Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra review
Image: Asus.

Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra review: go large

8.7

Abandoning the Zenfone ‘pocket rocket’ mantra, the hefty Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra goes large in an effort to win over Android power users.

For many years, the Zenfone range’s compact design has been part of its appeal. Small yet powerful smartphones are hard to find in an age where most handset makers seem convinced that bigger is better.

There was talk that last year’s 5.9-inch Asus Zenfone 10 would be the last of the Zenfone line. Now it’s back, but Asus has foregone a pint-sized Zenfone 11 in favour of the new 6.78-inch Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra. While a step up in size, the 11 Ultra also bumps up the price tag by $300.

It remains to be seen whether Asus will follow up with a standard Zenfone 11, but for now, the beefed-up 11 Ultra further blurs the line with Asus’ ROG Phone aimed at gamers. The Zenfone 11 Ultra and ROG Phone 8 are strikingly similar in many ways.

Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra review

First impressions

There was a time when a 6.78-inch device would have been considered a monster phablet, but today the Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra is about par for the course for Android flagships. Its dimensions and weight are almost identical to the Google Pixel 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

As with many of today’s big handsets, a narrow 20:9 aspect ratio screen ensures that it’s tall but still not too wide to hold comfortably in your hand – helped by slightly curved edges. Yet its bulk still might frustrate people with small hands who appreciated the more compact Zenfone 10, which was around 9 mm narrower and 53 grams lighter.

While the Zenfone 11 Ultra is certainly large, it’s still elegant thanks to a Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front, aluminium frame and coloured glass back etched with the Asus logo. The back also features a prominent triple-lens camera array.

Asus says the frame is made of 100 per cent recycled aluminium and the display is composed of over one-fifth recycled glass, while it has also managed a 94 per cent reduction in plastic use for packaging by relying on wrapping paper for the phone and the cable. 

Hold the phone in your hand and you’ll find the power button on the right side in the middle, where it’s easy to reach, with the volume buttons above. The fingerprint reader is built into the screen, which is a shame because building it into the power button like the Zenfone 10 would be more convenient.

Asus also did away with the “ZenTouch” power button which could be customised to access shortcuts. But you still have “Edge Tool”, a customisable slide-out panel that pops out from the edge of the screen alongside the power button. It features a floating app launcher and contextual settings, such as the Video Genie when you launch Netflix that lets you easily mute calls, alerts and notifications. 

Asus has managed to cram in the USB-C port, SIM card slot and 3.5 mm headphone jack on the bottom edge of the phone, which is efficient but oddly leaves the USB-C port off to the side rather than in the middle.

Fire up the handset and you’re presented with a gorgeously vivid AMOLED display offering up to 2,500 nits brightness. You also have the advantage of a 1 to 120 Hz adaptive refresh rate, along with a 144 Hz gaming mode.

The screen supports basic HDR10 high dynamic range for extra details in the brightest highlights and deepest shadows. This means you can get the best picture quality from Amazon HDR and YouTube HDR, but disappointingly not Netflix HDR.

The 2400 × 1080 pixel resolution is the same as the Zenfone 10. It’s enough to do Full HD 1080p video justice, although bumping up the screen size but not the resolution might disappoint some people. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a lot sharper at 3120 x 1440 pixels but, to be fair, it’s also a lot more expensive.

Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra specifications

Display size6.78 inch, 20:9 aspect ratio
Display resolution2400 × 1080, 388 ppi
Display technologyFlexible OLED, peak brightness 2,500nits, up to 144Hz refresh rate
Bandssub-6 5G 
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, SM8650Qcta-core CPUs, 3.3GHz
GPUQualcomm Adreno 750
Rear camerasSony IMX890 50 MP – 1/1.56” large sensor size, gimbal OISQuad Bayer technology – 12.5 MP, 2 µm large effective pixel size
f/1.9, 23.8mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
2×2 on-chip-lens phase detection auto-focus LED flash
32 MP, 3X optical zoom telephoto
f/2.4, built-in OIS65.3mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
13 MP, 120° ultrawide-angle camera
Free-form lens
12.7mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
Front camera32 MP RGBW sensor Pixel binning 1.4μm (Actual output photo: 8MP)
22mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
RAM12GB LPDDR5X RAM 
Onboard storage256GB UFS 4.0 
microSD slotNo
ChargingWired 65W HyperCharge
Wireless 15W Qi
SIMDual nano-SIM 
Battery5500 mAh
Wi-FiWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e/7, tri-band, Wi-Fi Direct
Bluetooth5.4, A2DP, LE, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX Lossless
Operating systemAndroid 14
SecurityFingerprint, Face unlock
RuggednessIP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 min)
Dimensions163.8 x 76.8 x 8.9 mm
Weight225 g
ColoursEternal Black, Skyline Blue
Price$1,599 RRP
Warranty1 year
Official websiteAsus Australia

Features

The Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra ships running Android 14, with the promise of only two OS updates and four years of security updates – which is rather underwhelming compared to what some handset makers offer these days.

Thankfully Asus’s Zen UI skin is light on bloatware and you’re also given a choice during setup to opt for some Asus-optimised settings or stick with the Android defaults.

Under the bonnet, the handset packs quite a punch thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, accompanied by 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage (despite 16/512 models being available in some countries). 

A lot of that grunt goes towards underpinning the Zenfone 11 Ultra’s multimedia and AI credentials, which are a big step up from the Zenfone 10.

For starters, the 11 Ultra adds a third rear lens so you’ve got a 50 MP main shooter along with 32 MP telephoto and 13 MP ultrawide. Around the front, you’ll find a 32 MP selfie camera which pixel bins down to 8 MP.

That main camera features Asus’ upgraded 6-Axis Hybrid Gimbal Stabiliser 3.0 and Super HyperSteady video stabilisation, plus it can take advantage of AI to add a real-time bokeh blur to both photos and video.

The main lens is capable of shooting 8K video at 24 fps or 4K at 30/60 fps, plus the phone can take advantage of OZO Audio-powered 3D surround-sound recording to capture more immersive audio.

While you’re on voice and video calls you also have the advantage of AI-powered noise cancellation, so people can hear you more clearly, along with AI-powered transcriptions when recording calls.

It’s a sub-6 5G handset with support for dual nano-SIMs but disappointingly no eSIM. At home, you can take advantage of Wi-Fi 7.

Powering everything is a 5500 mAh battery which should be good for around 26 hours, so probably two days of typical use. That’s impressive considering the processor as well as the size and brightness of the screen (although keeping down the resolution would help conserve power).

You also have the advantage of 65 W HyperCharge fast charging as well as wireless charging. As is often the case, you don’t get an AC fast charger in the box.

Live AI translations in action

One of the Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra’s most impressive AI tricks is live call translations, to help break down the language barrier. It supports real-time translations between nine languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. 

While it’s very impressive in theory, having tested it with Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese speakers, at this point I’d say it’s not practical or user-friendly. To be fair, Asus says it’s still a beta for media testing only and won’t be made available to the public until a future software update.

Live translations only work on phone calls and can’t be used in third-party voice and video services. You activate them by pressing the Call Translation button found in the call-in-progress menu.

Once you press that button, the person on the other end hears a short announcement in their own language: “The other party has opened the communication”. Once the service is available to the general public, that message will need to do a much better job of explaining what’s about to happen – considering that you can’t explain it to the other person yourself, in their own language, before you begin. 

As it is, most people would probably hang up immediately upon hearing the AI voice, on the assumption it was a robo-spam call.

Lost in translation

For now, the service insists on defaulting to Traditional Chinese, you can’t change the language until after you’ve started translating and played that initial announcement in Chinese – at which point non-Chinese speakers would certainly hang up. Hopefully, Asus will add the ability to select languages before you activate translations.

Once translations are activated, when you speak you see your words dictated in English and translated into Chinese on the screen. Two seconds after you stop speaking, the person on the other end hears an AI-generated voice speak the Chinese translation. They can then reply by speaking in Chinese, after which you hear and see the English translation.

The system can handle two-way translations if you both talk at the same time, but it quickly gets very confusing.

Neither party can actually hear the other person’s voice, which makes it very difficult to have an ongoing conversation. While you’re speaking in English, the other person is listening to absolute silence – they don’t even have the benefit of the onscreen interface you have on the Zenfone.

If the translation into Chinese fails, perhaps because you spoke too quickly in English, the phone ignores it and stays silent. The person on the other end continues to hear absolutely nothing, but you don’t know that the translation failed. At this point, you’re both listening to silence – as you’re waiting for them to reply, but they’re still waiting for you to speak.

At other times, the translation can miss the sentence and pick up half way. Of course, the person on the other end doesn’t know this, so the snippet they hear can leave them very confused.

To be usable, Asus’ AI translation system needs to offer all participants much more feedback and context. For example, it would be a lot more user-friendly if each person could hear the other person’s voice, even softly, so they knew what was happening. Alternatively, a short beep might let each person know when it’s their turn to speak.

Power

The Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset delivers the goods, with impressive Geekbench 6 results of 2236 single-core, 7271 multi-core and 14614 OpenCL with the handset in high-performance mode. Dial down the performance setting to everyday Dynamic and it still delivers a very respectable 1283, 5904 and 14288

That kind of performance puts the Zenfone 11 Ultra right up there with rival Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 powerhouses like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, which also leans heavily into AI-powered features like translations.

With all that grunt, the Zenfone 11 Ultra is certainly a tempting option for Android power users including gamers, even though the Asus ROG Phone 8 (also packing the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3) is already aimed squarely at this market.

Screen and camera quality

When it comes to multimedia, that vivid and super-bright display is fantastic for reading outside in direct sunlight. It’s also excellent for watching movies, particularly when HDR kicks in. Unfortunately, the auto-dimming in dark environments is a little too aggressive, like many devices these days, so you might find yourself needing to bump up the brightness a notch.

When it comes to the camera, the overall picture quality is a big step up from the Zenfone 10. Photos have plenty of detail and look vibrant, even if perhaps a fraction too crisp and vibrant at times. Photos also have plenty of depth and life, thanks to the fact it does a great job in difficult lighting conditions. Likewise, you get exceptional low-light performance.

It’s also great to see sharp yet natural-looking selfies without the overly aggressive default “beautification” settings. Switch to video mode and the upgraded video stabilisation offers very impressive results.

While the camera can hold its own, it isn’t best in class for photography when it comes to flagship smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra or Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Who is the Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra for?

For all its strengths, the Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra lost one of its key selling points by abandoning the compact sub-6-inch design of its predecessors. That’s going to alienate some Zenfone fans, while also garnering new interest from Android lovers who demand plenty of screen real estate.

If its bulk doesn’t put you off, the Zenfone 11 Ultra has a lot going for it, but there are a few areas where it’s not best in class. For example, if camera quality and or screen resolution are your highest priority – and you have deep pockets – you should certainly weigh it up against something like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra
The powerful Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra bulks up in an effort to stand tall alongside rival Android flagships.
Features
8.5
Value for money
8.5
Performance
9
Ease of use
9
Design
8.5
Positives
Large, bright, vivid screen
Tonnes of grunt
AI-powered features
Long battery life
Negatives
Abandons Zenfone's compact design ethos
Photo quality and screen resolution aren't best in class
8.7