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It was like meeting someone new for the first time and learning that you like the same things. We would get along quickly. Is it possible that you have a headphones jack? It's not possible! I like to use headphones.

It has to do with its size. As it did with the Zenfone 8, Asus has set out to answer the question of what a small flagship phone looks like. The answer starts with a smaller screen than the one on the Mini. It is downright small when it comes to the Android system.

There is more to the Zenfone 9: a smooth 120Hz display, a 12-megapixel main camera with a one-of-a-kind stabilization system, and top-notch components. It will go on sale in the US in mid-September at a price of $799, with 8 gigabytes of ram and 128 gigabytes of storage. You can find global versions of the phone on Amazon for less than the price of the phone in the US. There is good reason to wait until it is on sale, as the imported versions don't include a one-year warranty.

See how we rate for more information.

You have to come back down to reality when you meet a new friend. Most phones at this price include wireless charging, and the Zenfone 9 isn't one of them. The phone under $1,000 doesn't have a telephoto camera, but it does have one. The Zenfone 9 isn't compatible with all US carriers. You can use it on AT&T and T-Mobile, but you can't use it onVerizon. Trust me.

Software support is also included. Two platform OS updates and two years of security patches are being committed by the company. A phone at this price point should get a lot of support. It's hard to recommend the Zenfone 9, especially with the very good, five-years-of-security-updates, works-on-every-carrierGalaxy S22 in the same price range. It will hit the spot for a specific type of person, and I am one of them.

The Zenfone 9 embraces the return to flat rails instead of the era of rounded edges. The display is made of aluminum and curves slightly where it meets the sides. The back of the phone is made of a soft material that makes it easy to hold the phone in one hand. The whole thing is rated for water and dust resistance.

Asus Zenfone 9 on a table top
It’s small, but the Zenfone 9 features top-shelf hardware.

Was it mentioned that it is small? It is and I like it. All of the high-end phones on my desk are capable. It feels like a sigh of relief when I hold the phone. It takes up so little space that when I put it in the pocket of my yoga pants, I will keep doing it, even though I think I left my phone in the house. This is not something that happens when I have a 6.4-inch device in my hand. The only phone that's more comfortable to carry in my pocket is the one from Asus.

There is a power button on the side of the phone that can be used for more than one thing. The latter allows you to interact with it in a variety of ways, from top to bottom. By default, it pulls down the quick settings and notification shade, which is a good way to check notifications one-handed without having to reach up to the top of the screen.

The Zenfone 9 still has a headphone jack — a headphone jack!

It works well. It's too good. I accidentally pulled the shade down whenever I used the phone with two hands. I turned off the smart key feature because it was annoying. When you want to turn off the phone, you just long-press the power button, like you used to do in the old days.

The flagship class now has a top refresh rate of 120hertz, which is more or less standard. It makes for a smooth scrolling experience, and the flagship-grade Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor makes the phone feel plenty responsive for everyday tasks. Even in bright conditions, the screen can be used comfortably. The built-in stereo speakers are good if you use it to watch video, but it is not a good way to watch a whole season of TV. Bass can be heard coming from them. The Zenfone 9 still has a jack for headphones. There's a jack for headphones. That is just thought provoking. It all looks like top tier hardware.

The software is great. There is a light touch on the phone. When it does request my attention, it's very polite, like with pop-up text in the camera app suggesting that I shoot in brighter conditions or that I turn on battery saving if I want to use the stabilizer for a long time. It is very similar to using a Pixel phone. The support is something that isn't similar to the Pixel. Two years of security updates are promised by the company. Four OS version updates and five years of security patches are included in the price of the S22, which is the same as the S20. If you want to keep your phone for a while, the Zenfone 9 isn't a good option.

Even though the Zenfone 9 has the right hardware, it is not certain if it will support 5g in the US. The 5G on AT&T was in progress as of this writing, according to the spokesman for the company. T-Mobile doesn't certify the device, but considers it a "Bring your own device" situation and says it can't guarantee performance It is a good idea to check with your carrier if your unlocked phone will work on its 4G and 5G networks.

The Zenfone 9 supports fast charging and even includes a charging brick in the box

Small phones tend to have smaller batteries that are hard to deliver a full day's worth of use. The combination of a 4,300mAh battery and the power efficient 8 Plus Gen 1 processor is enough to get the Zenfone 9 through a day of moderate use. The phone can be used in a "Dynamic" mode to maximize battery life. The best choice for demanding apps is the high performance mode. The default mode provides a good balance of performance and battery life, even though there are two modes that conserve more battery life.

There are positive and negative news on the battery charging front. There is no wireless charging. It is a shame that the Zenfone 9 does not include it. It is hard to imagine that this is a tradeoff for keeping the phone size down. The good news is that the Zenfone 9 has a 30 watt charging brick in the box. If you push the Zenfone 9 with a lot of battery-hungry tasks, it will be useful. It would benefit from a late afternoon boost to make it through the day.

Asus Zenfone 9 lying on a table with rear panel facing up
There’s just a standard wide and an ultrawide on the Zenfone 9’s rear panel.

I am thankful that the Zenfone 9 wasn't festooned with useless cameras. There is only one 50-megapixel standard wide camera with some serious stabilization and a 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide with a camera that can double as a macro. It stinks that there isn't a long lens. The Zenfone 9 sometimes gets into trouble with some aggressive over-sharpening. It is not terrible but not my favorite.

The main rear camera has something called gibb stabilization. It's not just a lens element moving, and it's not just the sensor, so "optical" or "sensor-shift" stabilization aren't the right terms Most flagship phones include optical or sensor shift stabilization.

All stabilization off (left) versus gimbal and electronic stabilization turned on (right).

The Zenfone 9 compensates for camera shake by moving the lens and sensor together. It can compensate for bigger movements by moving up to three degrees of motion on six axes. It's coupled with electronic image stabilization, too, which smooths out motion even further.

It is amazing. The camera and lens can be seen moving under the main housing when you turn on video mode. That's crazy. It works great. For video recording, it's the most beneficial. The footage recorded while walking down a gravel path is shaky and chaotic. The movement becomes barely noticeable when it is turned on. The Zenfone 9 does it all in-camera, so you don't need an actual Gimbal mount. It is very cool.

It is not a great feature. I don't like the color processing applied to my video clips, they look too flat all at once. It is very hard to film anything in close quarters if you use both electronic and Gimbal stabilization. It is not possible to use Gimbal stabilization for 4K or 8K recordings.

There aren't as many benefits for still photos. It should be possible to use slower shutter speeds in low light and still get good photos. This seems to be the case, but that only makes it better than thePixel 6 and its combination of OIS and Computational tricks. It won't do anything for moving subjects. You are at the mercy of light.

I want to take it out on a hike to record a video of the journey up to the top of a summit. I wouldn't have to worry about the dust on the trail or how much sweat it'll expose to in my yoga pants with the rating of the Intellectual Property68. I don't like taking pictures with the Z flip 4 because I don't want to expose it to other people.

Clean software and a compact form factor? Music to my ears.

If you are on AT&T or T-Mobile and you want a phone with flagship-grade performance, this is the one to consider. It's wonderful to use. The glass panel on the back is lovely and I don't miss it. It has a camera that makes me want to use it. My house is where the espresso machine is located. This is a big problem to overcome.

Realistically, the Zenfone 9 is destined for cult classic status

It's pleasant to use the phone to do things. It feels good. The built-in speakers are very good. I can use wired headphones if I forget to charge my earbuds. When you hold the power button down, it will do what it is supposed to.

The Zenfone 9 is going to be a cult classic. The American public wants big phones and it doesn't work on all carriers. For not much more money, the S22 is a better choice for most people, with broad carrier support, a telephoto camera, and a five-year security support policy. I would like to see the Zenfone 9 remain an option for small phone fans like me.

Allison Johnson is a photographer.

Every smart device has a set of terms and conditions that you have to agree to before you can use it. It is not possible for us to read and analyze all of them. We started counting the number of times you have to agree to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people can't negotiate.

You need to agree to use the Zenfone 9.

  • Asus end user license agreement
  • Google Terms of Service
  • Install updates and apps: “You agree this device may also automatically download and install updates and apps from Google, your carrier, and your device’s manufacturer, possibly using cellular data. Some of these apps may offer in-app purchases.”

You need to agree to two more things if you want to add a account with the search engine.

  • Google Play Terms of Service
  • Google Privacy Policy

There are some agreements that are optional.

  • Allowing Asus to collect product and location information
  • Asus product registration
  • Back up to Google Drive: “Your backup includes apps, app data, all history, contacts, device settings (including Wi-Fi passwords and permissions), and SMS.”
  • Use location: “Google may collect location data periodically and use this data in an anonymous way to improve location accuracy and location-based services.”
  • Allow scanning: “Allow apps and services to scan for Wi-Fi networks and nearby devices at any time, even when Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is off.”
  • Send usage and diagnostic data: “Help improve your Android device experience by automatically sending diagnostic, device and app usage data to Google.”
  • Carrier location access: “Your carrier occasionally requires location data to improve its services and analytics.”

Voice match allows your assistant to identify you and tell you apart from others. TheAssistant takes clips of your voice to create a unique voice model which is only stored on your device It is possible that your voice model will be sent to the internet search engine to help identify your voice.

Three mandatory agreements to use the phone are the final tally.