone looks no less cool, and it is also pleasant to the touch and holds firmly in the palm.

Asus Zenfone 9

The centerpiece of the back is a dual main camera with huge round modules protruding. The main sensor protrudes more than the additional one.

Asus Zenfone 9

Asus Zenfone 9 has a wide and smooth metal frame, and the corners are not sharp, but slightly rounded (as well as the corners of the ends).

A USB-C port, a speaker and a slot for a pair of Nano SIM cards are placed on the bottom face. There is no place for a memory card.

Asus Zenfone 9

There is nothing on the left side.

Asus Zenfone 9

On the right are the volume keys, the screen lock button with a built-in fingerprint scanner and the Zentouch touch panel.

Asus Zenfone 9

Unusual for flagships of recent years, the fingerprint scanner in the button works quickly and clearly. There are no complaints about him, but he cannot surprise.

Asus Zenfone 9

The Zentouch touch pad turned out to be unexpectedly convenient. Its work is activated in the settings. After that, a swipe on the sensor from top to bottom brings up a message curtain. One more swipe reveals it completely. A swipe from the bottom up closes the curtain.

On the upper end of the smartphone, another great thing for flagships is placed – a 3.5 mm audio jack for headphones.

Asus Zenfone 9

Asus Zenfone 9 fits perfectly in the hand, it is convenient to carry it with you even in the pocket of jeans, put it in small bags. The device is suitable for girls, teenagers, children, as well as all those who miss compact devices.

However, the screen size seems very small at first, and the icons are generally microscopic. But this is all due to the habit of “shovels”, so eventually these feelings pass.

But playing on such a small screen (although 5.9 inches is still not such a small screen) was uncomfortable for me for two reasons: the small diagonal and the ultra-compact size, why I had to hold it differently than my own or other large smartphones.

As a result, after half an hour of playing, the fingers were very tired. But that’s with my big hands and long fingers. If you have small or medium hands, then you will have what you need.

Asus Zenfone 9 display

Asus Zenfone 9 is equipped with a 5.9-inch OLED screen with a resolution of 2400×1080 pixels and a refresh rate of 120 Hz. The declared brightness of the display is 1100 nits. 112% DCI-P3, HDR10+ support and Gorilla Glass Victus are reported.

Asus Zenfone 9

In the settings, you can choose one of four color modes. Here you can adjust the saturation and choose the color temperature.

There are also three screen refresh rate modes: basic 60Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz. If desired, the automatic mode is activated. For the most part, it keeps the screen at 90Hz, only occasionally going down to 60 or up to 120Hz. For me, it was the most comfortable mode, and at the same time, it does not consume much battery.

Of course, they did not forget about the useful function of Always-On Display. It is activated in the settings and is immediately customized for the user.

The brightness of the display is sufficient for comfortable use under direct sunlight. The colors are pleasant and contrasting. Of all the screen modes listed above, I liked “Optimal” and “Standard” the most.

Asus Zenfone 9

Sound and vibration feedback

Asus Zenfone 9 received stereo sound – the speaker on the bottom panel complements the speaker on the top. Multiple Qualcomm Aqstic WSA8835 amplifiers are claimed to work. The sound of the smartphone is loud and even a little voluminous. But the standard sound of a modern phone will not be able to say something pleasant.

The same goes for vibration feedback. It’s much better than what budget and mid-range models offer, but worse than most current Android flagships. Apple can’t compete with new products.

Asus Zenfone 9 cameras

The smartphone received a dual main camera with Sony IMX766 50 MP sensors and an ultra-wide-angle 12-megapixel Sony IMX363. The first module has a 6-axis hybrid gimbal stabilization, and the second has nothing like that, and only has autofocus.

Asus Zenfone 9

Asus Zenfone 9 cameras shoot cool both day and night. Photos come out detailed and with natural colors. Of course, if you turn on HDR, it will be brighter and more beautiful, but not so realistic.

The frontalka is also decent.

Asus Zenfone 9

The device can shoot video up to 8K at 24 fps. However, the super stabilization mentioned above works only for 720p and 1080p. Of course, there is slow motion, panorama and many other cool modes.

Productivity, software and games

The flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip is responsible for the performance of the phone. The graphics card is Adreno 730. The device comes in versions of 8 or 16 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 128 or 256 GB of UFS 3.1 built-in memory. In our case, the smartphone was 8/128 GB.

Performance tests below. I should note that I did not expect to see this compact device in the top 3 of the most powerful smartphones of AnTuTu Benchmark, the rating of which exceeded a million parrots.

At the same time, the chip, of course, heats up, but the processor behaved much better in throttling tests than it did on the OnePlus 10 Pro and the much simpler Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G + on the Nothing Phone (1).

Asus Zenfone 9

Of course, Asus Zenfone 9 easily copes with any modern games and bulky applications.

The flagship runs on Android 12 with Asus’ proprietary shell. The add-on is quite minimalistic, nimble and tweaked only a few times per week of tests.

The design of the desktop, menu and settings is familiar to all users of the company’s smartphones. I don’t really like the icons and design here, but it’s a matter of taste, and in general the system works at a decent level.

Like many modern flagships, Asus Zenfone 9 supports Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, dual 5G standards. Of course, there is an NFC module here.

Asus Zenfone 9 autonomy

Asus Zenfone 9 is equipped with a 4300 mAh battery. The relatively small screen, even with active AOD and 120 Hz mode, provides a full day of smartphone operation with two or three hours of games and video viewing. If you look at the screen less, then one charge is easily enough for a day and a half.

The new flagship is equipped with a 30 W fast charging function. There is no wireless charging. In practice, the smartphone is fully charged in about an hour and a half, and from 0 to 50% in half an hour. In the settings, you can limit the battery charge to 90 or 80%. They also allow you to reduce the fast charging mode to 10 or 15 W.

Asus Zenfone 9

Cost and competitors

Asus Zenfone 9 is sold at the price of UAH 28,899 for the 8/128 GB variant. The most expensive version for 16/256 GB costs 40,399 hryvnias. Of course, if we take the initial version, then the price tag is adequate for a super-powerful flagship. But the competitors are still serious: Google Pixel 7 8/128 GB for UAH 29,099, Xiaomi 12 Pro for 8/256 GB for UAH 30,599, Asus ROG Phone 5 16/256 GB for UAH 29,999, as well as Realme GT2 Pro 5G 12/256 GB for 29,300 hryvnias.

And if we take the maximum price tag of Asus Zenfone 9, then here you can already buy Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 12/128 GB for 39499 hryvnias, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G 12/256 GB at the price of 39799 hryvnias, Samsung Galaxy F56 4 8 GB at the price of 39999 hryvnias, and, of course, a fresh Apple iPhone 14 with 128 GB for 34,499 hryvnias.

Asus Zenfone 9

stylish and unusual design, waterproof case, compact size, decent cameras, incredible performance, excellent autonomy, bright juicy 120 Hz screen, 3.5 mm audio jack (suddenly who needs it), convenient touch panel on the end

the price tag is too high, there is no wireless charging, it is not clear why there is a 3.5mm audio jack, the case is too compact to play for long periods of time for people with large hands and long fingers, there is not much ROM and no space for a memory card

Asus Zenfone 9 is a stylish, very powerful and strange flagship that combines ultra-modern technologies with solutions that have long been obsolete (for flagships). The device was made compact, so it is an excellent solution for all those who missed productive smartphones not the size of a “shovel”. The phone pleases with an excellent camera and autonomy, it can shoot in 8K, it has a bright juicy 120 Hz screen, a convenient touch panel on the end and protection of the body from water. At the same time, the device is equipped with a fast charger of only 30 W, it does not have wireless charging, there is, in my opinion, a ridiculous 3.5 mm audio jack for a flagship, and although it works normally, it is still built into the key fingerprint sensor lock. But the main drawback of the model is a too high price tag, which entails many much more popular competitors, including the Apple iPhone 14. Asus Zenfone 9 is definitely worth attention and purchase for everyone who wants a small but powerful device. At the same time, users should understand that for this money they can buy more popular models. In most parameters, the new product is not inferior to, or even superior to, competitors, but still, buyers often chase precisely for recognition and popularity, and it is far from the level of Asus smartphones

Thanks to the Stylus store for the Asus Zenfone 9 smartphone provided for review

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