Asus Zenfone 9 sets the benchmark for compact flagship phones

(Pocket-lint) – Asus has followed up the 2021 Zenfone 8 with the launch of the Zenfone 9. Like the predecessor, this new Zenfone promises flagship performance from a compact device.

The new handset is powered by the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 hardware, making it one of a new generation of flagship-grade devices. There’s up to 16GB RAM and 256GB storage, packed into a body that measures 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1mm.

That’s considerably smaller than rival devices with this sort of power, but could be considered alongside the likes the Sony Xperia 5 III – until the Xperia 5 IV launches, of course.

There’s a 5.9-inch display, which accounts for the small dimensions, designed to offer easier portability than big screen devices while enhancing the one-handed experience. It’s an AMOLED panel offering 120Hz refresh rates.

Alongside stereo speakers, there’s a 3.5mm headphone socket – a rarity now even on larger devices – while it also supports Snapdragon Sound, meaning you’ll get access to Hi-Res music support on compatible headsets via aptX adaptive or LDAC.

There’s a 4300mAh battery with support for 30W charging – and that 30W HyperCharge charger comes in the box, which again is something of a rarity.

Then we come to that cameras where Asus has made substantial changes over the Zenfone 8. The main Sony IMX766 camera is supported by a 6-axis gimbal to bring stability to all your content capture, offering 50-megapixel images and up to 8K video capture.

The second camera is ultrawide, using a Sony IMX363 sensor, while the front camera is a 12-megapixel Sony IMX663 – which also includes autofocus to keep those selfies sharp.

The design of the phone has been upgraded, with flatter sides for a more contemporary design. The cameras and their housing has expanded, making a bigger splash on the rear of the device, while lettering adds details to the design, seeming to borrow some inspiration from Asus’ ROG Phone family.

There’s an IP67 protection rating, so no compromise on protection, with an aluminium core fronted by Gorilla Glass Victus, while the rear is a soft-touch composite, offered in Midnight Black, Moonlight White, Starry blue and Sunset Red.

The phone launches on Android 12 with Zen UI and perhaps the only negative to the whole package is that there’s only going to be two Android OS updates and 2 years of security updates, which falls short of the average offered elsewhere.

Still, this is a package that appears to offer just about everything; starting at €799 it sounds like you’re getting a lot of phone for your money.

Writing by Chris Hall.

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