Did you know that the Asus ZenFone 5Z was the first Android phone from a top-tier brand to have an iPhone X-style notch? The ZenFone 5Z along with its younger sibling, the ZenFone 5, created quite a buzz at MWC this year.
Not to mention, both the phones received a lot of negative press as well. For embracing the notch. Fast forward to June 2018 and we have almost every brand, including Apple’s arch nemesis Google, embracing the notch with arms wide open. Like it or not. Asus would of course like to believe that it got their first. It may be a little late in launching the ZenFone 5Z (and ZenFone 5) in global markets including in India — the phone was first unveiled in February — but it’s better late than never.
This is because Asus did not launch the ZenFone 4 in many global markets including in India. Which means that it has been without a true flagship phone, in India, for a very, very long time. Asus told me it took the time off to study the market and the demands and mindset of the Indian consumer. It also admitted that its ZenFone 3 lineup sort of backfired and that its atrociously high price tag also had a lot to do with it. The ZenFone 5 lineup is, as a result, different. It’s a lot more subdued. Not in terms of hardware specs, but in terms of hype and pricing. The company is set to launch the ZenFone 5Z in India in partnership with Flipkart in the days to come. The ZenFone 5 will have to wait for now, but
one look at the ZenFone 5Z, and you can tell that it has every ingredient in the book to make its rivals nervous.
Although the ZenFone 5Z will have some tough competition, its global pricing pits it straight up against the OnePlus 6. Asus may, in fact, even go on and surprise India by launching the ZenFone 5Z cheaper still. This is because Asus has seemingly learned its lesson after the ZenFone 3 debacle. That the company launched a Redmi-killer phone in the ZenFone Max Pro M1 recently in India shows the company is now mature enough to pick its most sought after competitor and deliver with a product that’s as good if not better. Asus may be looking to do something similar with the ZenFone 5Z as well. And because the ZenFone 5Z is globally priced at around the OnePlus 6 pricing, it’s obvious what the company is going after with its latest offering. It hasn’t been easy for the OnePlus 6 — even though it is the fastest phone at its price point — especially since its cameras still leave a lot to be desired. The Honor 10 that costs less has substantially better cameras, but its EMUI software isn’t particularly a top drawer.
I’ve tried the ZenFone 5Z — ahead of MWC 2018 — and I can say one thing. It has potential. The ZenFone 5Z comes with a vertically aligned dual camera system that’s promising to the T. This dual camera system consists of a primary 12-megapixel sensor — a Sony IMX363 — with large 1.4um pixels, and large f/1.8 aperture, with dual-pixel phase detection autofocus, four-axis optical image stabilisation, and electronic image stabilisation for videos. The secondary camera, meanwhile, consists of an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor that assists in portrait photography or photos with shallow depth of field as well as for taking wide-angle shots much like how things are in LG’s top-tier flagships.
Although the ZenFone 5Z will have some tough competition, its global pricing pits it straight up against the OnePlus 6
Asus says it’s using artificial intelligence and machine learning in their cameras that can help take better photos in varying light and scenes. The ZenFone 5Z comes with what Asus is calling, AI Scene Detection, that can apparently identify 16 different scenes and objects, and then accordingly its cameras can adjust the saturation, white balance, exposure, brightness, and post-processing algorithm, to make your photos look better. Then there’s AI Photo Learning, that will apparently learn from the way you edit and process your photos and, over time, both the phones will start suggesting similar edits to your other photos as well.
But where the ZenFone 5Z outshines the Honor 10 is software. The phone will ship with Android Oreo-based ZenUI, and it’s nice to see — from the demo units that I tried out — that Asus is really cutting down on all the unnecessary traits of its grossly cumbersome user interface. The phones felt visibly faster in my brief time with it, and also, there were far less unwanted apps on-board which is nothing short of a welcome relief.
Asus is incorporating AI in other walks of the ZenFone 5Z as well. AI, is in fact, one of the driving forces behind its new ZenFones, it says. The phone comes with AI boost that, as the name suggests, helps boost specific apps like games when enabled so you’re likely to get even better frame-rates while playing, and AI charging, that much like Sony’s adaptive charging, can top your phone to 80 per cent at night and charge the remaining slot closer to when you’re likely to wake up. Then there’s AI Display, that apparently keeps the screen on while you’re looking at it. Asus claims its new phone, because it is so heavily focused on AI, will be able to learn and evolve with time, getting better and smarter depending on your usage patterns.
While it may still not be as fast as a OnePlus 6 with stock Android, at least it has a chance to be a viable alternative. Not to mention, it seems to have better all-round cameras, at least as far as first impressions are concerned.
It may have been the first Android phone from a legacy brand to start the notch trend, but, that’s not the only thing the ZenFone 5Z is all about
The rest of its hardware is also top-notch. No pun intended. It has a 6.2-inch 1080p+ screen inside a 5.5-inch form-factor. And an unusual 19:9 aspect ratio that can be toned down — to 18:9 and 16:9 — via settings for specific apps to make best use of apps that don’t support it for now. The panel is LCD. The ZenFone 5Z is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage which is also expandable. It is backed by a 3,300mAh battery with support for fast charging — but sadly no wireless charging — and charges over Type-C. There are stereo speakers on-board, and the phone supports High-Resolution audio via compatible wired and wireless headphones.
Clearly, there’s a lot to love about the Asus ZenFone 5Z, inside and out. It may have been the first Android phone from a legacy brand to start the notch trend, but, that’s not the only thing the ZenFone 5Z is all about. It has the looks, and it has the specs. It has capable cameras and software that’s a lot more toned down in terms of Asus standards. But more importantly, it has a sensible price tag, at least in global markets. The OnePlus 6 is a great phone, but it isn’t perfect. The Honor 10 is already challenging it convincingly. By the looks of it, the Asus ZenFone 5Z is set to be another equally competitive phone. I will have even more to say once I get a hold of a review unit, so watch this space for our full review of the Asus ZenFone 5Z in the days to come.
News credit ; Indiatoday