Asus Zenfone 9 review, compact but sturdy

Asus has just formalized it and we have been able to spend the last two weeks with the new compact smartphone from the Taiwanese manufacturer. Here is our test of the Asus Zenfone 9.

As we saw in this year’s announcement, there is no longer a model with the famous Flip Camera. Compactness prevailed over the fun and practical side of the original Asus photo block. The Asus Zenfone 8 Flip will therefore have been the last of a different kind in the world of smartphones.

Last year, the Zenfone 8 illustrated Asus’ brand new positioning in the smartphone market. In addition to gaming smartphones like the ROG Phone 6 (which we tested HERE not so long ago), Asus wanted to position itself in the segment of compact premium smartphones, which were still too rare last year. This year, it’s different, they are increasingly alongside the iPhone 13 mini, the Xperia 5 III or the Xiaomi 12 at the start of the year.

Here is the brand new Asus Zenfone 9, a premium and compact smartphone. If we find a certain evolution of the Zenfone 8, the Zenfone 9 seems much better prepared with a distinct design and power to spare since it offers as SoC, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, which is a first for a smartphone. compact.

Asus Zenfone 9

Asus Zenfone 9 Features

As a reminder of the characteristics, theAsus Zenfone 9 offers :

Asus Zenfone 9
Screen – 5.9″ Samsung AMOLED screen
– Gorilla Glass Victus
– Full HD+ definition (1080×2400)
– 20:9 aspect ratio
– 90% occupancy rate
– 120Hz
– 240Hz touch sampling rate
– 1ms response time
– Max brightness: 800nits / 1100nits
– HDR 10+
– DCI-P3 (112%)
– sRGB (151.9%)
-Delta E
SoCs and GPUs – Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
– Qualcomm Adreno 730
Memory – 8GB or 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM
– 128GB or 256GB of storage in UFS 3.1
– NTFS support for external hard drives
– No micro SD slot
Colors – Midnight Black
– Moonlight White
– Starry Blue
– Sunset Red
– Aluminum frame
– Polycarbonate back
– IP68
Camera – Camera block with two cameras:
– Wide-angle main camera: Sony IMX766 50 Megapixels, 84.6°, F/1.9, OIS, 6-axis Gimbal-type Hybrid Stabilization
– Ultra-wide-angle camera: Sony IMX363 12 Megapixels, 113°, F/2.2, Macro

– Optical and Hybrid Gimbal type stabilization on 6 axes for the main camera
– Dual Pixel Autofocus
– Night mode
– Macro mode on the ultra wide-angle
– Auto Panorama (Main and ultra-wide-angle camera)

– Video recording up to 8K at 24fps and Ultra HD 2160p at 60fps
– Slow Motion mode in 4K at 120fps, 1080p at 240fps or 720p at 480fps
– 4-axis electronic stabilization
– Ultra-stabilized HyperSteady video mode
– 4K timelapse

– Video Pro mode
– Motion Tracking

– Front camera: Sony IMX663 12 Megapixels, 76.5°, F/2.45
– Dual Pixel Autofocus
– Video recording up to Ultra HD 2160p at 30fps
– 4-axis electronic stabilization

Audio – Stereo speakers
– Qualcomm Aqstic DAC
– Dirac HD Sound
– Asus AudioWizard
– 3.5mm jack socket
– 2 microphones with OZO Audio Noise Reduction technology
Battery – 4300mAh
– Fast charging up to 30W
– Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0
Connectivities – All-in-one smart key
– Fingerprint reader under the screen
-Bluetooth 5.2
– Wi-Fi 6
– 5G
– 2x nano-SIM (5G Dual-SIM)
– A-GPS+GLONASS, DNLA, Miracast (WiFi Direct), Google Cast
-NFC
– USB 2.0, USB Type-C
– Barometer, Gyroscope, Accelerometer
– Proximity and light sensor
Software -Android 12
– ZenUI 9
Height and weight – 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1mm
– 169g
Starting price – 799 euros (8GB/128GB)
– 849 euros (8GB/256GB)
– 899 euros (16GB/256GB)
Availability date – August 2022

Regarding the packaging of the smartphone, no surprise, we find a box of the most classic. And unsurprisingly, there is the USB Type-C cable, a QuickCharge 4.0 30W USB charger and small booklets for a first grip.

Design, Screen and Audio

Last year, Asus presented the Zenfone 8 in addition to the Zenfone 8 Flip, so it was not only a compact smartphone, but also a smartphone without the Flip Camera. This year, no version of Flip. As a result, we are entitled to a single smartphone and it is compact. And it’s all the more obvious when you have it in hand for the first time. The right thumb or the left index finger falls perfectly on the standby button which also serves as a fingerprint sensor. As you can imagine, he is of a physical type and he is of an unparalleled reactivity.

The outline is of course made of aluminum and it has the advantage of not being rounded, it is completely flat like on the Apple iPhones for example. The advantage is that it won’t slip out of hand. On the back, we discover two huge circles containing the cameras of the Asus Zenfone 9. These two circles make us think of what Huawei and Honor offer and somewhere, it avoids rectangular or square type photo blocks. Note the thickness of the main camera.

Asus Zenfone 9

Despite the two fairly large cameras on the back, the weight of the smartphone is very well distributed, which allows the smartphone to remain balanced in the hand, even if it only weighs 169g. The back is not glass but plastic with a coating halfway between very fine velvet and a soft-touch finish. On a daily basis, it’s super pleasant and once again, it allows the smartphone not to slip.

As we saw above, the standby button serves as a biometric sensor but not only… Indeed, it also includes a ZenTouch Multi-Function button which allows the user to assign additional shortcuts. We can thus double-click, or make a downward or upward gesture. In practice, and perhaps through lack of habit, we have only used it very little, but it is present and who can do more can do less.

Regarding the screen, it occupies 90% of the front of the smartphone, we would have liked thinner screen edges but we nitpick since it was not annoying on a daily basis. To put it simply, it’s the same screen as last year and we thus find a Samsung AMOLED screen with a Full HD + definition which, on a daily basis, will be more than enough. Similarly, there is also a refresh rate of 120Hz! This allows for increased fluidity in the overall experience, whether with Android or scrolling apps.

And finally, on the audio side, the Zenfone 9 offers stereo speakers. There is also Dirac HD technology which allows the smartphone to do well in terms of sound. Note two speakers of equivalent power. Afterwards, these are only smartphone speakers and they will not replace good headphones or earphones of course. And finally, there is a 3.5mm jack port on the Zenfone 9. Always practical.

Asus Zenfone 9

ZenUI 8, Performance and Autonomy

Over time, Asus continues to refine its Zen UI and we move with the Zenfone 9 to version 9.0 of Zen UI. Unsurprisingly, we play the continuity card with a user experience that is still very close to the Android Stock experience. The user interface has been designed for one-handed use. For example, applications in a folder open at the bottom of the screen and not in the middle as often. It may not be much, but on a daily basis, it changes everything. As a result, one-handed use remains a pleasant thing on a daily basis, especially with these types of small improvements brought by the Asus overlay.

Asus Zenfone 9

On the performance side, we won’t surprise you too much since the Asus Zenfone 9 has the best Android SoC to date and yes, it’s the same SoC as the ROG Phone 6 released barely a month ago. We are obviously talking about the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 which has the advantage of being 10% faster in CPU and GPU compared to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and above all, 30% less energy-consuming. Direct consequence, on everyday uses, we did not note any particular heating. Also, we find results with different very high-end benchmarks, especially for a compact smartphone. To give you, these are the same results or almost as gaming smartphones. Whatever your uses, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 will get by without flinching. It will still be necessary to be careful with greedy tasks since the Asus Zenfone 9 tends to heat up well according to our lab tests 01Lab. At times, it’s 44.7 times hotter than the average high-end smartphone over the past 12 months.

And finally, to finish, this year, the Asus Zenfone 9 arrives with a 4300mAh battery (against 4000mAh for its predecessor). Of course, this is less than premium smartphones that offer 5000mAh batteries. But we remind you that we are in the presence of a compact smartphone. Also, with a smaller screen, it is necessarily less energy-consuming for the same use. In daily use, we very easily last a day and during our tests, we had no problem getting the two days of autonomy. Practice. We find the fast charging of 30W as on the smartphone of last year, and unfortunately still no wireless charging. Shame.

In any case, in our lab tests 01Lab, the Asus Zenfone 9 offers a versatile autonomy of 18:40, it is extremely good and for comparison, it is about 15 minutes less than an iPhone 13 and 30 minutes less than an iPhone 13 Pro. Only the iPhone 13 Pro Max makes a real difference in terms of autonomy.

Photo and Video

Because it’s a compact smartphone and for space reasons, Asus has played it safe with the Zenfone 9’s photo block. Like its predecessor, the Zenfone 9 offers a photo block consisting of two cameras, a large -standard angle and an ultra-wide angle. If the ultra wide-angle is quite classic and will not revolutionize the genre, the main camera is quite impressive. Indeed, the main camera of the Zenfone 9 not only offers a 50 Megapixel sensor with a larger format but above all, it offers a gimbal with 6-axis stabilization.

Asus Zenfone 9

This gimbal stabilization is impressive when the light conditions are not optimal and in video. Moreover, it is on the videos that we notice how stable it is. For those who haven’t kept up with everything, Asus offers the same stabilization technology as Vivo with its X51 5G, X60 and more recently the X80 Pro. The sensor is none other than the Sony IMX766, the same one used on a large majority of premium smartphones this year. Otherwise, the app itself is the same as previous years in its interface. We thus find object tracking, Pro modes in video or photo, night mode and even an ultra-stabilization mode when we do not necessarily need it.

For the photos themselves, when the light conditions are ideal, the Asus Zenfone 9 does not have to be ashamed and does well. Compared to previous years, Asus finally offers a little more contrast even if it still lacks a bit of sharpness, especially when the light conditions are more difficult. On the other hand, we will always note a real difference between the main camera and the ultra wide-angle which quickly shows its limits with a correct center but winded edges. It’s even more obvious when the lighting conditions are more difficult. On the other hand, we will note and appreciate a certain consistency between the two cameras. Without being the best, even at this price level, if you are not demanding in photography, the Asus Zenfone 9 will clearly be able to satisfy many users.

Here are some sample photos:

Because the Asus Zenfone 9 is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC, we find the possibility of recording videos up to 8K at 24fps but especially 4K up to 120fps. And this year, with the 6-axis hybrid gimbal stabilization, it’s much better and even impressive. It’s the kind of smartphone that’s perfect for social media with such stabilization.

Photo gallery

Leave a Comment