In the ever-evolving world of smartphones, Asus introduced the compact yet high-performance Zenfone 9 in 2022.
Now, stepping into 2023, we turn our attention to its successor, the Zenfone 10.
Join us as we delve into all aspects of this latest device and determine whether it holds up against flagship competitors, while maintaining its compact credentials.
The Zenfone 10 boasts a sleek design with a glass front, aluminium frame, and a plastic rear - a departure from the usual Gorilla Glass backside for flagship smartphones.
Yet it’s clear immediately from picking it up that Asus remains laser focused on delivering premium compact comfort, and dynamic one-handed use.
It’s a breath of fresh air having a flagship device that doesn’t weigh a ton, with this device tipping the scales at a svelte 172 grams – around the weight (and dimensions) of a standard-spec modern iPhone.
Alongside this, the Zenfone 10 exudes a professional and polished feel. It comes in a variety of captivating colours, including Aurora Green, Eclipse Red, Comet White, Starry Blue, and Midnight Black, offering an exciting range of choices.
Featuring dual cameras on the back, the Zenfone 10 showcases sizable lenses, accompanied by the Asus logo and a subtle ‘Zenfone’’ inscription.
On the front, you'll find a captivating display with a commendable screen-to-body ratio thanks to a minimal bezel, and subtle hole-punch for the selfie camera in the top-left corner.
With a 144 Hz full HD Super AMOLED panel, it delivers smooth visuals that are both crisp and vibrant. Missing the 6-inch mark by a mere fraction, the 5.92-inch display adds to the device's attraction.
While this super-high refresh rate is restricted to gaming, you still can enjoy a vivid and legible 120 Hz display for regular usage.
The screen resolution stands at 1080 x 2400 pixels, with a 20:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 445ppi.
One point during use is the incredible sensitivity of the touchscreen display, which makes it a joy to use, but also prone to quite frequent accidental swipes and prods when in a purse or pocket.
As for audio, the Zenfone 10 impresses with hybrid stereo speakers, with one at the chin accompanied by a second speaker on the earpiece.
These speakers provide satisfactory loudness and decent sound quality. Additionally, the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack is a delightful surprise, catering to audiophiles and the (increasingly rare) preference for wired up devices.
Running on a near-stock Android 13, the Zenfone 10 offers a clean and clutter-free software experience.
Bloatware is kept to a minimum, allowing users to decide whether to include Asus' adjustments or maintain a stock interface via a convenient setting.
Furthermore, Asus commits to two major OS updates and four years of security updates, ensuring the Zenfone 10 stays up-to-date and secure for the foreseeable future.
Asus sets itself apart by providing a decent couple of options for the Zenfone 10.
With variants offering either 128GB of non-expandable storage and 8GB of RAM all the way up to a hefty 512GB and 16GB of RAM, these configurations cater capably to all habits whether casual or power user.
With UFS 4.0 storage technology, the Zenfone 10 boasts impressive storage speed, allowing for seamless app usage and efficient multitasking.
Don't let its compact size fool you - the Zenfone 10 packs a punch in this category too.
Equipped with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and an Adreno 740 GPU, it delivers robust performance and seamless gaming experiences.
While the 144Hz screen may not be fully utilised by current games, the Zenfone 10 handles demanding titles like Asphalt 9 and Genshin Impact with more-than-respectable frame rates.
However, due to its compact form factor, it's worth noting that the device tends to heat up during intensive gaming sessions.
While the Zenfone 10's camera performance is impressive, continuing to close the gap against the latest flagship competitors.
Despite the squarer form factor making it slightly more challenging to become accustomed to framing effectively, taking this phone to Glastonbury was a masterclass in capturing images in bright conditions (below), avoiding the risk of blurring as well as maintaining an impressive depth of field for those expansive images.
Utilising the 50MP Sony IMX766 lens previously seen in the Zenfone 9, the device captures impressive photos despite its diminutive frame.
Alongside the primary camera, an ultra-wide-angle lens and a 32MP wide selfie camera add versatility to your photography repertoire.
In terms of video recording, the Zenfone 10 supports up to 8K resolution at 24fps, delivering excellent results, particularly in well-lit conditions.
Equipped with a 4300mAh battery, the Zenfone 10 provides reliable power for everyday use.
Supporting 30W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, and 5W reverse wireless charging, the device offers convenient and flexible charging options.
While the battery life is commendable for typical daily tasks, extended gaming sessions may drain the battery more rapidly due to increased temperatures.
A particular shout-out has to go to the ‘durable’ option in the system mode settings, which calibrates 5G, reduces the refresh rate to 60Hz, and in return close to doubled the already stellar all-day battery life. Incredible stuff.
The Zenfone 10 comes in two memory and storage variants: 8GB/256GB priced at just £749.99 and 16GB/512GB priced at £819.99, directly from Asus.
The Asus Zenfone 10 strikes an impressive balance, offering a compact device without compromising on specifications at a fantastic price point.
It boasts an appealing design, a comfortable user experience, excellent software performance, top-of-the-line gaming capabilities, and incredible battery life...and we're glad to hear that rumours of the Zenfone line's demise were greatly exaggerated.
The Zenfone 10 showcases notable upgrades and a real reaction to all-important customer feedback including a faster processor, wireless charging and speedier storage.
If you're seeking a pocket-sized flagship experience - an increasingly rare commodity - the Asus Zenfone 10 stands head-and-shoulders above the competition, despite its small stature.