Up until a few years ago, all the OEMs launched smartphones with 5- to 6-inch displays that were comfortable to hold and easy to use with one hand. However, thanks to improved screen technology and the need for larger displays, as users consume more multimedia content on their smartphones these days, compact smartphones have become harder to spot.
Currently, only a handful of companies, including Samsung, Apple, and Asus, make compact smartphones. With Apple seemingly pulling the plug this year, the market for small smartphones is going to get even smaller, and it will become more difficult for a buyer to choose the right small smartphone for them.
Thus, in this article, we will be comparing the newly introduced Asus Zenfone 9 and iPhone 13 mini to see which one of them could find a place in your everyday carry.
iPhone 13 mini comes with the same flat edge design Apple revived with the iPhone 12 series. While the smartphone may look a lot like its predecessor, there are a few differences between the two. For starters, the iPhone 13 mini has a smaller screen notch compared to the previous generation.
It is also slightly thicker than iPhone 12 mini, thanks to a bigger battery. The phone now also features diagonal camera lenses (due to bigger sensors). Surrounding the smartphone is an aluminum metal frame sandwiched between the Ceramic Shield front and back glass.
Moving onto the Zenfone 9, the new smartphone from Asus also ships with a square-slab design and curved edges. There are also huge dual camera lenses on the back. Unlike the 13 mini, though, Asus decided to discard the glass back in favor of a polymer material.
Another thing Asus has decided to do away with is the under-screen fingerprint scanner on the Zenfone 9. The biometric component embedded in the power button on the side acts both as a fingerprint sensor and allows for gesture-based controls. Thankfully, the Zenfone 9 comes with Gorilla Glass Victus display protection, as well as IP68 dust and water resistance.
While the Asus Zenfone 9 may seem like a diminutive smartphone, it isn't very small in real life, at least in comparison to the iPhone 13 mini. There is a staggering 15mm difference in the height of the two smartphones, making the Zenfone 9 considerably bigger than the 13 mini. It's worth noting that the Zenfone 9 is much closer to Samsung Galaxy S22 in terms of size than it is to Apple's iPhone 13 mini.
Moving on to the front of the two devices, both the compact flagships come with fantastic (small) displays. The Zenfone 9 features a 5.9-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with Full HD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. The panel has a rated maximum brightness of 1100 nits and even supports Always-on technology and standards like HDR 10 and HDR10+.
On the other hand, the iPhone 13 mini features a 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED panel. It has a resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 pixels and supports a peak brightness of 800 nits. However, the refresh rate is one key area where iPhone 13 mini loses, as its refresh rate is stuck to 60Hz.
Asus Zenfone 9 is one of the first few smartphones to feature the new Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset. This means you can expect top-of-the-line performance from this compact device and much better efficiency than the previous generation. Moreover, to keep the engine running cool, Asus has also included a custom vapor cooling chamber that you will generally find in $1,000 flagships and gaming smartphones.
iPhone 13 mini comes with the same A15 Bionic chipset found on the higher-end iPhone models. Apple has maintained a lead in the chipset industry for quite a few years now, and it's the same case here with A15 Bionic vs Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1.
If you are looking for a smartphone that offers unhindered usage with a great combination of performance and efficiency, the iPhone 13 mini is bound to be the better pick out of the two. However, you won't notice any lag on the Zenfone 9 as well as it features an equally capable chipset and will run games and apps at their maximum settings.
Coming to the camera department, the Asus Zenfone 9 features a one-of-a-kind camera system. The smartphone comes with a dual-camera setup, consisting of a 50MP f/1.9 Sony IMX 766 lens and a 12MP Sony IMX 363 ultra-wide sensor. Thankfully, Asus has not opted to use a low MP macro (or any other gimmicky) lens.
Instead, the company is using the space for a 6-axis gimbal stabilization system on the main camera. Unlike the camera system on most other flagship smartphones, the entire camera module on the Zenfone 9 moves to compensate for sudden jerks and movement. This enables the smartphone to capture smooth video and sharp-looking shots.
The iPhone 13 mini also features a dual-camera setup which includes a 12MP Wide camera and a 12MP Ultra-Wide lens. The new sensors are large in size, and the camera system comes with many features, such as Photographic Styles, Cinematic Mode, sensor-shift optical image stabilization, and many more. The sensor-shift stabilization is similar to Asus' gimbal stabilization, but instead of moving in three directions, the camera system on iPhone 13 mini can move in two directions (along the x-axis and y-axis).
iPhone 12 mini was criticized for its notorious battery life, but Apple has chosen function over form this time and increased the thickness of the device to fit in a much larger ~2500 mAh cell. General consensus around the iPhone 13 mini's battery life is that it is much better than the last generation and should last you a whole day.
On the flip side, the Asus Zenfone 9 features a 4300 mAh cell. It also features faster 30W charging compared to a maximum of 18W on the 13 mini. And like last year, the Zenfone 9 presents software-based features like a charge limiter, scheduled charging, and steady charging, each of which will help preserve the health of the cell inside.
Other key differences you should know
Headphone Jack: It's worth pointing out that Asus Zenfone 9 comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the iPhone 13 mini lacks it. The company has also included many software-based audio features, which you can read here.
mmWave 5G: While Asus Zenfone 9 features support for sub-6GHz 5G, our US readers should be aware that it doesn't support mmWave 5G meaning the smartphone won't be able to handle 5G on every carrier. On the contrary, iPhone 13 mini supports all 5G bands in the US.
Software Update: Asus is only offering two years of software updates for the Zenfone 9. On the other hand, iPhone 13 mini, just like most other modern iPhones, will receive software updates for years to come.
Asus Zenfone 9
The Zenfone 9 features internal hardware comparable to any flagship launched in 2022, but it features the key-selling point of being a compact device. If you were looking for a small phone that does things better or equal to most options on the market, this is a phone to keep your eyes on.
Apple iPhone 13 mini
The iPhone 13 mini is a powerful compact smartphone from Apple. If you're looking for a small smartphone that offers a fast and fluid experience and does not lack on any hardware front, this is the device to get. Check out all the deals down below!
Asus Zenfone 9 vs iPhone 13 mini: Technical Specifications
|Smartphone||Asus Zenfone 9||Apple iPhone 13 mini|
|Operating System||Android 12||iOS 15|
|Dimensions||146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1 mm||131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7 mm|
|Weight||169 grams||141 grams|
|Display||5.9-inch, FHD+ AMOLED, Adaptive 120Hz Display, 1080 x 2340 pixels||5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED Display, 60Hz, 1080 x 2340 pixels|
|Processor||Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1||A15 Bionic|
|Rear Camera||- 50MP Sony IMX766, 1/1.56" large sensor, 1.0µm pixel size, f/1.9 aperture, 6-Axis Hybrid Gimbal |
- 12MP Sony IMX363, 1/2.55" sensor, 1.4 µm pixel size, f/2.2 aperture, 113-degree FoV
|- 12 MP Wide, ƒ/1.5 aperture, Sensor Shift OIS |
- 12 MP, ƒ/1.8 Ultra-Wide Angle, 2x Optical Zoom Out
|Front Camera||12MP, ƒ/2.45 aperture||12 MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture|
|Battery||4300 mAh||2438 mAh|
|Charging||30W Fast Charging |
No Wireless Charing
50% charge in 30 minutes
|18W Wired Charging |
15W MagSafe Wireless Charging
|Security||Side-mounted fingerprint scanner||Face ID|
|Connectivity||Sub-6GHz 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC||Sub-6GHz & mmWave 5G (for USA only), Wi‑Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC|
|Colors||White, Black, Red, and Blue||Graphite, Sierra Blue, Gold, Silver, Green|
|Price||$699 / €799||$729|