All it needs now is the attention of LineageOS or Paranoid Android
Asus is a brand generally associated with laptops, but its smartphones definitely set their own pace. Its latest phone — the Asus Zenfone 9 — packs the formidable Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC and efficient power management. Although the Taiwanese company’s ZenUI software skin can compete with stock Android, users who want more options will be able to get them. To facilitate the creation and installation of custom ROMs, Asus is opening up the Zenfone 9’s bootloader for unlocking and is releasing its kernel source code.
As noted by our friends at sister site XDA-Developers, Asus is distributing a bootloader unlocking APK through its website. Users will then need to install the APK and go through whatever prompts as provided by the app. As always, unlocking a bootloader will trigger a factory reset — so tinkerers will need to make sure they have their data backed up or just make peace with losing it all — and the voiding of the device warranty. This also means that future updates will have to be installed manually.
All of the above makes way for the fun stuff: the company has also shared the kernel source code for the phone. Developers will be able to use this to create their own customized ROMs. Earlier models in the Zenfone series had also received a lot of attention from modders and we expect it to be no different for this phone.
One concern we’ve had about the Zenfone 9 is that Asus is only offering two years of OS updates, whereas similarly priced phones such as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro offer three years’ worth of OS updates. That’s the great thing about custom ROMs, though: they open up the way to bringing new features from later version bumps, so long as enthusiasm (and the developmental pipeline) for the device is alive and well, long past its expiration date.