Big or little Zenfones, more people should have their hands on them

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra vs ASUS Zenfone 10

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

While last year’s swirling rumors that ASUS’ Zenfone line was at an end turned out to be wrong, those looking critically at the new Zenfone 11 Ultra might still feel that the reports were true in spirit. The gargantuan new model certainly doesn’t look much like the almost uniquely compact Zenfone 10. Instead, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the late 2023 gaming-focused ROG Phone 8 Pro, both inside and out.

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At face value, then, we’ve seen a lot of the Zenfone 11 Ultra before, and it’s hard to ignore voices that question: “Is this really a Zenfone?” This isn’t the very affordable, little but mighty flagship that’s earned a small cult following. I certainly miss the pocketability, grippy back, and smart use of the form factor, such as the fingerprint swipe gestures, that made last year’s Zenfone 10 one of the most compelling little phones on the market.

ASUS wanted to bring all the best bits of Zenfone to those who wanted a larger form factor, and it has succeeded.

If you’ve not read our Zenfone 11 Ultra review yet, you’ll be pleased to know that ASUS continues to offer the familiar back-tap gestures and stock-like UI, and has imbued the range with a more potent triple camera array and some new AI features. ASUS claims it wanted to bring all the best bits of Zenfone to customers demanding a larger form factor, and it has succeeded in that effort.

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra vs ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Whether that’s the exact logic working in the upper echelons at ASUS HQ, we can only imagine. What we do know is that, despite impressive hardware and solid reviews, ASUS doesn’t have the all-important carrier and store partnerships that would help put more of its Zenfones into consumer’s hands. You can’t just walk into a store to buy one, which limits Zenfone’s reach to those who already know about it.

Historically delayed US shipping dates also haven’t helped generate the level of enthusiasm required to dent the market’s preference for iPhones, and Galaxies to a lesser extent. Honestly, availability is holding the Zenfone back from taking on the best flagship phones more than anything related to hardware. ASUS isn’t alone here; we’ve seen other brands, such as Sony’s Xperia series, hit a similar wall in the US market.

Forget hardware, availability is the one factor holding back the Zenfone from challenging the best flagships out there.

Of course, we’re not privy to ASUS’ sales data. But if, hypothetically, the smaller Zenfone is not quite shifting the units required to sustain development (for what it’s worth, ASUS says it’s happy with the Zenfone 10), reusing the ROG’s design and internals is a reasonable way to cut costs. Other compact phones have struggled to cut through in the past; even Apple’s iPhone SE doesn’t shift the numbers of its bigger counterparts.

If there’s any merit to the rumors and Zenfone is to live on, it’s possible that we’re looking at a more mainstream version of ROG going forward. Stripping the phone of its niche gaming features, such as RGB lighting, shoulder triggers, and a second USB-C port, leaves room to adopt mainstream draws like glass materials, advanced camera technologies, and novel ideas like AI summarization.

The Zenfone 11 Ultra is a well-priced powerhouse that’s hard to dismiss — as long as you know where to buy it.

While losing the compact form factor would be a shame, a powerhouse flagship aggressively priced at $899 — making it cheaper than the Galaxy S24 Plus and Pixel 8 Pro — is surely a win for an industry that’s become rather complacent with its plus-sized flagships. As tempting as it is to dwell on ASUS’s portfolio, it’s worth remembering what the Zenfone 11 Ultra offers in the grand scheme. Its big display, fast charging, superb performance, and flexible cameras, are hard to dismiss at this price. As long as you know where to buy the phone, of course.

Still, all of this chatter may be a moot point. The little Zenfone 10 isn’t even a year old yet, so it’s rather premature to talk about the demise of small ASUS phones. It launched in July 2023 too, so there’s an outside chance we still might see a compact Zenfone 11 launch midway through the year. Nothing in ASUS’ playbook says it can’t have both a small and large Zenfone after all, and the Ultra moniker leaves hope for compact lovers that we might see another entry in the series in the not-too-distant future.

Asus Zenfone 11 UltraAsus Zenfone 11 Ultra
AA Recommended

Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra

Nicely built • Universal fast charging • Good AI features

Bigger and better than ever.

The ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra is the successor to the compact Zenfone 10, but it’s built in a completely different guise. With a much larger 6.78-inch form factor, triple camera array, and premium aesthetic, the phone brings Zenfone series favorites and new additions to a larger display.

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