After the budget segment, the next area which is seeing cut throat battle is the “Budget Flagship” segment. Just how they undercut Xiaomi in their own pricing game with the Zenfone Max Pro M1, Asus is now after the likes of Honor and OnePlus. OnePlus has been churning out products with top of the line processors and buckets loads of RAM at a fraction of what other OEMs have been providing. Now Asus is taking on that similar approach with the newly launched Zenfone 5Z while undercutting OnePlus at the same time.
With the Asus ZenFone 5Z, Asus managed to deliver a smartphone with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, 6 GB (or 8 GB) of RAM and a base price tag of Rs 29,999, which is Rs 5,000 less than what OnePlus is charging for the OnePlus 6 base variant.
Let us now dive in to see if Zenfone 5Z can kill the “Flagship Kiler”!
The Asus Zenfone 5Z is available in three memory configurations starting from 6+64GB, 6+128GB and 8+256GB. The unit we received is the base 6+64GB varaint in ‘Midnight Blue’ color.
Zenfone 5Z Specifications
- Display: 6.2-inch IPS LCD display, (1080 x 2246 pixels)
- Software: Android 8.0 Oreo, ZenUI 5.0
- Fingerprint Scanner: Yes
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core processor
- GPU: Adreno 630
- RAM: 6/8 GB
- Storage: 64/128/256 GB internal, microSD support
- Main Camera: 12 MP (f/1.8) + 8MP (f/2.0), dual-tone LED Flash
- Selfie Camera: 8MP with f/2.0 aperture
- Connectivity: USB Type C, 3.5 mm, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS, NFC
- Cellular: 4G LTE, Dual SIM
- Battery: 3,300 mAh, Li-ion Polymer, non-removable
- Price: Rs 29,999 to Rs 36,999
Box design is similar to what we have seen in the past with other premium Asus products. There is the Zenfone 5Z branding on top. As soon as you lift the top part, you get the documentation. Underneath lies the smartphone and the supplied accessories.
A complete list of items you get inside the box:
- Asus Zenfone 5Z smartphone
- Sim Ejector Tool
- Fast Charger
- USB Type-C Cable
- Silicon Case
- Hi-Res audio earphones
- Warranty and User Guide
The Asus Zenfone 5Z is available in Meteor Silver and Midnight Blue color options. The Zenfone 5Z like most other flagships uses the Glass sandwich design with 2.5D glass at the front and the back, while the inner frame is made out of aerospace-grade aluminium. Though Asus has gone with the glass back design but there is no mention of which generation of Gorilla Glass is being used, neither for the front or back. Also missing is the wireless charging just like on the OnePlus 6.
The front of the phone features the massive 6.2-inch display with an 18.7:9(19:9) aspect ratio and a notch. The notch houses the front cameras, sensors and notification LED which is tucked away in the speaker grill. Now if you’re among the people who hate the notch, fret not, there is an option in the settings which allows you to hide it. Asus has done a great job in trimming the bezels, though the notch is a little bigger when compared to its competition, the narrow side bezels and chin make up for it. The rear dual cameras are placed vertically in the corner of the smartphone with the flash placed underneath and the fingerprint sensor in the centre.
Talking about buttons and ports placement, you have the volume rocker and power / sleep buttons on the right. The hybrid SIM card tray is on the left, while the 3.5mm audio jack and USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer is at the bottom along with the speaker grill.
Asus has also put in three noise-cancelling microphones on this smartphone which are placed on top, sides and bottom.
Asus went with the latest trend and added a notch to the Zenfone 5Z which houses the earpiece, front camera and sensors. Zenfone 5Z features a 6.2-inch 19:9 display with a resolution of 1080×2246 pixels. The 90% screen to body ratio is among the highest we have on smartphones this year. The panel used here is an IPS LCD and is among the best we’ve seen in a very long time.
The display is bright with good color reproduction. The blacks are deep, not upto the level of AMOLED panel but still very good as per LCD standards. The outdoor visibility is on point. Asus has also added the functionality to tweak the colors which is just cherry on top.
The Zenfone 5Z runs on Android 8.0 Oreo with ZenUI skin on top. This is one area where Asus has worked a lot. The newer ZenUI feels light and toned down when compared to the earlier versions. You get all Google and Asus apps such as Photos, Sheets, Docs, Chrome, Calendar, File Manager, Contacts, Selfie Master and ZeniMoji which can be uninstalled, giving you a bloatware free experience.
AI has taken over this year and a lot of manufacturers are actively adding it to their products. Asus is no different, Asus has closely worked with Qualcomm for AI integration. One such feature we get is AI Charging, which lets you charge the Zenfone 5Z overnight in a safer way without damaging your battery. AI Ringtones is another one, which adjusts the ringtone volume after looking at the ambient noise data.
Then there is ZeniMoji which is similar to what we have seen with Apple’s Animoji. Though they are that great but gets the job done. ZenUI Safeguard is a slightly enhanced safety feature that lets you send out an SOS along with your current location. ZenMotion lets you use gestures like double-tap to wake and sleep, drawing alphabets when the screen is off to launch apps. There is fingerprint gesture like swipe down to pull down the notification tray.
Asus Zenfone 5Z is powered by the Snapdragon 845 guarantees top-of-the-line performance. Zenfone 5Z is also the second phone in the market offering this processor after the OnePlus 6. While the base variant has 6GB, there is another variant with 8GB for specs hungry people. In our opinion 6GB is more than enough and 8GB is just overkill.
We did not face any lag or stutter while using the ZenFone 5Z with app load and switching times being very less. Now app load times are further cut down using Asus’s Optiflex 3.0 technology. With 6GB of RAM in our unit, apps were kept running in the background, saving us some time. We do not follow benchmarks personally but Asus Zenfone 5Z soars ahead of OnePlus 6 in the Antutu Benchmark. As far as gaming is concerned, we ran PUBG and Asphalt at high graphics settings and didn’t encounter any lag or frame drop.
Also to enchance your gaming experience Asus has included Game Genie feature on the phone which lets you record your gameplay in up to full HD resolution and stream it to platforms like YouTube and Twitch.
Asus has packed the Zenfone 5Z with a 3,300mAh battery which might be small atleast on paper bet gets the job done. During our testing period, we managed to get about 5hrs of screen on time with about 20% battery still left at the end of the day. People with soft to medium usage can stretch the battery to 1 ½ days easily. Asus has also bundled an 18W charger that outputs current at 9V-2A. Using the bundled charger, we were able to top the Zenfone 5Z in under 1 ½ hrs. Zenfone 5Z supports Quick Charge 3.0 out of the box, so third party Qualcomm certified fast chargers would give you similar results.
This is the one area where Zenfone 5Z is miles ahead from the competition. Zenfone 5Z features a set of stereo speakers, the bottom firing one is a 5 magnet speaker, and so is the earpiece which work together to provide a surround sound effect. Asus has bundled ZenEar Pro high-res audio earphones which are decent in our opinion. The Zenfone 5Z also supports DTS Headphone-X profile with stereo surround sound and Hi-Res Audio for audiophiles. Asus has also added AptX HD support to output crisp audio when using wireless headphones.
Asus Zenfone 5Z features a dual camera setup on the back, which includes a 12-megapixel primary sensor and an 8-megapixel secondary sensor with wide-angle lens. The primary camera has an f/1.8 aperture and dual-pixel technology for PDAF, resulting in quick autofocus. AI is implemented here as well and the camera can detect up to 16 scenarios and adjust the settings accordingly to provide you the best possible image. In good lighting conditions the images are crisp with accurate colors and sharp edges. Dynamic range also seems to be on point and we didn’t encounter any blown out articles in the images. Upfront is an 8MP selfie shooter that churns out good selfies and assisting that is features like Beauty mode.
The camera app on the Asus ZenFone 5Z is easy to use and has option laid out neatly. You get a switch to toggle between the two rear cameras, and multiple quick toggles at the top for HDR, Depth Effect, Timer, and Flash. There are features like Super Resolution, Beauty, Slow Motion, GIF Animation and Time Lapse mode.
Video recording maxes out at 4K 60fps which is on par with industry standards. There is support for 4-axis Optical Image Stabilization(OIS) and Electronic Image Stabilization(EIS). You can also shoot slow-mo videos in 1080p and 720p at 240fps.
Overall we are very impressed by the camera performance on this smartphone.
ASUS Zenfone 5Z Unboxing
Zenfone 5Z Pricing
- 6GB/64GB – INR 29,999
- 6GB/128GB – INR 32,999
- 8GB/256GB – INR 36,999
- Good looking Design
- Crisp Display
- Good audio
- Competitive Price
- No IP Rating
- No wireless charging
Verdict – Should you go for it?
At the Rs 29,999 for the base variant which is Rs 5,000 less than OnePlus 6 making it the most affordable smartphone featuring the Snapdragon 845 in the Indian market. Now that pricing makes it the most viable option when looking for budget flagships. That’s not all, the premium design, crisp display and great audio experience just blows away the competition. Not only this the ability to expand storage and AI features are just cherry on top.
This is the smartphone we wholeheartedly recommend to prospective buyers and would ask a question from our readers, why “Settle” for limited storage and subpar audio experience? when you can get a complete bang for your buck product at Rs 5,000 cheaper.