Asus Zenfone 10 vs Zenfone 9: Should you upgrade?

  • Asus / Pocket-lint

    Asus Zenfone 10

    Editor’s Choice

    The Zenfone 10 delivers flagship performance, has a great display and camera, but squeezes it into a comfortable one-handed, compact form. Does it stack up to the Zenfone 9?

    Pros

    • Compact and practical design
    • Flagship speed and performance
    • Not too expensive
    Cons

    • Funky rear texture
    • Ultrawide camera could be better
    • Small screen isn’t for everyone

  • Asus Zenfone 9 - square tag

    Asus / Pocket-lint

    Asus Zenfone 9

    Worth keeping

    The Zenfone 9 is a small compact phone that delivers steallr performance. It will soon be replaced by the Zenfone 10, though. Which begs the question: is the new one a worthy upgrade?

    Pros

    • Compact build
    • Great performance
    • 3.5mm headphone jack
    Cons

    • Software bloat
    • No telephoto camera
    • Small screen won’t be everyone

Compact smartphones are fading away as people move to larger displays, but there are a few good small phones out there, and the Asus Zenfone series is among the best. The Zenfone 9 received much praise on release and is now replaced by the newer, more powerful Zenfone 10. We reviewed the Zenfone 9 when it came out and loved it, and we’ve already gotten our hands on the Zenfone 10 and reviewed it with similar levels of praise. This begs the question: should you upgrade to the Asus Zenfone 10? If you don’t have a Zenfone yet, is the Zenfone 9 still worth picking up, or should you spring for the newer model?


Price, specs, and availability

Right now, we’re in an in-between phase for the Zenfone, with last year’s Zenfone 9 on the way out and this year’s Zenfone 10 not available everywhere. The Zenfone 9 sells for $699.99 directly from Asus in the US and £619.99 in the UK. The Zenfone 10 hasn’t launched in North America yet, but it is available in the UK for £749.99 (its MSRP is £819.99, but it’s cheaper during the launch window).

  • Asus Zenfone 10 Asus Zenfone 9
    SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
    Display 5.92-inch, 2400 x 1080, 144Hz 5.9-inch, 2400 x 1080, 120Hz
    Battery 4300mAh 4300mAh
    Operating System Android 13 Android 12
    Front camera 32MP 12MP
    Rear cameras 50MP main, 13MP ultra-wide 50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide
    Dimensions 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.4mm, 172g 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1mm, 169g
    Colors Starry Blue, Midnight Black, Aurora Green, Eclipse Red, Comet White Midnight Black, Moonlight White, Starry Blue
    IP Rating IP68 IP68
    RAM and Storage Up to 16GB RAM, up to 512GB storage Up to 16GB RAM, up to 256GB storage
    GPU Adreno 740 Adreno 730

Design

Zenfone 10 in hand front screen

Asus Zenfone 10 versus Asus Zenfone 9: these small smartphones are similar in terms of look and feel. Asus made some intelligent changes to the Zenfone 10, but the similarities are noticeable when you look at the two devices side-by-side.

Both phones feature prominent cameras on the back, which is probably the most divisive aspect. They both have a textured back that won’t be for everyone but makes the phone stand out in the crowded market.

The thing that makes the Zenfone 9 and 10 stand out is the physical size. They no longer make many small phones, especially ones with flagship performance. Thankfully, the size of the phones hasn’t changed much, with the Zenfone 9 coming in at 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1mm and 169g. The Zenfone 10 is 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.4mm and 176g. The newer model is just marginally thicker and heavier, but it’s not a big enough difference to feel when using either phone.

Zenfone 10 bottom bezel

The Zenfone 9 and 10 offer Gorilla Glass Victus glass and an IP68 dust and waterproofing rating, so you can rely on the phones offering solid durability regardless of which you decide to buy. They both feature a plastic back and aluminum sides, which is standard for phones in this price range.

The bottom of both phones features a 3.5mm headphone jack, another rarity in modern smartphones, with the Sony Xperia phones being some of the only others to offer the feature.

Display

Zenfone 10 swiping gesture screen

Both Asus Zenfone models feature a smaller display than you’ll find on most smartphones, but that’s the trade off required to create a phone with a small form factor. The Zenfone 10 has a 5.91-inch AMOLED display, while the Zenfone 9 features a 5.9-inch AMOLED screen. Both devices feature an 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, which results in a 445ppi pixel density – a figure that is well above average for an FHD+ display. They also look more vibrant than other phones with the same resolution.

The most significant update between the two Zenphone models comes down to the refresh rate: the Asus Zenfone 10 has a 144Hz refresh rate compared to the Asus Zenfone 9’s 120Hz. Both are fast, but the extra speed offered by the Zenfone 10 does make a slight difference.

You won’t notice a difference in brightness between the two phones, as they both come with 1100nits of peak brightness.

Hardware and specs

Zenfone 10 headphone port

The Asus Zenfone 10 has an upgrade to the processor that is a noticeable performance upgrade. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 found in the Asus Zenfone 9. If you’re a stickler for performance, you will notice the extra speed offered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 compared to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. In the Zenfone 9, you can go down to as little as 6GB of RAM and up to as much as 16GB. In the Zenfone 10, the maximum RAM is the same at 16GB, but you can only go as low as 8GB. If you’re concerned about performance, you’ll want to get one of the 16GB models, as the extra memory will vastly improve multitasking on your phone.

Storage on the two phones is the same at the low end, with both bottoming out at 128GB. However, on the higher end of the scale, you can get up to 512GB of space in the newer Zenfone 10, while the Zenfone 9 only offers up to 256GB of space. If you store a multitude of photos, videos, music, and apps locally, this could be the ultimate decider, since you can only get the extra space in the newer model.

Battery life between both phones should be similar, as they offer 4300mAh batteries. There could be a slight difference due to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 efficiency compared to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, but we wouldn’t expect massive lifespan differences. Both devices support charging speeds of 30W, so you won’t notice a difference in how fast the two fill up.

The Zenfone 9 comes with Android 12 out of the box, while the Zenfone 10 launches with Android 13. Having one OS version newer means you’ll get one more OS version in the future, so if you like to have the latest Android version on your phone, you’ll want to pick up the newer Zenfone 10, though the Zenfone 9 should also see an upgrade.

Cameras

Zenfone 10 camera closeup

Phone manufacturers push things forward yearly with their cameras, though Asus kept the changes reasonably small. The Zenfone 9 features a 50-megapixel, f/1.9 aperture primary lens, as does the Zenfone 10. While the main lens remains unchanged, the ultra-wide camera has seen a slight upgrade, with the Zenfone 10 offering a 12-megapixel, f/2.2 shooter compared to the Zenfone 9’s 12-megapixel, f/2.2 camera. Neither phone features any telephoto zoom lens, which is disappointing but also expected for a relatively affordable device.

The most prominent upgrade comes to the front-facing camera, 32-megapixel on the Zenfone 10 and 12-megapixel on the Zenfone 9. If you like taking selfies, this alone makes buying the newer model worth it. Another cool feature both phones offer is gimbal-like six-axis stabilisation, which creates smoother videos and better night photos.

Besides the significant upgrade to the selfie camera, Asus didn’t change too much, so the cameras won’t be a huge determining factor in which phone you choose to take home. There are some tweaks and upgrades, but for the most part, they’re minor.

Which is right for you?

Many upgrades from the Asus Zenfone 9 to Zenfone 10 are modest, but when you add them up together, you get a slightly better phone. If you’re the type who feels like they’re missing out by not having the latest and greatest, you’ll want to spring for the Zenfone 10.

Asus Zenfone 10 main tag

Asus / Pocket-lint

Asus Zenfone 10

Editor’s Choice

If you don’t already own a Zenfone 9, the price between the phones is close enough that we can easily recommend getting the newer Zenfone 10. Between the better selfie camera, newer chip, and expanded storage options, it’s a solid upgrade.

However, if you can find a good deal on the Zenfone 9, it’s still worth getting as it performs well, has great cameras, and comes with the same svelte form factor that the Zenfone series is known for. If you own an Asus Zenfone 9, it’s not worth grabbing the newer model. The changes are nice, but there’s not enough to justify spending the money if you own a similar model.

Asus Zenfone 9 - main image

Asus / Pocket-lint

Asus Zenfone 9

Worth keeping

While the Asus Zenfone 10 has some smart upgrades, there’s isn’t enough to justify replacing a Zenfone 9. If you already own this fantastic phone, you’re better off sticking with it than spending the money on the newer one.

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