Reviewed: ASUS ZenFone 5

With its remarkable hardware performance and battery life, the Zenfone line has gained increasing popularity among consumers. As we all know, the competition in the mobile industry is as stiff as ever, with various brands parading AI technology for photos, power management, information, and everything in between. So when ASUS announced new models to its growing portfolio, I decided to see what the fuss was about, and chose one for review.

Design: 4/5

I must say, they nailed the design on this device. Its 2.5D-curved screen merges smoothly with its aluminum body, staying true to ZenFone’s signature elegant build. This time, the Taiwanese phone manufacturer added another trending feature to flagship phones—a top notch—that houses the front camera, notification LED, and IR sensors. At first glance, it shows an uncanny resemblance to Apple’s iPhone X, but there’s so much that you should see with the ZenFone 5.

With a stunning 6.2-inch Full HD+ display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, the phone weighs about 165 grams and has a thickness of 7.7 mm. On the left lies the hybrid SIM tray, and on the right are the power button and the volume rocker. Meanwhile, the bottom part includes the USB-Type C port, built-in speakers, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The rear reveals the embossed ASUS logo below its fingerprint scanner, as well as the dual cameras, and an LED flash.

Hardware: 4.5/5

At the heart of the newest member of the ZenFone family is an octa-core Snapdragon 636 processor, with an Adreno 509 GPU that smoothly runs advanced AI functions while maximizing battery efficiency. Sporting dual 12-megapixel Sony IMX363 rear sensors, the brand’s newest mid-ranger is equipped with smart, wide aperture AI cameras that deliver remarkable results. It also has a 120-degree wide angle lens and a large sensor that allows the users to capture decent group photos even in dark environments. 4K video shot on the Zenfone displays accurate colors and sharp contrast at 30 fps. On its top notch rests the 8-megapixel f/2.0 camera.

The ZenFone 5 comes with either 6 GB or 4 GB of memory and a default 64 GB of internal storage that’s expandable up to 2 TB via a microSD slot. The device runs on Android Oreo with the customized ZenUI 5.0, supports USB Type-C as well as 4G LTE, and Hi-Fi audio.

User Experience: 4/5

Staying true to its “We Love Photo” philosophy, ASUS created the ZenFone 5 with self-learning back cameras using the AI Photography feature. This means that the phone’s camera sensors adapt to your preferred configuration. With the help of AI Scene Detection, it automatically adjusts camera settings to various subjects including plants, food, pets, people, and even QR codes. However, the front snapper lacks sharpness in low-light conditions resulting in grainy photos. We highly recommend to take selfies in natural light, though.

While there are a few pre-installed apps on board, they are all generally helpful. Game Genie enables gameplay streaming, while Twin Apps opens two accounts for various social media apps. Page Marker for Chrome allows you to download and see web pages offline. Making calls or texts during emergencies are made possible by ZenUI SafeGuard. Audiophiles can even rejoice with its DTS X7.1 support that provides virtual surround sound on earphones. Facial and fingerprint unlock is very responsive, with the latter launching the phone in 0.3 second. And since it flaunts AI as one of its selling points, it remembers phone usage behavior including alarm schedules. The same goes for its ringtone and volume selection for calls.

Another ace that the ZenFone 5 holds is the ZeniMoji. Basically, it’s a new feature that presents cute avatars that use facial recognition to copy your head movements, facial expressions, and even your own voice! So if you just want to show off your quirkiness and produce adorable videos, then ZeniMoji is your best tool.

With an ample amount of power for mobile browsing and casual gaming, this handset can survive up to two days of standby time. Thanks to BoostMaster charging technology, it switches to fast charging mode that refills up to 60 percent of its battery capacity in just 38 minutes. The AI charging, on the other hand, adapts to previous charging behavior maximizing the battery life over time.

Value: 3.5/5

While it’s quite pricey for a mid-ranger, ASUS did make sure that the ZenFone 5 is ready to go head-to-head against its competitors, even at higher price points. It packages several AI abilities in a single device which does help justify its retail price of PHP 19,995. If you’re a hardcore mobile gamer or a mobile photography enthusiast who wants to upgrade to a better phone, the Zenfone 5 is definitely worth your investment.

Bottomline:

It’s AI technology at your fingertips… at a hefty price.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE July 2018 Issue.

Reviewed by Jewel Sta. Ana

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