Asus Zenfone 9 in review: With 5.9 inches, it has become my favorite android

Today’s smartphone displays have to be one thing in many places: big. And while this is certainly one of the most important points for most users, I personally feel differently now. My iPhone 10 is the ideal size for my hands. My last android was and is the Pixel 6 Pro, which is anything but small and handy – but packed with strong hardware and software. With the new Zenfone 9, Asus has introduced an Android smartphone that is not only handy with its 5.9 inches, but is also packed to the brim with the latest hardware. We blogged the idea of ​​the device here, where you can also find all the information about the specs and prices. I was allowed to look at the Zenfone 9 extensively and wrote down everything worth knowing in this test.

The Asus Zenfone suited me for my test 9 in the version with 018 GB of RAM and 99 GB memory. So much in advance: My impressions of the performance should hardly be different for the two slightly weaker versions. We also have a Zenfone 8 in our household, which enabled me to make a direct comparison between the two models.

First of all: My eyes aren’t the best anymore, I wear glasses and has always been happy with the display development. But it also has to remain handy and this is where – as the title of this article says – the Zenfone 9 hits the sweet spot.

The Zenfone 9 (right) in direct comparison with the Zenfone 8 (left)

I’m not only a friend of the display size, but also of the rest of the design. This means, among other things, the straight edges of the frame, the feel of the buttons on the right side of the device and the playful elements on the back. That is made of plastic and roughened. As a result, the Zenfone 9 is as handy as hardly any other Android smartphone at the moment. The grain on the back isn’t quite as coarse as it was on OnePlus back in the day, but it’s reason enough for me to prefer to take the device with me without the case rather than with me. The only thing that bothers me when I put it down on a surface is that the device rests on the camera lenses.

Speaking of camera lenses: yes, they are really big and thick. Some people on the internet are rightly mocking that it could have been done differently. Personally, the design doesn’t bother me at all. But I also stopped being annoyed about camera bumps a long time ago – Apple no longer makes a difference there either. In the end everyone has to decide for themselves whether the camera design is more of a nuisance here or not.

The Zenfone 9 is available in four different colors, and I find the red and blue variants particularly interesting. Asus is also launching a new line of accessories called “Connex”. You may remember the case with a drawstring that was shown in the first trailer for the device and can magnetically dock to a mount clipped to the backpack? This makes it possible, for example, to take bike tours and take your mobile phone out of the holder on the go because it is secured by the drawstring. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to test that accessory yet, but I will probably 799 when it’s available Pick up euros and record a few trips to Lost Places.

The FHD+ AMOLED display of the Zenfone 9 displays content sharply. However, I have a problem with the maximum brightness in direct sunlight. On holiday in Holland there were various moments when I had to take the device with me into the shade in order to be able to see everything better. But that’s complaining on a high level, because buyers of the Zenfone 9 basically get a really great and colorful display.

The sound of the speakers is better than that of the Zenfone 8, but you should still not expect premium speakers here. I’ve used it more often in some games. Problem: Due to their arrangement, as a user in landscape format, both speaker openings are quickly covered – the sound naturally suffers enormously as a result. On the right side of the device is the volume rocker, but also the multifunction button. In that rests the fingerprint sensor (a face recognition can also be used, but is not nearly as good as the scanner).

This works so quickly and reliably that at the beginning I only unlocked the display once or twice when I put my phone in my pocket. A minimal touch with part of the scanned finger is enough. “Foreign” fingers are rigorously reported as “not recognized”. Once you get used to it, you get one of the most reliable fingerprint sensors on the market.

Further functions can be assigned to the button, such as swipe gestures to display notifications or double-click functions such as activating the Google Assistants. However, the wiping in particular triggered too often unplanned in the test, so I quickly deactivated the function again.

The system is Android 08 pre-installed, along with the Asus overlay ZenUI. It is pleasantly unobtrusive and is reminiscent of pure Android for the most part. There are also Asus’ own features such as Game Genie, which can be used to further optimize the smartphone for games. Meanwhile permanently active with me (you can also let the system control this automatically or select it manually) are the 120 Hz maximum refresh rate. The system runs smoothly and smoothly.

The current Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 works as the SoC in the Zenfone 9, which also powers the Asus ROG 6 / 6 Pro gaming smartphone, for example. In addition, at least 8 come, otherwise 12 or even 16 GB RAM used. That’s easily enough to run all current games or several apps side by side. There’s really nothing here that could take the Zenfone 9’s breath away during my testing period. On the other hand, what annoyed me a little while on holiday in the Netherlands was that both the Zenfone 8 and the new Zenfone 9 were not able to offer continuous roaming. All 10 until 15 minutes the message appeared that roaming could not be offered at the moment, a few seconds later everything was back. Neither the Pixel nor the iPhone grumbled with the same settings. So it seems to have something to do with the hardware/the settings from Asus.

On the other hand, there are also very good marks for the 4th place.300 mAh strong battery. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 works energy-saving and comes in combination with the AMOLED display despite permanently active 120 Hz that I was able to operate the Zenfone 9 for a good two days and only had to charge it in the evening of the second day. Unfortunately, wireless charging is not possible, which bothers me as a wireless friend. But that is manageable. But what about the camera?

This very module is one of the most important aspects for many buyers. Samsung, Apple, Google and Co. regularly compete head-to-head with new devices. The Zenfone 9 definitely cannot keep up, but compared to the Zenfone 8, Asus has made some improvements. The Sony sensor used is also used in the ROG Phone 6 / 6 Pro, but interestingly it does not take quite as good photos there. I suspect that Asus has once again adjusted the software.

The photos from the Zenfone 9 are rich in detail and colour, only with ultra-wide-angle photos are there artefacts and slight artifacts at the edges of the image washovers. The autofocus reacts quickly, but it works even faster on some other current smartphones. There are also additional features such as various light trail modes, with which, for example, waterfalls or the starry sky can be recorded better. This works quite well so far, but I definitely recommend using a tripod.

What disappoints me about the camera is the night mode. Here, the recordings are quickly lacking in detail or washed out. A tripod is also better here every time. However, this is not always readily available. For sharper night shots, I recommend installing a Gcam version for the Zenfone 9 (I’m deliberately not linking because new versions are released far too quickly). This makes the photos much sharper and richer in contrast, although the software doesn’t quite come close to the Google original.

In the following pictures you can see a photo of our tomcat Simba on the far left, who with the night mode of the original camera app of the Zenfone 9 and shows the image disturbances I mentioned. The other two recordings are also from the Zenfone 9, but are with the Gcam version 7.3.16.291816413 developed. All three were compressed for the post, you can download an album with the three originals and some other uncompressed recordings from the Zenfone 9 here.

And with that I would like to come to my conclusion: The Asus Zenfone 9 is my current favorite Android and has temporarily even replaced my iPhone as my daily driver. While the camera isn’t perfect, I like how Asus is gradually getting the sensors and software to really good results.

The size, feel, and performance are up to date for me enough reasons to recommend the Zenfone 9 to the Pixel 6 Pro or the iPhone 12 preferable. What remains to be seen, however, is whether Asus will continue to come around the corner regularly with system updates. So far, the company has never really covered itself in glory. But that doesn’t change my currently prevailing enjoyment of the Zenfone 9!

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