If you hate huge smartphones, and are looking to get something more compact, well, this article may help you. This time around, we’re comparing the ASUS ZenFone 9 vs Google Pixel 6a. Both of these phones are considered to be compact, even though the ZenFone 9 is noticeably more compact. Do note that even though we’re comparing them, these two phones are in different price brackets.
That is not surprising considering that the ZenFone 9 is a flagship-grade smartphone, while the Pixel 6a is essentially Google’s mid-ranger. They are both compelling in their own right, though, so comparing them will be interesting, that’s for sure. We’ll kick things off by listing their specifications, as per usual, and will then move to comparing their designs, displays, performance, battery life, cameras, and audio performance.
|ASUS ZenFone 9||Google Pixel 6a|
|Screen size||5.9-inch FullHD+ Super AMOLED display (60-120Hz refresh rate)||6.1-inch fullHD+ OLED HDR display (60Hz)|
|Screen resolution||2400 x 1080||2400 x 1080|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1||Google Tensor|
|RAM||8GB/16GB (LPDDR5)||6GB (LPDDR5)|
|Storage||128GB/256GB (UFS 3.1), non-expandable||128GB (UFS 3.1), non-expandable|
|Rear cameras||50MP (f/1.9 aperture, 23.8mm wide-angle lens, 1.0um pixel size, gimbal OIS, PDAF)|
12MP (f/2.2 aperture, 113-degree FoV, 1.4um pixel size, 14.4mm lens)
|12.2MP (f/1.7 aperture, 27mm lens, 1.4um pixel size, dual pixel PDAF, OIS)|
12MP (f/2.2 aperture, 17mm lens, 114-degree FoV, 1.25um pixel size)
|Front cameras||12MP (f/2.5 aperture, 1.22um pixel size, 27.5mm lens, dual pixel PDAF)||8MP (f/2.0 aperture, 24mm lens, 1.12um pixel size)|
|Battery||4,300mAh, non-removable, 30W wired charging (charger included)||4,410mAh, non-removable, 18W wired charging (charger not included)|
|Dimensions||146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1mm||152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9mm|
|Weight||169 grams||178 grams|
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C||5G, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi, USB Type-C|
|Security||Side-facing fingerprint scanner||In-display fingerprint scanner (optical)|
ASUS ZenFone 9 vs Google Pixel 6a: Design
Let’s start with the design, which differs quite a bit between these two phones. They both have very thin bezels, with the bottom bezel being slightly thicker than the rest. The bezels are not uniform. Both phones include flat displays, while they both have punch holes, but in different spots. The ZenFone 9 includes one in the top-left corner, while the Pixel 6a has a centered display camera hole. Do note that ASUS’ front-facing camera has a silver ring around it, which is a bit distracting, unfortunately. The same was the case with the ZenFone 8. It’s not a big deal, but it’s worth noting.
The ZenFone 9 corners are more curved than the ones on the Pixel 6a. The ZenFone 9 is also gripper than the Pixel 6a, mainly thanks to its backplate and frame. Its backplate feels almost like paper, even though it’s not, of course. ASUS used polymer back here. The sides are also flatter than the ones on the Pixel 6a, though not entirely flat. The ZenFone 9 is far more pleasant to hold than other phones with entirely flat displays, it doesn’t cut into your hand or anything of the sort. The Pixel 6a also feels great in the hand, but it’s quite slippery. It includes a polycarbonate back.
The Google Pixel 6a is larger than the ZenFone 9. It’s taller, wider, and slightly thinner. It’s also a bit heavier than ASUS’ flagship. The ZenFone 9 has two separate camera islands on the back, while the Pixel 6a utilizes a camera visor similar to the one on the Pixel 6, but smaller. They essentially not only look entirely different, but feel completely different in the hand. The ZenFone 9 is smaller, lighter, and gripper.
The ZenFone 9 has a side-facing fingerprint scanner, one of the fastest we’ve ever used. It is included inside a power key, which has a touch panel on the inside as well. You can lower your notifications, or set it to do something else. It leaves a possibility for assigning more actions. The Pixel 6a, on the flip side, has an in-display fingerprint scanner, and it’s not nearly as fast as the ZenFone 9’s, nor as accurate.
ASUS ZenFone 9 vs Google Pixel 6a: Display
The ASUS ZenFone 9 comes with a 5.9-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) Super AMOLED display. This display supports HDR10+ content, and has a 120Hz refresh rate. It gets quite bright at 1,100 nits of peak brightness (800 nits in manual mode). It is also protected by the Gorilla Glass Victus, and it’s flat. We’re looking at a 445 ppi here, and a 20:9 display aspect ratio.
The Google Pixel 6a, on the flip side, sports a 6.1-inch fullHD+ (2400 x 1080) OLED display with HDR support. This panel is also flat, and it is protected by the Gorilla Glass 3. It is a 60Hz panel, though, and we’re looking at a 429 ppi here. This display has the same aspect ratio as the ZenFone 9’s, considering the same resolution, an aspect ratio of 20:9.
That being said, the ZenFone 9’s display does look better on paper, and yes, it’s better in real-life as well. ASUS did a great job here. The panel itself is vibrant and sharp, while using it feels immensely smooth. Many people have trouble keeping things at 120Hz, and can feel jittery, but that’s not the case here. The ZenFone 9’s display also has great viewing angles, and it’s a great panel overall.
The Pixel 6a’s display is good, but it cannot match up to the ZenFone 9’s. It is a bit on the warmer side, and even though it’s flat, you’ll definitely notice the lack of smoothness due to its 60Hz refresh rate. The viewing angles are good, though. Another thing to note is that the Pixel 6a’s display is more prone to microscratches because of the Gorilla Glass 3.
ASUS ZenFone 9 vs Google Pixel 6a: Performance
Google really bumped things up in terms of hardware when it comes to the Pixel 6a, well, in comparison to its predecessor. This phone comes with the Google Tensor SoC, the same one that is used in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. It also includes 6GB of LPDDR5 RAM, along with 128GB of UFS 3.1 flash storage. The phone feels very smooth, that’s for sure, and at its price range, you probably won’t be able to find something that will perform as well.
The problem is, the ZenFone 9 is on the other side, and it’s immensely powerful, and extremely smooth. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 fuels this phone, while you’re getting either 8GB or 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM here. ASUS also included UFS 3.1 flash storage here. The ZenFone 9 feels buttery smooth in use. Everything opens up in an instant, while its smooth display only emphasizes the overall feeling of smoothness. Don’t get me wrong, the Pixel 6a performs like a champ, but the ZenFone 9’s display does make a difference usage-wise.
ASUS ZenFone 9 vs Google Pixel 6a: Battery
When you think of compact phones, you immediately assume they have poor battery life, right? Well, that’s not the case here, for either phone, quite the contrary, though. The ASUS ZenFone 9 comes with a 4,300mAh battery pack, which is more than enough for its display size and everything. The Pixel 6a, on the flip side, includes a 4,410mAh unit, which is almost more than decent considering everything.
The ZenFone 9 provided us with outstanding battery life, actually. When you can get past the 7-hour screen-on-time mark and still have over 30% of battery left, you know the phone has great battery life. The Pixel 6a is not exactly that far from those numbers, but it cannot match up to what the ZenFone 9 is offering. Still, it has great battery life as well. There’s really not much to complain about here, neither of these phones will leave you hanging.
The ZenFone 9 supports 30W fast wired charging, while the Pixel 6a supports 18W charging. The ZenFone 9 will charge up faster, while it also comes with a charger in the box, which is not something we can say for the Pixel 6a. Neither of the two phones supports wireless charging, nor reverse (wireless) charging.
ASUS ZenFone 9 vs Google Pixel 6a: Cameras
The ZenFone 9 and Pixel 6a have fairly different camera hardware, though they both include three cameras. The ZenFone 9 includes a 50-megapixel main camera, and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera on the back, in addition to a 12-megapixel front-facing unit. The Pixel 6a, on the other hand, has a 12.2-megapixel main camera, a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.
Are the cameras here any good, though? Well, yes, they are, actually. The ZenFone 9 includes the same main camera sensor as the ROG Phone 6 and Nothing Phone (1), and despite that, it manages to offer better pictures in return. They are quite vivid, and sharp. It can go a bit overboard when it comes to processing, especially in HDR conditions, but nothing that should worry you that much. Also, the ultrawide camera is consistent with the main camera in terms of image styles, including colors and everything, which is very nice to see.
The Pixel 6a, despite the fact it has a truly old main camera sensor, manages to shoot great pictures. Google’s camera software is second-to-none out there, and it shows. The pictures look rich, contrasty, and great overall. The phone’s night mode is also truly great, but the ZenFone 9 also does a good job in that regard, though they have different night mode styles. ASUS’ looks closer to what you actually see.
In fact, I’d say that the ZenFone 9 has the closest style to Pixels when it comes to cameras. It has a similar picture profile, during the day. It’s not quite on the same level, but out of all the cameras I’ve tested, this one is the closest. The cameras won’t disappoint, and that goes for both phones. They’re not the best out there, but they’re really good.
The ASUS ZenFone 9 does include a headphone jack, while Google decided to remove it from the Pixel 6a, after offering it with the Pixel 5a. Both phones do offer stereo speakers, and they’re good on both phones. We actually preferred the sound of the ZenFone 9, to be quite honest, the sound is richer, as if the soundstage is wider. They both do a good job in that regard, though. The lows, mids, and highs are well-balanced, which is quite important, of course. The vocals don’t get muffled or anything of the sort. We also didn’t notice audio distortion worth mentioning. They’re not the best speakers on the market, but considering the sizes of these two phones, they’re really good.