The Zenfone 10 is absolutely, hands down, one of my favorite smartphones of 2023. The Zenfone 10 is Asus’s latest flagship smartphone, starting from $799, which is quite reasonable for a high-end device. It poses strong competition for the Pixel 7, the OnePlus 11, and others. I’ve been using it as my full-time smartphone for a two weeks, so here’s my in-depth Asus Zenfone 10 review.
Read Also: ASUS Zenfone 10 vs Galaxy S23 Comparison
Inside the box?
Inside the box, along with the Zenfone 10, you’ll find an Asus power adapter, a USB cable, and Asus has also included a protective case. Just to clarify, it’s not a transparent case and it’s of the rigid type.
The Asus Zenfone 10 is a blissfully compact smartphone, with a 5.9-inch display, making it one of the smallest mobiles of 2023. Compared to other favorites like the Pixel 7A and the Xiaomi 13, the Zenfone 10 is comfortably smaller. If you’re tired of dealing with larger 6.5-inch devices, this phone is a salvation. It’s incredibly lightweight, weighing just 170 grams, so much so that it’s hard to feel its presence.
The front of the phone boasts thin bezels, surrounding the compact display, which is quite impressive. On the back, you’ll find a bio-based polycarbonate surface that’s more environmentally friendly than its predecessor. Despite its size, it still feels luxurious. Its texture is a bit of a puzzle though, as it gives a soft-touch feel when grasped but feels somewhat cardboard-like when stroked. Asus hasn’t made significant changes to the Zenfone 10’s aesthetics, but that’s perfectly fine. I personally loved the look of the Zenfone 9 with its distinctive and clean design. The camera lenses, once again, stare at you like a pair of cold, lifeless minion eyes. They slightly protrude from the back, causing a bit of a wobble when placed on a desk.
You have five color options to choose from, including black, white, blue, a fresh Aurora green model, and a bold red one, which happens to be my favorite. It demands attention without compromising on any aspect. The front is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus, and after two weeks of use, I’ve only noticed one tiny scratch, while the metal frame and back remain in perfect condition. It still looks brand new.
And as expected from a flagship device, the Asus Zenfone 10 is IP68 water and dust resistant, providing added peace of mind.
Zen UI and Features
Like all flagships, the Zenfone 10 runs on Android 13, soon to be upgraded to version 14. Asus promises two OS upgrades and four years of security updates, which is respectable but falls short compared to rivals like Google, OnePlus, and Samsung that offer more OS updates. Nonetheless, it means you can use this phone for a good three to four years without worrying about malware and other issues. I personally enjoy the everyday experience on the Zenfone 10.
You have the option to choose a completely stock Android UI or go with Asus’ modified version. Even with the modifications, it remains quite close to stock compared to other big competitors like One UI and MIUI, with some additional bonus features added on top. For example, you can swipe or tap the edge-mounted fingerprint sensor to perform various actions. I have disabled the swipe for notifications as I found myself accidentally activating it often, but I do use the double-tap gesture to quickly launch the camera. It’s very convenient when capturing unexpected cute moments. Additionally, on the Zenfone 10, you can now swipe the fingerprint sensor to skip forward or backward through a YouTube video, which is handy when dealing with constant ads or sponsorship interruptions.
Unfortunately, for now, the swipe gesture can only be mapped to one specific action from a predefined list. So, if you choose to swipe to skip through YouTube videos, you won’t be able to use it to pull down the notifications bar or navigate through web pages. Another feature I’m obsessed with is the ability to double or triple tap the rear end of the phone to activate functions like the torch. It’s incredibly useful, and I’ve used it numerous times in just the past two weeks. Furthermore, with the always-on display, Asus allows you to add a photo of your choice, similar to what can be done on some rival phones like Samsung.
Asus has included a few other extras, such as a dedicated gaming mode, which I’ll discuss in more detail shortly. As for storage, you can get up to 512GB of space for your media, apps, and more. It will take me a while to fill that up. Sadly, the Zenfone 10 doesn’t support expanding the storage with a microSD memory card. However, the SIM tray does have space for two SIM cards, in case you need it.
The Asus Zenfone 10 has a 5.9-inch AMOLED panel by Samsung, offering a Full HD Plus resolution and 445 pixels per inch. This results in pleasingly crisp visuals. As expected from flagship devices, the colors pop, the blacks are deep, and the contrast is excellent. I have no complaints regarding the display.
In terms of brightness, the auto brightness feature performed perfectly, and even at maximum brightness, I had no issues with visibility when using the phone outdoors, even on a bright sunny day. It’s important to note that it’s not an LTPO display, but the refresh rate can switch between 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, and even up to 144Hz for supported games. Additionally, it can drop down to 30 FPS for the always-on display feature.
As expected from a flagship smartphone, the Zenfone 10 features a stereo speaker setup. Comparing it to a fresh new smartphone from HTC, starting at 499 pounds in the UK, the Zenfone 10’s speakers may not be the most powerful, considering its compact size. However, all things considered, it really goes for it. At maximum volume, the entire phone rumbles vigorously, and you can feel the vibrations in your hands. It’s just about loud enough to hear clearly in noisy environments, and the clarity remains pretty good even at maximum volume.
The Zenfone 10 comes with a headphone jack located at the top. So, if you’re looking for a flagship smartphone with a headphone jack, you have the choice of the Zenfone 10 or the Sony Xperia 1 Mark V. Additionally, for your Bluetooth streaming needs, the Zenfone 10 supports aptX lossless, high-res audio, and more, just like last year. This means you can enjoy excellent audio quality with supported headphones or earbuds. If you consider yourself an audiophile who likes to tweak and fine-tune the sound, you’ll have fast access to the Direct Virtual Audio Wizard in the notifications panel, offering a handy equalizer. Otherwise, leaving it on the Dynamic setting automatically adjusts the sound to suit your activities.
Performance and Gaming
Now for the performance. There are no real shocks or surprises here. Like most other flagship smartphones in 2023, the Zenfone 10 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. It’s backed by up to 16GB of RAM. As you would imagine, the everyday experience is smooth, and you won’t have any worries if you want to indulge in some gaming during your spare time.
Although the 5.9-inch display might not be the ideal choice for mobile gaming, especially if you spend a lot of time hunched over the phone playing games like Call of Duty or PUBG, I personally enjoyed my time playing Genshin Impact on the Zenfone 10. Even on the highest detail settings, the frame rates remained nice and fluid, with only a few minor jitters. It was nothing significant at all. Additionally, even if you’re completely absorbed in bashing enemies with a massive club, you won’t have to worry about overheating. The Zenfone 10 maintains its coolness despite its compact size.
As expected from the makers of the ROG Phone, Asus has included a dedicated gaming mode on the Zenfone 10. You can quickly summon the Game Genie menu at any point with a quick swipe from the camera. This menu is packed with all kinds of great tools, including various performance modes, notifications blockers, and resource management options. You can even track the performance with on-screen stats, providing a comprehensive gaming experience.
Now, let’s discuss the battery life of the Zenfone 10. It has 4,300mAh battery, which is the same capacity as last year. However, if you recall, the Zenfone 9’s battery life was actually pretty decent. The good news continues with the Zenfone 10, as somehow the battery life seems to have improved even further. I attribute this to the fantastic Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 platform. You can expect around seven to eight hours of full-on screen time from a single charge of this phone, even with mixed use involving camera play, video streaming, and some gaming. I never once managed to drain the Zenfone 10’s battery in a single day before heading to bed. In fact, with conservative use, it’s possible to go for a full couple of days without needing to recharge.
Speaking of recharging, the Zenfone 10 supports 30W wired charging, so it’s not the fastest in terms of charging speed. However, it comes with scheduled charging, steady charging, and other smart charging features. This means you can plug in a cable overnight without worrying too much about overcharging the battery. Moreover, one of the omissions from last year’s Zenfone 9 was wireless charging. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the Zenfone 10. Asus has equipped it with full wireless charging support, as you would expect from a flagship phone in 2023.
Asus Zenfone 10 Cameras Test
Once again, Asus has opted for Sony’s reliable 50-megapixel IMX766 sensor for the primary shooter, now enhanced with improved six-axis gimbal stabilization. This means the entire camera module can compensate for any hand shake, aided by on-screen guidance to assist you. The Asus camera app is user-friendly, allowing you to simply point and shoot, though there are a few toggles and options to explore. Quick double-tap of the power button loads the camera swiftly.
The main issue I encountered with the Zenfone 10’s camera was its occasional struggle to focus on moving subjects. Hopefully, this is just an early bug that will be addressed. However, as long as the focus performs well, you can expect great-looking photos. The Zenfone 10 meticulously processes each shot, individually rendering elements. In well-lit conditions, you’ll get bright and well-balanced HDR shots. Darker areas may appear lighter than in real life, affecting the atmosphere but offering more visible details without oversaturating the beautiful blue skies. Vibrant subjects are accurately captured, and the colors are faithfully reproduced, making them stand out.
The portrait mode generally works fine, although boosting the bokeh effect can sometimes give the impression that your subject has been cut out and placed on a different background. In dimmer conditions, fine details are lost, and some test photos showed a bit of graininess due to artificial sharpening. However, as long as your subject remains still, the results are usually good, though not quite at the level of Pixel or Galaxy S23 Ultra. There is a dedicated night mode to help brighten up low-light shots.
The Zenfone 10 also includes a basic 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle shooter with a 120-degree field of view. The colors are generally consistent with those from the primary camera, but distortion can occur if someone stands too close to the lens. In low-light situations, movement can lead to blurriness. Unfortunately, there is no telephoto zoom option, and you are limited to the primary and ultra-wide lenses. However, a quick two-times zoom toggle allows for digital cropping to get closer to your subject.
The Zenfone 10 supports shooting up to 8K resolution video, matching the capabilities of top-tier smartphones. Sample clips produced good results, though occasional focus issues may arise when the subject is close. Colors are accurately captured, and electronic image stabilization is commendable, allowing for smooth footage even while moving. Low-light performance is impressive, delivering clean-looking footage.
Moving to the front, the Zenfone 10 houses a respectable 32-megapixel selfie camera. Personally, I found it preferable to the selfie shooter on the Pixel. The portrait mode performs adequately, but once again, the bokeh effect can be a bit heavy-handed. It’s worth noting that you may want to remove any earbuds before taking a selfie to avoid them appearing in the frame.
And there you have it, the Asus Zenfone 10 after using it as my full-time smartphone for two weeks. I have to say, I absolutely love having this phone in my shorts and carrying it around all day. It’s been a lot of fun to use. The only aspect that didn’t fully win me over was the camera. If optics are a big priority for you and you want the best-looking photos at any time of day, I would suggest considering the Pixel instead. However, apart from that minor grumble, I adored every other aspect of the Asus Zenfone 10.
It’s gloriously compact, with its wonderful design. it still offers a powerful performance, fantastic battery life, and features like a headphone jack, which you don’t find on most other flagship phones. On top of all that, it’s more affordable than devices like the Galaxy S23 Ultra and many other super-premium smartphones. That’s my take on it, but I’m curious to hear what you guys think of the Asus Zenfone 10. Share your thoughts in the comments.