Taiwanese tech giant, Asus, which is widely known for its laptops and PC components business, has been trying to crack the smartphone market code for a while now. While their devices have inculcated top end hardware, the pricing has been their Achilles heel. They hit bullseye with the pricing of the Zenfone Max Pro M1. Can they repeat the success with the Zenfone 5Z and slay the flagship killer? Read on to find out.
Zenfone 5Z comes flaunting top of the line internals that are hidden neatly inside a shell that’s premium both in look and feel. Starting at Rs 29,999 for the 6GB+64GB RAM and storage variant and going all the way up to Rs 36,999 for the 8GB+256GB one, the pricing looks to be spot on too. (UPDATE: All the variants have gotten a price cut of Rs 5,000 during the annual sale on Flipkart)
Display and design – Zenfone 5Z Review
Created using an alluminium frame sandwiched between sheets of Gorilla Glass, the Zenfone 5Z is definitely the most beautiful device to have come out of Asus’ stables. Although I’m no fan of the notch on an ultra expensive iPhone, but on the Zenfone 5Z, the notch paired with the slim bezels around the 6.2-inch panel allows the phone to look premium as well as give users a true edge-to-edge experience while viewing multimedia content or playing games on the device – and all without driving the device’s price too high.
Apart from the notch, the front of the Zenfone 5Z also sees Asus use a Full HD+ (1080×2246) Super IPS panel which sports a wider than usual 18:7:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of 402 PPI. The panel is plenty bright, and legibility is not an issue even under direct sunlight. Because of being an IPS panel, viewing angles on the phone are also great, as is the colour accuracy. During my time with the phone, I found the phone’s ability to produce deep punchy colours quite pleasing.
Moving to the back, the Zenfone 5Z looks as premium as it does from the front. However, here it does so without compromising on Asus’ identity, that is, by using the Zen pattern.
To Asus’ credit, the round fingerprint scanner, protruding camera module and a dual-tone led flash present at the back also go well with the pattern at the back, helping the Zenfone 5Z stand-out as one of the better-looking devices available in the market currently.
The placement of the phone’s volume rocker, power button as well as the cut-outs for the type-C charging port, speaker grille and 3.5mm jack on the bottom of the phone also feel very well done.
Specifications and performance – Zenfone 5Z Review
In terms of the hardware it packs in, the Asus Zenfone 5Z is one of the best out there. Running the show here is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core SoC which Asus has paired with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB onboard storage which can be upgraded using a microSD card. We reviewed the 6GB+64GB entry variant of the Zenfone 5Z which performed quite well during our time with it. Leveraging the raw power of the Snapdragon 845’s four high-performance Kryo cores running at 2.8GHz and four Kryo silver cores running at 1.7GHz, the Zenfone 5Z boots up fast and muscles through anything you through at it. Applications launch fast, and moving between pages and transitions feels buttery smooth.
The current ZenUI 5 carries very little bloatware and is the closest to stock Android that phone maker has ever shipped. Another highlight of the ZenUI 5 is its promise of AI-based features. Asus’ take on Android Oreo enables the phone to use some sophisticated tricks, such as AI Boost which can dynamically manage background processes to improve the performance of the phone.
Cameras – Zenfone 5Z Review
With the Zenfone 5Z, Asus is also making a push to become the best cameraphone in the price segment. At the back, the phone features a 12-megapixel primary sensor (f/1.8 aperture lens), and an 8-megapixel secondary sensor (f/2.2 aperture wide-angle lens) with a field of view of 120 degrees.
Though the hardware may be in line with what competing phones in the segment offer, as we mentioned above, the Zenfone 5Z because of its artificial intelligence (AI) based features sets itself apart from the rest.
The phone supports 16 types of AI scene detection modes that make adjustments to aperture, focus, filters, and other settings in order to take the best shot for that scene. The interesting thing is that these modes also evolve over time as they are programmed to learn from your photos and your preferences.
Up front, you have an 8-megapixel sensor for selfies and video calling. Though it also makes use of a number of AI smarts, the performance of the particular sensor is just average.
Battery – Zenfone 5Z Review
The device gets its juice from an above-par, 3,300mAh battery pack that backed by the energy efficient 845 SoC paired with the 1080p display helps the phone easily get through more than a day on a single charge.
The Zenfone 5z is easily one of the best that we have used in terms of battery performance. Add to that the fact that the device also supports Quick Charge 3.0.
Conclusion – Zenfone 5Z Review
To be honest, the Asus Zenfone 5Z gets most things right in terms of the features it flaunts and also fares well against the competition in terms of the internals it packs. But it does has its drawbacks.
The biggest of them being the software. But the one defining factor of the Zenfone 5Z which marks it out as a winner in this tightly contested segment is its extremely aggressive price tag. Undercutting the price of the OnePlus 6 is a masterstroke from Asus. If you are in the market for a top-end, beautiful device which can last you a while, look no further.