Asus has announced the Zenfone 9 as its new compact flagship smartphone for 2022, and it packs a lot of features for a price that’s higher than that of its predecessor but still fair enough to make it worth considering over the competition. The Zenfone 9 is Asus’s third smartphone for 2022, arriving weeks after the ROG Phone 6 and ROG Phone 6 Pro.
The Zenfone 9 joins the Samsung Galaxy S22, Xiaomi 12 and Pixel 6a as the few compact Android smartphones available on the market. Like the others, it has a flagship chipset and runs the latest version of Android available.
The Zenfone 9 has a revamped design, with the only similarity to the Zenfone 8 being its display. Still talking about the screen, there is a punch hole at the top left corner for the front camera. There are also bezels around it which are not uniform. Asus has dropped the curved frame from the 2021 model for a flat frame which it says resulted in having more space to fit in a bigger battery and larger camera sensors. The said cameras now sit in two separate housings stacked on top of each other. The back, made of composite material, has a textured coating that provides a firm grip and prevents fingerprint smudges. In addition, the device’s IP68 rating means it can survive accidental spills and immersion in water. The Zenfone 9 is available in Midnight Black, Moonlight White, Starry Blue and Sunset Red.
Asus seems to be sticking to the same display used in the Zenfone 8. The 5.9-inch Samsung AMOLED display has a 120Hz refresh rate, 115 percent sRGB and 112 percent DCI-P3 color gamuts, HDR10+, and a Delta E value of less than one. Asus also says it is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus. The punch hole at the top left corner houses a 12MP Sony IMX663 autofocus camera. On the back is a 50MP Sony IMX 766 primary camera with a 6-axis hybrid gimbal stabilizer and electronic image stabilization. There is also a 12MP Sony IMX363 113-degree ultrawide angle camera that can shoot 4cm macro images just like the Nothing Phone (1), thus eliminating the useless 2MP macro camera. The phone can record 8K at 24fps and 4K at 60fps.
The Zenfone 9 has arrived later than its predecessor. That delay has paid off as this allowed Asus to use the more powerful Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor instead of the older Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 found inside the flagships that launched at the beginning of the year. The chipset is paired with 6GB, 8GB, or 16GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage. There is no MicroSD card slot which isn’t much of a surprise. While other manufacturers have ditched the audio jack, Asus has kept it on the Zenfone 9. The phone also has stereo speakers and support for Qualcomm’s aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive codecs. It even carries the Snapdragon Sound certification, which means it can deliver 24-bit 96kHz Bluetooth audio.
The new design has allowed Asus to fit a bigger 4300mAh battery into the Zenfone 9 while keeping its weight unchanged from that of the Zenfone 8. It supports 30W fast charging and comes with a power adapter in the box. It also supports Quick Charge 4.0. It runs Android 12 out of the box with ZenUI 9, which has optimizations for one-handed use. For example, users can double-tap the back of the phone to take screenshots, open the camera app or launch the Google Assistant. Unlike the Zenfone 8, which has an under-display fingerprint scanner, the Zenfone 9 swaps it for a side-mounted one buried under the power button that also doubles as a trackpad. Called ZenTouch, users can double-click the button to launch apps or swipe it to navigate a webpage or control media playback. The Zenfone 9 has dual SIM support with Dual SIM Dual 5G (sub-6 GHz only), Wi-Fi 6E and NFC. It has a starting price of €799 in Europe and $699 in the U.S. for the model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That undercuts its closest rival, the Galaxy S22, which starts at $799. However, there is no information on when the Zenfone 9 will be available for purchase in these regions.