Zenfone 10: Not how you compete with Samsung and Apple – Asus needs a reality check

Except for being more difficult to design and make because of the increased complexity caused by space constraints, compact phones also tend to sell dramatically less than those with larger displays – at least according to recent market trends and sales reports. In fact, even Apple itself had to find out the hard way, eventually pulling the plug on my beloved (but commercially unsuccessful) iPhone mini. However, one company that refuses to accept this reality is Asus, and the latest proof of that is called the “Asus Zenfone 10”.The pocket-friendly slab packs a 5.9-inch display in a body that’s small enough to use with one hand. Unsurprisingly, this is also supposed to be the biggest selling point of the Zenfone 10, which seems to be receiving some real love from tech enthusiasts and reviewers on YouTube. Indeed, Asus’ last couple of compact flagships have been getting a lot of positive reinforcement, which is nice to see but I’m here to ground you…As a long-term iPhone 13 mini user, who highly values the compact form-factor, it’s obvious to see that the Asus Zenfone 10 was made to attract users like me. Yet, I don’t find it attractive enough to recommend over virtually any other flagship phone released in 2023, or even flagship phones from last year.

How come? Well… In a nutshell, it seems to me that the Asus Zenfone 10 is trying too hard to be something people aren’t really looking for in a phone nowadays, but at the same time, it’s not trying hard enough to appeal to those who really do want a compact flagship phone.

  • The Asus Zenfone 10 is compact but not more compact than other (mainstream) flagship phones
  • The Asus Zenfone 10 costs more than Apple, Samsung, and Google’s 2023 vanilla flagships right now
  • The Asus Zenfone 10 looks good but… only from the back

But let’s get into a bit more detail… In the end, I’m not going to criticize Asus without solid arguments. So, here they come…

“Super compact” Asus Zenfone 10 is trying to steal Apple, Samsung, and Google’s thunder but there’s one “big” problem

Alrighty! Let’s cut straight to the chase…

Ironically, the first bone I have to pick with the Zenfone 10 has to do with Asus’ claims for pocketability. Sure, the Zenfone 10 is super pocketable and very compact – no debate there. However, for a phone that’s aiming to set the standard for “compactness and pocketability”, you might be surprised to find out that the Zenfone 10 is beaten in its own game by several smartphones that happen to be as compact or even more compact without even pretending to be pocketability champions.The first phone that puts the Zenfone 10 in a weird spot is Samsung’s excellent Galaxy S23. The popular flagship from the South Korean giant packs a not-so-giant but larger 6.1-inch display than the one in the Zenfone 10 in an identical form-factor. Not to mention, the staggering difference in the size of the display borders, which makes the Galaxy look generations ahead of the Zenfone 10, which looks more dated than some 2019 phones.

Another surprising Zenfone 10 competitor, which makes Asus’ phone look less compact than you thought, is the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 – or the slightly heavier but identical in size iPhone 14 Pro. Although it’s not known as a “compact” phone, perhaps due to it being compared to the iPhone mini, Apple’s 6.1-inch iPhone is only slightly wider than the Zenfone 10, while being just as tall and light (172g) as the Zenfone (it’s thinner too). Of course, the flat design of the iPhone means it won’t be as comfortable to hold as the Asus (or the Galaxy) but that’s a given with Apple.

As you can see, not only are there as/more compact flagship phones than the Asus Zenfone 10 but these phones also happen to be (by far) the two most popular vanilla flagships of the year, the iPhone 14 and Galaxy S23. And suddenly, the Zenfone 10 doesn’t look as “special” as some might’ve thought.

But it gets even less special for Asus…

Compact phones are awesome but poor camera tuning, questionable software support, dated design, and high price make the Asus Zenfone 10 practically impossible to recommend 

I’ll try to keep this section short because we actually have a full Asus Zenfone 10 review that you can read and draw your own conclusion on how good of a phone the Zenfone 10 is. That being said, I can’t ignore the multiple elephants in the room that make the Zenfone 10 incredibly hard to recommend to basically anyone…

  • The camera situation on the Zenfone 10 comes with a bunch of bizarre choices; as shown in our review and camera comparisons with the Galaxy S23 and Pixel 7, the Zenfone 10 takes incredibly oversaturated photos that some might consider unusable without editing (at least I do); the phone also lacks a zoom camera, while Asus has made the weird decision to get rid of the auto-focus on the ultra-wide lens that allowed last year’s Zenfone 9 to take macro shots; video quality is also clearly behind the competition from Apple and Samsung

  • Then we have the software situation on the Zenfone 10, which is… bad; Asus promises only two years of Android OS updates, and in a world where you can buy a mid-range Samsung phone for half the price that will give you four years of Android OS updates, that’s simply unacceptable; Asus, come on…

  • We also have the incredibly dated front look of the Zenfone 10, which includes asymmetrical, thick display borders that make Asus’ 2023 flagship look like a flagship phone from 2019; I promise you, I’m not exaggerating

Asus used to make special Android flagships but the Zenfone 10 isn’t one of them: Why not go back to the Zenfone Flip, Asus?

Finally, I must say that we’ve been here before… Several times.

A new compact phone comes out; tech enthusiasts and YouTubers “adore” and praise the idea of the compact phone in question, but even they don’t necessarily like the idea of actually using it, which eventually leaves people with the wrong impression about the phone that’s trying to bring back “the normal size phone”.Today, the new “compact challenger” happens to be the Asus Zenfone 10 but, in my opinion, this one already looks like a lost cause as it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it certainly doesn’t do anything special at all – apart from having great battery life, I guess. In fact, this might be one of the worst $800 Android flagship deals I’ve seen in a while. I don’t want to sound harsh, but Asus might need a reality check with this one…

If you ask me, even my trusty iPhone 13 mini might be a better deal for those looking for a super compact (Apple-made) flagship as you can get it for half the price of the Zenfone 10, and benefit from a better camera overall; longer software support, and a far more compact design – if that’s what you really want.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m rooting for Asus, and any phone-maker that’s trying to challenge the big dogs. In fact, Asus makes killer gaming phones and great computers but I’m not sure it has the right recipe for the best compact flagship. As I said in the beginning, even Apple failed to make compact phones successful, which makes me wonder why Asus is wasting its time and resources by going out of its way to make phones that few will buy…

Also… What happened to the innovative Zenfone Flip, Asus? The one with the rear camera that flips to face you if you need to take a selfie/video call, leaving your display uninterrupted. This one had a personality that turned some heads, and made tech nerds excited! Or why not make a clamshell folding phone, if you want to sell compact but expensive/premium devices?

Flip. Don’t flop, Asus.

منبع: https://www.phonearena.com/news/zenfone-10-not-how-you-compete-with-samsung-and-apple-asus-needs-reality-check_id149121