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The good and the bad, six months later

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The options are somewhat limited if you’re looking for flagship devices in a compact form factor. Although Apple and Samsung offer smaller, entry-level models for those who want a phone that fits more comfortably in their pockets, they’re probably not the most unique compact phones out there. Enter 2022’s Asus Zenfone 9, a small phone with a 5.9-inch screen that tries its best not to fiddle with flagship specs.

Despite a few hardware omissions, we quite liked most of what we found during our Zenfone 9 review test. Its design, performance, and additional software gestures earned the phone a four out of five. But what would a phone like to be used to six months after it was first unveiled and four months after it was put on the market? Is it still worth buying? Let’s find out.

The good

Pocket-sized design

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Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Just like during our initial review, the design is one of the main reasons to pick up the Asus Zenfone 9. Although, to be fair, the phone isn’t. that Much smaller than the regular iPhone 14 or Galaxy S22. The Zenfone 9 is a little narrower but also a little thicker, so it’s not a game-changer as such. However, the slightly smaller screen makes for an overall more compact look and feel.

But what stands out isn’t just having everything within thumb’s reach; The phone features a polymer textured back, rectangular metal edges, and Gorilla Glass Victus protection for a sturdy build and quality feel. It is simply beautiful to carry around.

Best specs in a small phone

Asus Zenfone 9 permanent screen

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

The high-end vibes don’t stop at the design. The front screen has a 120Hz refresh rate, but unfortunately it’s not an LTPO ultra-low variable refresh rate kit. Complete with IP68 water and dust resistance rating, 3.5mm headphone jack, aptX Lossless Bluetooth audio, 30W wired charging via USB Power Delivery PPS or Quick Charge 4.0 or later, and the powerful Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor; There are a lot of devices to love.

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These specs are just as competitive as the best in the business, even in early 2023.

Zen UI and software

Likewise, the Zenfone 9 stands out in the software department. At first glance, Zen UI offers a stock-like experience that will be very familiar to new Pixel owners. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find Zen UI full of innovative tricks and tweaks to make your mobile life just a little bit easier.

The Back Double Tap gesture, for example, helps you quickly access common features. However, it can only be set to take screenshots, open the camera, toggle the flashlight, voice recorder, launch Google Assistant, or play/pause music and video. Asus’ Smart Key is more flexible, with both apps and shortcuts assigned to a double and long press. Various gestures take it a step deeper, while Asus’ Edge widget gives you quick access to your favorite apps without having to go back to the home screen.

Spend some time getting to know Zen UI and there’s a refined, customizable experience that’s hard to match anywhere else. Speaking of the software, Asus has updated Zenfone 9 to Android 13 in a timely manner. Complete with the latest UX design tweaks, improved notification permission feature, and other small changes.

not so good

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Bad software update policy

Asus Zenfone 9 standing in front of the desk

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Upgrading to Android 13 also marks one of the Zenfone 9’s biggest bugs. Only one of the two OS upgrades the phone will see has already been applied. After the future Android 14 2023 update, the phone will recover on a few more security patches before it dries up as well.

Two years of OS and security patches is simply a secondary promise of a flagship model. Across the phone’s $699 price point, you can get the Google Pixel 7 ($499 at Amazon) or Samsung Galaxy S22 ($799.99 at Samsung) that will receive five years of security support and up to three operating system upgrades. Even with occasional discounts of $629, the Zenfone 9 misses the long-term value tag by a wide margin.

missing features

Asus Zenfone 9 box and charger

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

While the device is generally solid, the phone’s hardware isn’t flawlessly executed either. Some may overlook the lack of wireless charging, but while I love the side-mounted fingerprint scanner, others may feel dated.

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But the camera package is arguably the phone’s most hit and miss…

cameras

Asus Zenfone 9 Camera Cover

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

In general, daylight photos deliver strong colors with a consistent white balance, though detail is on the plus side and exposure can be a bit too bright at times. The phone’s large primary image sensor and excellent stabilization help in low-light environments. However, exposure and dynamic range take a hit in low light, even when using Night mode. And forget the zoom here; There’s no dedicated telephoto camera, and Asus’ digital upgrade isn’t much good. You are capped at about 2x.

The Ultra HD camera is similarly hit and miss. It’s not very wide and relatively distortion-free, but it’s an order of magnitude noisier and less detailed than the main sensor. Selfie camera as well. In good lighting, you’ll mostly be pleased with the front camera’s exposure and feel. Again though, the phone can be heavy on post-processing, resulting in saturation of colors and halo in some cases. However, poor lighting sees a high-quality nose plunge into a hazy mess. Likewise, the portrait mode looks nice but doesn’t offer rock hard edge detection.

Not that the Zenfone 9’s cameras are all that bad, but they’re very inconsistent at this price. If you’re really looking for an affordable photography powerhouse, you’d better get a flagship from Google or Samsung.

Asus Zenfone 9 review review: Verdict

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Asus Zenfone 9 appeared on a wooden desk

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Taken on its own, the Zenfone 9 is a good little hardware package for those who want a compact smartphone with few compromises. The phone also features some unique software tricks that you won’t find anywhere else. However, unless you grab the Zenfone 9’s various little charms, you’ll likely be better served by a more comprehensive flagship from one of the biggest brands in the industry. Especially if you are looking for a long term investment.

In short, most of the ideas and criticisms from the initial review are still valid today.

Is the Asus Zenfone 9 still worth buying?

150 votes

Zenfone 9 from Asus is still worth choosing if you are looking for a slightly different compact flagship. Software additions complete a well-made, functional small hardware package. With solid sound, design, and solid performance under its belt, the phone nails the essentials of a smartphone and then some.

However, it is a far cry from the slam dunk recommendation. The poor software undertaking, camera bundle, and absence of wireless charging dented the phone’s value proposition. Even with a notable discount, even an affordable flagship phone should be looking at several years of extra support at this point. Unfortunately for the Zenfone 9, Asus plans to forget the phone very soon, and many potential buyers will likely do so.

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Asus Zenfone 9Asus Zenfone 9

Asus Zenfone 9

Pocket-sized design • Peak performance • Customizable gestures

Compact device with more than enough power

Asus Zenfone 9 is a compact device that still packs more than enough power under the hood. It also features a stock-like software experience, customizable gestures, and more.

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Smartphone scams are dead – Android Authority

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Robert Triggs/Android Authority

Ten years ago, the 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 was a technological marvel. Android phones had only been around for a few years at that point, and it seemed like the Galaxy S4 could do a lot despite its small size. As consumers, we were delighted. So much so, that to this day the Galaxy S4 remains the best-selling Android phone of all time, with over 80 million units sold.

However, that was ten years ago – an eternity in the tech world. Things have changed dramatically since then. The smartphone tricks we saw in the Galaxy S4 — like the Smart Scroll, which let you scroll the contents of your screen by moving your head up or down — would be completely ridiculous to see in a 2023 phone.

Today, smartphones are ubiquitous gadgets, not technical marvels. Consumers are using their phones more than ever before, yes, but that has faded the shine. Modern smartphone buyers don’t want gimmicks. They want a phone that fixes the basics and hides in the background.

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In 2023, if a smartphone manufacturer thinks that some cool new trick will be the backbone that sells its phones, it will be in a world of disappointment. Not only will consumers care, but investing in research and development for this trick could do more harm than good.

What are the tricks of the smartphone?

Google Pixel 4 XL Long Range 2 review

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

The term “gimmick” can be used broadly. In general, when it comes to smartphones, we think of gimmicks as features that are only applicable to very specific situations, appeal to a limited subset of users, or offer no real value (or some combination thereof).

One of history’s most egregious examples of smartphone scams was the Soli radar system in the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Soli was a set of front-facing radar sensors that could track your hand movements. They let you do things like pause the music simply by waving your hand near the screen. While Soli performed as advertised, consumers simply didn’t care, and the Pixel 4 series was the biggest failure in Pixel history.

If your star phone feature only appeals to a few people, it’s probably a gimmick.

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A more recent example came with the OnePlus 10 Pro last year. This phone was equipped with an ultra-high resolution camera with a field of view of 150 degrees. This was essentially a fish-eye lens, creating highly distorted images that looked unreal. Although software trickery helped fix images in post-processing, critics and consumers alike saw no need for such a bizarre lens. OnePlus eliminated the lens on this year’s OnePlus 10T and OnePlus 11.

Here are some other smartphone tricks we’ve seen:

  • foreign matter: OnePlus recently announced the Jupiter Rock Edition of the OnePlus 11. It has a back that is basically made of rock. Who asked for this?
  • Macro lenses: While a great telephoto lens can be an interesting addition to a solid lens collection, most of the time that’s not the case. Often, OEMs will throw in cheap 2MP macro lenses to make a phone look more premium than it is. In other words, the thought process is that more lenses = better cameras, which consumers are no longer fooled by.
  • Super fast charging: While it’s crazy to see 240W charging speeds on a smartphone (that’s fast enough to charge from empty to full in about ten minutes), who really needs that? These speeds are also said to be detrimental to the health of the battery, thus shortening the life of your phone.
  • Cooling systems: Lenovo Legion Duel 2 – a gaming phone – had a cooling fan built into it. While this is practical for a phone designed for gamers, it also made the phone unwieldy, prevented an IP rating, and made wireless charging impossible. It solved one problem at the expense of basic smartphone features. Likewise, OnePlus’ latest concept phone has a liquid cooling system that didn’t even work.

These gimmicks don’t help sell phones because they don’t give us what we really want: a great overall experience.

But what about phones in specific niches, like rugged phones? Is the rugged phone a gimmick? I’d argue it isn’t, but they also don’t sell in the numbers we’d see with something like the Galaxy S series. These phones exist for specific purposes for a specific consumer, so they get a special pass.

The current smartphone successes are all the evidence you need

Google Pixel 7 Pro camera housing

Robert Triggs/Android Authority

We know why smartphone manufacturers invest in these kinds of tricks. They obviously think they’ll help sell the phones or, at the very least, help their products stand out from the crowd. This is an odd strategy because the most successful phones tend to be relatively gimmick-free.

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Here in the US, the iPhone is by far the most popular smartphone. For the first time ever, Apple has more than 50% of the market in the US, leaving the other half to Android OEMs (mostly Samsung). The iPhone doesn’t have a lot of tricks. One could argue that Dynamic Island is a gimmick, but it’s one that consumers seem to enjoy, so it doesn’t really count.

Unsurprisingly, the most successful phones are also some of the most gimmick-free.

In second place, Samsung’s Galaxy S series also stands out as being gimmick-free. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s S Pen may be a bit gimmicky for some. However, it’s also incredibly popular and a calling card for a premium Galaxy experience, so we’ll be happy to let this feature slip. Despite this, the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus are pretty boring with how functional and no-nonsense they are. And guess what? The Galaxy S23 line is selling better than the Galaxy S22 line.

Of course, we can’t forget about Google’s pixel font. The Google Pixel 7 Pro doesn’t have any weird tricks up its sleeve, and was voted the best Android phone of 2022 by both Android Authority And our readers. It’s interesting that when Google gave up the tricks, it ended up selling more phones than ever before.

Obviously, phones can reach consumers without gimmicks. However, Dynamic Island and the S Pen show that there is still room for fun and doing things differently.

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However, phones can still be fun

None Phone Number 1 graphic on the back

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

We’ve already discussed plenty of examples of stupid smartphone tricks that get in the way of a good experience. However, some tricks work.

Take Nothing Phone 1, for example. The lights on the back of the device — officially known as The Glyph — appear to be a ridiculous gimmick. Once you use the phone, you will realize that it is actually an Android smartphone with a strange light show added. In other words, The Glyph can be ignored, and you’ll still get a great Android experience with a very fair cost-to-value ratio.

I’m not against the trick. There is plenty of room for fun features.

This is a great example of how doing tricks properly can be beneficial. Nothing crammed into The Glyph comes at the expense of wireless charging, a premium feel, or a decent camera system. Use the trick as a light garnish on top of a satisfying meal. It’s a beautiful detail that highlights an already well-done dish.

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Google’s Magic Eraser is another example of a gimmick that works. With the Pixel’s camera experience already being one of the best (if not the best) phone camera experiences available, the Magic Eraser feature exists as a useful tool for people looking to fix otherwise great photos. It was not Need Magic Eraser, but it’s practical and fun when you want it to be.

That’s all to say that smartphones don’t need to be boring. There’s plenty of room for fun gimmicks, cool aesthetics, and thought-provoking twists. But gimmicks can’t be the phone’s selling point. They must be side players.

OEMs will need to shift focus — or dump

Lenovo Legion Duel 2 1

Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Remember Lenovo Legion Duel 2, the phone with an integrated cooling system? Unfortunately, this trick didn’t work out very well for Lenovo. Recently, the company confirmed this Android Authority He shut down the Legion’s smartphone arm.

We’ve also mentioned OnePlus several times in this article. This company is not doing well either. There is a rumor that it could pull out along with sister brand OPPO from the European market either this year or in 2024. OnePlus has lost all carrier partnerships in the US, and its latest flagship — the OnePlus 11 — hasn’t gotten strong reviews. Again, tricks don’t seem to have helped here.

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What do you think of smartphone scams?

146 votes

This all supports my central argument: scams don’t sell phones. We’ve settled on wanting phones that excel at the essentials: battery life, camera, screen, usability, performance, and so on. I could also argue that design is just as important here, though it’s more subjective than something like battery life. What doesn’t matter are the extra lenses, radar systems, cooling fans, rock-solid backboards, and all the other tricks we’ve seen.

Companies that are stuck in 2013 and think cool gimmicks will sell a lot of phones will need to wake up from that dream sooner rather than later. Apple and Samsung eat your lunch and do so without relying on gimmicks. Make your phones awesome at a competitive price and we’ll buy it. Simply.

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All of my favorite games this year are old

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I also installed the original version Final Fantasy, the game that debuted when I was three years old, on Sony’s most advanced console yet, I came to a realization: everything I played this year was outdated. Between remakes, new releases, and vintage collections, there’s been a flood of nostalgia. I personally welcomed it.

These kinds of releases aren’t new, of course. What was different during the early months was the huge amount of classic releases. Two of the biggest movies so far this year – dead space And Resident Evil 4 – is a remake of titles from more than a decade ago. Both are slick, slick updates that don’t look out of place among recent big-budget releases, but part of what makes them so attractive is how straightforward they are. There are no open worlds filled with endless quests or live service items to keep you coming back. And most of these design decisions date back to their ages, as these games were made at a completely different time with very different expectations. In my review of Resident Evil 4 A remake, I called it “a video game like this,” and I meant that as a compliment.

Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp.
Image: Nintendo

But they can also be a lot of work, frequently setting in to be all-consuming experiences that keep you hooked and never let go. Oh I love Fortnite Like everyone else, but that’s not all I want from my video games. Whether it is as complicated as RE4 Or simply put a scene from the opera Final Fantasy VI On my PS5, these games have returned a simplicity and focus I often find missing from their modern contemporaries. vampire And Final Fantasy They are very different experiences, but they give me the same feeling of a whole solo journey that I’m supposed to play through from start to finish. Same goes for the other old games I’ve been playing.

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Playing—and in many cases, replaying—these games was an exercise in reminding myself of what could be so great about a medium. The largest modern versions tend to imitate each other to the point where they are almost indistinguishable from one another. That’s what makes a lot of indie releases so exciting, and likewise, what keeps me coming back for all these new releases of old games — so it’s good to me that this trend shows no sign of stopping.

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NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell leaves Comcast due to ‘improper conduct’

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NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell will leave Comcast, effective immediately. The telecom giant made the surprising announcement in a brief press release Released on Sunday. After an investigation prompted by a complaint of improper conduct, Comcast says it has reached a “joint” decision with Shell that he should resign from his position.

“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret,” Shell said in a joint statement. “I am really sorry that I left my colleagues at Comcast and NBCUniversal, they are the most talented people in this field and the opportunity to work with them over the past 19 years has been a privilege.”

Comcast has not named a successor to Shell. in a note obtained diverseComcast CEO Brian Roberts and President Mike Kavanagh told employees they were “disappointed” to share the news. “We built this company on a culture of integrity. Nothing is more important than how we treat each other. You must count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace,” they wrote. “When our principles and policies are violated, we will always move quickly to take appropriate action, as we have done here.”

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Shell joined Comcast in 2004. He became CEO of NBCUniversal in 2020. That same year, he oversaw the launch of Peacock. Shell leaves NBCUniversal without making the streaming service profitable. At the beginning of the year, Comcast told investors that it had done so Added five million paid subscribers During the last three months of 2022. However, over the same period, the company lost nearly $1 billion while operating the service.

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