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ASUS ZENFONE 9 REVIEW: ONE FOR THE SMALL PHONE SUPERFANS


UnboxingUnboxing the Asus Zenfone 9 was like meeting someone new and learning that you like the same obscure movies or went to the same high school. I could tell immediately we’d get along. “You’re IP68 and you have a headphone jack? No way! I love headphone jacks!”


A lot of the attraction has to do with its size. As it did with the Zenfone 8, Asus has set out to answer the question “what would a small (read: reasonably sized) flagship Android phone look like?” The answer starts with a 5.9-inch screen — not nearly as small as the 5.4-incher on the iPhone Mini. But as far as the Android ecosystem goes, it’s downright tiny.


“Small and runs Android” isn’t the only thing going for the Zenfone 9: it offers top-shelf components like a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, a smooth-scrolling 120Hz display refresh rate, and a 12-megapixel main camera with a one-of-a-kind stabilization system. It starts with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for $799 and will go on sale in the US directly from Asus in mid-September. Introductory pricing will be lower — $699 — and you can find global versions of the phone on Amazon right now for a bit less than MSRP. However, there’s good reason to wait until it’s officially on sale: Asus provides a one-year warranty with the phone when you purchase it directly, and the imported versions floating around now don’t include that.

Even when you’re riding high because you met your new best friend, you have to come


If you’re on AT&T or T-Mobile and you want a truly compact Android phone with flagship-grade performance, this is the one to seriously consider — provided you’re comfortable with the unfortunately short software support lifespan. It’s just lovely to use. I don’t miss the glass panel on the back one bit because the soft texture of whatever composite plastic that Asus has used is so lovely. It has camera capabilities that make me want to leave my house and shoot video. To be clear, my house is where the (softest) soft pants and espresso machine are. This is a serious barrier to overcome.


REALISTICALLY, THE ZENFONE 9 IS DESTINED FOR CULT CLASSIC STATUS

That pleasantness extends to the experience of using the phone to do day-to-day things. It feels responsive and polished. The built-in speakers are better than average. If I forget to charge my wireless earbuds, I can just plug in wired headphones. The power button even does what it’s supposed to when you hold it down for Pete’s sake!


Realistically, the Zenfone 9 is destined for cult classic status in the US. It doesn’t work on all carriers in the US, and the American public has spoken loud and clear that it wants big phones. For not much more money, the Samsung Galaxy S22 is a better choice for most people, with broad carrier support, a telephoto camera on every model, and a solid five-year security support policy to back it all up. I just hope that something like the

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