Asus Zenfone 6 quick-read review: Good phone, but too good for your hands

The Zenfone 5 especially looks like a winner, as we found in our full review. But is bigger better?

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: July 29, 2014 11:54 am

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Asus is making a serious push in India with its new Zenfone series of smartphones, packaging good hardware for attractive prices. The Zenfone 5 especially looks like a winner, as we found in our full review. But is bigger better?

Specs: 6″ IPS touchscreen (1280×720 pixels, 245ppi) with Gorilla Glass 3 | 1.6GHz Dual-core Intel Atom Z2580 processor | 2GB RAM | 16GB internal memory, expandable microSD slot up to 64GB | 13MP rear camera with LED flash, 2MP front camera | Dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) | 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, microUSB 2.0 | 3300mAh battery | Android 4.3 (upgradable to Android 4.4 Kit Kat) with Zen UI
Price: Rs. 16,999

Design

With a big screen, the Asus Zenfone 6 is naturally a behemoth. You can hold it in one hand, but you can’t use it with just one hand—no matter how much Asus wants to make that easier with a built-in one-handed mode that shrinks the screen. The matte finish on the back lets you get a good grip, but for most people it’s going to be too big to hold naturally. You better have big hands if you want to use this one.
In terms of how it looks, the Zenfone 6 looks good but not especially striking. Then again, there’s nothing about it that’s an eyesore either. Sometimes, non-descript isn’t such a bad thing.

Screen

The 6-inch screen is the main feature of the Zenfone 6 and the reason anyone would want to consider it. It displays accurate colors, has decent viewing angles, and you’ll be able to view it clearly in direct sunlight too. If there is a complaint, it would be the resolution: if you’re coming from a screen with a higher resolution, you’ll notice that text doesn’t appear as sharp in the Zenfone. It’s not a deal-breaker though and it’s only while reading text that you notice it. But again, with a 6-inch device, you are looking to get a little bit of the tablet experience, so reading is an important part of it.

Asus claims you can use any pencil or most pens as a stylus with the Zenfone 6, but there are lots of caveats in that. You need to use it at a certain angle to register the input perfectly; you need to not press any other part of the screen with your hand; you need to go slow, it can’t take really fast input without the screen lagging far behind what you’re doing. It’s just not a good experience.

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Performance

The Zenfone 6 is up to most tasks that you throw at it, from quick multi-tasking to playing high-definition games. It plays movies smoothly, but its built-in “SonicMaster” technology boosts deeper tones. It’s great when you’re listening to a thumping track, but not for movies with a lot of explosions and dialogues at the same time.

Camera

The 13MP sensor captures clear, detailed photographs that are good enough for most uses. We noticed that reds were duller than what we saw with the naked eye, but that’s a small miss. While we were impressed with the Zenfone 5’s camera and its night mode capabilities, that doesn’t seem to replicate on the Zenfone 6. You do have a special night mode for shots to be taken in the dark, but the amount of noise in them is a put-off.

Memory

With 12.5GB of memory available to the user and the ability to add a microSD card, there is no complaining about the storage here.

Interface

Asus has developed a custom user interface for the Zenfone series called the Zen UI. It includes a lot of gimmicks and small additions, like an enhanced lock screen with shortcuts to popular apps and a heads-up display for notifications, a “quick memo” app to draw and take notes with your finger, a scheduler to tell you what’s next on your agenda, and much more. None of it is something you can’t find on the Play Store, but it’s nice to have it built-in. Most importantly, it’s good-looking and doesn’t feel like a bloated addition—it actually makes you use the phone better.

However, none of the software really aims to make you take advantage of the 6-inch screen. Bigger space should ideally mean you get to do more with it, like Samsung’s TouchWiz UI for its stylus, but Asus hasn’t taken any significant step in that direction. So what’s the point of a 6-inch screen then?

Special Mention

The one software tweak that Asus has got right, and which you can’t easily replicate on your phone, is PC Link. Download PC Link on your computer, connect your phone to it via a USB cord, and your phone will be mirrored on the PC. It’s fantastic, and enough of a differentiator to be worth it alone. You can operate your phone from your PC directly then. Granted, a keyboard and mouse are not as smooth an experience, but if you want to have a long conversation with someone over text message or Whatsapp, this is the super easy way to do it!

Battery

The 3300mAh battery isn’t replaceable, even though you can remove the back cover. However, there’s little need to do that. It easily lasts a day for most users, and even for power users, you can get around 16-18 hours on a single charge. It ran for 9 hours of pure video playback.

Verdict

There are some problems with the Asus Zenfone, but if you’re in the market for a 6-inch phone, then it’s a good purchase. It gets it right in the things that matter: a good screen, good battery life, good performance. The extra internal memory helps and the PC Link app is the cherry on top.

That said, there is the bigger question of why you would want a phone that you can’t use with one hand. Asus offers no stylus and no compelling software to get the most out of that 6-inch screen. Don’t get caught up in the numbers—this phone might be too big for you, in which case, there are better options like the Xiaomi Mi3 and the Asus Zenfone 5, the latter of which has all of these features and a better camera in a smaller package for just Rs. 10,000.

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    Akshar Gandhi
    Mar 2, 2015 at 7:01 pm
    I have brought Zenfone 6 on recommendation of my friend who has used it for past 2 months and talks highly of its video quality and gaming experience. The battery life is another big reason I brought this phone at a reasonable price tag of Rs 17,000. The battery last surprisingly longer even when I watch movies back to back on it. The 13MP main camera can take high end professional quality pictures. I find this phone a perfect match for my requirements
    Reply
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      A.S.RAY
      Mar 26, 2015 at 11:01 pm
      In ASUS Zenfone 6 #G is very difficult to set? can I know #G network is compartible to thi sphone or not??
      Reply
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        Ayush Cheema
        Apr 17, 2015 at 6:46 pm
        I brought this phone for a number of reasons especially its 13MP camera, long lasting battery, good processor and innovative apps. I am highly satisfied as I have exactly got what I was looking for.
        Reply
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          Darshnik Kumar
          Apr 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm
          I brought Zenfone 6 on recommendation of my friend who has used it for 3 months. I must say it has been the best gadget I had so far. It is a complete entertainment package. The 6 inch wide HD screen backed by surround sound in earphones provides a great video watching and gaming experience. The battery last really longer. Great phone!
          Reply
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            Hrishita
            May 5, 2015 at 6:27 pm
            I like this big size phone which gives you a feel of a tablet under your budget. This phone is value for money as it has 13mp camera, 2 GHz dual core processor, sound quality is good for music lovers. I just love its Champagne Gold color.
            Reply
            1. J
              Jagmohan Sinha
              Apr 20, 2015 at 12:52 pm
              I am totally satisfied using this phone for my personal as well as professional use. This phone has good entertainment features as well as intelligent features to manage my work. I would highly recommend this phone to anyone who is seeking a performance oriented phone with good entertainment features at a reasonable price.
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                Manish Sinha
                Mar 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm
                It has a superb big HD screen with surround sound in earphones that gives great movie watching experience. I love the fact that its battery last over 2 days even when I use it frequently. I really adore looks of my phone.
                Reply
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                  Mihika Rustagi
                  Feb 24, 2015 at 6:36 pm
                  This phone isn’t bulky in spite of its 6 inch wide HD screen. It has a light weight and sleek design which makes it easy for me to carry it around. It has 16 GB internal memory and 2 GB RAM which suits my requirement. I am amazed by the main camera of this phone which is 13 Mp coupled with 2Mp front camera which makes it best gadget for video calling. The battery life is another lucrative feature of this phone as it last way to longer than usual smartphones. At 17 thousand, I think I have got more than I can expect.
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                    Navneet
                    May 12, 2015 at 2:41 pm
                    Hi, According to me the benefits of Zenfoe 6 are- • Long lasting battery life • Larger screen • Better camera • More efficient phone-body • The new model makes it harder for your screen to crack with the type of gl used. So, my personal opinion is: Go grab this phone. You won’t regret it.
                    Reply
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                      Neena Khonsla
                      Feb 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm
                      For my gaming addict boyfriend, I thought of gifting him a perfect hand held device for gaming so he can spend more time with me rather than his play station. I took suggestions from my friends and everyone suggested to buy Zenfone 6 as it has a good gaming experience with long battery life. I still cherish the look on my boyfriend’s face when he pla his favourite 3D game on Zenfone 6. He is really impressed by my choice of phone. I think it’s a perfect gift for valentine.
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                        Neetika Singh
                        Apr 3, 2015 at 5:34 pm
                        It is the best gadget for 3D gaming. I had used a hand held gaming device earlier. This phone beats the experience of a game pod. The display screen yields great graphics and it doesn’t hangs or slows down owing to great processor.
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                          Ravi Khanna
                          Mar 11, 2015 at 2:05 pm
                          It has been a wiser decision for me to purchase this phone so far. I can depend on my phone while I travel as the battery last really longer and I don’t have to look for a charging point whenever I go anywhere. I admire its graphics and lightness enhancing 13Mp main camera. Great phone indeed
                          Reply
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                            Sam Kxj
                            Oct 31, 2015 at 4:00 pm
                            useless phone that i ever used, asus cs is also a bit not responding to customers once product is sold, bought from ebay only 10 month used, sold on cheap rate loss of money around 15,000 at the time of selling, quick heat, sudden switchoff,late to boot etc etc, many good specification the phone had.. go and grab the phone, your money your wish, thank you.
                            Reply
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