For a company that was focused on desktop components for a long time,
Asus has really changed. After the success of its Fonepad voice-calling
tablets, the company is gearing up to really make a mark on the
smartphone segment in India.
The new Zenfone series initially debuted at CES this year and it now comprises of ZenFone 4 A400CG, ZenFone 4 A450CG, ZenFone 5,
and ZenFone 6. Asus has already confirmed that the new ZenFone
series will formally be launched in India at an event on July 9, and the
prices will also only be revealed then.
We got a chance to play
with the Asus ZenFone 5 ahead of its launch in India and these are our first impressions.
Design and display
we first held the Asus ZenFone 5 in our hands, we were impressed by its
ergonomic design and good looks, which are definitely its USPs.
smartphone is not that heavy when compared to some of the competitors
in its segment, with a weight of 145 grams and dimensions of
148.2x72.8x10.34mm. Asus has not tried anything new in terms of design
and has kept it very basic; we were definitely not expecting any
surprises considering Asus is a relative newcomer to phones. The ZenFone
5 feels sturdier in the hands than many phones from both local and
The ZenFone 5 feels quite slim when
compared to the likes of the Moto G (Review | Pictures), and is more comfortable to use with
just one hand. It is well suited to those with larger palms. The
smartphone isn't so bulky or heavy that it can't be used in one hand,
but typing, for example, is far more comfortable with two hands.
(Also see: Asus ZenFone 5 vs Motorola Moto G)
front panel of the ZenFone 5 is dominated by the 5-inch screen. The
section below the screen has a concentric circle finish which is
inspired by the design of Asus' ZenBook laptops. Even the power button
and volume rocker on the right edge have a touch of the metallic design.
The rear cover has a removable panel. You'll see minimal Asus and Intel
branding, plus of course the 8-megapixel camera lens on the back. The
Micro-USB charging port is on the bottom, while the 3.5mm audio port is
on the top.
The ZenFone 5 was initially showed off in five colours
- Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, Twilight Purple, and
Champagne Gold. We received the Charcoal Black version for evaluation.
As of now, there is no word whether the company will roll out all five
colours in India.
The Asus ZenFone 5, as the name suggests,
features a 5-inch IPS HD (720x1280 pixels) screen with Corning Gorilla
Glass 3 protection. Asus
claims that its new TruVivid technology reproduces a greater range of
rich, natural colours.
In our limited testing, the screen's 294ppi
pixel density makes text sharp and clear, and means the ZenFone 5 is
fantastic for web browsing. It's possible to read text on web pages when
fully zoomed out, which is not really possible on many mid-range
Colours looked quite vibrant and consistently reproduced
well on the ZenFone 5's screen and thankfully the viewing angles were
never a problem. Typing on the 5-inch display of the handset would be no
problem even for people with bigger hands.
Camera and software
The ZenFone 5 sports an 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera with an f/2.0
aperture lens and LED flash. There is also a 2-megapixel front camera.
The company is touting its PixelMaster technology which is said to
combine software, hardware and optical design to deliver good image
The feature we spent the most time with in our limited time
with the ZenFone 5 was its camera, which could shape up to be the
company's best asset in the market today. The rear camera produces
vibrant and detailed images. It performs well in just about every
lighting condition but found that there was some noise when we reviewed
the photos at 100 percent. We will test the camera in much greater
detail in our review.
Some of the available camera modes are time
rewind (starts recording images two seconds before and one second after
pressing the shutter button, and captures 31 images for consumers to
choose), HDR, panorama, night, low-light, selfie (detects faces within
the frame automatically), miniature, depth of field (background blur),
smart remove (removes unwanted moving objects from backgrounds), all
smiles, beautification (helps adjusting subject's look in real-time),
and GIF animation (automatically converts a series of photos into
The Asus ZenFone 5 still runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean,
but an update to Android 4.4 KitKat is already on the company's to-do
list. It's also running Asus's custom ZenUI which takes some getting
used to, but is most certainly worth the learning curve.
skin applies to several elements of the UI such as the app icons,
although the changes are not as radical as Gionee's Amigo UI or
Samsung's TouchWiz UI. There are also a few neat bells and whistles.
While the ZenFone 5 retains the same navigation structure of home
screens (complete with widgets and app shortcuts), an app launcher and a
notifications tray (with toggles for settings), all the UI elements
have been tinkered with to make the interface look different from other
The UI layer on the ZenFone 5 goes beyond just app
icons and menus, extending even to native apps like the Calculator,
Clock, Camera and the phone's image gallery.
The ZenFone 5 comes
with a number of apps such as What's Next, which is an app for tracking
and managing apps; Do It Later, an app that can manage the to do list;
Zen Link (Share Link, Party Link, PC Link, and Remote Link apps); Asus
WebStorage, is the company's cloud storage app (5GB free for lifetime),
and Omlet Chat, an instant messaging free app.
If you're used to
stock or mildly-customised versions of Android such as those on Motorola
handsets, you may find it all a bit much. We'll be diving into Asus's
ZenUI more in depth in our full review.
Specifications and Performance
its place within the mid-range smartphone market, the Asus ZenFone 5
has a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 processor with what Intel calls
Hyper-Threading technology, which allows each core to execute two
instructions at a time.
Asus at the Computex launched
refreshed version of its ZenFone 5 smartphone, which now comes with
LTE support and is backed by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor clocked
at 1.2GHz. Considering that Asus is launching the Intel chipset powered
handset means that the company is sticking to a non-LTE variant for the
There is 2GB of RAM and the internal
storage stands at 8GB with support for up to an additional 64GB using a
microSD card. The Asus ZenFone 5 is a dual-SIM device (GSM+GSM) and
supports two Micro-SIMs. There is a 2,110mAh battery which is pretty
good for a handset with an HD screen.
In our short time with the
handset, we found it to be pretty snappy. The ZenFone 5's customised
interface was responsive and smooth during our use. We also downloaded
and played Asphalt 8, and the gaming experience delivered by the phone
was mostly good. The big screen and the HD resolution make
watching videos enjoyable. Blacks had the perfect depth and the screen
contrast was optimum.
The Asus ZenFone 5 packs a
punch with its screen and solid build quality. It's pretty impressive
for a mid-range phone. However, we would like to wait for the price to
be announced officially before commenting on the overall value for
One thing is for sure, if the ZenFone 5 is priced between
Rs. 10,000 and 15,000, it will be compared to the popular Moto G and
could be a pretty good alternative for those who prefer large screens.