Asus Zenfone 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S23

Asus Zenfone 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S23 – A Compact Showdown

In a world where smartphones are steadily growing in size, the Asus Zenfone 10 emerges as a breath of fresh air. With a compact 5.9-inch screen, it challenges the trend of ever-expanding displays.

Equipped with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SOC and a promising 50-megapixel camera, the Zenfone 10 appears poised to take on the giants of the Android world, such as the Samsung Galaxy S23. In this review, we will explore every aspect of these two phones, from their design and hardware to their software and camera performance, to help you determine which one might be the right fit for you.

Design: A Tale of Two Approaches

The design of a smartphone plays a pivotal role in user experience, and the Zenfone 10 takes a unique approach. It features two substantial camera bumps on the rear, an unusual sight in today’s smartphone landscape.

The rationale behind this design is somewhat perplexing, with the main lens benefiting from six-axis gimbal stabilization, while the ultra-wide lens seems to share its size for aesthetic reasons. Upon closer inspection, the ultra-wide lens appears minuscule within the large black circle, and the two bumps are uneven in height, creating an asymmetrical look.

In contrast, the Galaxy S23 opts for a more traditional design with a significantly smaller camera bump and minimal branding elements on the back. The Zenfone 10’s back is crafted from plastic, a departure from the matte glass found on the S23. While the glass offers a premium feel, the Zenfone’s plastic back surprises with a unique texture, reminiscent of fine-grained sandpaper. It provides a secure grip but feels somewhat rough, challenging the preference for traditional matte plastic. Nevertheless, the Zenfone compensates with a range of captivating color options, including white, blue, and matte black.

The thinness of the Zenfone’s back plate raises concerns, as it can flex when pressed in certain areas. Moreover, the phone’s speakers produce a notable vibration when playing audio, initially adding an immersive touch but eventually becoming more of an annoyance. In comparison, the S23, with its glass back, doesn’t experience these issues. However, it’s important to note that the Zenfone’s vibrations occur even with a plastic back, making it roughly equivalent to the S23 in terms of weight.

The sides of both phones feature aluminum frames, but the Zenfone’s frame is matte, whereas the S23’s is glossy. Despite the matte finish, the Zenfone’s frame still attracts fingerprints. An interesting feature on the Zenfone is the fingerprint reader embedded within the power button, offering fast and convenient unlocking. In contrast, the S23 employs an ultrasonic fingerprint reader directly on the screen, providing a seamless experience. Additionally, the Zenfone includes a headphone jack, a rarity in modern smartphones. While its utility may vary from user to user, it’s a thoughtful inclusion.

When it comes to speaker performance, both phones deliver impressive sound quality, although the Zenfone’s speakers exhibit the unique feature of vibrating during playback, an experience that may divide users based on personal preference.

Display: Size, Bezels, and Brightness

The Zenfone’s 5.9-inch display challenges the prevailing trend of larger smartphone screens. However, it does come with some trade-offs. Notably, the bezels on the Zenfone are noticeably thicker at the top and bottom, particularly the bottom bezel. This non-uniformity in bezel size, once noticed, can be a minor but persistent annoyance. In contrast, the S23 features more uniform and thinner bezels, presenting a cleaner and more appealing design.

Both phones incorporate hole-punch cameras, with the Zenfone’s camera located in the top-left corner. The Zenfone’s display supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz in standard mode and can be pushed to 144Hz for gaming. Interestingly, users can manually set non-gaming apps like Chrome to run at 144Hz, though the difference in regular use may not be particularly discernible compared to the default 120Hz.

The Galaxy S23 boasts an Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, adjusting dynamically to conserve battery life when high refresh rates are unnecessary. Aesthetically, the S23’s bezels are more uniform, thinner, and simply more visually appealing.

In terms of screen brightness, the S23 shines with a peak brightness of 1750 nits, matching that of the S23 Ultra, making it excellent for outdoor use even in bright sunlight. While the Zenfone’s official peak brightness isn’t specified, it appears slightly dimmer when placed side by side with the S23 under direct sunlight. Nevertheless, both phones offer ample brightness for indoor use.

Software: Customization vs. Minimalism

One of the most significant differences between these two phones lies in their software. The Zenfone provides users with the choice of either stock Android or an Asus-optimized version. The optimized version enhances one-handed usability with features like the multifunctional power button, which can be swiped down for quick settings and double-tapped for Google Assistant activation. Additionally, long-pressing the power button offers various functions. The volume button on the Zenfone is also multifunctional, allowing for quick camera activation with a double press.

Dark screen gestures on the Zenfone enable users to draw letters on the screen to launch specific apps. While it’s an interesting concept, its practicality is somewhat limited, as it requires unlocking the phone first, making it less efficient than intended. The Zenfone also offers a sidebar for quick access to apps and settings.

Despite these convenient features, the Zenfone’s one-handed mode is somewhat lacking, resembling the generic pull-down mode seen on other smartphones. In contrast, Samsung’s one-handed mode offers a smaller version of the entire screen, making it exceptionally usable for one-handed tasks. Samsung’s One UI software excels in customization, thanks in part to the exclusive Galaxy Store.

Users can access a wide range of themes, wallpapers, and Always On Display options for aesthetic customization. Additionally, One UI offers extensive functional customizations, including home screen adjustments, shortcut additions, and keyboard customization.

Performance: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Power

Both phones are powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, offering exceptional performance. The Zenfone showcases impressive thermal throttling capabilities, maintaining maximum performance for seven minutes before experiencing a significant drop, whereas the S23 gradually declines in performance. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is exceptionally fast, delivering seamless responsiveness for everyday tasks and even demanding games.

Battery Life: Zenfone’s Advantage

The Zenfone 10 boasts a substantial 4,300mAh battery, while the S23 is equipped with a 3,900mAh battery. In a YouTube battery test with both phones playing a 4K 60fps video under similar conditions, the Zenfone exhibited slightly better endurance, with 70% battery remaining compared to the S23’s 66%.

The Zenfone’s larger battery provides a clear advantage, delivering more longevity for daily use. Charging speeds are also impressive, with the Zenfone supporting up to 30W wired charging and 15W wireless charging. Notably, it includes the charger in the box, a rarity in today’s market. In contrast, the S23 supports up to 25W wired charging and 15W wireless charging but may require a separate purchase for the charger.

Camera: Megapixels vs. Processing

The Zenfone 10 raises expectations with its 50-megapixel main lens, but it faces stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy S23. Both phones capture a similar level of detail in their photos, but the S23 pulls ahead with superior color processing. Images from the S23 exhibit more pleasing colors, creating a more visually appealing result.

This trend continues with the ultrawide lenses, where the level of detail remains similar but the S23’s color processing shines. Some peculiar artifacts, such as doubling effects on moving subjects, occasionally appear in Zenfone photos, detracting from the overall quality.

While the Zenfone offers impressive video stabilization, its video processing occasionally falls short in terms of color accuracy. The S23 provides a more refined video experience with better color representation.

One noteworthy advantage of the S23 is its 50-megapixel mode for the main lens, which allows users to capture higher-resolution photos with reduced sharpening. Unfortunately, the Zenfone lacks this feature, limiting users to 12-megapixel photos from its 50-megapixel main lens.

Front Camera: Detail vs. Color: Front camera performance on both phones is relatively similar in terms of detail capture, with the S23 once again leading in color processing. Skin tones appear more natural and flattering in S23 selfies, enhancing the overall selfie experience.

Price: The Bottom Line

While we don’t have the exact pricing for the Asus Zenfone 10, its predecessor started at $699. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S23 officially begins at $799, though discounts may be available.

Given the slight price difference, the S23 offers better camera capabilities, a refined software experience, and a sleek design with uniform bezels. However, the Zenfone 10 boasts a larger battery, more gaming-focused features, and the advantage of a lower price point.

Conclusion And Verdict:

In the battle of the compact flagships, the Asus Zenfone 10 and Samsung Galaxy S23 both offer compelling features. The Zenfone stands out with its unique design, gaming features, and generous battery life, making it an excellent choice for those prioritizing performance and endurance. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S23 shines with its refined software, exceptional camera processing, and sleek design, making it a top choice for users who demand a premium overall experience.

Ultimately, the decision between these two smartphones hinges on your priorities. If camera quality and software customization are paramount, the Samsung Galaxy S23 is the clear winner. However, if you value gaming performance, extended battery life, and a more budget-friendly option, the Zenfone 10 is a compelling choice in the compact flagship arena.


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Simon is a technology writer and researcher. He's also an avid sports fan, especially when it comes to the FCB. When not working, you can usually find him tweaking his Android devices or reading political news.