Asus launched their latest flagship smartphone, the Asus ZenFone 5Z last month. The smartphone is here to bring flagship grade hardware at an affordable price. It gives direct competition to the OnePlus 6 and the Honor 10. Can the ZenFone 5Z get the crown of being the best affordable flagship of 2018? Lets find out in our full review.
The Asus ZenFone 5Z features a 6.2-inch FullHD+ IPS LCD display an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor coupled with the Adreno 630 GPU. Our review unit packs in 6GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. The storage is further expandable using a microSD card. The phone runs on Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. All of this is backed by a 3,300mAh battery.
On the optics front, the ZenFone 5Z sports a dual-camera setup at the back consisting of a 12-megapixel primary and an 8-megapixel secondary sensor. Up front, there is an 8-megapixel selfie snapper.
The Asus ZenFone 5Z features a glass sandwich design which is pretty common with today’s flagship smartphones. The smartphone surely looks spectacular from the back with all that shiny glass and reflective design. However, the glass on the back is filled with fingerprints as soon as you start using it which is why Asus has included a clear case in the box.
Flip the phone over and it will shout it is from 2018 due to the fact that there is a notch up front. The notch allows for a larger screen-to-body ratio. It might feel a bit disturbing while consuming media within the first few days of usage. However, one soon gets used to it and the notch stops bothering.
Asus ZenFone 5Z sports a 6.2-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080x2246 pixels and an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. The display gets bright enough and the content is easily visible outdoors. Even the minimum brightness of the device won’t hurt your eyes while using the phone at night. The Display settings of the smartphone allow users to hide the notch. However, as it is an IPS LCD display one can tell that the notch still exists.
Software & UI
The ZenFone 5Z runs on Android 8.0.0 Oreo with ZenUI layered on top of it. The custom UI does bring a lot of features but it is not something that will fit everyone’s taste. Despite the fact that it is running a custom UI, the device is pretty smooth and there is no lag whatsoever.
The lock screen allows for a picture slideshow and the stock launcher comes with Google Now sitting on its left. The whole launcher is pretty quick and responsive. Asus even kept the bloatware to the minimal. There is also a theme store which allows users to customise the whole experience.
The smartphone also comes with a bunch of AI features which include AI charging and AI ringtone. The AI charging learns your charging habits and helps in improving the longevity of the battery. AI ringtone adjusts the volume of your smartphone according to the surroundings.
One issue which I did notice with ZenUI was an annoying notification. I live in an area where my Mobile Data keeps switching between 3G and 4G. Due to the fact that I am on roaming, every time the switch happens, I get an annoying notification saying my data roaming is turned on. Unlike other smartphones, there is no option to turn that notification off. However, I am quite sure that a small issue like this can be fixed using a software update.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset inside makes the ZenFone 5Z a true flagship. The processor is a beast for gaming and which is why games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 8 ran smoothly on the device. The smartphone feels quick and snappy while jumping between apps, thanks to the 6GB RAM.
The Asus ZenFone 5Z managed to score 2429 on Geekbench's Single Core test while the Multi-Core test achieved a score of 8694. Antutu Benchmarks gave the ZenFone 5Z an impressive score of 249352.
The Asus ZenFone 5Z sports a dual-camera setup at the back consisting of a 12-megapixel primary and an 8-megapixel secondary sensor. The secondary lens is a 120-degree wide-angle lens. The cameras on the smartphone offer good bokeh and dynamic range. The dual-camera setup also allows for portrait mode and the shots came out pretty decent and though the edge detection is not excellent, it is acceptable. The wide-angle camera was able to bring in more field of view.
Up front, there is an 8-megapixel selfie shooter which offers an 84-degree field of view. The front camera on the smartphone is quite impressive and the dynamic range is something above average. There is also a portrait mode for the front camera which performs reasonably well.
The 3,300mAh battery and the power-efficient Snapdragon 845 SoC make a great combination on the ZenFone 5Z. With light usage, the smartphone easily lasts through a day with around 30-40% battery left for the next day. Even with moderate to heavy usage, the phone is pretty reliable and get through a full working day. In situations where you run out of juice, the Asus ZenFone 5Z can recharge pretty quickly, thanks to the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.
At Rs. 29,999, the Asus ZenFone 5Z brings great value for your money. The smartphone offers flagship grade hardware at an affordable price without compromising on the build and design. The phone has everything that a 2018 flagship should need, a dual-camera setup, a notch up front, USB Type-C port and even a headphone jack. The AI features are just an icing on the cake.
If the Asus ZenFone 5Z sounds perfect, no it is not. The smartphone runs on Android Oreo-based ZenUI which is not something everyone is going to like. We would have appreciated if the company brought stock Android experience just like their recently launched ZenFone Max Pro M1. However, it is a tradeoff as you are getting a number of extra features like Theme support, an inbuilt app lock, twin apps and much more.
Speaking of extra features, the Asus ZenFone 5Z comes with a feature called ZeniMoji. It is nothing but Asus' take on Apple's AniMoji. However, as the ZenFone 5Z does not have that extra hardware, the ZeniMoji is nothing but a gimmick.
If you are a light user, the 6GB+64GB variant should be able to serve you well. However, if you are a hardcore user we suggest you get the 8GB+256GB variant as it can offer more storage and better multitasking. The 6GB+128GB variant does not make much sense as you will only get a boost in internal storage by spending Rs. 2,000 more. You can get more storage using the device's microSD card slot for much cheaper.