Asus has been one of the few brands that has always looked to be present across segments in the smartphone market. Till sometime back, the Taiwan based firm had a really strong presence across the markets in India, holding its own very well. Till the combination of intense competition and price rivalry punctured it somewhat, leading to an erosion in marketshare.
But time away, or time spent away from the limelight seems to have been well utilised, as the company has finally got all its duck in a row with a completely revamped its strategy. The brand recently launched the Zenfone Max Pro M1 with great specs and at an aggressive price point of Rs 10,999. And it has done it again with its flagship device, the Zenfone 5Z. It is safe to say that at Rs 29,999, this is the cheapest smartphone that comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and packs in every gun to win. But, will it be able to do so and become the next ‘Flagship Killer’? We spent some time with the device and this what we think.
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Design and Display
Starting with the design, the first thing you will notice about this device is the sheer lightnesss and slim profile. It is just 7.85mm thin and weighs 155 grams, which makes it one of the lightest options available in the market. Another highlight of the device is the glass panel at the back. The company has used an eight-layer optical coating process and a final coat under the glass to give a Zen-inspired concentric-circle patterning. The back panel surely gives a premium look, although it remains smudge haven too.
The front sports a bezel-less screen with a notch on the top, which is slightly bigger than the one present in OnePlus 6. At the bottom, you will find on-screen navigation keys, which can be hidden quite easily. The right bears volume controls and power on/off button, while the left sports dual-SIM slot. The antenna bands run across the top and bottom of the phone, which is quite a neat thing.
At the base, there is USB Type-C port flanked between the headphone jack and speaker grille. Moving on, the back panel sports vertically-aligned dual rear cameras, LED flash and fingerprint sensor. Overall, if you ask us, then Zenfone 5Z looks the part from all angles with the bonus being, despite sporting a glass back, it is not at all slippery and offers better grip as compared to the other ‘flagship killer’ gone premium, OnePlus 6.
Coming to the display, Zenfone 5Z sports a 6.2-inch Full HD+ display with a screen resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 19:9. The phone features a screen-to-body ratio of 90 per cent, which is quite impressive and 550 nits brightness ensures that the outdoor visibility remains bearable. The phone also comes with 96 per cent NTSC colour gamut and it also supports DCI-P3. In our initial testing, we found out that the display offers slightly warmer colour tone. But, you need not worry as there is an option of Auto Color Temperature in the Settings menu, through which you can change the colour temperature. We will talk more about this in our upcoming review.
Hardware and Software
On the hardware front, this smartphone is a total powerhouse. You get the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor along with Adreno 630. The smartphone is backed by up 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage. We got the 6GB of RAM with 64GB storage variant. On paper, it is a monster and in actual usage, the phone was able to tackle all the tasks we throw at it during our brief testing.
In the past, Asus’s ZenUI was heavily criticized for being full of bloatware and complex to use. However, with the Zenfone 5Z, the brand has announced a completely different version of ZenUI. The new user interface now comes with just a few apps from Google and Asus. There is no bloatware and it is now quite simple to use as well. Asus has also introduced a host of interesting AI features, which only enhances the overall experience. There is AI boost that enhances the performance of the phone, while the OptiFlex helps speed up the apps, which is auto-selected based on app usage.
Another interesting thing, the brand has added is Suggest Apps, which shows personalized app suggestions on all apps page. The phone also features Game Genie, which enhances your gaming experience. Then there is AI ringtone, smart screen and more, which we will discuss in our in-depth review.
Coming to the camera, the smartphone features a dual-camera setup with a combination of 12 MP and 8MP sensors. The main 12 MP camera has Sony IMX363 sensor, f/1.8 aperture, 83-degree field of view, 24mm equivalent focal length, and a Softlight LED flash. The 8-megapixel sensor has 120-degree wide-angle lens, a f/2.2 aperture, and a 12mm equivalent focal length in a 35mm film camera. For selfies, there is an 8-megapixel shooter with f/2.0 aperture, 84-degree field of view, and a 24mm equivalent focal length in a 35mm film camera.
This is not it. The camera takes leverage of AI as well. The phone features AI Scene Detection, which basically tweaks the camera settings in the background to 16 different types of scenes, which at the end of the day enhances the photos. The AI also uses real-time portrait mode, which highlights the main subject and blurs out the background. Then there AI Photo Learning, which the brand claims learn how you like to take photos and then automatically adjusts the camera settings for future shots. During our initial testing, we found out that the smartphone takes some really impressive shots when the lighting condition is perfect. However, we are yet to test it under different lighting condition, so we will reserve our verdict here.
Battery, Sound and Connectivity
On the battery front, the Zenfone 5Z is backed by a 3300mAh battery with AI and scheduled charging. Asus has added a host of premium features like Hi-Res audio, DTS headphones X, Qualcomm Audio CODEC and dual speakers that delivers some good audio output in our initial testing. Besides, the Asus Zenfone 5Z offers fingerprint sensor, 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v5.0, NFC, GPS/ A-GPS, FM radio, USB Type-C, and 3.5mm headphone jack.