Do we need a cheaper Galaxy S24 Ultra made by… Asus?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Do we need a cheaper Galaxy S24 Ultra made by… Asus?
The Galaxy S24 Ultra is just great! But do you know what would be even better? If it didn't cost $1,300! Phones have become insanely expensive in the past decade, with flagship devices hopping over the $1,000 threshold without any hesitation.

Well, there's a phone with "Ultra" in its name, and it costs just $899. Interested? There's some good news and some bad news. Yes, today we're going to talk a bit about the Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra and whether or not such a model is relevant in the current smartphone climate.

Plus, Pro, Max, Ultra, Hyper? What does it all mean?

Not much. There was a time when Pro really meant "professional," but that ship has sailed long ago, and in the smartphone realm, "Pro" just means the slightly better flagship model. If you want the best of the best, you can get the "Pro Max" version for maximum professionalism… or something like that? Other companies have chosen the moniker "Ultra."

Wikipedia lists over 40 different meanings and uses of the word "ultra" in modern context, so clearly it's a popular idea that people like. The Britannica Dictionary defines "ultra" as: beyond; extremely; more than is usual.

I would argue that calling a smartphone "Ultra" repeatedly for four of five generations defeats the purpose of the word, as it's nothing more than "the usual," but this is a completely different discussion.

Let's get back to the Asus Zenfone 11 Ultra. It is more than what we thought of as usual for the Zenfone line, but is it enough to challenge the other "Ultra" phones? Where does it land on the market? And more importantly, do we need a cheaper Galaxy S24 Ultra, made by Asus?

Recommended Stories

A ROG Phone in disguise!

Funnily enough, the Zenfone 11 Ultra is not "more than is usual." Quite the opposite; it's less than a ROG Phone 8. I know many of you might light their torches and dust off their pitchforks, but before you start marching, hear me out.

How come a phone that's called "Ultra" is cheaper and offers less than one that is just a "Pro?" That alone deserves a separate rant. It doesn't make any sense. And we haven't yet touched on the fact that Asus somehow decided to strip the ROG Phone 8 of its gaming attire and sell it to the general public under the Zenfone name. Lazy.

I'm so passionate about it because I've been covering Asus devices for more than five years now, and I remember the Zenfone 6, the 7 Pro, and the 8 Flip, all very interesting phones and very different from anything in the Zenfone or ROG range.

The real problem of the Zenfone 11 Ultra

Well, besides the name, obviously. I would've been perfectly happy with rehashing the ROG and turning it into a Zenfone if Asus had upgraded the camera system. I can justify a mediocre camera system on a gaming phone, even though gamers deserve good cameras too, but using pretty much the same hardware for three consecutive years just doesn't cut it. There's nothing "ultra" in this.
Everything else is perfectly fine, and some would even argue better than what you get from the latest popular flagships. The screen of the Zenfone 11 Ultra is exquisite, very bright, responsive, and fast. The chipset scores higher than other Android flagships, even those with "Ultra" in their names. The battery is great, and the fast charging is what it really should've been on all flagships years ago.

And yet, no periscope zoom lens, no big 1-inch sensor with stacked pixels, no fancy 3D facial recognition on the front. A real upgrade in the camera department would've made this phone a true "Ultra," and this is the reason why I'm so furious about it.

Do we need the Zenfone 11 Ultra?

Surprisingly - yes. We need the device, we just don't need the name. The marketing logic behind all this is sound. The execution and the morals—not so much, at least to me, but it is what it is. I admit, more people will probably buy a Zenfone 11 Ultra instead of a ROG Phone 8.

Will this phone dethrone the Galaxy S24 Ultra or the iPhone 15 Pro Max? Not likely. Even if the phone had the best camera system to date, it would've been a tough sell.

Let's get back to the good news and the bad news. The bad news is that the Zenfone 11 Ultra won't be able to compete with other high-end flagship phones. The OnePlus 12 will eat it for breakfast, for example.

But the good news is that, judging by the timing of this launch, we might still get a regular Zenfone 11, and it might be a completely different phone. Reviewers and tech nerds genuinely fell in love with the Zenfone 9 and 10. These two models filled a gap that no one thought existed. The cute little but powerful flagship for not a ton of money.

Final thoughts

I wish companies would stop with the wordplay and do some real innovation instead. Put a 10,000mAh solid state battery in a thin flagship and then call it "Ultra." Invent a smartphone camera with real Vario and variable aperture over a full-frame sensor, for example.
The Zenfone 11 Ultra is not a bad phone, but the name works against it in so many ways. And it encourages a trend to rehash old ideas and sell them as new ones. How long before every new model is just the next Snapdragon chipset and a bunch of software features, unlocked specifically for it?

But enough blabbering; I'm sure I made my point clear. What do YOU think about it? Do these hyperbolized names bother you? Do you think hardware innovation will stop eventually and it will be all software features? Let us know in the comment section below.

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless