The Asus Zenfone seemed to be living on borrowed time, according to reports of an organizational restructure for the Taiwanese company. But I have good news for fans of small phones.
The Taiwanese site TechNews claimed the mobile division at Asus was caught up in a restructuring effort that's seeing the team responsible for the ZenFone facing either layoffs or reassignments to other roles in the company. According to the report, Asus was going to continue to develop the ROG Phone, its gaming-focused handset, while the Zenfone 10 would be the end of the road for that particular smartphone line.
But Asus has denied this report and has issued the following statement in regards to the fate of the Zenfone series:
"We would like to address the rumor that ASUS Zenfone 10 will be the last generation of the series and the ASUS Zenfone product line will be shut down. This is not true. We will continue our two main phone business product lines, the ROG Phone and the Zenfone. ASUS has a strong commitment to our smartphone business and customers. Please reference our Q2 earnings call for more information. Please stay tuned for our 2024 product lineups."
Zenfone 10 preorders only went live last week in the U.S. So in essence, we would have been saying goodbye to this phone just as we would have started saying hello.
The end of the Zenfone would have left a sizable hole in the Android phone market. That's not because the Zenfone was ever a big seller — like many phone makers, Asus finds itself competing with a bunch of other companies for whatever sliver of the market Samsung hasn't nailed down. Rather, it's because the Zenfone offers several things missing from other top phones on the market.
Why I love the Zenfone
For starters, the Zenfone remains one of the few handsets to insist upon a compact design with a screen that's less than 6 inches. The Zenfone 10 offers a 5.9-inch display wrapped up in a cozy 5.8 x 2.7 x 0.37-inch design. Those dimensions were unchanged from the Zenfone 9 that came out in 2022.
Not everyone loves small phones, of course — there's a reason phone makers keep churning out devices with bigger and bigger displays, while the number compact phones steadily dwindled. But if you like the feel of operating a phone with just one hand before easily tucking it into a pocket or purse, Asus had you covered with the Zenfone.
The small size of the ZenFone doesn't translate to a lack of power. In our battery test where we have fully charged phones surf the web until they run out of power, the Zenfone 10 turned in a 12 hours and 34 minutes, more than 2.5 hours better than the average smartphone. That earned the latest Asus flagship a spot on our best phone battery life list.
If there's any disappointment to the Zenfone 10's performance on our battery test, it's that the new phone didn't last as long as its predecessor. The Zenfone 9 logged a 13-hour and 13-minute result on that same battery test. Whatever else you want to say about Asus, it knows how to build a long-lasting flagship.
The Zenfone has other charms as well, not the least of which is its affordable price tag. You can currently preorder a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered Zenfone 10 with 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage for $699 — $100 cheaper than the Galaxy S23, which boasts similar specs. Android fans have also come to appreciate the ZenUI interface Asus lays down on top of Android. It's a pretty minimalistic take on Android, with just a few welcome gestures, shortcuts and theming options built in.
Where the Zenfone falls short
That's not to say everything was perfect with the Zenfone. In our testing, the phones generally came up short when comparing their cameras to similarly priced Android devices.
The Zenfone 10, for example, took acceptable photos, even if they lacked the color and brightness of what we got from the Galaxy S23 in a head-to-head shootout. It's also hard to overlook the lack of a dedicated telephoto lens on the Zenfone 10 when that's a feature you'll find on the S23.
I also don't think the Zenfone benefitted from Asus staggered rollout. In the case of the Zenfone, we first reviewed the device when it was announced back in June. It's only now about to reach the U.S. That's a big gap between when a phone gets unveiled and when it's ultimately available to buy, and it's hard for a lower profile device like the Zenfone to remain at the top of everyone's mind in the interim. That's not a problem Samsung's Galaxy phones or any of the iPhones have to contend with.
Zenfone lives on
Despite those missteps, I'm glad to see the Zenfone line live on. Smartphone shoppers benefit from more choice, not less, and as a compact phone that lasts a long time on a charge, recent editions of the Zenfone fills a real need.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.