Best Asus phones in 2021

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Today we’re going to talk about Asus. When we say or write the name of the Taiwanese brand, most people instantly think of laptops or PC components. The company is well established in these markets but you’d be surprised to find out that Asus has been making phones for nearly 20 years now!

Without delving into much historical detail (and boring you to death) we’d just say that Asus knows its phones. The company started with feature phones back in the early 2000s and survived the Windows Phone era just to emerge stronger in today’s Android reality.

The ZenFone lineup has been around since 2014 and during all those years Asus put a lot of effort and money into developing the brand. And here we are – giving the nod of approval to the eighth generation of ZenFones, and secretly wanting that ROG phone, even though we’re not kids or gamers anymore.

In a smartphone world where Apple and Samsung are calling the shots, it’s really refreshing to see what an underdog (of sorts) can do. Here’s our list of the best Asus phones you can get in 2021!

Best Asus phones at a glance:

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Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate

How can we not put a phone with “Ultimate” in its name on our list?! Yeah, it’s a niche device but it’s bloody awesome. As my colleagues wrote “this is definitely not the phone for most people” but the Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate can be the best Asus phone for a small bunch of enthusiasts. And sometimes this is enough. Back to this monster of a phone.

The Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate has it all – a super-fast 144Hz 6.78-inch AMOLED display made by Samsung (1,200 nits peak brightness, HDR10+, 150.89% sRGB color gamut coverage), 18GB of RAM (an obvious overkill but why not?!), 512GB of storage, a hefty 6,000mAh battery, the latest Snapdragon 888 silicon, stereo speakers, air trigger buttons, 65W charging, a separate display on the back, the list goes on and on.

There are only two main drawbacks to this phone. The first is the price – there’s no way around it – you’ll need to cough up north of $1,500 to own this beauty. Which, to be absolutely fair, in a world where your normal Galaxy Ultra or Sony Xperia pushes $1,300, is not THAT expensive. The second one is crucial – you just can’t get this phone. It’s a limited edition and in fact so limited that you’ll have to resort to shady Chinese sites to even get close to the possibility of owning one (if you’re lucky). But it exists and it’s the pinnacle of smartphone tech, at least in 2021.

Asus ZenFone 8

With the ZenFone 8, Asus made a sharp U-turn in design and overall philosophy. While the old ZenFones were pretty solid devices both literally and metaphorically, the ZenFone 8 came out shockingly compact. It was a nice refresh and an even nicer option for people who like small phones. The key difference between the ZenFone 8 and other “compact” flagship phones is that the ZenFone 8 is a legitimate flagship. There are no corners cut, hell it’s even better than the bigger ZenFone 8 Flip model.
The ZenFone 8 is just the right size – not too small (looking at you, iPhone 12 mini) and yet significantly more compact than all the other “big” players. This phone comes equipped with a really nice 5.9-inch 120Hz AMOLED panel made by Samsung, bright, accurate, and a joy to look at. 

Despite its compact size the Zenfone 8 keeps the 3.5mm audio jack (no more size-related excuses from other manufacturers) and on top of that, it comes equipped with the latest Qualcomm Aqstic WCD9385 DAC. The phone uses the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset, and a slew of memory configurations – 6/128, 8/128, 8/256, 16/256GB. 

There are only two cameras on the back but they’re of the useful type – the main camera features a 1/1.7″ Sony IMX686 64MP flagship sensor while the secondary ultra-wide camera uses a 1/2.55″ Sony IMX363 12 MP sensor. All in all, you get everything with this phone and also at a great price – you can get the ZenFone 8 for as low as $599 in the States.

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip

The never-ending quest for maximum screen-to-body ratio spawned some very interesting design solutions in the past few years. Asus came up with its own idea in the ZenFone 6 and perfected it in the next two generations – the flip camera. It’s a unique take that comes with some drawbacks but it gets the job done and looks really cool.

The ZenFone 8 Flip took up where the 7 Pro left off – adding small refinements to the flip mechanism. For those of you, who don’t know what I’m talking about – there’s no selfie camera in the ZenFone 8 Flip. The whole main camera module flips up instead, so you can snap your persona with three different high-quality lenses. Neat!

The phone delivers on many different levels – the notchless 6.67-inch HDR 10+ display is pretty good and even though it can only go up to 90Hz, you won’t feel like you’re missing something. You get the same top-of-the-line Snapdragon 888 chipset coupled with 8GB of RAM and 128/256GB of storage with the surprising addition of a microSD card slot.

The camera module features the same main and ultra-wide snappers we saw in the ZenFone 8 but adds a telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. There’s a big 5,000mAh battery on board but there’s no sign of wireless charging or 3.5mm audio jack (pretty strange at this size). Nevertheless, if you want the flip experience, the Asus ZenFone 8 Flip is your best bet.

Asus ROG Phone 5

The “vanilla” Asus ROG Phone 5, as we like to call these core versions, is still a perfect gaming phone. In fact, the lack of  “Ultimate” doesn’t diminish it in the slightest. The main differences are the amount of RAM (18GB is just insane) and the fancy display on the back. If you don’t care about those things, you’ll be perfectly fine with the Asus ROG Phone 5.

You get the same gorgeous 6.78-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2448×1080. Its refresh rate can go up to 144 Hz, the air triggers are present too, and the magnificent stereo speakers are still here – seriously, the sound of this thing is out of this world. It’s for all practical purposes the best gaming phone out there, leaving the elusive Ultimate edition to the hard core (and we really mean hard core) gamers and tech fans.

What the Asus ROG Phone 5 has that the Ultimate lacks is availability. You can actually buy this phone right now, and also for midrange money (it’s $660 at Newegg). It’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but the package you’re getting is worth every penny. Is it the best Asus phone out there? Maybe, maybe not. 

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro

The Asus ZenFone 7 Pro is an evolution of the flip camera idea Asus first dared to explore in the ZenFone 6. Everything is much better in the 7 Pro, though, and all first-gen hiccups have been addressed. What’s the Asus ZenFone 7 Pro then? And why bother when you got the ZenFone 8 Flip out there? Well, the 7 Pro is just as good as the Flip and costs less money.

If you want a more budget-friendly version of the flip camera phone, this is the device for you. You can get it for under $700, and it’s almost identical to the ZenFone 8 Flip, barring the chipset. Yeah, the ZenFone 7 Pro comes equipped with the previous generation Snapdragon silicon – the 865+ but it’s no slouch! The performance is there, and so is the triple camera system with the same configuration as the system in the Flip.

The other big difference is the side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which may put some people off but it’s actually much quicker and more accurate than the in-display version in the Flip. At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either of these models, if you’re into the flip idea, that is. Oh, and by the way, the ZenFone 7 Pro looks amazing in Pastel White!

Asus ROG Phone 3

You know the saying “old but gold?” It applies perfectly to the Asus ROG Phone 3. It’s the previous generation gaming phone that Asus made (there’s no ROG Phone 4 due to a superstition surrounding the number in Asian culture), and it’s still pretty awesome. It’s a gaming beast, equipped with the Snapdragon 865+, coupled with 12 or 16GB or RAM, and 512GB of storage.

The 144Hz display refresh rate is present on the 6.6-inch FHD+ panel, and so is the RGB logo on the back. We have two “shoulder buttons” on the side of the phone and you can map them to perform whatever you wish. In the camera department the Asus ROG Phone 3 manages some surprisingly good results. The main camera has a 64 MP sensor, but it’s set to take 16 MP photos by default, grouping pixels into clusters of 4 – a trick many modern smartphones use. The ultra-wide camera is also decent and there’s a third – macro camera, which can be a good thing, if you’re into macro photography.

When first launched, the Asus ROG Phone 3 costed $999 for the base 12GB model and $1,099 if you wanted to have that 16GB PC-shaming amount of RAM. The good news is that the ROG Phone 3 has depreciated a lot in the past few months, bringing the price down to around $500. And for that kind of money you’d be hard pressed to find a better, more powerful phone.

Conclusion

So there you have it! We believe that any of this phones can be worthy of your attention and hard-earned money. Asus may not be as popular as Samsung or Apple in the smartphone space but this doesn’t mean that the company can’t make phones. Quite on the contrary – just take a look at a ROG Phone of any generation. And you don’t need to be an avid gamer to enjoy such device – a good phone is a good phone, period. Of course, this best Asus phones list is a work-in-progress, and with the pace of today’s tech, it’ll always be. So stay tuned for more Asus devices and more gaming RGB madness.

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