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Asus 6Z Review
From pop-up cameras to Shark fins modules, we have seen it all in the last two years. Yet there's a new type of camera setup in town, not entirely new but very modern and promising. We are talking about the new Asus 6Z, which has just been announced in the Indian market at a starting price of Rs. 31,999. for the base variant that offers 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.
- Flagship-Grade Performance
- Unique Camera Design With Discrete Functionality
- Stock Android Experience
- Great Device For Video Recording
- Good Audio Performance
- Good Battery Life
- Still camera Performance Could Have Been Better
- OLED Panel Is Missed
- Heating Issues
The 6GB + 128GB variant and the beefier 8GB + 256GB variant will retail at Rs. 34,999 and Rs. 39,999, respectively. The sales for the phone will open June 26th on Flipkart.com. At this price, the Asus 6Z is picking up a direct fight with OnePlus 7, another smartphone with the flagship Snapdragon 855 CPU.
If you were following technology news since last two weeks, you must be aware of the restrain put on Asus to sell its products with the 'Zen' branding in the Indian market. Asus is currently in talks with the Delhi High court in India to resolve the 'Zenfone' trademark lawsuit.
Importantly, there will be no effect on the consumers of the ongoing lawsuit on Asus as the new phone has been launched with a different name. The Taiwanese brand had to change the name of the newly launched flagship handset to '6Z', which sounds a bit unfamiliar for the Asus mobile products but it had to be done. Before we start with the review of the Asus 6Z, I must tell you that you should not confuse the Asus 'Zenfone' lawsuit with Huawei ban. The latter is an entirely different issue and has nothing to do with Asus products or future software updates for Asus's new 6Z smartphone.
Having said that, let's start this review with the highlight feature of the Asus 6Z, i.e. the uber cool rotating camera.
180 Degree Flip Camera With Two Sensors
Asus 6Z's movable camera assembly houses two sensors. The primary camera is a 48MP sensor based on the Sony IMX586 sensor, which is the current standard for flagship smartphones. The 48MP sensor works on Quad Bayer technology that essentially captures high-resolution pictures and also promises better low-light and HDR camera performance. The 48MP sensor has F/1.79 aperture and does not support Optical Image stabilization. Instead, it gets an advanced Phase detection auto focus combined with laser autofocus. The 13MP fixed focus secondary camera is a wide-angle sensor with a 125 degree field-of-view, equivalent to 11 mm equivalent focal length in 35 mm film camera.
Camera App On Asus 6Z Runs At 60Hz
The moment you fire up the camera, you are greeted with an interface that is one-of-its kind. The viewfinder on Asus 6Z refreshes at 60fps, which gives the camera interface a dedicated camera like feel. There's no lag, no matter how quickly you move the device in any possible direction. The camera app is also very neatly designed. Everything seems at its place and is just a swipe away. You can quickly switch between wide-angle lens and main camera with this toggle.
Swipe right and left to switch between various camera modes and you get a lot of them. Asus 6Z gets a dedicated night mode and a pretty rich Pro mode. You can also apply real-time filters, set HDR on auto mode and manage all camera settings by clicking on the settings toggle placed at the top-left corner.
How’s The Image Quality?
Asus 6Z captures crisp images with lots of details in daylight. Accurate colors are represented in the pictures, thanks to the Sony's flagship IMX586 sensor powering the 48MP primary camera with F/1.8 aperture. The main camera has a 1/2.0" large sensor size with 0.8 µm pixel size. The camera's image processing software does not saturate or boost colors to animate the shots. The pictures look quite natural, on phone's IPS LCD display as well as on the PC.
Enable HDR++ Mode For Vivid Images
If you prefer slightly cranked up contrast and saturation, enable the HDR++ mode. Unlike the non HDR and HDR mode, this particular mode boosts up the color tones, enhances dynamic range, and midtones for a very vivid and rich image output. However, there's a slight catch. To bring out that extra richness in images, the capture time of images is slightly increased. The camera takes an extra second to deliver the final image.
It is worth mentioning that the camera on Asus 6Z delivers better images that the OnePlus 7. Images also display better contrast and much better dynamic range (even in standard mode) than the recent OnePlus 7 series handsets.
48MP vs 12MP shots
The 12MP shots get the job done but if you really want to test the limits, you can enable 48MP mode to capture high-resolution images. The difference is not very stark at first look and most people might not even notice it. However, if you look closer, you will find 48MP images display better overall contrast and richer midtones. Some extra detailing can also be seen in shots captured in 48MP mode; however, I noticed a drop in the dynamic range of the shots captured in the higher resolution.
Having said that, if you are just posting images on social networking applications, standard 12MP shots will work just fine. But if you really fancy taking big printouts of the shots you capture from your phone, you can definitely go for higher resolution images. Make sure the light is in abundance as it will give you extra detailing in 48MP mode.
The 13MP ultra-wide angle lens on 6Z captures the widest frame in the town. The 125 degree wide-angle shots really add a new perspective to your photography experience.
Wide-angle Shots Mostly Come Out Well If Clicked in Ample Lighting
The lens-distortion is very well controlled; however, the images show loss in details and noise also kicks in the wide-angle mode. If there's ample light, wide-angle shots look good, otherwise they fail to impress.
Portrait Shots- Best Captured in Ample Lighting
As far as portrait shots are concerned, the depth effect looks pleasing but camera is quite inconsistent in creating it. Especially when light conditions are not favorable and you are framing human subjects. In daylight, camera delivers good bokeh shots.
The low-light camera performance is on Asus 6Z is a hit or a miss. The camera seems quite inconsistent. Some images come out really good, for instance, the above shot looks beautiful. There's no noise, no exposure issues and colors also look natural. The detailing is also preserved very well. And then there are times when images look dull, full of noise and details turn soft. Asus can improve this inconsistency with some software updates, something which we have noticed with company's previous smartphones.
Asus has also provided a dedicated mode if you are clicking an image with very less available lighting. The Night mode works on long-exposure principal and takes around 3 seconds to create the image. It's a definite step up from the standard mode on Asus 6Z; however, once again not the best-in-class.
The video recording abilities of 6Z are really impressive. The electronically stabilized 4k videos at 60fps are super crisp and also sound good as the audio is recorded in stereo quality at 192kpbs. Even the 1080p at 60fps are brilliant and can be used on social media platforms and even for YouTube channels without any quality issues. The video footages recorded in 4K and 1080p show excellent details and true-to-eye colors. The dynamic range is also quite impressive in the recorded videos.
Asus 6Z can also record timelapse videos in 4K, which looks just awesome. You also get slow-motion videos at 1080p at 240 fps / 720p at 480 fps. Overall, I found Asus 6Z to be a better video recording device rather than a still camera.
IPS LCD Display Fails To Match AMOLED Standards
Asus 6Z boasts a 6.4-inch IPS LCD panel with 1080x2340px resolution. The 19.5:9 aspect ratio screen offers a pixel density of 403ppi. It is a decent screen for content consumption but is not at par with AMOLED panels. Videos and other forms of multimedia content on Asus 6Z do not look as vibrant as it appears on handsets with AMOLED displays. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy A70 (at Rs. 27,000) offers a better display than the Asus 6Z.
Asus claims that the IPS LCD panel on 6Z can touch 600nits for outdoor readability, but I doubt. The screen feels somewhat dimmer and less lively than AMOLED panels offered by the competition. A good thing, it supports DCI-P3 and is also HDR10 enabled, which allows you to watch your favorite content from multimedia streaming platforms. You also get the 2019's best protective layer- Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection.
Distinct Design, Corning Gorilla Glass On Both Front And Back
With a flip camera assembly that looks like an android's face, the Asus 6Z comes across as a distinctively designed phone, if not the best-looking one. The rotating camera assembly, which is advertised as world's first controllable motorized camera is quite huge and has been designed by using liquid metal. It is controlled by a stepper motor which takes less than a second to flip the camera from its spot.
The back side of the phone gets Corning Gorilla Glass protection. The phone has beveled edges and a curved aluminum chassis holds the two sides firmly. The front is occupied by a nearly bezel-less and notch-less screen. The volume rockers, power button and a dedicated button to trigger Google Assistant are placed on the right edge.
3.5mm Headphone Jack And Conventional Fingerprint Scanner
Unlike the in-screen earpiece modules we have tested on a number of some notch-less phones, the 6Z gets a conventional fingerprint scanner positioned at the back panel. It is very snappy and accurate in unlocking the device. The left side gets the hybrid SIM card slot. A 3.5mm headphone jack is placed at the bottom alongside Type-C port, microphone and a bottom firing speaker. A notification light is placed at the top right of the phone.
Slightly Heavy, No Water-Dust Protection
At 190 g, Asus 6Z feels slightly bulky but can be used with one hand for a number of tasks such as scrolling your Facebook and Instagram timeline, dialing a phone number or navigating throughout the user interface of the device. You would need both the hands for a comfortable grip to use camera and to perform other day-to-day tasks.
Good Audio Delivery And Decent Call Quality
The audio performance on Asus 6Z is quite impressive. The smartphone features dual stereo speakers with dual NXP TFA9874 smart amplifiers. The setup throws Hi-Res audio- 192kHz/24-bit standard that sounds very clean and loud. The down-firing speaker serves as the primary audio channel and is accompanied by the earpiece to create a richer audio experience. You also get support for X 7.1 virtual surround sound and Qualcomm Audio CODEC.
Importantly, the bundled earphones make no compromise and sound equally better. The earphones are tuned by 1MORE and features dual internal microphones with Asus' in-house noise reduction technology. The call quality is pretty solid and as the smartphone features a conventional earpiece, you won't face any issues in understanding the voice of the other person over the call.
Snappy Performance- Stock Android Experience With Some Useful Software Tweaks
Asus 6Z is the second smartphone in the Indian market after OnePlus 7 to get the Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform. The 7nm chipset is essentially a 64-bit octa-core processor aided by Qualcomm's Adreno 640 GPU. You also get the snappy UFS 2.1 storage, and up to 8GB RAM / 256GB ROM combination.
Combined with Stock Android Pie, the 6Z feels very snappy and hardly stutters. The UI navigation is buttery smooth and the phone easily handles stressful tasks such as photo-video editing, multiple tabs in Chrome, 4K video recording, etc., something expected from the flagship chipset. You can run multiple apps simultaneously on this phone without worrying about the performance slowdown. At any point of time, there's enough RAM available to offer smooth multitasking experience.
Asus 6Z runs the stock Android Pie and not the company's ZenUI; however you can still see ZenUI traces in the phone's user interface. It's not a bad thing as all these apps are pretty useful and comes quite handy in day-to-day tasks. The app drawer, homescreen, notification panel and some other elements give very Pixel feel. By default you get on-screen navigation buttons but you can swipe them with gestures. The face unlock on Asus 6Z is pretty snappy and you also get a system wide ‘Dark mode'. Some other useful software features include- Mobile Manager (pretty feature-rich phone management tool), Game genie, Twin apps, Private listening, etc.
Last but not least, Asus says that the 6Z will be among the very first phones to get the upcoming Android Q update. The company also promises Android R update and two year's security patches.
In addition to some camera performance discrepancies, another issue with the Asus 6Z is the heating problems. The phone does get warm if pushed to limits, which is quite normal in a month of June in Delhi/NCR when the room temperature touches 40 degrees. However, the fact that it got very hot (while on charging) even with some regular tasks seems problematic.
The phone even showed a notification stating that the temperature levels of the battery cell is too high and it will be safe to keep it under room temperature for a while to prevent any damage is worth acknowledging. Asus, please take a note. The performance did drop to some extent when the instance happened twice during my review duration.
I also ran some benchmarks to test the synthetic scores of Snapdragon 855. The smartphone scored an overall score of 5,677 in 3D Mark's Sling short Extreme- OpenGL ES 3.1 test by beating 99 percent of the handsets in the market. It scored 4,961 in Sling shot Extreme- Vulcan test, 3,25,357 in Antutu V7.2.2 and touched a whopping 9,701 in PC Mark Work 2.0 test. In Geekbench CPU test, Asus 6Z scored 3,442 in single-core and 10,564 in the multi-core test, leaving behind OnePlus 7 series handsets, Google Pixels, Huawei P30 Pro, OnePlus 6T and a number of other flagship phones.
Good Battery Life
Backed by a massive 5,000mAh high-capacity battery cell, the 6Z can easily last for a day even for heavy users. In fact, Asus 6Z outperforms all other smartphones in the competition, including the OnePlus 7, which is powered by a 4,000 mAh battery unit. Asus claims that the smartphone can last for up to two days non-stop use, and it really can if you are a moderate user and don't stream much video content or play games on a loop.
Asus 6Z supports Quick Charge 4 and ships with an 18W charger in the box, which is not at par with what OnePlus, Huawei, OPPO and other brands are offering. The bundled charger refuels the big battery at a much lower speed (10 % in 10 min) than the competitor's fast charging solutions. You would need over two hours to fully charge the Asus 6Z's 5,000 mAh battery unit. It is a sacrifice that Asus has made to quip the handset with a bigger battery cell.
We would like to know from you. What would you prefer- a bigger battery with slow charging speeds or a slightly less powerful battery but with significantly faster charging speeds? Let us know in comments.
With an ambitious motorized flip camera assembly, 5,000 mAh battery cell, latest Snapdragon 855 and almost stock Android experience, Asus 6Z is undoubtedly worth considering. The smartphone captures best-in-class selfies and lasts really long on one single charge. The audio performance is good and you also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, and even a microSD card expansion slot. The fact that Asus will ensure timely software updates for 6Z makes it future-proof.
However, Asus 6Z is not free of issues. While the video recording abilities of this handset are best-in-class, the still camera performance could have been better. Heating issues are quite evident that Asus have to address. The phone also takes longer than the competition to get fully charged and the IPS LCD panel lacks the vividness of an AMOLED panel.
In a nutshell, Asus 6Z is for users who want to buy a smartphone with an unconventional camera setup, flagship hardware-stock Android experience, and a battery that lasts really long. You can also consider the OnePlus 7 which offers flagship performance in almost all aspects, expect the camera. OnePlus just cannot make a good camera phone. Another phone to consider is Honor 20 which we are currently testing. It's also a very promising phone with flagship specs and a capable camera setup. Stay tuned on GizBot for the review of Honor 20 which will clear the air about the best smartphone in sub 35k price-segment.