Asus unveiled the ZenFone 5Z at MWC 2018 and the company recently launched the flagship smartphone in India and well, it seems like Asus has a winner on its hands. That’s because the ZenFone 5Z brings a ton of features, a lot of AI and flagship grade hardware at an amazing starting price of Rs. 29,999. At this price, the ZenFone 5Z not only disrupts the mid-range smartphone market but also takes on the much loved OnePlus 6. So, how does the ZenFone 5Z fare? Is the ZenFone 5Z as good as it seems? Let’s find out in our ZenFone 5Z review.
Asus ZenFone 5Z Specs
First, let’s take a look at what the ZenFone 5Z offers on paper:
|6.2-inches Full HD+ (2246 x 1080 pixels), IPS LCD
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
|6GB / 8GB
|64GB / 128GB / 256 GB
|Dual: 12 MP (f/1.8, 24 mm, 1.4 µm) + 8 MP (12mm)
|8 MP (f/2.0, 24mm)
|Android 8.0 Oreo with ZenUI 5.0
|Midnight Blue, Meteor Silver
|Starts at ₹29,999
What’s In the Box
The ZenFone 5Z comes in your standard Asus box but it has some nice accessories in tow. There’s the ZenEar Pro earphones and a clear case along with all the other usual stuff.
- ZenFone 5Z, duh!
- USB-C cable
- Charging Adapter
- Clear silicon case
- ZenEar Pro Earphones
- SIM ejector tool
- Manuals no one reads
Design and Build Quality
Let’s start off with design. The ZenFone 5Z from the front looks like any other smartphone these days. It has the notch, it has the chin, the small bezels on the sides. It’s all pretty usual. There is an option to hide the notch but that’s something that does not well with IPS displays.
Anyway, flip it over and that’s when things gets interesting. The back here is glass with the really cool pattern that Asus likes to call, the iconic Zen-inspired concentric-circle patterning. I don’t know where that comes from but it looks pretty cool.
However, it’s a glass back, which means it can get easily scratched like our unit here and also, it’s a fingerprint magnet, which means it gets really dirty really soon. The device is also pretty slippery, obviously but it is comfortable to use because of its light weight and the thick edges.
Apart from that, the design here brings everything you expect from a flagship. The buttons are tactile, the fingerprint scanner is placed perfectly and it’s really fast, there’s the USB-C port, the headphone jack, and the notification LED. I also like the fact that the ZenFone 5Z here features a hybrid dual SIM card slot, which means you can use a microSD card to expand the memory.
Overall, the design on the ZenFone 5Z is great. It looks premium and it’s a pleasure to hold but I do have one small problem with it and that is the lack of any water resistance. An IP rating or even a water resistant tag would have made things perfect!
Moving on to the display, the ZenFone 5Z packs in a 6.2-inch Super IPS+ (2246×1080 pixels) display and it’s a pretty good looking display. If you are thinking what exactly does a Super IPS+ display bring over a regular IPS LCD display? Well, to be honest, this just seems like a marketing ploy from Asus because this is your usual IPS LCD display. Having said that, the display here is beautiful.
Yes, I would have liked Gorilla Glass 5 instead of 3 and ya, it’s not AMOLED but the display on the 5Z is a great one. It’s sharp, looks vibrant and the color reproduction is great. Plus, since it’s an IPS LCD display, it gets very bright, which means sunlight legibility is brilliant.
The OnePlus 6 was my daily driver before the 5Z, so coming from AMOLED, I do miss the Ambient display and deep blacks but other than that, I really like the display on the ZenFone 5Z.
Plus, there’s a cool AI-powered auto color temperature feature, which adjusts the color temperature of the display based on the environment. I did notice the color temperature change but it’s very subtle, which I’d say is a positive. However, there was one time when the color temperature changed 3 to 4 times while I was reading an article, which was a bit distracting but that was only once so that’s okay I guess.
Yes, I would have liked Gorilla Glass 5 instead of 3 and ya, it’s not AMOLED but the display on the 5Z is a great one.
Speakers and Audio
The ZenFone 5Z comes with dual stereo speakers, which is a huge bonus when compared to the OnePlus 6’s single speaker. The audio quality is pretty similar to the OnePlus 6 but ZenFone 5Z gets extremely loud, which is pretty impressive.
Plus, Asus bundles its ZenEar Pro earphones and they are pretty good, as far as in-box earphones are considered. The base gets pretty good and it’s loud enough.
There’s the AudioWizard feature in ZenUI, which lets you create a personal audio profile and that really does make a difference.
On the audio front, the ZenFone 5Z is definitely a 5 on 5, Z!
Next up, let’s talk about the cameras or should I say, the “AI cameras” on the 5Z. The phone comes with a 12MP f/1.8 plus 8MP f/2.0 dual camera setup and I have been taking a lot of photos with it, so let’s take a look. As you can see, when there’s ample lighting, the ZenFone 5Z takes some pretty good pictures. Sure, some photos lack detail and some get oversaturated when AI detection kicks in but I think the 5Z is pretty good in good light. But that’s where the good ends when it comes to ZenFone 5Z’s camera.
In low light, the ZenFone 5Z camera does capture a lot of light but just look at these photos, nothing is in focus. The lights are overexposed and it’s just unimpressive. Sure, some photos turn out fine but it’s more like an accidental bulls eye.
The same is the case with portrait mode photos too. Sure, these shots in good light look fine but if we move over to low light photos, well, things get bad. The edge detection is completely messed up, the background blur is really unnatural and you can adjust that, but even then, the problems persist.
Also, as you guys must know, the secondary camera on the back of the 5Z is a wide angle lens, which is not something we see in many smartphones. That wide angle lens results in some really cool photos. So ya, it’s pretty cool but if you look closely, you can see that the quality of these photos isn’t very good.
On the video front, the ZenFone 5Z comes with EIS plus OIS with the ability to shoot videos up to 4K@60FPS. In a 4K at 60FPS video shot from the ZenFone 5Z, the video quality is good enough but the camera has some problems focusing. In 1080p, the videos are very stable but the focusing problems persist. So, it’s all pretty average. You can check the videos shot from the ZenFone 5Z at 5:50 below:
On the front, the ZenFone 5Z comes with an 8MP f/2.0 camera with EIS and like the rear camera, the day time selfies pretty good. There’s Portrait Mode here as well and when there’s ample lighting, the photos look pretty good. However, as soon as you move to low light and portrait shots, the phone starts messing up.
Well, by now, it’s pretty obvious that the ZenFone 5Z has rather average cameras. In fact, barring the day time photos, the ZenFone 5Z cameras just fail to impress and mind you, our ZenFone 5Z is on the latest update here. I guess, AI still has a lot to learn and if you are wondering how it performs against the OnePlus 6. Well, not very good.
You can check out our camera comparison between the ZenFone 5Z and OnePlus 6 but if you are looking for an answer here, let me tell you that the OnePlus 6 has better cameras. We have talked to Asus and they have said that they will improve the cameras with updates, so things may get better in the future. Fingers crossed.
It’s pretty obvious that the ZenFone 5Z has rather average cameras. In fact, barring the day time photos, the ZenFone 5Z cameras just fail to impress and mind you, our ZenFone 5Z is on the latest update here.
Under the hood, the ZenFone 5Z comes with the latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 with up to 8 gigs of RAM. We have the 6GB RAM variant of the phone and I’d say the performance on the 5Z is pretty good. First, take a look at the benchmark scores, which show you that the ZenFone 5Z is right up there with the best flagship phones of today.
The phone performs really well in real world usage too. I have been using the phone extensively and it has been performing like a champ. The app launches are fast, switching between apps works like a charm and games are no problem for this phone. I have been playing games like PUBG and Asphalt and they run without any hiccups.
So yes, the ZenFone 5Z is a fast phone but having said that, there have been a few occassions of stutter but I really think that’s because of ZenUI and its animations. Sure, ZenUI 5 is more streamlined and not a resource hog like older ZenUI iterations but it’s still a pretty heavy skin.
Overall, the ZenFone 5Z definitely brings premium performance but yes, ZenUI tends to spoil the party at times.
Talking about ZenUI 5. It’s based on Android Oreo 8.0 and it’s a feature packed skin including various AI features. While I have already talked about some AI features, there are some more, like AI powered app suggestions in the app drawer, which works fine but honestly hasn’t been all that useful for me. There’s also Optiflex, which keeps your most used apps in memory, so that they load up faster. As I said, the apps do launch fast, so maybe that’s because of Optiflex.
Other AI features include AI ringtones, which adjusts the ringtone volume based on the noise level. I tested it out and maybe, it makes a very tiny difference but I did not notice anything. There’s also AI charging, which is supposed to extend the life of the battery. Now that’s something I can’t really test, I guess we will just have to take their word for it. There’s also AI powered Face Unlock, which is really fast. In fact, it’s almost as fast as the OnePlus, which is a huge feat.
ZenUI also brings Zenimojis. Asus did not talk about Zenimojis at the event and now I know why. The face tracking is plain bad, the Zenimojis here look creepy and to be honest, I cannot think of anything positive to say about it.
Apart from the AI features, the ZenUI, as I said includes almost every feature you can think of, except for full screen gestures, which is something I have come to expect on bezel-less notched phones. Maybe Asus will bring that in a future software update.Talking about updates, the ZenFone 5Z has Project Treble support and Asus has promised the Android P update for the phone along with 2 years of security patches.
ZenUI 5 is more streamlined yet packs in all the features you can think of but it can get a bit overwhelming. Plus, it does not bring navigation gestures.
Lastly, there’s the battery. The ZenFone 5Z comes with a 3,300 mAh battery, which is fine but nothing mind blowing. In my every day usage, which includes some messaging, some YouTube, a few calls, some social media and some browsing, I ended the day with around 35% battery consistently, starting at 100% which is fine.
In my heavy usage, which included me taking a truck load of pictures and videos, the phone lasted me for around 9 hours, which is decent and quite similar to the OnePlus 6 I had been using.
On the charging front, the ZenFone 5Z supports QuickCharge 3.0 and it does charge pretty fast. Starting from 10%, the phone around 50% in half an hour, which is great. The phone was full charged in around 90 minutes, which is quite impressive. I know it’s not as fast the Dash Charge on OnePlus 6 but it’s still really good.
ZenFone 5Z: Should You Buy?
So that’s everything about the ZenFone 5Z, so coming to the title of the video, should you buy the ZenFone 5Z over the OnePlus 6? Well, to be honest, I can’t recommend you to go for the 5Z over the OnePlus 6.
Having used both the phones extensively, I can tell you that the OnePlus 6 is the better phone out of the two. Sure, it costs 5000 more but for that, you get an AMOLED display, a water resistant design, a better user experience and better cameras. Having said that, if your budget is really limited to 30,000, the ZenFone 5Z at Rs. 29,999 can be a good option with its premium design, great speakers and flagship hardware but ya, if the budget is not a problem for you, the OnePlus 6 is clearly the better choice here.
Coming to the title of the video, should you buy the ZenFone 5Z over the OnePlus 6? Well, to be honest, I can’t recommend you to go for the 5Z over the OnePlus 6.
- Premium and solid design
- Great display
- Flagship-grade performance
- Loud stereo speakers
- microSD support
- Average cameras
- ZenUI needs improvements
- No water resistant
Buy ZenFone 5Z on Flipkart: (starts at ₹29,999)
ZenFone 5Z Review: Fails to Impress!
Well, that was our Asus ZenFone 5Z review. Honestly, I was really excited about this phone due to its amazing price and flagship specs. However, the ZenFone 5Z leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, it’s a great phone but the rather average cameras kind of ruin the experience.
Well, that’s what we think but what about you? Tell us your thoughts on the ZenFone 5Z in the comments down below. Also, tell us if you have any questions around the phone and we will make sure to answer them.