Asus ZenFone 5z Review: The perfect Multimedia Flagship Smartphone

Asus ZenFone 5z: beauty and the beast

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    Asus announced the Asus ZenFone 5z at MWC 2018 and the company claimed that the ZenFone 5z will be the most affordable flagship smartphone running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset.
    And now, the Taiwanese tech-company has launched ZenFone 5z in India and has kept its promise with a starting price of Rs 29,999.

    The Asus ZenFone 5z is trying to replicate the formulae of the OnePlus by offering flagship specifications at an amazing price-tag. Is the Asus ZenFone 5z is the alternative for the OnePlus 6, which almost has similar specifications? Let's find out.

    Specifications

     

    • 6.2-inch IPS LCD display with (2246 x 1080p) FHD+ resolution protected by Corning Gorilla Glass (unspecified version) with 404 ppi.
    • Dimensions: 153 x 75.7 x 7.9 mm
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core chipset (4 x 2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold, 4 x 1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver) with Adreno 630 GPU.
    • 6 GB LPDDR4x RAM and 64 GB UFS 2.1 flash storage 
    • RAM and ROM: 6 GB/64 GB, 8 GB/128 GB, 8 GB/256 GB
    • Hybrid SIM/SD card slot (up to 2 TB). Two nano-SIM cards or a SIM and a micro SD card
    • Android 8.0 Oreo with Zen UI custom User Interface
    • 12 MP RGB sensor with an f/1.8 aperture (24mm, 1/2.55", 1.4 μm PDAF (primary)
    • 8 MP Wide Angle sensor with an f/2.0 (12mm, 1/4", 1.12μm no PDAF (secondary)
    • 8 MP with an f/2.0 aperture (24mm, 1/4", 1.12μm) (selfie)
    • Fingerprint sensor and Face Unlock
    • 3.5 mm headphone jack and active noise cancellation with a dedicated microphone
    • 4G VoLTE with HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (5CA) Cat18 1200/200 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, USB Type C (2.0)
    • 3300 mAh battery with fast charging

    Design

    The Asus ZenFone 5z is a flagship smartphone and the design of the smartphone does portray the same. It has a glass-metal-glass sandwich design made using aerospace grade aluminum and an undisclosed version of Corning Gorilla Glass protection with the 2.5D finish. At the back, the smartphone has a concentric pattern, which changes with the light and looks stunning. As the smartphone has glass on both the sides, it is prone to cracks and thus the company has also included a soft silicon case in the retail package. The ZenFone 5z is a fingerprint magnet and one can utilize the complimentary silicon case to protect the smartphone from the same.

    In terms of ports and buttons placement, the ZenFone 5z has vertical dual cameras on the back with a single tone LED flash with a color temperature sensor sandwiched into a single circle. The smartphone has three microphones. And the 3.5 mm headphone jack and the USB type C ports are placed at the bottom portion of the smartphone. The power and the volume button are on the right corner and finally, the dual SIM card slot is on the left of the smartphone.

    This latest smartphone from Asus has a vertical dual camera setup and a fingerprint sensor on the rear side, which is easily accessible. The smartphone does have a small Asus logo below the screen as well.

    Display

    The Asus ZenFone 5z utilizes a 6.2-inch IPS LCD display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. The phone does have a "notch", which houses the earpiece, front-facing selfie camera and a couple of sensors. The notch can be disabled from settings, but it will not make much of a difference in battery life as the smartphone has an LCD display.

    The ZenFone 5z has one of the best IPS LCD displays that we have seen on any smartphone, which is no less than an OLED display. It can offer a maximum brightness of up to 500 lumens. In reality, the smartphone has a display which is visible even in the harsh sunlight and then it can get pretty dim at night as well. Also, the smartphone has a Blue Light Filter, which reduces the strain on the eyes by changing the display color temperature.

    What makes the ZenFone 5z's display great is the fact that the display supports 100% DCI-P3 color gamut to offer brighter and punchier colors. Additionally, the display on the ZenFone 5z also supports HDR (on YouTube, Amazon Prime, NetFlix etc) to offer life-like images with great details and stunning visuals. Do note that the Asus ZenFone 5z is the most affordable smartphone which offers HDR-enabled display.

    The smartphone has a color temperature sensor on the rear which works parallelly with AI to offer ambient color profile and brightness depending on the external factors. The display will get brighter in the outdoor conditions and it also offers cooler colors in low-light with the ambient amount of brightness. This works pretty well and the phone adjusts from one setting to another in just a matter of seconds.

    We thoroughly enjoyed gaming and watching videos on the Asus ZenFone 5z. Since all apps and videos are not compatible with the notch design with the 19:9 aspect ratio, there was a gap (around the notch) while using most of the games and videos, which did make us feel a bit weird. However, games and apps like Asphalt 9 Legend and Google Maps did utilize the full display to offer an immersive user experience. Overall, the Asus ZenFone 5z has a great display for multimedia consumption.

    Sound

    Majority of the smartphone manufacturers try to neglect this feature and the Asus ZenFone 5z scores full points on the same. Though it is an aggressively priced flagship smartphone, the company have included a high-quality in-ear style earphones, which sounds amazing and the DTS Headphone X feature will help you tweak around different sound profile.

    The Asus ZenFone 5z has a 5 magnetic speaker setup and also supports stereo sound, where the earpiece acts as a secondary speaker. The ZenFone 5z is one of the best sounding smartphones, which offers impressive sound quality without any distortion even at 100% volume. This same feature will also enhance the gaming experience on the smartphone, as the sound is directly thrown at the user. There is a dedicated outdoor mode, which will increase the volume of both the speakers to compensate for the external sound factors.

    Camera

    The Asus ZenFone 5z has a dual camera setup with a 12 MP sensor and an 8 MP sensor. The 12 MP sensor can take nice pictures in almost any condition. Be it a low-light or even artificial light, the phone takes great pictures using the primary camera. Features like 1080p slow motion and 4K video recording at 60fps are icing on the cake.

    The Zen UI camera offers a plethora of options and supports auto HDR. The smartphone lacks physical image stabilization (OIS) and the EIS does a good job in stabilizing the footage even at 4K videos shot in 60fps. The shutter takes less than a fraction of a second to click a picture and the AI will detect the scenes like nature, food, animals to enhance the picture, which also works well for the most part. Even when the image is zoomed in, the details look pretty sharp, which are taken on the primary camera.

    The portrait mode is achieved using software and it is either hit or a miss situation. Sometimes the phone takes really good pictures with the seamlessly blurred background. However, sometimes the edge detection looks very artificial, which makes these images unusable.

    Wide angle lens

    However, the same cannot be said about the 8 MP wide-angle camera (secondary rear camera). As the name suggests, it is a wide angle camera, which can capture a bigger picture. However, the video recording on the wide angle lens to limited to 1080p and the images do lack details and looks mushy.

    Selfie camera

    The 8 MP selfie camera can record 1080p videos and supports portrait mode. Compared to the primary camera, the selfie camera does take better-looking portrait pictures and the AI beauty mode will enhance the selfies.

    Performance

    The smartphone has top of the line specs-sheet and performs like a charm at any given tasks. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, the most powerful mobile processor from Qualcomm paired with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. Unlike most of the flagship smartphones, the ZenFone 5z does support storage expansion via micro SD card slot up to 500 GB.

    Even in terms of synthetic benchmarks, the smartphone is ahead of the game and offers nothing but the best. Tests like Geekbench 4 and AnTuTu are just a representation of how powerful the Asus ZenFone 5z is.

    Geekbench Benchmark 4

    On Geekbench Benchmark 4 the device scores 2457 points on a single core and 8757 points on multi-core benchmark. If a device can score 2000+ points on Geekbench, then the device will handle any CPU intensive tasks with ease. In fact, the ZenFone 5z has scored more than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which costs as twice as the ZenFone 5z.

    AnTuTu

    On AnTuTu benchmark, the smartphones score 268721 points and are on the top 10 smartphones list. At any given tasks, the smartphone can offer an impressive performance at all the times.

    Real-world usage

    In our review, we had 20+ apps opened in the background and none of those apps reloaded when we selected them from the recent tray, which is a good sign in terms of memory management. The ZenFone 5z also offers Battery mode and users can choose between the different settings to choose their needs.

    The apps load faster and the smartphone can handle any game or app. Even when we tried games like Asphalt 9 Legends, PUB-G, and Clash of Clans, the device offered an impressive performance on all these games and there was no frame drops or sluggishness whatsoever.

    Software experience

    The Asus ZenFone 5z runs on Android 8.0 Oreo (not the latest Android 8.1 Oreo) with Zen UI 5 on top. Considering this as a flagship smartphone the company could have offered Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box which has several advantages.

    The Zen UI, like most of the third-party UIs, has its own style in the app tray, notification panel, and settings menu. It does offer support for themes and there is a larger theme library as well. Compared to the previous iteration of Zen UI, this version looks a bit cleaner. However, it is nowhere near the stock Android. Apps like Facebook cannot be uninstalled and the smartphone does offer a bunch of Asus apps as well.

    Though one can hide the notch the space either side of the notch is being unused in most of the apps, even though the extended screen has been turned on. The support for gestures like double tap to wake up and other gestures work well for the most part.

    The company has promised to update the Asus ZenFone 5z to Android P in the future. As Android P offers native support for notch-display, the overall software experience might get elevated on Android P.

    Battery

    The smartphone has a 3300 mAh Li-ion sealed battery with a USB type C for charging and data syncing. The smartphone does support fast charging and the company has included an 18W fast charger in the retail box, which can charge the Asus ZenFone 5z in less than 1 hour and 45 minutes.

    Coming to the battery usage, the smartphone can offer more than 6 hours screen on time on a single charge. The device can last one complete working day on a single charge without any problem. The battery also comes with AI modes, where the smartphone will reduce the performance of the device to offer additional hours of screen on time and it does work really well.

    Overall, the smartphone has a good battery life and the fast charger can charge the device from 0 to 50% in less than 45 minutes using the company's proprietary charger.

    Connectivity and Calling

    It has all the modern connectivity options like support for 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz Wi-Fi bands, NFC and Bluetooth 5.0. The smartphone also supports Bluetooth Apt:X which offer high-quality audio via Bluetooth peripherals.

    The Asus ZenFone 5z offers amazing call clarity even in the crowded areas, as the smartphone has a built-in active noise cancellation microphone, which reduces the ambient (outside) noise. The smartphones support dual VoLTE (one can use two 4G LTE and VoLTE enabled SIM cards on both slots.

    Coming to the network reception, the smartphone has very good network connectivity. However, in remote areas, the smartphone might suffer from battery loss if there is short of network antennas.

    What's missing?

    Like every other flagship smartphone, the Asus ZenFone 5z is not a perfect smartphone as it misses out on some major features. We would like Asus to include these features on the successor to the Asus ZenFone 5z.

     

    • Though the smartphone has a glass back, the smartphone does not support wireless charging.
    • No IP rating, so, the smartphone can get damaged if there is any contact with water.
    • High-resolution wide angle lens will make justice to the concept of wide angle photos.
    • Flash for front-facing selfie camera is missing.
    • Latest Android OS is missing.

     

    Verdict

    Even with these flaws, the Asus ZenFone 5z is still one of the best flagship smartphones that one can buy in India. Especially, if someone is looking for a multi-media smartphone, then the ZenFone 5z ticks almost all the boxes. It has a great display with HDR support, stereo speakers, a great camera and a headphone jack. Additionally, the phone also has support for micro SD card slot, which is missing in the competition.

    If you have a budget of around Rs 30,000, then the Asus ZenFone 5z is a stellar smartphone that is currently available in the market.

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