Android users can now have their own mini, complete with features that other flagship phones lack. The Zenfone 9 is a compact flagship with few compromises and a competitive price. With a top-tier Qualcomm processor, excellent battery life, and a good camera on board, there’s not much the Zenfone 9 can’t do, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a compact flagship phone. The improved efficiency of the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 should do wonders with the extra juice, and the Fall version of Qualcomm’s top-tier chipset is also more powerful than the original. Another significant advancement is the gimbal-mounted main camera, which has a larger sensor than last year’s model. Similarly, the Zenfone 9’s AF-capable selfie camera distinguishes it from the crowd.

Asus Zenfone 9 review: Design

When comparing the Asus Zenfone 9 to its predecessor, one of the most noticeable differences is its design. Asus has chosen a flat aluminium frame and a completely redesigned camera bump, which consists of two large circular bumps, one protruding further out than the other. The back has also been updated with a new polymer material that feels spongy and papery and repels fingerprints like no other. It’s an acquired taste, and the phone may not appear as attractive to some as other glass sandwich creations, but the Zenfone 9 has personality, and you can’t mistake it for anything else on the market. Which is an impressive feat in and of itself. The front is flat, and the 5.9-inch display is safely tucked beneath a sheet of Corning Gorilla Victus. The selfie camera is a hole-punch design, located in the upper left corner and surrounded by a silver ring.

Asus Zenfone 9 review: Display

The Asus Zenfone 9 is a small phone with a 5.9-inch display, making it one of the only Android phones released in 2022 with a screen size less than 6 inches. It has an FHD+ display, 1100nits max brightness, and a refresh rate of 120Hz, which is about what you’d expect for the price, though there are a few handsets with a higher resolution at this price. We previously described the display as ‘fine,’ and it’s difficult to think of a more apt word. It does what you need it to do, with a resolution that matches the output of most apps and a refresh rate that makes motion appear smooth, but it doesn’t do anything better than any other phone.

Asus Zenfone 9 review: Software

In addition to the small size, Asus focuses on one-handed operation in terms of software. The ZenUI-9 user interface, which is based on Android 12, includes a configurable Edge Tool on the side, which provides convenient quick access to apps. At the time of testing, the security patches on our test unit were. There are only supposed to be updates for the first two years after the smartphone release, or until 2024. This is especially useful when shooting video, as stabilisation isn’t really necessary during the day, and software does a lot of the heavy lifting at night. While the stabilisation is not as good as that of some flagship phones, it is adequate. Because it is hardware-based, even the Zenfone 9’s top shooting mode has some form of stabilisation in this case, a whopping 8K resolution.

Asus Zenfone 9 review: Hardware and Performance

The Zenfone 9’s in-hand feel is best described as solid. It’s not particularly heavy, but the straight-edged sides make it feel solid in the hand. It’s not overly thick, but it fits comfortably in your hand, and the smaller form factor allows for one-handed access to the physical volume rocker and power button. The power button also houses a fingerprint sensor, which works lightning fast, unlocking the phone with a single touch. It also functions as a smart button, with the ability to launch apps with a long or double press, and you can swipe down to easily bring down the notification shade – though we disabled this function because it was too good at recognising the swipe. The phone’s design revolves around a large 5.9″ FHD+ (10802400) resolution Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate that is very easy on the eyes. It’s also bright, with a peak brightness of 1100 nits, so you’re never stuck in direct sunlight.

Asus Zenfone 9 review: Camera

In the front, Asus employs a Sony IMX663 sensor with a 12-megapixel resolution. The selfie camera with autofocus provides comfortable sharpness, richly contrasted colours, and adequate daylight illumination. The camera, which is concealed beneath a punch hole, records videos in UHD quality at most, resulting in excellent Vlogging results when combined with phase detection autofocus. The Zenfone 9’s main camera is based on the IMX766, a sensor that we are familiar with from other smartphones such as the OnePlus 10T and Nothing Phone 1. The recordings have good sharpness under good lighting conditions, but the edges are slightly over-sharpened. Overall, the dynamic in the images could be slightly improved. The Asus smartphone quickly reaches its limits in low-light conditions. Despite the large aperture of f/1.9, the recordings are very dark, with few details remaining. However, the sharpness is adequate thanks to the 6-axis hybrid gimbal technology.

Battery life

The Asus Zenfone 9 has a 4300mAh battery, which is a good size for its size. The Sony Xperia 10 IV, on the other hand, packs a 5000mAh battery into a narrower and thinner shell. Its charging speed is also quite slow compared to other Chinese brands you could go to with this much money: OnePlus, Xiaomi, etc. The Zenfone 9 comes with a 30W charger, but when testing the power draw with a power metre, the rate jumps all over the place during a charge cycle. The Asus Zenfone 9 takes 84 minutes to charge to 100% and 33 minutes to charge to 50%. When you consider that a full charge of the OnePlus 10T takes less than 20 minutes, it’s a bit disappointing. In terms of the Asus Zenfone 9 review, actual battery life is unimportant. It’s not brilliant, but it’s also not bad. I discovered that I can get through a day with no problem, but not with enough charge to make charging the phone every other day a viable option.

Price and Availability

Consider the primary competitor. For £20 less, the iPhone 13 Mini provides an even more compact phone with comparable performance, a superior camera, wireless charging, and a less compromised design. According to rumours, the Mini line will be phased out soon, but you can bet Apple will continue to support the iPhone 13 Mini for years to come. There are far fewer Android phones that offer a comparable combination of performance and portability. The Sony Xperia 5 III, Xiaomi 12, and Samsung Galaxy S22 are all considered compact flagships, but they are larger and slower than the Zenfone 9, and their prices are slightly higher.

Final Words

There are far fewer best Asus Zenfone 9 Android phones that offer a comparable combination of performance and portability. The Zenfone 9 is all considered compact flagships, but they are larger and slower than the Zenfone 9, and their prices are slightly higher. The gimbal-stabilized main camera is impressive, particularly at night, but with a few visual glitches and issues in bright environments, it’s clear that Asus needs to do some software tuning.

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