ASUS ZenFone 9 breaks cover: Compact flagships are not dead

ASUS has just announced the ASUS ZenFone 9, a brand new phone that aims to prove that compact flagships aren’t dead yet. With its compact, sub-6″ size and powerful hardware, this phone could shape up as the antithesis to the ever-increasing size and heft of modern flagships.

You’ll be excused for lamenting the death of compact flagship phones: with the rumored end-of-the-line for the Apple iPhone mini lineup, small but adept phones are seemingly going out of fashion as manufacturers have settled in a zone of comfort between 6 and 7 inches, but definitely inching towards the latter frontier, making them ever larger and ever heavier, while our hands stay the same size.

Enter the ZenFone 9, a super-powered mini that aims to break the established order! Make sure to check out our full review of the ASUS ZenFone 9 here. 

Read our ASUS ZenFone 9 review

ASUS ZenFone 9: Design

As we already mentioned, the ZenFone 9 is a sub 6-inch phone with super-compact design. Well, it’s actually not that small: we’re talking 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1 mm, which shouldn’t tell you much, but here goes: while the phone is as tall as the Galaxy S22, it’s narrower yet thicker. With a side frame made of aluminum, it only weighs 169 grams, but does not skimp on the premium features we’ve come to expect of any flagship phone these days.The phone also adopts the trendy right angle design language that does away with curved glass and relies on industrial right angles and edgy frames, similar to what Apple and Samsung have been doing for a while. ASUS’ unique polycarbonate back cover aims to provide a steady grip while simultaneously being immune to fingerprint smudges, the very bane of modern phone design…

An interesting design peculiarity is the multi-functional ZenTouch button on the side of the phone, which doubles as a capacitive fingerprint sensor and aims to improve the single-hand usage of the phone according to ASUS. Thanks to this button, the user can swipe up and down and interact with the interface with the phone without touching the display. Nifty!

The ZenFone 9 will be available in four colors: Black, Blue, Red, and White, which definitely look classy and sophisticated. Check them out right below!

ASUS ZenFone 9: Hardware

So, what’s ticking inside the ZenFone 9? 

Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset is the one making the ZenFone 9 purr, and that one is a way improved version of the slightly disappointing Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from the first half of the year, which was plagued by overheating issues and questionable efficiency. The phone also comes with wither 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and either 128 or 256GB of UFS3.1 storage with no expansion options on deck (such are the times!). 

The phone reins in the power of the Snapdragon with a new vapor chamber and moves away from the heat pipes of the previous generation ZenFone 8. What’s more, there’s a host of copper, graphite sheets, and thermal paste thrown in to further keep the phone cool. Bring on the heat, but not literally, that is!

Here’s a rundown of all the specs:

The 5.9-inch display at the front is a Samsung AMOLED panel, which should speak volumes to anyone who’s seen what Samsung’s AMOLED displays are capable of. ASUS promises superb coverage of various color spaces (112% DCI-P3, 152% sRGB, 107% NTSC), and a maximum brightness of more than 800 nits, which should make it perfectly legible in bright sunlight.

Aside from that, the ZenFone 9 also comes with a fast 120Hz refresh rate screen, which is currently the de facto flagship standard. The display is also polling for touch interactions 240 times every second, ensuring a near-instant reaction without any lag.

The phone comes with two cameras, a wide and a ultra-wide, and both are using current Sony sensors. This most certainly means that the ZenFone 9 is likely a rather adept cameraphone even though it lacks a dedicated telephoto or a periscope camera. ASUS also seems quite proud with the new 6-axis gimbal system that hints at excellent stabilization. 

Despite its compact size, the ZenFone 9 still comes with tough and resilient Gorilla Glass Victus up front and IP68 water resistance. ASUS has also fitted a large 4,300mAh battery inside, two large cameras, sophisticated cooling solution, and even a 3.5mm headphone jack for good measure. The company expects up to 1.9 days of regular usage out of that battery, or up to 18.5 hours of non-stop video playback. The phone also comes with a charger in the box, which is a rare sight these days, but kudos to ASUS for supplying one out!

ASUS ZenFone 9: Price and release date

The ASUS ZenFone 9 will be priced at $699 and €799 for the base 8GB/128GB version. The phone will be available in a host of regions (EU, APAC, Brazil), and most importantly, in the US as well. Definitely one to challenge the iPhones and Galaxies in the same price range, which essentially puts it toe-to-toe with the iPhone 13 and Galaxy S22, not to mention the solid competition coming from OnePlus and Motorola in the same price range.

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