ASUS ZenFone 5 In-Depth Hands-on
After numerous speculations, leaks, and rumors, ASUS finally took the wraps off of their latest generation Zenfone. Not to be confused with the earlier Zenfone 5 released back in 2014. Although, we did expect this confusing road bump when the company started naming their phones by generation instead of by screen size. This new flagship is actually ASUS’ first deep step into artificial intelligence (AI) as they are touting it to be an “Intelligent Phone” rather than just a “Smart Phone”. So without further ado, say hello to the new and improved Zenfone 5.
You may also watch our video hands-on below.
The very first thing you’ll notice when you lay your eyes upon the Zenfone 5 for the first time, is its uncanny resemblance to the iPhone X. Like Apple’s anniversary device, ASUS’ latest also has that weird looking top notch. Although, that notch does fit well with the device’ overall look and design. Despite the eerie similarity with the iPhone X, the Zenfone 5 was still able to distinguish itself thanks to its glass back panel and the signature ASUS Zen Circle design.
The company has been known to create elegant flagships since the introduction of the Zenfone 3, and the Zenfone 5 continues that trend.
Up front, we have the 6.2-inch 19:9 aspect ratio FHD+ (2246 x 1080) display protected by 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass and the top notch that houses the 8MP f/2.0 front camera, speakerphone, notification LED, and sensors.
On the left, we’ll see the Hybrid SIM tray slot and on the right are the power/lock button and volume rockers.
The top is left bare while down below, we have the USB Type-C port, dual speakers, and a 3.5mm audio port.
The Zenfone 5 is a thin, light, and overall sleek looking device. It’s easy to hold thanks to its circular body and 5.5-inch frame. Speaking of that frame, we have to give props to ASUS for cramming in a 6.2-inch screen in a much smaller body. Apart from that, the phone feels solid, well-made, and exudes an elegant and premium aura.
ASUS equipped the Zenfone 5 with a 6.2-inch FHD+ 19:9 aspect ratio IPS display. This is actually our first time seeing a device using the said aspect ratio, looks like 18:9 is no longer enough. In any case, the display itself has good color reproduction, accuracy, and viewing angles. Icons are also crisp and clear despite the stretched screen aspect ratio. Overall, it’s a pleasant screen to look at and would suffice for a good viewing and gaming experience.
Audio-wise, we get a pretty loud dual speaker that maintains clarity at max volumes. Although, there are some small barely noticeable audio cracks here and there. Mids and Highs are good but Lows are somewhat lacking. Overall, you’ll get a pretty standard speaker with above-average audio quality.
The Zenfone 5 is equipped with dual 12MP + 8MP rear cameras and an 8MP front. The second rear camera serves as a wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view while the main rear camera is equipped with a Sony IMX363 sensor with an aperture of f/1.8. The front is your standard 8MP shooter with a f/2.0 aperture. To stay true to their “Intelligent phone” claim, ASUS equipped the Zenfone 5 with AI photography.
Basically, the phone’s cameras have AI Scene Detection, AI photo learning, real-time portrait mode, and real-time beautification. As for features, the rear cameras have beauty, super-resolution, panorama, time lapse, auto, pro, GIF animation, slow motion, and a set of filters. The front, on the other hand, has fewer options namely beauty, GIF animation, auto, selfie panorama, and a set of filters.
Image quality for the rear cameras is a mixed bag. The main 12MP shooter is quite the performer. Shots taken by it have great detail, color reproduction, accuracy, and sharpness. Exposure is also well-maintained. However, the same cannot be said for the 8MP wide-angle shooter as shots, while still good in detail, now have noticeable grain and noise, even in well-lit conditions.
As for the front, it’s a decent performer. Selfies have good detail despite the noticeable grain and noise and beautification provides just the right amount of adjustment. Maxing the beauty options though make changes look eerily artificial, but still at acceptable levels.
Handling the software department is ASUS’ ZenUI 5.0 on top of Android 8.0 Oreo. The UI makes use of home screens instead of app drawers to organize your apps. If you’re not a fan of that then you can easily download your preferred launcher at the Play Store.
In any case, the UI is clean and pre-installed apps only include the standard Google set and a few homebrew. This leaves about 51.85GB of usable space from the initial 64GB.
It’s also worth noting that the display has an auto color temperature feature, courtesy of AI. Other than that, the device also has an always-on smart screen feature for notifications and AI boost that optimizes the device based on your usage. Facial recognition is now a lot better, unlike with the Zenfone Max Plus. Setup was fast and easy and unlocking the device is now a breeze. I registered my face without any accessories, so I was quite surprised when I was still able to unlock the device once I wore glasses. A testament that ASUS has learned from its mistake with the Max Plus.
Powering the Zenfone 5 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636 with ASUS’ so-called AI Boost, 4GB/6GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. Mundane tasks such as browsing, light video viewing, and texting are a breeze. Multitasking is also not a problem thanks to the hefty 4GB of RAM. AnTuTu scored the device at 124,816 during our initial tests, which is not bad.
We weren’t able to fully test the device’s battery but ASUS claims it has a smart charging feature. Basically, during the day, the phone activates fast charging while at night time it slows it down to allow for overnight charging. By doing this, the company assures that the phone will prolong and preserve battery shelf life.
ASUS might be right in calling the Zenfone 5 their most intelligent device to date. Its components are laden with AI features that are actually helpful rather than just gimmicky. While it does have that resemblance to Apple’s iPhone X, the company was wise enough to give the device its own intricate design touch. The Zenfone 5 is shaping up to be quite a strong contender this early 2018.
Zenfone 5 specs:
6.2-inch 19:9 FHD+ IPS display @ 2246 x 1080px, 90% Screen to Body Ratio
2.5D Gorilla Glass
Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 1.8GHz Octa-core processor (w/ multi-core AI)
Adreno 509 GPU
64GB internal storage
expandable up to 2TB via microSD card
Hybrid dual-SIM (nano)
12MP Sony IMX363 1.4?m, 1/2.55” w/ f/1.8 Night HDR, OIS/EIS, PDAF main 8MP 120-degrees wide-angle secondary
4K video recording (RAW file support)
8MP f/2.0 front camera
Dual 4G LTE
Dual speakers with Smart Amp Audio Wizard
Android 8.0 Oreo with Zen UI 5.0
3,300mAh battery with BoostMaster & Smart Charging S