ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra Review: The no-frills Flagship Phone

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For the past few years, ASUS has been a pretty quiet name in the Android world. Basically, they only release two phones each year. Two niche phones. There’s the ROG Phone, which is really popular among gamers. Then there was the Zenfone which was a small and compact model. The Zenfone 9 and 10 were both 5.9-inch smartphones with impressive battery life and performance. As you might expect, that small and compact phone did not sell well. Now, ASUS is pivoting a bit and going “Ultra” with a new 6.78-inch FHD+ display on the Zenfone 11 Ultra. A far cry from what the Zenfone 9 and 10 were.

I had been saying for the past two years that ASUS needed a phone that would appeal to the masses, as neither the ROG Phone nor the Zenfone was doing that. It appears they heard me. If Apple couldn’t make a compact phone a top seller, then ASUS had no way of doing that, especially in the West.

Enter the Zenfone 11 Ultra. It looks like a really incredible phone and looks very similar to the ROG Phone 8 that launched in January of this year. It’s got a big display, which is what people want. As well as the latest and greatest processor, plenty of RAM and storage, and a pretty large 5,500mAh capacity battery inside.

So, the real question now is, does ASUS have a hit on their hands? Let’s find out in our full review.

Table of Contents

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra Review: Hardware and Design

While we’ve all been crying about phones keeping the same design year after year, ASUS decided to switch things up this year. The Zenfone 11 Ultra looks quite a bit different from the Zenfone 10 but it still looks like an ASUS smartphone. It sports a curved glass back that is now matte, and it feels terrific in the hand. It has the new ASUS logo etched into the glass, as well as “ASUS Zenfone” towards the top of the phone. You really don’t notice this in a lot of lighting, at least on the gray model that I have here. It is pretty subdued.

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There is a camera bump this year, with three cameras. So ASUS has finally added a telephoto camera this time around, which we’ll talk a bit more about later. The camera bump itself is a rectangle, with the primary camera on the left side and the ultrawide and telephoto to the right, they are also much smaller. It’s a weird-looking camera bump, but it works.

The frame is made of metal and painted black. It looks great, especially in contrast with the Misty Grey backside. On the right side is your volume rocker and power button. There’s nothing on the top or left side, with the charging port, SIM card tray and speaker being on the bottom. The USB-C port is off to the left side, and not centered, a lot like the ROG Phone 8. It’s a bit weird, but you get used to it. Of course, if you don’t like that, you can always utilize wireless charging.

The front is almost entirely screen. There are some bezels here, definitely thicker than what the Galaxy S24 Ultra has, but it looks good. It gives you loads of screen without accidental touches, which can become an issue with screens that have very small bezels.

All in all, I absolutely love the build and design of the Zenfone 11 Ultra. If you’ve ever used ASUS laptops, desktops, or any other hardware designed by ASUS, then you know exactly what to expect here. And you’ll feel right at home.

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra Review:  Display

ASUS has never really put the most pixel-dense or highest-quality displays into their smartphones. So we’re not looking at crazy specs here like a 4,500nit peak brightness display or Quad HD+ resolution. Instead, ASUS likes to use a lower resolution display that can help with battery life. Since most QHD+ displays default to FHD+ resolution anyway, sticking with an FHD+ resolution display is a smart choice. It conserves battery while still offering a stunning picture quality.

This isn’t a bad display by any means. This is a 6.78-inch FHD+ display that has a 144Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 2,500 nits. It’s also LTPO, so it can go from 1 to 120Hz. The 144Hz is only available in supported games, as you might expect.

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It is rated for 2,500 nits of peak brightness, and in our testing, we were able to get it to hit 2,202 lux, which is pretty close. Of course, the vital thing to remember with peak brightness is that you’ll likely never hit that exact number. That is a higher number than we got with the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the OnePlus 12, both of which have higher peak brightness numbers.

Now as for the colors of this display, it looks incredible. It’s an AMOLED display, so that’s kind of expected. Using this phone to watch movies and videos on YouTube was an incredible experience. Especially when tied in with the stereo speakers. It’s hard to find fault with this display, and to be honest, I don’t miss the QHD+ resolution at all on this display panel. Mainly because I almost never turn it on with other phones.

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra Review:  Performance

Inside the Zenfone 11 Ultra, ASUS has included top-of-the-line specs. This includes the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Or 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which is the model we have. As expected, everything runs nice and smooth with this hardware, especially while playing games. However, one thing we did notice is that the thermal system isn’t as good as it probably should be. We’ll touch more on this in the benchmarks.

In day-to-day usage, the Zenfone 11 Ultra was as snappy as basically any other Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 phone we’ve used in the past few months. But one thing we did notice is that the phone doesn’t appear to be as optimized as it probably should be. Hopefully, ASUS does push out an update in the near future that will take care of this. Because right now, the phone can get very, very hot. And battery life can really take a hit while doing certain things. And with a massive 5,500mAh capacity battery, that should not be the case.


For benchmarks we run quite a few different benchmarks that help us see how good (or bad) the hardware really is. We run Geekbench 6, which measures the CPU single- and multi-core, as well as the GPU’s raw performance. Then there’s 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test, which pushes the phone to its absolute limit in a benchmark that loops 20 times. The final performance-based benchmark is one that we created ourselves. Using Capcut, we export the same 60-second video, and time how long it takes. You’d be surprised at how long it takes on different devices.

First up is Geekbench 6. Here, we are comparing it to the HONOR Magic6 Pro, ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition, and the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. All of these sports the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, so scores should be very similar, and the differences would come down to margin of error and software optimization.

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As you can see above, all four devices scored pretty close together. However, the Zenfone 11 Ultra did manage to squeak out the highest score in each test. But not by much.

Next up is 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test. Now, this is where ASUS’ lack of thermals really comes into question. It had a best loop score of 5,200, a lowest loop score of 4,386, and a stability of 84.4%. That’s just a tad below the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition, but it does have a higher stability score. That stability score is actually quite high. But so is the temperature after running that test. We clocked it at 131.8 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the highest temperature we’ve ever clocked in our thermal testing. Generally, phones clock in around 110 degrees.

Finally is Capcut. All four devices were able to export the 60-second video in under 9 seconds. That’s quite good and what we’d expect from Qualcomm’s latest silicon. The Zenfone 11 Ultra came in second place among these four phones, only behind the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition. It had a score of 6.88 seconds, which is the third fastest score we’ve ever tested, actually.

Capcut video test (seconds) vs Device


To put it bluntly, the Zenfone 11 Ultra did not do well in our thermal testing. We run three (technically four) thermal tests on every smartphone we review. The first is running the 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test, which pushes the phone to its absolute limit, and it also pushes the Zenfone 11 Ultra to its hottest temperature. It hit 131.8 degrees Fahrenheit once the test was over. Now the good news here is that it did drop from that temperature pretty quickly. After about five minutes, it was down to the 80s. But that is the hottest temperature we’ve ever recorded in this test. Typically, phones reach around 110 degrees in this test.

Thermal 3D Mark Wildlife Extreme Stress Test

The next test involves Genshin Impact. Obviously, it’s a viral game, but also a very graphically demanding test. We run this game for an hour at the highest graphics settings and at the highest brightness. The Zenfone 11 Ultra faired a little better here, at 99.2 degrees. That’s within a degree or two of almost every other phone we’ve reviewed.

The third and fourth tests involve recording video at 4K60. We checked the temperature for 5 minutes and again for 10 minutes. At the five-minute mark, the Zenfone 11 Ultra was at 98 degrees and 104.1 degrees 10 minutes in. These aren’t so bad, but again, they are higher than most other phones. Most phones struggle to go above 90 degrees at the five-minute mark, and most do not hit 100 degrees at the ten-minute mark.

The conclusion that I’ve drawn from these benchmarks and the thermal tests is that the Zenfone 11 Ultra isn’t as optimized as it should be. And the thermal system isn’t as good as it should be. This could be “fixed” with software by limiting the processor a bit, but we’re not sure if ASUS will do that or not.


For audio testing, we have five different tracks that we play from the speakers on the phone. Each one of these tracks specializes in a different area of the audio. That’s Loudness and Distortion, Bass, Treble, Overall Balance, and then the vocals. This is a subjective test since it will sound different to each person.

In my testing, I found that the loudness and distortion were quite good, along with the bass. However, the bass can be a bit overpowering when it comes to the overall balance. The higher-ends in the Treble test were crisp and clear, as were the vocals in that test.

The only real complaint I have with the audio coming from the stereo speakers on the Zenfone 11 Ultra is actually the fact that it does not have Dolby Atmos. It does have DIRAC for doing its audio, but I feel like Dolby Atmos is just better for watching videos and listening to music.

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra Review:  Battery life and Charging

The battery life definitely seems like a step down from the Zenfone 10. Then again, that could also be because the Zenfone 10 was so tiny, with such a large battery that it surpassed everyone’s expectations. The Zenfone 11 Ultra does have a 5,500mAh capacity battery – that’s bigger than both the Galaxy S24 Ultra and OnePlus 12. And it does get you through a full day with ease. I was usually getting about a day and a half out of a single charge.

But in our battery life test, which we have the phone play a video on YouTube at full brightness from 100% down to 1%, the Zenfone 11 Ultra did not perform as well as expected. Which leads me to believe that video playback on battery life is not optimized enough. Once again here we are comparing it to the HONOR Magic6 Pro, ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition and the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Battery Life Rundown (1)

The Zenfone 11 Ultra finished with the second lowest time for a non-folding smartphone. The only phone with a worse time was the Sony Xperia 1 V, at 12 hours and 27 minutes. The ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra had a time of 16 hours and 27 minutes. That’s an hour less than the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition and about 10 hours (!) less than the HONOR Magic6 Pro, which is the current battery life champ.


Unfortunately, this year, ASUS decided to take the charger out of the box. It’s unfortunate, but we all saw this coming. Just about every other phone has done the same thing. This means that we’re on our own to test out the charging speed here. Luckily, the ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra does use 65W charging with USB-C PD and PPS, like most other products. So, any 65W or faster charger that has PD and PPS should work just fine. We tested this out with a 100W UGREEN charger and a USB-C cable that shows you the current speed. We were only able to get up to about 35W and were able to charge the phone in just over an hour – officially, one hour and one minute – from 1% to 100%.

It’s not bad, but we were expecting to see 65W. Of course, there are a lot of variables involved with charging speeds. It could be the electrical system in my home, it could be the phone wanting slower speeds, or something else. There is no option to enable faster charging. In fact, the only options are for slower charging. However, with this phone lasting a full day on a charge, the slower charging isn’t a bad thing. As long as it can fully charge overnight, which it can.

But, when you compare this to other phones coming out of the East, it’s quite slow. We have several phones launching with over 100W charging these days.

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra Review: Software

ASUS has been going with a pretty minimal software approach over the last few years. The company used to have a really heavy skin, but they’ve paired it back to be AOSP with a few additions from ASUS basically like the ability to change system preferences to their own versus using Google’s. I actually prefer ASUS’ version of the quick settings here, whereas Google uses these large tiles, so you can’t use as many quick settings from one swipe; ASUS just makes them all circles. They are making it much cleaner and easier to adjust a bunch of things.

This year, there are even more options for the system preferences. So you can now change the way the volume adjustment mode looks, as well as the volume panel switching options, volume key option for incoming calls, incoming call display, clock appearance on the lock screen, Quick settings panel style, and the power button menu. Now, what’s interesting here is that the quick settings now have a third option called “Enhanced”. This option looks a lot like the one used by ColorOS/Oxygen OS, Xiaomi’s Hyper OS, and many other Chinese smartphones. With the large WiFi panel, a larger slider for brightness and toggles for vibrating, off, and sound on. So there’s really something for everyone here.

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Now, this wouldn’t be a 2024 smartphone release without some AI features. And ASUS has those, too. But not quite as many as other smartphone makers these days. The one that I used the most was the Generative AI wallpapers. It lets you do everything you can do on the Galaxy S24 and the Pixel 8 series. When you pick a prompt, fill in a few other prompts, and it will provide you with some spiffy wallpapers. You also can use the ASUS logo in these wallpapers, which can look pretty impressive.

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ASUS has also added AI Noise Cancellation for voice calls. This helps to reduce the noise in the environment while you’re on a call. I did test this out a couple of times, calling someone from a bar, and it worked incredibly well. It wasn’t perfect, but it was easy to hear me on the Zenfone 11 Ultra while in a noisy bar. So there’s that.

The only downside to the software is that ASUS does not mention how long they will update the Zenfone 11 Ultra. We’d expect about four years of OS updates and five years of security updates, but that was not mentioned to us in our briefing. So it’s hard to say. At least it is running on Android 14 out of the box, however.

ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra Review: Camera

The weak part of the previous Zenfones has been the camera, and unfortunately, that remains true again this year. ASUS did move to a triple-camera setup this year, with a 50-megapixel primary sensor, a 13-megapixel ultrawide, and a 32-megapixel telephoto sensor. On paper, the two additional sensors look okay, nothing crazy like what the HONOR Magic6 Pro or Xiaomi 14 Ultra have, but they should be adequate. And that’s probably the best way to describe them.

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So, the telephoto lens is able to take up to 3x shots with optical zoom and up to 30x with digital zoom. The 3x zoom looks pretty good. It could be a bit sharper, but for the most part, it looks great. When you do 30x optical zoom, it’s actually surprisingly good for that much digital zoom. I took a photo of a box with the 30x zoom, and I was able to actually read what was on the box – which was a label about it having a battery inside. It’s not insanely sharp, but you can read it well enough. I took a second picture of the side of my photography light box. It wasn’t quite as far away and had less light, but it’s still readable. Again, it is not crazy sharp, but it is readable. And to be honest, I don’t know when I’d ever take a photo at 30x that I would want to post on social media. This would also be used to see stuff that’s far away. This sensor is pixel-binning, down to 8 megapixels, so it’s essentially using four megapixels as one, which does help with providing more details.

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The wide-angle lens does its job. There’s not much else to say about it since ASUS did not include any type of Macro mode on the Zenfone 11 Ultra, which is unfortunate. It’s a mode I use quite a bit on other phones.

Then there’s the main sensor. This sensor is actually really good. It has an aperture of f/1.9, so it’s got a great depth of field. Providing some great bokeh on shots that are not in portrait mode. Focusing on this lens is also really good and quick. That’s not something I’ve been able to say about previous phones from ASUS.

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Finally, we tested the Zenfone 11 Ultra through the control test that we performed on each phone. Below, you’ll see the same picture (relatively speaking) taken with the HONOR Magic6 Pro, ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra, and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. As you’ll see the white background is a bit more “white” in the Zenfone 11 Ultra picture, and the Rubik’s cube is also a bit more sharp there.

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The conclusion I’ve come to for this camera on the Zenfone 11 Ultra is basically, you’re only going to want to use the main lens. The Telephoto is okay, but not something you’d likely use all that often, and the same goes for the ultrawide.

Should you buy the ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra?

After spending two weeks with the Zenfone 11 Ultra, I came away quite underwhelmed. Compared to a lot of the other phones I’ve reviewed this year, there’s just not a lot here from ASUS. It’s like a base model phone, with all of the special features being saved for the ROG Phone 8 series. A lot of what made Zenfone so popular in the tech community in the past couple of years is gone. The small size, the great battery life, and the impressive price tag are all gone.

The Zenfone 10 started at $699 here in the US last year. The Zenfone 11 Ultra will start at €999 in Europe (we don’t have a US price just yet, but expect it to be similar). That’s a massive $300 bump for a phone that’s losing out on a lot of things compared to its predecessor. And that makes it challenging to recommend this phone.

For $999, the Zenfone 11 Ultra is competing with the Galaxy S24 Plus, the OnePlus 12 (which is only $799), and even the Google Pixel 8 Pro. All of which, I feel, are much better options for a thousand bucks. And many of which you can get for far less with different trade-ins and deals going on. It pains me to say all this because I love ASUS’ hardware and their products, but I do feel that the Zenfone 11 Ultra did miss the mark.

You should buy the ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra if:

  • You don’t care about an ultrawide or telephoto camera
  • You want a phone that no one else will have.
  • You want a stock Android phone that doesn’t have a Tensor chipset.

You should not buy the ASUS Zenfone 11 Ultra if:

  • You want better cameras.
  • You want better battery life.
  • You want a guarantee of future software updates.

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