Very few times there comes a budget smartphone from a reputed brand which not only shakes the market but also offers a valuable proposition to the consumer. Asus recently launched its Zenfone Series which includes Asus Zenfone 4, Asus Zenfone 5 and the mammoth Asus Zenfone 6. Though the Zenfone 4 and 6 offers good products at their respective price bracket, Asus Zenfone 5 is the beast of the lot which offers mouth watering specifications at a truly affordable and aggressive price point.
Last year we saw the Motorola Moto G do the same with its consumer friendly smartphone. This year its Asus with its Zenfone series stepping into the smartphone race for the first time. Priced at Rs. 9,999, Asus Zenfone 5 is not only affordable to the working class Indian but also for college student and people who wish a decent smartphone at a doable price range. Lets find out what Asus Zenfone 5 updated to Android Kitkat 4.4.2 has to offer.
Asus Zenfone 5 – Specifications Overview
Asus Zenfone 5 comes with a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Z2560 Dual Core Processor with Intel’s Hyperthreading technology. Practically the processor contains 4 CPUs inside two cores, so in layman’s terms its either similar or a little superior than Quad Core offerings from brands like Mediatek and Qualcomm.
It comes with a whopping 2GB RAM which is never ever seen in smartphone under Rs. 10,000 along with 8GB internal memory (16GB model costs at Rs. 12,999/-), It packs in 8MP PixelMaster Camera with Flash at the back whereas a 2MP front facing camera. It offers 5 inches 1280X720 pixel HD display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection.
Asus Zenfone 5 – Design and Built
The first time you hold this phone, it feels rock solid with no squeaking parts whatsoever. It’s sturdy and at the same time is lightweight at 145 grams. The phone we’re reviewing comes in Champagne Gold colors and helps itself to stand out from crew of other budget Android Smartphones. However only the back panel is colored whereas the entire phone is black.
Just like the phone, the back panel stands its ground; similar to the ones we’re used to see in Lumia smartphones. On the front Asus Zenfone 5 features a 2MP camera with a bunch of sensors, at the bottom we have 3 capacitive buttons (which aren’t backlit) whereas on its chin it has faux metallic strip which features concentric circles that adds a class to this phone.
The screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 that gives absolute scratch less experience. The top and bottom has 3.5mm audio jack and micro-USB port. The left side features faux metallic volume Up Down buttons and just above it we have the Power Lock/Unlock button.
One major problem I do have with Asus Zenfone 5 is its Notification Light. Since it’s embedded a little too deep inside, it becomes impossible to see the notification light blinking from a distance. Tilt the phone by 60° and its hard to notice the Notification Light is ON. This LED light comes in color like Red, Green and Orange
“Since this is the first time, Asus has put forward a bunch of smartphones, I am impressed in seeing the craftsmanship gone under making this phone. It has got everything right on its first step forward.”
Asus Zenfone 5 – Screen
This Taiwanese company has been kind enough to provide an HD display in the Asus Zenfone 5. The display is 1280×720 pixel IPS display which offers 294ppi on a 5 inch screen. The cherry on the cake is, it’s provided with Cornering Gorilla Glass 3 that exceeds all my expectations from a phone under Rs. 10,000.
The screen looks pretty sharp and offers great color reproduction. The display doesn’t lose colors even if you see it from the edges. Asus does offers a small screen customization utility called ‘Splendid’. Using this app, you can change the color temperature, add in hue and saturation, make colors look vivid and punchy or one can even make the Asus Zenfone 5 screen black and white using Splendid.
“A 1280 X 720 HD IPS Display with Gorilla Glass Protection, what more can you can for in a smartphone under Rs. 10,000.“
Asus Zenfone 5 – Software
Asus Zenfone 5 comes pre-installed with Jellybean 4.3 and can be upgraded to Kitkat 4.4.2. out of the box immediately via its System Update utility. The Android UI is heavily skinned with Asus’ own Zen UI, Zen UI does looks modern and pleasing to the eye. Asus Zen UI doesn’t looks gaudy usually seen by OS customized from brands like Sony, Samsung, Lenovo and so on. Asus has kept it simple, even the icons are neither flat nor with glossy gradient, they look pretty neat.
Since the software is highly optimized for the 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 processor, its hard to see any lags during basic mobile operations and even while playing HD games. The company has been kind enough to provide 2GB RAM in Asus Zenfone 5, hence switching between apps is butter smooth, even portrait to landscape switching is instant.
Asus has even added some extra elements to its Zen UI, like swipe down from the left side of the screen and you get notification panel whereas swiping down from right shows up the toggle buttons.
Though everything goes right about the Zen UI, one thing I’m not conviced is the pre-installed keyboard. Its not the best to type on, either in landscape or portrait mode and has two version of it. If you’re doing basic text messaging you’ll get a keyboard shown below.
When you move to browser, the keyboard’s bottom layout changes badly as it cuts down the space bar and pushes it left to accommodate other (not-so-important) elements. While typing in browser, mostly I ended up hitting the colon button instead of space. Though one can easily change this by grabbing a new keyboard off Google Play Store.
Asus Zenfone 5 comes with various useful pre-installed applications like Do-It-Later, What’s Next, Audio Wizard, Party Link, Remote Link, PC Link, Share Link, Power Saver, Quick Memo, SuperNote and Omlet. In this What’s Next aggregrates info from your social accounts and displays upcoming birthdays, Reminders, Events, Festivals and so on either on its widget, the Lockscreen or in the notification panel. Do-It-Later is basically a reminder To-Do app that you can configure basic reminders or calling someone, messaging someone at particular time and so on. Remote Link turns your Asus Zenfone 5 into a virtual TouchPad through which you can control your PC automatically, turn slides in Powerpoint Presentation, Zoom-In and Out Pictures and basically do everthing a touchpad does wirelessly.
“Though being a smartphone under Rs. 10,000; Asus has invested and has put immense efforts on software front rather than slapping stock Android on Asus Zenfone 5”
Asus Zenfone 5 – Performance
Performance on the Asus Zenfone 5 is nothing less than impressive. Basic operations like Calling, Messaging, Switching between apps are totally Lag Free.
Even Benchmark Applications like Quadrant Standard, Antutu and Nenamark 2 speak out excellent for Asus Zenfone 5.
Gaming on Asus Zenfone 5 is marvelous. You can play almost all HD Games on it. Games like Asphalt 8, Frontline Commando D-Day, Blood and Glory: Legend, Real Racing 3 run smooth without any stutter, though you can expect rare frame drops here and there.
Asus Zenfone 5 is therefore a budget gamer’s delight and offers better performance than SoC like Snapdragon 400 and Mediatek 6582 usually seen in smartphones under similar price range.
There is hardly any smartphone that can provide performance similar to Asus Zenfone 5 under Rs. 10,000.
Just to satisfy your number needs, here are some scores from synthetic benchmarks like Quadrand Standard, Antutu and Nenamark 3.
“Great Performer at an incredible aggressive price point. Two years ago I had bought Micromax Canvas 2 A110 which scored 1,700 on Quadrant and 6,500 on Antutu at same price. You can see what more you get for the same price you pay”
Asus Zenfone 5 – Camera and Video Recording
Asus Zenfone 5 includes 8MP PixelMaster Primary Camera coupled with Flash along with a decent 2MP Camera just next to the caller piece.
Pictures from the 8MP camera excel in capturing excellent colors and as Asus claims, its PixelMaster technology captures 400% more light stands true to its words. This 8MP PixelMaster Camera does sees more during low light where phones from same range and even Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo sees nothing at all. After activating Low Light mode on the Asus Zenfone 5, it captures more light (with noise) where the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo shows pitch black.
Various modes are offered on the Zenfone 5 like Time Rewind, HDR, Panorama, Night mode, Low Light Mode, Selfie, Beautification, Miniature mode, Depth of Field (Macro) Mode, Smart Remove, All Smiles and GIF Animation which all work as advertised. Below are the pictures taken Auto Mode and Depth of Field Mode.
The only problem I face with Asus Zenfone 5 camera is with its metering (focusing), one has to tap almost 4-5 times to get the lens to focus where you want; during macro photography this does acts a spoilsport. I believe Asus would do come with a fix during its next update.
Coming to video recording, Full HD 1080p video recording is supported by this phone at 30fps. You can capture decent videos from it and with smooth playback.
“The front camera is somewhat average and adds more reds in an image, since the primary 8MP Pixel Master Camera has a Selfie Mode, I’d advice to not take pictures from the front camera. :-)”
Asus Zenfone 5 – Battery
The 2110 mAh battery on Asus Zenfone 5 offers impressive battery backup to my surprise. It’s hard to believe but Asus Zenfone 5 offers 1.5-2 days of battery backup on full charge. Lot of people have complained on sites like Mouthshut.com that the battery drains completely in 6-7 hours after charging. I’d advice them to update their smartphone to Android Kitkat 4.4.2., as Asus has weeded out this battery drain problem which I too faced (on Jellybean).
With moderate Gaming, Calls, frequent Text Messaging and screen brightness set to 0% indoors and 80-90% outdoors, battery manages to keep the phone alive for 2 days. Though continuous HD gaming might want you to reach for the charger after 4-6 hours.
“Recommended to install Juice Defender Android App, as it kills background apps during sleep mode and manages to provide some extra juice.”
Asus Zenfone 5 – What’s Inside?
There’s nothing extra ordinary in this smartphone under Rs. 10,000 but it does comes with whats important. You get an Asus Zenfone 5 along with USB Cable, Wall Charger, Literature (User Manuals) and in-ear style earphones.
To my surprise the in-ear style earphones performed remarkable, just a tad inferior than my SoundMagic ES18. Yes! you don’t need to run for an aftermarket earphones once you purchase this smartphone.
The wall charger and USB Cable are of superior quality, only the wall charger fits a little loose on wall socket and even on spike guard.
Asus Zenfone 5 – Final Verdict
Asus Zenfone 5 being the first lot of smartphones from the Taiwanese Company is priced aggressively tearing up the competition very well. Its Specifications, Performance and Premium Built Quality do put smartphones like Samsung Galaxy Grand 2, Sony Xperia M2, Lenovo S860, Moto G2, Xolo 8X-1000 and similar to a shame.
Even with its all plastic body construction, Asus has managed to make the Zenfone 5 look premium and the dual tone color of Black and Champagne Gold at the edges gives it an extra ordinary finish in its class.
Every element on this phone, be it Build Quality and Construction or Software front has been beautifully designed putting the user on driver’s seat. Pre-installed utilies on the phone gives more power to this budget smartphone.
“Asus Zenfone 5 is one those phones which not only performs great but also can be a great show-off. This is the reason, I waited for almost 1 month to grab it from Flipkart. Its hard to find such a good looking performer either from Indian or International brand at Rs. 9,999. Its that one phone I can suggest to person of any age with eyes closed.”
Yes! This phone is better than Moto G 2nd Generation, Samsung Galaxy Grand 2 and slew of devices out there. Don’t Wait and buy yourself one at Rs. 9,999 from Flipkart.
If you loved this review, do share it with your friends and family on your favorite social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and help them make a better choice while choosing their next smartphone.
Recommended Accessories with Asus Zenfone 5:
Have a great day!