What’s occurring

The $700 Asus Zenfone 9 has each a tiny 5.9-inch display screen and the newest Snapdragon chip.

Why it issues

The Zenfone is among the smallest Android telephones presently made and one of many cheaper telephones to incorporate probably the most highly effective Snapdragon processor.

What’s subsequent

Whereas small Android telephones will nonetheless be a rarity shifting ahead, we count on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip to be in much more Android telephones through the second half of 2022.

The Asus Zenfone 9, revealed Thursday, may give followers of smaller telephones all of the specs and energy of bigger, costlier flagship telephones. The Zenfone 9 consists of the most recent Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip, a 120Hz excessive refresh charge display screen, two rear cameras, Android 12, twin audio system and a headphone jack.

I examined the $800 model of the Zenfone 9 for just a few days, which incorporates 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The bottom $700 mannequin comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Internationally the cellphone prices 799 euros, which converts roughly to £670 or AU$1,170. A launch date has not but been introduced.

Comparisons to Apple’s $729 iPhone 13 Mini are simple. Whereas the Zenfone 9 is barely taller and wider than Apple’s smallest cellphone, each embody the latest and highly effective processor supplied — the A15 Bionic within the case of the iPhone. 

Zenfone 9 dimensions vs. iPhone 13 Mini

Telephone Display measurement Peak Width
Asus Zenfone 9 5.9 inches 5.76 in (146.5 mm) 2.68 in (68.1 mm)
Apple iPhone 13 Mini 5.4 inches 5.18 in (131.5 mm) 2.53 in (64.2 mm)

The Zenfone’s smaller measurement, together with its spectacular specs, have made it a pleasure to make use of up to now. The cellphone seems like a bit distant management that may deal with something that I throw at it: video games, evening mode pictures and video calls. After I unlock the cellphone, there’s even a peppy wallpaper animation that additional emphasizes its velocity.

The Zenfone 9’s sub-6-inch show means it is a rarity amongst Android telephones. It is impressively small and highly effective, operating on the Snapdragon chip discovered primarily in gaming telephones such because the $729 RedMagic 7S Professional. Although the upcoming OnePlus 10T can even embody the chip.

But the brand new Asus cellphone is lacking a number of options that almost all different $700 telephones have. Chief amongst them is the dearth of wi-fi charging and a software program replace timeline of greater than two years. An Asus rep mentioned that software program updates may lengthen previous two years. However in contrast with the three and 4 years of Android OS updates supplied by Google and Samsung, respectively, that is on the shorter aspect.

The Asus Zenfone 9 headphone jack

The Asus Zenfone 9 features a headphone jack up high, and twin audio system.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Quick display screen, quick charging

The Zenfone’s 5.9-inch display screen has a 1080p decision and is simple to make use of with one hand. Asus tailor-made the settings in its ZenUI interface to make one-handed use even simpler: Just like Apple’s Reachability characteristic, you possibly can transfer the highest a part of the display screen to the underside to make issues simpler to achieve.

The 120Hz refresh charge makes apps and web sites clean to browse. That prime refresh charge coupled with a 240Hz contact sampling charge makes it really feel like I am flying by means of duties. I performed just a few video games on the cellphone — which was barely harder on the smaller display screen since lots of them are designed with bigger telephones in thoughts. However the cellphone’s responsiveness is useful, permitting for sooner response occasions throughout gameplay.

By way of sturdiness, the display screen is roofed in Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The cellphone has an IP68 score for water and dirt resistance. Which means the it may well survive being submerged in 1 meter of water for half-hour. 

Whereas I nonetheless must run formal battery exams, I have never wanted to cost the cellphone’s 4,300-mAh battery a lot. Throughout my most lively day of use — taking pictures of a ramen lunch, watching YouTube movies whereas studying information, utilizing Google Maps to go to a dimly lit bar the place I took Evening mode pictures — the battery ended the day at roughly 50%.

Asus mentioned the battery ought to final 1.9 days. Thankfully the cellphone comes with a 30-watt charger within the field and there are a number of power-saving modes in Settings like scheduling a lower-power mode to run in a single day.

The Asus Zenfone 9 cameras

The again of the Asus Zenfone 9 is outlined by its two giant rear cameras.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The twin rear cameras are first rate

The again of the Zenfone 9 is dominated by its two rear cameras. They’re large enough to virtually be a design assertion. There is a primary 50-megapixel digital camera with a six-axis hybrid gimbal stabilizer and a 12-megapixel digital camera with an ultrawide lens. On the entrance is a 12-megapixel selfie digital camera.

Images taken underneath common lighting look fairly good. Check out the colour and element within the picture beneath that I took of my ramen lunch.

Ramen lunch photo shot on Asus Zenfone 9

This Zenfone picture of ramen was taken indoors.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Plants photo taken on Asus Zenfone 9.

I took this picture of crops on a sunny Manhattan rooftop.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

I used to be most impressed by the cellphone’s Evening mode. Try the picture beneath that I took inside a really darkish bar. The Zenfone’s Evening mode makes the images look brighter virtually like there was further lighting. 

NIght mode photo in dark bar taken on Asus Zenfone 9

Discover how Evening mode made the shadows brighter and retained particulars like the feel within the wooden paneling on the bar’s entrance.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The front-facing digital camera can be positive and picks up sufficient element in pictures. Discover the sample on my shirt within the selfie picture beneath. Asus claims the front-facing digital camera has the quickest autofocus presently accessible, however in my early exams it felt common in comparison with different telephones on this value vary. Video calls with the front-facing digital camera additionally labored effectively. 

Front facing camera photo from the Asus Zenfone 9

Entrance-facing digital camera picture taken on the Asus Zenfone 9.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Small-size cellphone with massive efficiency

The Zenfone 9 is a good possibility for somebody in search of a small cellphone that has higher-end options like a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip and a 120Hz high-refresh charge display screen. The cellphone runs on 5G and helps sub-6 and C-band.

If you happen to’re contemplating the Zenfone 9 remember it solely has two years of software program help and lacks wi-fi charging and mmWave 5G help (which continues to be a rarity throughout a lot of the US). If you happen to’re in search of a small-ish cellphone underneath $500, take a look at the $449 Pixel 6A and its barely taller 6.1-inch display screen.


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