Small smartphones are weird. And not just intrinsically – if the screen is the main point of interaction with the device, why would you want less of it? But also because everyone on the Internet (and especially on YouTube) seems to love them, and yet – sales numbers for the petite handsets out there generally vary from unimpressive at best to downright catastrophic. Just ask Apple about the iPhone 13 mini, see how that conversation goes.
The small smartphone should, in theory, at least make sense for people with small hands. But, anecdotally speaking, most of those people we’ve encountered still have ‘regular’ size devices, at the cost of struggling to use them one-handed, if that’s even possible at all.
This is the setting in which Asus threw the Zenfone 9 in the game last year. It’s one of the smallest smartphones launched in 2022, along with Samsung’s similarly sized Galaxy S22, and its size is definitely trying to be one of its main selling points – that’s why we’re going on about it so much. But it’s not just a small smartphone, it’s a small flagship smartphone, and again, while it’s not alone in that regard, this field is definitely anything but crowded.
On paper, it’s every small smartphone lover’s dream. The diminutive size comes with no compromises in performance, and while there’s one less camera on offer than you might expect, the specs for the ones that are there seem solid too. Ditto the battery capacity for the size.
Things that sound great on paper don’t always adequately translate that greatness into real life, so we were curious to see what the case would be for the Zenfone 9. Away from our labs, in the real world, how would it do as our one and only smartphone, used for an extended period of time? Let’s find out together in the forthcoming pages of this long-term review.