Taiwan's Asus has been gently pushing boundaries and maturing noticeably in recent years, especially after the insane success as a tablet maker. From the original Nexus 7 to its hit FonePad voice-calling tablets, Asus has proved the critics wrong.
After all, who'd have thought that the company would become the most successful tablet maker? During its early days, Asus produced the best PCs and motherboards, and now the company eyes sales boost through ‘ZenFone' smartphone series.
The new ZenFone series - ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 6, originally debuted earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Since India is the fast growing smart phone market, Asus has decided to launch the new ZenFone series in the country at an event on July 9. And the prices will also only revealed then.
Fortunately, GizBot got a chance to play around the Asus ZenFone 5 ahead of its anticipated launch on July 9. Here our first look and hands-on impressions.
Asus ZenFone 5 - Form Factor, Design and Operating System
At 10.34mm, the Asus ZenFone 5 is not the slimmest phone around, but it is a forward looking product. Being a 5-inch phablet, the handset seemed incredibly light (weighs in at 145g) when we held the phone for the first time. That said, we found the device easy to use with one hand - again an example where a 5-inch display is an ideal size for one handed operation.
The ZenFone 5 has an immersive ergonomic design which should be looked as the strong USP. The handset sports a slightly curved top and bottom. The power button and the volume rocker keys are located on the right-hand side. When tested the demo version, the metallic buttons were pretty easy to press.
The front side of the device features a large 5-inch screen. You'll notice a concentric circle, inspired by Asus' previous generation ‘Zenbook' notebook computers. Additionally, the phone features regular capacitive Android buttons over at the bottom bezel.
While on the rear back side, you'll notice minimalistic branding. Yes, the rear cover is removable, plus you'll also notice an 8-megapixel camera with an added LED Flash. The 3.5mm headphone jack is the top, while the micro-USB charging port is on the bottom. Despite being made out of polycarbonate plastic, Asus ZenFone 5 looks sophisticated and expansive in nature.
The 5-inch, HD display, which has a resolution of 1280 x 720-pixels, is bright and vibrant. For the record, we even tried to use the phone under bright sunlight, and it worked so fine. Contrast ratio was good, while the viewing experience was also fairly manageable. Since the screen is adorable, we haven't faced any hiccups while reading e-books on the phone.
On the biggest plus point, and the most surprising part of the Asus ZenFone 5 is its User interface (UI). Yes, you heard it right! The phone still runs on the dated Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but that's not an issue. Asus is already promising an Android 4.4 Kitkat update shortly which is apparently not too far.The charismatic handset is loaded with ZenUI, the new user interface (UI) slapped on top of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The UI feels unique and simple to use. Unlike Gionee's Amigo UI or Samsung's tedious TouchWiz UI, in comparison, ZenUI will not confuse you for sure.
Firstly, the UI is not clumsy, plus it retains the same navigation structure with a traditional home screen, a notification bar and an app launcher. That said, beyond just app icons, the makers have tried to add Asus' native apps, which wasn't easy to ignore. As mentioned, the phone comes with a number of homegrown apps such as Asus WebStorage; Zen Link; Share Link; Remote Link; Mirror, and Omlet Chat.