While it’s true there’s a shortage of small flagship phones in today’s market, be it Android or iOS, it doesn’t mean they are completely extinct.
The Asus ZenFone 9 is one such phone that still exists to satisfy not only suckers of small and powerful compact phones, but also those who still have plenty of use for the 3.5mm audio jack.
For anyone in the market for a compact and light Android smartphone, the ZenFone 9 is perhaps the most perfect offering around.
The phone is quite convincing, especially having bagged an award in MKBHD’s famous annual smartphone awards for 2022 as the best small phone.
While most compact phones compromise on raw power and performance, the ZenFone 9 delivers with its gimbal technology and a flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 16GB RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage.
That’s as flagship as it gets with any 2022 Android smartphone. It doesn’t skimp on specs when compared to its noticeably bigger counterparts.
Even more interesting is that despite its small form factor and battery size, the ZenFone 9 surprisingly holds up well in terms of battery life.
At a mere 5.9 inches, you can easily wrap your fingers around the ZenFone 9. The AMOLED screen also supports 120Hz refresh rate, something you won’t find on the much smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini.
And as noted earlier, the headphone jack still lives on, which is quite a nice touch! It makes me question why the likes of Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro don’t have an audio jack despite their immense sizes.
Still, make no mistake. The ZenFone 9 isn’t as perfect as it may sound to be. We recently highlighted issues related to poor camera quality and excessive battery drain that Asus is already looking into.
There’s also an ongoing issue even after the update to Android 13 where users keep experiencing random restarts. This has further forced the company into issuing replacement units to those affected.
No denying that’s quite some gesture from the company, but there’s always room for improvement, especially in terms of software.
It has nothing to do with the ZenUI skin that runs on top of Android. In fact, for a few years now, Asus has removed significant bloatware from ZenUI making it more functional with attractive system animations.
However, the duration of software support is still a huge problem for Asus phones. The company still promises only a minimum of two years of Android updates for the ZenFone series.
At a price of $800 at launch, 2 Android OS updates and 2 years of security updates is simply not enough and pretty much laughable coming from Asus.
For reference, the fairly compact Galaxy S22 gets up to 4 OS updates and 5 years of security patches for a price difference of just $50 at launch.
Heck, even Xiaomi, a company whose software update reputation traditionally hasn’t been the best, promises at least three OS updates and four years of security patches for its flagship Xiaomi 12.
Evidently, most Android OEMs now offer three to five years of software support, but Asus still offers a paltry two.
It’s such a shame that needs to end, especially since the ZenFone 9 is a rare gem thanks to its compact body with flagship specs and a 3.5mm audio jack. You won’t easily find this combo.
For Android fans who value compact dimensions in a smartphone and are looking for a high-end solution, the ZenFone 9 is undoubtedly the perfect combination.
But it falls short when it comes to duration of software support, which is perhaps the only reason I haven’t considered it despite being a huge sucker for compact phones.
With Asus having nailed it for the most part, perhaps extending software support for the ZenFone 9’s successor, assuming it will be another compact offering, may probably change my mind.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments and the poll below.
Featured & inline images: Asus
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