After tasting the unfruitful success of Zenfone 4 series, Asus is trying everything it can to gain a hold of the growing smartphone industry in India. With brands like OnePlus following the “Premium Device Affordable Price” model, Asus is one of the newcomers to the clan.
Asus has already challenged the budget throne with Zenfone Max Pro M1 (Review). It’s time for the brand to compete against the flagship killer. The Chinese smartphone has recently added a premium phone to its portfolio dubbed Asus Zenfone 5Z.
Asus Zenfone 5Z comes in three different storage variant – 6GB RAM 64GB storage, 6GB RAM 128GB storage and 8GB RAM 256GB storage. The device is available exclusively via Flipkart with a price tag starting at INR 29,999. It comes in two colour options namely Meteor Silver and Midnight Blue.
Does Asus Zenfone 5Z really justify the “Flagship Redefined” tag? Find out in our comprehensive review.
Asus Zenfone 5Z Key Specifications
6.2-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD display, 1080 x 2246 pixels resolution, Corning Gorilla Glass protection
Snapdragon 845 SoC, up to 8GB RAM and up to 256GB storage
Android 8.0 Oreo out-of-the-box (upgradable to Pie), ZenUI 5
12MP+8MP rear camera, 8MP selfie shooter
Build & Design
Like Zenfone Max Pro M1, Asus went with a different design approach with double-sided glass design having a glossy view. That glass-metal-glass sandwich makes it different from almost every other smartphone that has launched this year. Even though the entire Zenfone series is now refreshed, one thing which still sticks is the Asus’s signature concentric pattern. The light pattern shines stunningly when you move it around.
On the front, you can see the iPhone like notch but it is way smaller than the former. As usual, the notch bears the front-facing camera, earpiece and some useful sensors. If you’re from the “I hate notch” gang, then you do get an option to hide it completely. The power button and the volume rocker can be found on the right side while the sim tray is located on the left side.
At the bottom, you’ll see the speaker grill, microphone, a USB Type C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Moving on to the rear part, there is a dual camera setup positioned in a vertical manner with an LED flash sitting right below. You’ll find a fingerprint sensor at the centre and Asus branding below.
As mentioned earlier, the Zenfone 5Z has a glass back design which should be slippery or scratchy but fortunately, that’s not the case at all. In our extensive use of the product, we didn’t see any major scratch or found it slipping through our hand. In fact, the device fits right into your hand without feeling too hefty, big or bulky. The device measures 153×75.7×7.9mm and weigh just 155g.
Overall, Asus Zenfone 5Z definitely falls under the premium segment and the build & design portrays the same.
Asus Zenfone 5Z is a premium flagship smartphone and there is no doubt in that. The thing which makes it more premium is definitely its display. The smartphone features a massive 6.2-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080×2246 pixels and an aspect ratio of 18.7:9. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass although the version is unspecified.
Undeniably, this phone has a stunning and bright display with good colour reproduction. Even under the broad daylight, the display looks clear like in other lightning situations. As expected, the viewing angles of this phone are also on the perfect side. The display looks sharp always no matter what your viewing angle is.
The Zenfone 5Z houses a dual camera setup at the back having a 12MP sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and an 8MP secondary sensor with an aperture of f/2.0. There is a single 8MP selfie snapper on the front having an aperture of f/2.0.
Even in the dim lighting, the device manages to click pictures with great colour accuracy. Although there were some parts that turn out to be blurry. The lights look scattered making some areas look overexposed. Overall, the clicked photos look close to real life.
We also clicked some shots on the bright lighting conditions. As you can see in samples below, there is not a detail that can be found in the sky and it actually looks too bright. On the other hand, the other surrounding details look sharp and clear. It seems like the camera doesn’t react well with bright lightning.
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Like any other flagship device, Asus Zenfone 5Z also comes with a portrait mode. For those who’re unaware, the portrait mode gives a bokeh effect to the object further emphasising the subject. The portrait mode isn’t that natural looking on this phone but it still looks pleasing to the eye. The HDR mode also works pretty well on this device with colours being more vibrant and no case of oversaturation.
Coming to the front camera, the beautification mode works flawlessly without damaging the surroundings or other elements which is impressive. Again, the portrait mode still needs a little refining. We noticed some blurry edges in the portrait shots. Asus might fix this issue in near future via OTA updates. In the low light conditions, the selfie camera works pretty well but if you turn on the flash, the shots turn out to be average.
Software and Performance
With its new Zenfone lineup, Asus has finally started focussing on proving much better software experience. Previous Zenfone smartphones used to run on the company’s custom Zen UI skin. The Zenfone 5Z also runs on the same skin but it’s much simpler and cleaner now. Asus has removed all the useless apps which used to slow down the performance of the phone.
The new refreshed Zen UI gives you near stock Android experience with snappy performance. Asus Zenfone 5Z runs on the latest version of Android i.e. Android 8.0 Oreo out-of-the-box. Since it’s a premium device, we can also expect Android 9.0 Pie update in the near future. The addition of night mode is definitely a good decision.
Speaking of performance, Zenfone 5Z is powered by the Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 845 chipset coupled with Adreno 630. As far as the storage is a concern, you can get up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of memory depending on the model which you choose. Since it’s a flagship smartphone we’re talking about here, the performance on this thing is top notch. You’ll rarely witness any lags or slow down in your usage.
For unlocking, there is a fingerprint sensor at the back which does have a little delay but it’s not a major deal. You also have an option to unlock the phone via Face Unlock feature. Comparatively, the fingerprint sensor is much faster.
In terms of software as well as performance, Asus Zenfone 5Z is definitely a top notch product. Thanks to the clean and minimal usage, the phone delivers snappy performance even under heavy multi-tasking.
Battery and Audio
The Asus Zenfone 5Z is fueled by a 3,300 mAh battery. The device lasts for about 25 hours on a single charge with light usage. The smartphone comes with a fast charging feature and we were able to charge the phone from 10% to 100% in an hour and 50 minutes.
We tested the audio by playing different video and a variety of audio. The sound quality appeared to be loud enough to play in your room. The audio is absolutely clear even at the maximum level. The outdoor mode does boost the loudness giving you an ability to play it outside without any problem.
Verdict: Asus Zenfone 5Z
So, back to our foremost question, does Asus Zenfone 5Z deserves the “Flagship Refined” tag? We’re at the verge of answering this question. Before that, let’s talk about what we really liked on this phone. The Zenfone 5Z has one of the most stunning displays which we’ve seen at this price tag. Right from build to the software experience, Asus Zenfone 5Z managed to impress us a lot. All of this combined with an affordable price tag makes this device a much better value for money choice in our opinion.
If you’re really looking for a serious OnePlus 6 alternative, then Asus Zenfone 5Z is definitely what you need. I personally like Zenfone 5Z display and cameras more when compared with OnePlus 6. Sadly, there is no IP rating which is kinda acceptable considering the affordable price tag. Asus Zenfone 5Z is the best Zenfone the company has ever made. Period.
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