Asus doesn’t make as many phones as it used to, but the Taiwanese maker has established itself on two notable fronts in the smartphone world: gaming phones and compact flagships. The Zenfone 9 is the brand’s mainstream flagship phone with a focus on one-handed usability, while the ROG Phone 6 series continues to set the benchmark in the gaming phone segment. Let’s see what went well and what could be improved.
Winner – Zenfone 9
Asus has built the best compact phone of the year and it doesn’t even come close. The dimensions of the Zenfone 9 are perfect for one-handed operation, and you’re not sacrificing performance or build quality here. The Zenfone 9 ticks all the boxes of a 2022 flagship with its 120Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and a significantly improved main camera compared to its predecessor.
Add to that a sleek design that stands out from the rest of the phones on the market and a battery life that outshines other phones of a similar size, and you’ve got yourself a real winner. The Zenfone 9 is also featured in several of our editor’s top 5 phones of the year, which is another form of praise for this device.
Winner – ROG Phone 6 Pro/6D Series
It’s hard to find fault with the ROG Phone 6 Pro and ROG Phone 6D series – they represent the pinnacle of gaming phones for 2022. Asus offers the complete gaming phone package and this year released the two best flagship chipsets available are available in the Android realm – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 in the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro and MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000+ in the ROG Phone 6D series.
The 10-bit AMOLED screens with 165 Hz refresh rates are a real joy to use, as are the AirTigger 6 ultrasonic touch sensors and industry-leading stereo speakers and battery life. You can configure the ROG Phone 6 Pro with up to 18GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, and Asus offers an extensive list of first-party accessories unmatched by any in this segment.
The extra effort put into the thermal management of the notoriously demanding last few generations of Snapdragon chips and the plethora of user customization options are what stand out in the ROG Phone lineup to this day. If we could see one area of improvement for future generation ROG phones, it would have to be the cameras.
Loser – timely software updates
Google announced Android 13 in August and it took Asus four months to push the update to the Zenfone 9. Even worse, the latest ROG Phone 6D series and the ROG Phone 6 Diablo Immortal Edition still launched in Fall 2022 with Android 12.
The official Asus Android 13 update schedule has the ROG Phone 6 series slated for Android 13 in Q1 2023, but there’s no specific date in mind just yet. This doesn’t sound appealing to users spending money on a top-spec ROG Phone 6 Pro or 6D Ultimate priced above $1,200/€1,200.
To make matters worse, Asus only offers two Android version updates and two years of security patches, compared to four on Samsung, Google, OnePlus and Oppo devices. Given the high asking prices and relatively small number of new devices, we’d like to see longer software support on flagship Asus phones in the coming years.
Loser – non-ROG big screen flagship
The Zenfone 9 is an excellent phone with flagship build and specs, but the market wants big-screen phones, so why not give in and make one? Yes, the ROG phones are flagships too, but their whole gamer aesthetic and sub-par cameras don’t sit well with consumers who just want a sleek flagship to rival the Samsung Galaxies and iPhones of the world.
Asus had its Zenfone Flip models for the past few years, though they didn’t do well sales-wise and were discontinued. We hope to see more than one entry in the Zenfone lineup in the coming year as Asus makes some of the best, if often undervalued, phones on the market.