Asus ZenFone 5 full review

We strongly recommend the ZenFone for those who need a stylish phone with a great camera and dependable performance.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Written by Nandagopal Rajan | Updated: July 9, 2014 3:29 pm
The Asus ZenFone is available with 4, 5 and 6 inch screens The Asus ZenFone is available with 4, 5 and 6 inch screens

Once in a while comes along a phone that at least some of us so-called “reviewers” in our very limited wisdom end up calling a game changer. I am making that call for the Asus ZenFone series not because of one spectacular feature, but a nice mix of small things that ends in an incremental experiential difference for the user. I had done a quick first impression review of the Zenfone 5 after spending 24 hours with it. Now, it’s been almost a couple of weeks and I think I know what this phone is all about.

Specs

Display: 5″ 1280*720 IPS+ Panel, Corning Gorilla Glass 3; CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Atom Dual-Core Z2560; RAM: 2GB; Storage: 16GB & 8GB; Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0; Camera: 2MP front, 8MP rear; Battery: 2110 mAh; OS: Android JellyBean 4.3 (will update to 4.4 KitKat)’; Memory Slot: MicroSD card (up to 64 GB); SIM: Dual Micro SIM card

Price: For 4-inch – Rs 5,999; 5-inch – Rs 9,999 and 6-inch- Rs 16,999

DESIGN: The design has the Asus trademark with brushed metal rings and sharp edges. You will like the feel of this phone with the matte finish rear flap and metallic buttons. It is not a flat design, but the slimmer proportions give you the feel of holding a very thin device. Everything on the phone is minimal and nothing cries out for attention.

The Asus ZenFone is available in 4, 5 and 6 inch screens The brushed metal rings are a Asus trademark

DISPLAY & AUDIO:  I think an HD display is good enough for a regular phone user. And the 5-inch IPS panel on the ZenFone is among the best HD displays around. You just have to see the visualisation on the homescreen when you run your finger through it to fall in love with this one. The viewing angles are good too. While the phone, like most other Androids, is not very loud when you are making a call, the speakers are really loud. The phone also comes with HD audio recording, which I used successfully to create a SoundCloud after a very important meeting.

SOFTWARE: This is an important element of what this phone is all about. For me, the Zen UI is the best Android tweak since the HTC Sense. While the phone is sadly not on the latest Android version at the moment, you will not miss it much. It is slick, stylish and over all quite functional. The lock screen gives a lot of information even before you are in. Instead of the just the camera icon, this lock screen lets you access messaging as well as the phone. Zen UI is good enough for you not to have a weather or To Do app as both of these have been integrated wonderfully well. Asus has redesigned even the icons for the ZenFone and while they look good, you have to fight a lot of muscle memory to find and recognise some of the most used apps. Another quirk is the fact that the notification panel does not always open to notifications and sometimes opens quick settings first. The phone also loads some important apps likes PCLink, which lets you mirror and control the smartphone screen from a PC.

The PCLink show the phone on a Windows laptop screen The PCLink show the phone on a Windows laptop screen

CAMERA: The ZenFone features a new PixelMaster camera, which, put simply, combines four pixels into one to improve light sensitivity. So while smartphone cameras are traditionally bad for shooting indoors, the ZenFone comes with a low-light Owl mode. The option to shift to this mode is presented whenever you are trying to shoot in low light. The results are stunning and good enough to put this phone at the very top of the phone camera hall of fame. All pictures shot in this mode are bright, in fact all photos shot with the phone are brighter than normal. Which is a bit of a problem for someone like me who likes to play with light and prefers an underexposed photo once in a while. I guess we just have to go with what the masses want. The camera comes with a host of modes and tweaks that give the average user a lot of versatility and options. You don’t need another camera app with this phone.

 

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Performance: I used the ZenFone as my primary phone for almost 10 days and encountered no issues as far as performance in concerned. The Intel Atom processor was more than good for whatever I had to do, and that is a tall order any day. The benchmarks puts this phone in the middle rung and the specs might not be stunning on paper, but at the end of the day what matters is how the phone holds up to the rigours of its owner’s digital life. It is also among the coolest phablets I have used and we have to thank the low thermal footprint of the Intel processor for that.

BATTERY: The 2000 mAh battery is not one of the strong points of this phone. It will last you a full working day, but will be in the red if you have to put in overtime or go for an after-office dinner. You can get much more out of the battery if you are careful about the apps running in the background.

VERDICT: At a price point between Rs 5,999 and Rs 16,999 the entire ZenFone range seems like a great proposition for buyers in countries like India. The phone has all the features an average user would want and much more, while not costing the earth. It also sets right all the small things that were missing in Android phones for so long. We strongly recommend the ZenFone for those who need a stylish phone with a great camera and dependable performance.

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  1. P
    Padmanaban
    Feb 20, 2016 at 6:06 am
    Its one of worst mobile phones i have seen so far
    Reply
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      Prakash Bachhhav
      Jun 24, 2016 at 9:21 am
      Asus Zenfone 5 is very bad phone I have this mobile every 6 month problem created phone switch off.lt;br/gt;customer service center thane. after every 6 month i will be there for repariring software.lt;br/gt;what is the problem i dont know but using 6 month then problem will be there means mobile switch off.lt;br/gt;every 6 month repariting charges 500 to 1000. it is not good.
      Reply
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        Punit
        Sep 30, 2016 at 7:19 am
        I faced problem of Mic. While talking stronger can't hear properly.
        Reply
        1. V
          virender manocha
          Jan 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm
          ASUS Zen phone 5 poor/worst per I bought a new Asus Zen Phone 5 on 09-03-15 Imei no-- 357003065662903 Order Id- OD202275790047553600 through Flip Kart n Bill Amt--8089 Rs. After 15 days of buying this phone I started facing several issues like hanging issue, Slow down, Auto shut down, Mic Issue, Auto disconnect of calls, Network Issues, and when I Try to make a call It disconnect 8 to 10 times before making the call. I visited Asus Service centre several times but the problem remained same n I've asked to flipkart and Asus for replacement of phone within 15 days of buying. But they didn't provide me any solution. So finally my experience was worst with flipkart and Asus. I'll never advice anyone to buy any ASUS product. It's a worst mobile in market.
          Reply
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            Ashley Maynor
            Jan 21, 2015 at 11:24 am
            better option than the ASUS zenfone 5 is :-Acer liquid e700.The phone’s HD display works very well with MALI GPU, rendered game just right. This phone is affordable and with awesome functions. I’ve been using it for a week and it is PERFECT! Super long battery life. Three network connections, all in one phone! SUPER CONVENIENT! I love ACER for developing this phone. It’s affordable and perfectly user friendly!
            Reply
            1. E
              Eddy
              Jan 1, 2015 at 3:56 am
              Good battery life, it lasts a day (with one SIM) with moderate to heavy use. Pictures taken from its camera comes out decent and the camera itself has numerous features. The UI is great too; lively and functional but still elegant. The form factor is wonderful. And if you have decided to become a proud owner of this device, perhaps you’re in the market for a solid and beautiful protection case as well. :9cases/2014/12/best...
              Reply
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                budinantro
                Mar 25, 2015 at 12:20 pm
                Problems: -- overheat issue on 3G and gaming; -- battery drains so fast; -- asus preinstalled apps can not be disabled.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Kalpana Sachdeva
                  Jan 6, 2015 at 12:24 pm
                  Zenfone 5- Ergonomically designed feature loaded phoneDisplay: A 5 inch wide screen size with HD display quality makes it a front runner in terms of display graphics in its price segment. The IPS Panel Technology gives wider viewing angles and true colours.Features: Zenfone 5 is an appropriate mixture of aesthetics’ and functionality. The Sonic Master audio technology gives an unprecedented movie theatre like surround sound experience in earphones. The gloved hand operation owing to GloveTouch Technology is another smart feature of this phone. A 2GB RAM with internal memory options of 8 GB/ 16 GB is well suited to the functionality of this phone.Processor: Intel Atom Dual-Core Z2560 1.6GHz processor makes it a true entertainment phone with lapse free 3 D gaming experience and running multiple applications without any glitches.Battery: The 2110 mAh battery will support 18 hours of talk time.Camera: The combination of 8MP main and 2MP rear camera with brightness enhancing lens take high end pictures matching any stand alone professional camera. The Pixel Master Technology with 18 modes helps taking pictures and video of rich graphic quality.Verdict: Zenfone 5 caters to both price sensitive and performance seeking customers. At Rs 10,000 it’s a great catch!
                  Reply
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