Review: ASUS ZenFone 5 – An All-round Friend

Discreetly Unique

You can’t talk about the ASUS ZenFone 5’s design without pointing out similarities to the iPhone X. Though boasting a larger 6.2″ 19:9 FHD+ IPS  display, the notch at the top and edge-to-edge design are unmistakable. Even so, look a little closer and you’ll see distinct differences. The rear of the phone, for instance, promotes a sheen that shimmers from different angles. Also on it is a circular thumbprint scanner, indented into the chassis to feel easy to touch. It’s solid, thin, and premium-like, what with its curved edges and 85% screen-to-body ratio. Despite its affordability against the fruit company’s own device, the ZenFone 5 strives for elegance. If you can look past the similarities, there are plenty of qualities unique to ASUS’ flagship.

Multimedia Machine

What first intrigued me were the colours displayed on the ZenFone 5’s screen. Regardless of the angle or lighting, the wide colour gamut saturates colours to look vivid. The phone makes good use of sensors to optimise colour temperatures, enhancing reading and gaming under many conditions. What is worth noting, though, is that the 19:9 display does compensate for the notch by offering an 18:9 view in games or videos. It’s thoughtful, and the screen reverts to 19:9 when the notch isn’t in the way. Sound-wise, the double five-magnet stereo speakers offer vast clarity at mid to high volumes, though low volumes can sound muffled from some angles. An earphone jack does exist though, so the issue is easy to fix.

For Photo Geeks

One of the ASUS ZenFone 5’s marketed points is its intelligent cameras. The phone equips itself with dual 12+8MP rear cameras and an 8MP selfie camera. This is standard for many phones. As such, ASUS includes a 120-degree wide angle shooter on its secondary camera, which captures great landscape shots, though sometimes grainy. Photo learning, real-time beautification, and more give punch to the ‘intelligent cameras’ claim, which work well. Despite all this, I’m glad that the phone doesn’t shirk on colour reproduction and accuracy. The main camera uses Sony’s flagship IMX363 image sensor to achieve sharp and bright photos even in low lighting. Even with my shaky hands, the phone manages to keep images stable, though the selfie camera suffers.

Top Performance

Powering the ZenFone 5 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 octa-core chipset, Adreno 509 GPU, 4GB or 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. Of course, with these specs, multitasking between videos and casual browsing poses no lag, if at all. In terms of gaming, I tried out Mobius Final Fantasy and PUBG Mobile on the highest settings. Frame rate was stable throughout with rare dips. But if you want to push a little more juice out of the phone, the ZenFone 5 comes with an AI Boost feature. What this does is allocate resources in the device towards better performance. The function is also easily accessible from the Quick Settings menu, to toggle depending on battery life.

Slow and Steady

The non-removable battery is a rather modest one, being a 3,300 mAh unit. When you consider this against other smartphones that have 5,000 mAh battery packs, this seems lacklustre. Even so, the efficiency of the device is evident, as it took me roughly 10 hours of casual use and light gaming to properly deplete the battery. The ZenFone 5’s PowerMaster mode helps out with efficiency through its various battery-saving options. Further additions include AI charging and scheduled charging to dynamically tailor charging rates. I especially like the option to lower the charging rate overnight, which lessens burden on the battery. On average though, the smartphone takes two hours to fully charge, which is decent.

Adaptive Action

As a whole, the ASUS ZenFone 5 delivers on its promises. It’s an intelligent device that uses AI to improve the mobile experience where it counts. Whether you’re conserving battery life, taking photos, or playing games, the device adapts and personalises itself for you. The large high resolution display complements a powerful device with good rear cameras and Android Oreo out the box. Sure, it looks like the flagship phone of a certain fruit company, but it’s also much more affordable. Try to ignore the confused glares of your friends when they see the UI and this one should be a solid pick. At the price range of RM1,299, the ZenFone 5 is more than capable as an upper midrange phone.

Verdict: The ASUS ZenFone 5 boasts little errors, and instead lets you do most things with it excellently.

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