If you ignore the launch of Garmin-Asus branded A10, Asus Zenfone smartphones are the first Android phones from the Taiwanese manufacturer to reach the Indian market. The company on July 9 entered the country’s smartphone arena and in a big way, surprising everyone with its aggressive pricing that will have a big impact on the budget smartphone segment in the country over the coming months.
Out of three Zenfones unveiled by Asus, Zenfone 5 hits the sweet spot with both display size and the pricing. I spent around a week with the phone to find out whether it is really worthy of all the hype and can it compete with Moto G in the country. Find out in the detailed review below.
Asus is known for its great build quality in the mobile devices, which is clearly visible in the Nexus and Transformer tablets. The company brings the same in Zenfone 5. The phone is solid and packs simple but elegant design. The phone also sports Asus’s trademark concentric circle pattern below the capacitive buttons on the front, which gives, the otherwise simple phone, a premium look.
The rear of the phone is made of soft-touch plastic, which makes it easier to hold and also feels nice in hand. The back cover is removable but only gives access to SIM card and microSD card slots.
I did find the Zenfone 5 a little big compared to other 5-inch smartphones, which could have been avoided by the company by reducing the bezels or opting for on-screen software buttons but it is not really a deal-breaker.
Asus has included a 1280x720p HD display on-board the phone, which is quite good for this segment. It offers decent viewing angles and under-sun visibility. The touch-screen is also glove-friendly and quite responsive.
For me, this is the most important part of any smartphone experience and before using the Zenfone 5, I was a little sceptic of the Intel Atom processor performance but the chip maker seems to have come a long way since the initial smartphones like XOLO X900.
The 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 present in the Zenfone 5 gives a great performance. The phone is smooth and I hardly saw any lag on the device. The 2GB RAM bundled with the phone also helps in multitasking and you won’t have to worry about degrading experience when operating multiple apps simultaneously.
Even during specific operations like playing 1080p video files and graphic intensive games like Riptide GP2 and Dead Trigger 2, the Zenfone 5 came out on the top. The basic functions like calling, texting, browsing as well as Wi-Fi & Bluetooth connectivity performed as expected, the speaker however was a big disappointment. Its volume is awfully low, which gets further muffled when the phone is put on its rear.
On the software front, Asus has included Android 4.3 with its Zen user-interface on the smartphone. I personally prefer stock interface but the Zen UI was surprisingly good and one of the best UI that I have seen in the recent times. Normally, the custom interfaces tend to clutter and slow down the phone experience but the same doesn’t happen with Asus’ interface. It even adds some useful tweaks like What’s Next, Do It Later, and PC Link. The interface is minimal, sleek and functional, which is what everyone wants with a smartphone.
Asus has promised to provide Android 4.4 update for the phone, which should be arriving in the coming weeks. This update will further help with the performance of the Zenfone 5.
Camera/ Battery Life
Asus Zenfone 5 features an 8MP rear camera with F2.0 aperture and a 2MP front shooter with F2.4. Asus has also included its PixelMaster technology on the smartphone, which it claims will help the phone in producing professional quality images. During my testing, I found the imaging capabilities of the smartphone to be decent but they are nowhere near professional quality, however in this budget, the camera is one of the good ones.
The low-light images are filled with noise but the Zenfone 5 camera is able to capture images even in worst of the lighting conditions thanks to the company’s tweaks, which is a positive. The front camera is okay and will do for your selfie and video-chat needs.
Asus has bundled a number of options like Time Rewind, Panorama mode, artificial depth of field effect and more in the camera app to help with your imaging needs. Also, you can adjust stuff like White Balance and ISO. Sample shots:
Coming to the battery life, the smartphone packs a 2110 mAh battery, which is probably not the biggest that you will find in the 5-inch smartphones but it gets the job done. During the moderate use, you will able to pass the day without the need for charging. I would however point out here that I tested the battery life with only one SIM card present in the phone, the battery backup will be slightly effected when two SIM cards are in use.
Asus has also included an ultra-power saving mode on the phone, which will help you in the crunch situations. There are other battery enhancements as well, which improve the battery life on the normal days.
Like all smartphones, Asus Zenfone 5 has its quirks but nothing is a major deal-breaker. Thanks to aggressive pricing by the company, the decision to go for the smartphone is easy. Compared to Moto G, which is the biggest competitor to Zenfone 5 right now, the Asus smartphone might not be running on the latest Android version but it offers couple of positives like the presence of microSD card slot and better pricing. So, if you are in the market to get a 5-inch smartphone for a price-tag around INR 10-13,000, I will recommend you to go for Asus Zenfone 5.
Asus Zenfone 5 8GB: INR 9,999 (Available in Black, Gold, White, & Red colours)
Asus Zenfone 8 16GB: INR 12,999 (Available in Black, Gold, White, & Red colours)