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Asus Zenfone 5 Review

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The Asus Zenfone range is the company’s attempt at budget and mid-range market. The company is generally known for its high-end smartphones and has always been known for its quality phones and out-of-the-box thinking, has aimed at the increasingly competitive Indian smartphone market this time.

Asus Zenfone 5 (98)

The Asus Zenfone 5 has landed in an increasingly competitive smartphone market which boasts of handsets such as Moto EMoto G and Lava Iris X1. It definitely needs to offer something good with a price tag that is not exquisite – something that should feel worth it, not a compromise. Asus Zenfone 5 comes with a 2 GHz Intel Atom Z2580 CPU, 8-megapixel camera and 1 GB RAM, so well, it is kind of exciting, at least on paper.

But does Asus Zenfone 5 measure up to the challenge – Lets find out in our detailed Asus Zenfone 5 review.

Asus ZenFone 5 specs

  • 5-inch 1280×720p IPS display
  • 2GHz Intel Atom Z2580 CPU
  • Android 4.3
  • 8-megapixel rear camera; 2-megapixel front camera
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 2050mAh battery
  • Up to 64GB micro SD card support

Hardware

The Asus Zenfone 5 looks no less than a premium handset. It has picked up from Asus’ experience with the Nexus range and created a phone that is a good mix of metal, plastic and glass. You will like to run your fingers over it. The only problem: It is a little thick, though not too much.

Asus Zenfone 5 (98)

Asus Zenfone 5 has two aspects that will wow you – the front and the back. The front is composed mostly comprised of the 720p display covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Both the display and Gorilla Glass make the screen feel pretty great. The display lights up in a great manner. Thanks to the Gorilla Glass 3, it is pretty sensitive, durable and not too smudgy.

Asus Zenfone 5 (105)

Asus Zenfone 5 (107)

Asus Zenfone 5 (104)

Asus Zenfone 5 (101)

Asus Zenfone 5 (103)

The front cam and speaker is located atop the display, while the capacitive buttons are located at the bottom, just above a metallic circular pattern at the bottom. It has no utility, but is actually there just for the style quotient. While the MicroUSB slot is located at the bottom, the 3.5mm audio jack is located atop the handset. Both are accompanied by microphones. Asus has chosen to put both the power button and volume rocker on the right side of the handset. Unless you are left-handed, you will mostly be comfortable with the button placement.

Asus Zenfone 5 (111)

Asus Zenfone 5 (106)

Asus Zenfone 5 (108)

Asus Zenfone 5 (102)

Asus Zenfone 5 (97)

Asus Zenfone 5 (96)

But, the most interesting part of the Asus Zenfone 5 is the back. It is actually curved towards the middle. The back is made of a smooth plastic with a matte feel. It is actually curved towards the corners too. The speaker is located  the bottom and looks suave, while the camera is located in the middle, accompanied by an LED flash. This alone, gives it the feel of a premium handset.

The Asus Zenfone 5 looks and feels amazing. Asus has, like always, nailed it in terms of hardware.

Display

The Asus Zenfone 5 comes with a 5-inch 1280×720p IPS display which is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. It comes with 294ppi display density. The screen is scratch resistant, durable and looks pretty awesome.

Asus Zenfone 5 (109)

The colors are awesome, the viewing angles are great and the display is pretty sensitive.Even at full brightness, it is not too dull and doesn’t stress your eyes too much. The display looks and works pretty great, thanks to the supportive chassis underneath. It is actually a pretty great 720p display. The display doesn’t get smudgy either. It is clear and precise.

But, I did end wishing that it was a full HD display, not because the display lacked something, but because this would have made it perfect.

Still, You can’t complain too much about the display – it has mostly done well.

Software

Asus has endowed the Zenfone 5 with its own Android skin. I am generally hopefully when this is done in high-end smartphones and skeptical when it is done in low-end or mid-range smartphones.

Asus Zenfone 5 (65)

Asus Zenfone 5 (53)

Asus Zenfone 5 (55)

Asus Zenfone 5 (56)

Asus Zenfone 5 (57)

Asus Zenfone 5 (54)

The camera, messaging and dialer apps are accessible from the homescreen. When you open the screen lock, you can see the different folders comprised of  different kind of apps. The Asus, Zen and Google folders make accessing apps easy. The Asus Zenfone currently runs on Android 4.3 although a Android 4.4 is in the works.

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Asus Zenfone 5 (63)

Asus Zenfone 5 (64)

Asus Zenfone 5 (67)

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Asus Zenfone 5 (77)

The UI works pretty well. You will initially proceed with baby feet towards the Zen UI, but it becomes a happy ending towards the end. The layout is simple yet useful. The icons are vibrant and the apps are executed pretty well. There are run-of-the-mill apps on board and also some new ones from Asus. Simplicity is the essence of the Asus Zenfone 5. Some are useful, while others are not.

Asus Zenfone 5 (76)

The menu itself is pretty easy to use – the icons are soft and easy on the eyes. The Asus Zenfone comes with some cool apps such as  Kindle and Omlet Chat.

Asus Zenfone 5 (66)

But the most amazing thing that I found was the power saving features of the software. Asus has worked hard on this – As far as the software is concerned, there are a lot of power saving features onboard. An example of this is the Audiowizard, which lets you regulate the sound as per your convenience. You can choose between the Power Saving Mode, Music Mode, Movie Mode, Recording Mode, Gaming Mode and Speech Mode and you can get your desired sound effect. This is the first time I have seen power saving in the context of sound.

Another cool feature is the mirror feature, which lets you use the frontcam as a mirror.

Asus Zenfone 5 (60)

Asus Zenfone 5 (61)

There are also featurs onboard such as Party Link which will let you share stuff with a group of people. PC Link on the other hand, lets you share stuff with your PC. Share Link is something similar to what Samsung does when it comes to sharing files. It lets you share files easily. It lets you share stuff without Wi-Fi or Mobile network.

Asus Zenfone 5 (6)

Asus Zenfone 5 (7)

Asus Zenfone 5 (58)

But that’s not all, there is also a Glove Mode and an Easy Mode onboard. Another thing that is amazing is that Asus has put a Miracast Wireless display onboard which lets you mirror your screen over other devices.

Asus Zenfone 5 (47)

Asus Zenfone 5 (2)

Asus Zenfone 5 (4)

I also fell in love with the Asus weather app, which gives you all the details you need about the weather, ranging from weekly forecasts to sunrise and sunset time. Another amazing app is the SuperNote app, which lets you create easy notes – all you need to do is type words using handwriting recognition. You can even create or do anything, and it will appear as a text.

Asus Zenfone 5 (92)

Not only that there are also smart saving modes onboard – There is an Ultra-saving mode which lets you save battery by switching off network connections, a  Mode, which lets you  but the best thing is the custom mode, which lets you customize the phone to the extent that you can switch on whatever apps you need.

It works mostly amazingly. But, when you push it to the edge, i.e.try to do a lot of stuff together, it does get a bit sluggish. But, in regular usage, it will not disappoint.

Asus Zenfone 5 (5)

Still, in case you have some problems with the phone, you can easily contact Asus for help.

Camera

Asus Zenfone 5 (95)

The Asus Zenfone Camera is like the rest of the phone, pretty good. It has a good lens onbiard, the camera app works great too. The 8-megapixel camera works well. Asus has the PIxel master technology onboard and an aperture of f/2.0. It works well, both in low-light and normal light, but the light exposure is something that could have been better. The color capture according to light could have been better.

Asus Zenfone 5 (68)

Asus Zenfone 5 (69)

Asus Zenfone 5 (70)

Asus Zenfone 5 (73)

Asus Zenfone 5 (74)

Asus Zenfone 5 (75)

Asus Zenfone 5 (71)

Asus Zenfone 5 (72)

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Asus Zenfone 5 (82)

Time Rewind Mode

Asus Zenfone 5 (84)

Asus Zenfone 5 (83)

Smart Remove Mode

The camera app is mostly simple to use. It has a lot of modes onboard, such as HDR, Panorama and depth of field. The camera is great for regular usage but the pictures are just about decent. They just fall short of processional quality pictures.

You can also choose between Turbo and Normal Mode while taking shots – The Turbo Mode is much better.

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Pic in Auto Mode

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Pic in Low-light mode

There is also a mode called Time Rewind which lets you take burst shots and choose from them. The low-light mode works in a great manner.

Asus Zenfone 5 (91)

Asus Zenfone 5 (85)

There is a Miniature Mode onboard which lets you blur photos easily. It will offer you to blur the photos both in a linear and circular manner.

Asus Zenfone 5 (81)

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Asus Zenfone 5 (24)

Same pictures in Auto Mode and Depth of field Mode

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Asus Zenfone 5 (33)

More depth of field pictures

The depth of field mode will give you amazing shots which lets easily blur the background and create amazing shots. I would say that this is better than even the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the Sony Xperia Z2. These two shots will be favored by one and all.

There is also a GIF Mode onboard, which is something that will take you up by surprise. You can actually create GIFs without any external software, which is both amazing and amusing at the same time.

Asus Zenfone 5 (86)

Asus Zenfone 5 (87)

Asus Zenfone 5 (88)

Asus Zenfone 5 (89)

Asus Zenfone 5 (90)

A very detailed Beauty Mode 

Another thing that works well is the Beauty Mode, which works amazingly – there are a lot of effects onboard, you can trim your cheeks, add blush effects and texture your skin which means that you no longer need to actually Photoshop images for your vanity.

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Not only that, the indoor shots are more than amazing.

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Camera shots are generally great, but sometimes there is a little overexposure of light as you might notice in the last picture

The camera just stops short of being out-of-the-world amazing. If Asus can improve on the light exposure and a little bit on the lens, its cameras would be undoubtedly the best in the market, with the exception of the Nokia Lumia 1020. Its a tall claim, but it can actually turn out to be true. The camera app is amazing, but the camera can be improved a bit.

Asus Zenfone 5 (46)

Asus Zenfone 5 (79)

The camera editing is another aspect that you will surely fall in love with.

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Not only that, the front cam also performs pretty well.

In totality, you will find all the stuff you could have desired for in a smartphone camera on the Asus Zenfone 5.

Performance and Battery Life

Asus Zenfone 5 (80)

The Asus Zenfone 5 comes with a 2 GHz Intel Atom Z2580 CPU, 2 GB RAM and a 2050 mAh battery.

It will mostly perform pretty well, during regular usage, though I did feel some problems with connectivity. The Zenfone 5 scores well on benchmark scale. The battery life though could have been better. But, still there are plenty of power saving modes onboard which will help you throughout the day. The battery is non-removable.

The Asus Zenfone 5, when it comes to performance can be rated okay, and it will receive mixed reviews when it comes to performance and battery life.

Verdict

The Asus Zenfone 5 is a remarkable phone in every regard. It has a nice package of camera, camera app, UI, menu and different usage modes.The design is awesome too and the phone looks great. The build is pretty sturdy. It is a pleasure to hold the phone.

It does have some nicks and bruises, but in totality, you will mostly be satisfied with what it offers.

Asus, if it needs to be taken seriously, truly needs to aim at the mid-range and low-range of the smartphone market. Everything depends on how the pricing is done. The things that work exceptionally are the camera app and the Zen UI. The things that could be slightly better are the camera, the performance and battery life, but mind you only slightly.

What is needed is aggressive pricing that would place this phone ahead of others in the race. Ideally, any price tag below 15K should do it good. That might push it ahead. But my estimation is that it might be priced above that. The international pricing for the phone is $149.99, which leaves me very hopeful.

Still, Asus has kept up its reputation for quality. The software and the hardware both work well, there are some things that would leave you amazed and entice towards the phone. Asus has always had something exciting on cue and the Zenfone series is no exception, despite the price range it aims at.

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