It’s been some time since we saw a small flagship phone which ticks all the boxes, but thew new ASUS Zenfone 9 is ticking a lot of the boxes that you could want.

Launching in Australia from today – where it’s available from JB Hifi in two configurations – either 128GB or 256GB of storage, though it appears the 128GB model has far more colour options available.

8GB RAM/128GB storage (Starry Blue, Sunset Red, Moonlight White or Midnight Black)$1,199
8GB RAM/256GB storage (Midnight Black)$1,299

The Zenfone 9 is a compact flagship with very few compromises and an excellent price to match. Powered by a top tier Qualcomm processor, and with excellent battery life and good camera on board, there’s not a lot that the Zenfone 9 can’t do, making it a perfect choice for those wanting a comact flagship phone.

Announced in late July, the Zenfone 9 is now available and after spending 2 weeks with the phone, I’m totally sold – and here’s why.

Hardware and Design

The in-hand feel of the Zenfone 9 can best be described as solid. It’s not overly heavy, but with the straight edged sides it just feels solid in the hand. It’s not too thick, but settles nicely in your hand with the smaller form factor making for easy one-handed access to the physical volume rocker and power button. 

The power button also incorporates a fingerprint sensor – and it’s wickedly fast, with a simple touch instantly unlocking the phone. It also acts as a smart button, with the option to launch apps with a long or double press and you can also swipe down to easily bring down the notification shade – though I turned this function off as it was a little too good at recognising the swipe. 

The phone design itself is centred around a good sized 5.9” FHD+ (1080×2400) resolution Super AMOLED display that comes with a 120Hz refresh rate which is very easy on the eyes. It’s bright too, with 1100 nits peak brightness, so you’re never stuck in full sunlight. 

There is a small punch hole notch in the display for the front-facing 12 MP camera, but being off-centre it’s barely noticeable in day to day use. 

The body of the phone includes a speaker on the base which pairs with the phone speaker above the display for quite decent stereo audio for a phone this size. Though the ROG Phone 6 speakers are slightly better. 

There’s a USB-C port alongside the speaker, but the best part of the audio setup for the Zenfone 9 is the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the phone. Somewhat of a rarity in flagship phones these days. 

Lastly, for the base – which is as flat as the sides and top, allowing you to stand the phone up on it’s own – there’s a dual-SIM card slot which has a curve to match the phone body.

The rear of the phone is covered in a soft-touch material that feels great, almost like the sandstone finish of the OnePlus series though a little softer. There’s a ASUS Zenfone logo on the rear, as well as a 09 and camera info embossed into that rear, which are also mirrored on the supplied plastic shell – but they’re not too ostentatious. 

There are of course two massive camera bumps on the rear to house the dual camera array on the rear which consists of a 50MP wide, and 12MP sensor with ultrawide lens. These overly large camera bumps do make the phone rock when placed on a desk, and even the supplied plastic bumper doesn’t unfortunately even them out – but more on the cameras later.

The astonishing thing about all this is that the Zenfone 9 also includes IP68 dust and water resistance, as well as Corning Gorilla Glass victus on the front, making this phone quite durable to every day knocks – or accidental dunkings. 


The Zenfone 9 is a flagship, so that means you get a Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC, which is paired with 16GB RAM and 256GB of on-board storage – there’s no expandable memory, but with 256GB of storage I’m inclined to forgive this.

To be frank, you simply won’t find any performance issues with this setup. ASUS has used UFS 3.1 for the storage, and the LPDDR5 memory just means it’s smooth as silk the whole way through. I was able to install my usual app library – which is fairly hefty – and still had plenty of left over space free.

If you decide to go for the smaller 128GB model, there is a case to be made for wanting a microSD card when talking about taking 4K or even 8K video, or storing music libraries offline. That’s something you’ll have to look at when deciding to purchase.


The Zenfone 9 comes with a 4300 mAh battery on-board and while this seemingly small battery doesn’t impress on paper it certainly does in the real world. 

I was consistently seeing over 24 hours of use, with up to 9 hours (sometimes more) of screen on time. I was never able to wear the battery down in a single day, despite my best efforts which is a very high bar, especially for such a small phone.

There’s some drawbacks on charging with the Zenfone 9, first the fast charging option is only 30W, so you’ll need just over an hour to charge it and second is the absence of wireless charging. These aren’t deal breakers for me, but it may make the world of difference for you, but in terms of a phone this compact offering so much, it’s a real win.


The ASUS Zenfone range has always tried to improve their camera specs year-over-year, and while the Zenfone 8 Flip I reviewed last year had a decent camera, the Zenfone 9 shows a great improvement. 

Hardware wise, the Zenfone 9 relies mainly on the 50MP IMX766 main sensor which is mounted on a 6-axis hybrid gimbal with the addition of Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS). There’s also a 12MP sensor for ultra-wide shots offering up to 113° field of view. 

 The shots out of the main sensor are very good in daylight, with the 50MP sensor using a quad-pixel setup to bin shots down to a 12MP image. The colour reproduction is pretty good, without over-saturating them and the details are retained even at closer inspection. 

The 12MP ultra-wide sensor also offers some decent shots when in daylight, whether that’s in full sun or overcast conditions. The end result isn’t quite as good as the 50MP main sensor, but it’s definitely a good shot without much loss in quality, until you head into low-light where the main sensor does a far better job. 

At night, the camera does lose some quality but the Night Mode option picks up the slack to a degree and offers a bit more of a crisp shot unless you get into super low-light areas. Overall though it’s a good effort when you engage it.

ASUS has made one of the better camera interfaces for both the Zenfone 9 and ROG Phone, allowing you to customise it to your liking. You can drag and drop your most commonly used features to the main carousel, or remove options you rarely use for faster access. 


The Zenfone 9 launches with Android 12 running ASUS’ ‘ZenUI’ over the top. In terms of stats, the Zenfone 9 comes with Android 12 with the April security patch out of the box, but a firmware update is ready as soon as you login which will bring you up to the June security patch. 

The ASUS team has promised at least 2 Major OS Updates and 2 years of Security Updates with the Zenfone 9. The releases appear quarterly, which is fairly standard for many manufacturers these days.

The ZenUI interface retains a lot of what makes stock Android simple and easy to use, but adds in a few touches to make it a little easier to use. There’s not a lot of bloatware included on the phone, simply some tools including file manager, Sound Recorder, Local Gallery app and Data Transfer tool – which are actually pretty useful.

There’s usability improvements in the form of one-handed mode, which allows you to quickly access the notification panel. As well there is the one-handed ‘edge’ tool which sits waiting on the side of the display for a swipe in and shows a list of your most used apps. The Smart Key programming with the power button is also a very nice feature letting you quickly access apps you use, or simply swiping down to access notifiactions if you need to.

Should you buy this phone?

If you’ve been looking for a flagship phone in a compact body, the ASUS Zenfone 9 ticks essentially all the boxes. The phone has a great design which feels comfortable in the hand and offers fantastic battery life, with excellent performance and a camera that offers some great shots in a variety of lighting conditions.

It’s not perfect, but it’s so close. I’d love to see a faster charging setup – and wireless, and the camera, while really good and an improvement over last years, could be better when compared to some high-end flagships on the market. 

There’s not a real lot of downsides to this phone, unless you want a larger display, wireless charging and fast charging etc. but if you really want a compact flagship, the Zenfone 9 is definitely the one to get.  You can find the Zenfone 9 on-sale from today at JB Hifi.