Asus wasn’t necessarily known for making top of the line smartphones, so when they initially launched their line of Zenfones to the market, everyone was quite skeptical about it. Turns out, they’ve managed to make a seamless Android experience with the Zenfone along with a stylish design all at an inexpensive price.
Last month saw the launch of a new line of Zenfones to compete with the mid-range line of smartphones from other companies. The one we have for review here, the Zenfone 5, utilizes an Intel processor – but will it match the Qualcomm Snapdragon in terms of performance? Let’s find out.
Design and Specifications
The front part of the Zenfone 5 features a glass panel with a textured steel trim at the bottom. Aside from the touch sensitive controls, the glass is pretty much smooth though it can attract fingerprints and smudges easily. At 5 inches, it’s definitely a large screen, I just wish they could have gone with a full HD resolution – but the 720p resolution was good enough for this type of smartphone. It’s made from Corning Gorilla Glass 3 – meaning that the device is virtually damage-free and scratch-resistant.
The power switch and volume rockers are located on the side, along with a 3.5 mm headset port at the top and the micro USB charging and data port at the bottom. The rear of the device houses the curved removable plastic back covering where you can put in two micro SIM card (yes, it’s dual SIM) though the battery itself is not removable. Much like the HTC One M8, the curved back is nice, but we had a hard time using it on flat surface since it constantly wobbles from end to end. There is also a microSD card slot that lets you expand the 16 GB internal memory.
The Zenfone 5 runs on a dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor running at 1.6 GHz along with 2 GB of RAM. All basic connectivity options are present, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Both SIM card slots can support HSDPA connections so if you are looking for an ultrafast connectivity provided by 4G LTE will be disappointed.
The Zenfone 5 also comes with an 8 megapixel rear camera with a LED flash along with a front facing 2 megapixel camera. The rear camera can also record 1080p video at 30 fps.
Lastly, the Zenfone 5 runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean when I took it out of the box – but immediately after setting it up I was asked to do a system update that updated it to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. It runs ZenUI – Asus’ own interface placed over Android. It doesn’t do much to the interface the way Samsung’s TouchWiz does, which is a good thing since it manages to be snappy when in use. Asus has included some extra apps to go along with it.
Using the Zenfone 5 was a breeze. Despite getting mid-range scores compared to other smartphones using available benchmarks, using it was fluid and I didn’t encounter any noticeable lags.
You can still install apps using the Google Play Store and even if Asus has their own interface running on Zenfone 5, they have made each of their apps available on the Google Play Store – this way, they can easily update each application without having to release a unified system update.
The camera takes decent shots, but not the best ones. The camera app has some basic options when taking images – from adjusting exposure to ISO and even applying filters. It’s a nifty addition, if only the camera itself was better.
The Zenfone 5 has a 2110 mAh battery that should give you about 353 hours of stand-by time and about 18 hours of talk time. Translate that to real-world usage and you got a smartphone that should be able to last you for a whole day. I was used it on a full charge at 8 am and find myself looking for the charger by about 4 pm.
Retailing for 899 AED, the Asus Zenfone 5 is one of the better mid-range smartphones out in the market. A nice build, acceptable battery life and a fast and fluid UI is all you will need from a mid-range smartphone.