The ASUS ZenFone 9 is not only the best compact smartphone of 2022, but one of the best phones this year in general.
ASUS released the ZenFone 8 last year, a flagship-grade smartphone that is compact at the same time. That was a very, very good smartphone. We enjoyed our time with it very much. If ASUS decided to make a small upgrade this year, that would probably be fine… but no! The company decided to reinvent the wheel, and in a good way. The ZenFone 9 is an improvement over the ZenFone 8 in pretty much every way, and it’s easily the best compact smartphone of 2022 in our eyes.
My colleague reviewed it earlier this year, and I’ve been using it as my daily driver (between reviews) ever since as well. ASUS managed to come up with a more appealing design this time around. Instead of doing what everyone else is doing, ASUS decided to play on its own terms. It opted for flat sides (all around), but with curves on the sides, so that the phone doesn’t cut into your hand as much as some others do. That works, actually, especially in combination with the soft-touch back.
Instead of using a glass back on this phone, ASUS opted for a polymer back. The thing is, each of the three color variants the phone is available in (black, white, and blue) comes with a different-feeling backplate. The black model that we reviewed is the middle-of-the-road as far as softness is concerned, and it’s a great choice. Yes, this backplate will get smudged up a bit more than glass, especially over time, but the grip it offers is worth it. It feels so much better than glass, and it’s a perfect combo for the design of this phone, and for one-handed use.
This compact phone does offer great battery life as well
What managed to surprise us even more is the battery life. Consumers instantly criticized the ZenFone 9 for its battery capacity, as the device includes a 4,300mAh battery. That’s completely off base. Why? Well, you need to remember that this phone has a 5.9-inch display, not a 6.8-inch one. It’s also a fullHD+ panel, not a QHD+ display. On top of everything, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is included here, and that’s very important. The ZenFone 9 actually has a larger battery than its predecessor, and much better battery life. This is an excellent battery capacity for this device.
To put things into perspective, this device actually provided better battery life than some flagships with 5,000mAh battery packs. We’ve managed to push it past the 8-hour screen-on-time mark on a number of occasions. The only thing that we don’t do, when it comes to power use, is play demanding games. The phone can handle them without a problem, but that would probably impact battery life. Everything else is game. The phone offers truly great battery life, and best of all, it doesn’t heat up much during use. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is a truly excellent processor, and it’s a perfect fit for the ZenFone 9.
ASUS did a great job with the ZenFone 9, no doubt about that
ASUS even managed to offer a good camera experience, and the software experience on the device is one of the best out there. It’s essentially stock Android with quite a few customization options. On top of everything else, the company also included a 3.5mm headphone jack on the phone. When some companies make excuses for removing ports on much larger phones, and quote size constraints as reasons, ASUS delivers. We do hope that ASUS will continue down this road, as we’re really looking forward to seeing more compact flagships from the company. ASUS aced it this year.