Asus doesn’t make as many phones as it used to, but the Taiwanese manufacturer has established itself in two prominent fields 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 lineup is still the benchmark in the gaming phone segment. Let’s look at what went well and what could be improved.
Winner – Zenfone 9
Asus built the best compact phone of the year and it’s not even close. The Zenfone 9’s dimensions are perfect for one-handed holding and you don’t sacrifice 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 significantly improved primary camera over its predecessor.
Add to that a sleek design that stands out from other phones on the market and battery life that surpasses other similarly sized phones and you have a real winner. The Zenfone 9 also features in some 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 full gaming phone package and this year brought two of the best flagship chipsets available in the Android realm – Qualcomm 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 displays with 165Hz refresh rate are a joy to use, as are the AirTigger 6 ultrasonic touch sensors, stereo speakers and industry-leading battery. You can configure the ROG Phone 6 Pro with up to 18GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, and Asus offers a long list of proprietary accessories unmatched in the segment.
The extra effort put into the thermal management of the latest generations of the notoriously demanding Snapdragon chips and the myriad of user customization options is what makes the ROG Phone range stand out so far. If we can see one area of improvement for the next-generation ROG phones, it’s 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. Worse, the latest ROG Phone 6D series and the ROG Phone 6 Diablo Immortal Edition still launch with Android 12 in the fall of 2022.
The official Asus Android 13 update schedule calls for the Android 13 ROG Phone 6 series in the first quarter of 2023, but there’s no specific date in mind yet. That doesn’t seem compelling to users who splurge on a top-end ROG Phone 6 Pro or 6D Ultimate with a price tag north of $1,200/€1,200.
To make matters worse, Asus only provides two Android version updates and two years of security patches compared to four on Samsung, Google, OnePlus and Oppo devices. Given the high prices and relatively low number of new devices, we’d like to see longer software support on Asus’ flagship phones in the coming years.
Loser – Non-ROG widescreen flagship
The Zenfone 9 is a great phone with a flagship build and specs, but the market wants big screen phones, so why not give in and make one? Yes, ROG phones are flagships too, but all their gamer aesthetics and inferior cameras don’t suit consumers who just want a sleek flagship to rival the Samsung Galaxies and iPhones of the world.
Asus has had its Zenfone Flip models over the years, although they didn’t do well in terms of sales and were discontinued. We expect to see more than one entry in the Zenfone range in the coming year, as Asus makes some of the best, if often underrated, phones on the market.