ASUS ZenFone 5Z Review: A True “Flagship Killer”

9.1 Total Score

$649.99

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  • Feature-rich user experience
  • Big, bright display
  • Beautiful design
  • Decent camera
  • Top-notch specs

The newly launched Asus ZenFone 5Z has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor from the flagship and dual cameras on the back and starts with a surprisingly low price in India. With the ZenFone 5Z, Asus not only creates competition for the OnePlus 6, but it also promises more functions and benefits at a lower price. But does the ZenFone 5Z have what it takes to be our new choice for the flagship of the budget? We are about to find out in this article of the Asus ZenFone 5Z Review.

Asus ZenFone 5Z Review – Table Of Contents.

Asus ZenFone 5Z – Design

The Asus ZenFone 5Z is available in the color options Meteor Silver and Midnight Blue. The phone has 2.5D glass on the front and back, while the frame between these layers is made of aluminum from the aviation industry. Pick it up, and you can feel the premium materials used in the construction. The glass and metal feel cold in an air-conditioned room. Although the ZenFone 5Z has a glass back, it does not make the most of it because it does not have to be charged wirelessly. There is also no question of any water tightness, so you will have to protect this phone against the elements.

Asus has opted for a 6.2-inch screen with an aspect ratio of 19: 9, making this phone large and narrow. It has a notch at the top with the selfie camera, the earpiece and a pair of sensors. The ZenFone 5Z has a vertically stacked dual camera set up at the back, placed above a single LED flash. The flash contains a color temperature sensor, just like the one on the Huawei P20 Pro. The fingerprint scanner is well positioned and can quickly unlock the phone.

The positioning of the on/off button is just right. Hold the phone in your hand, and your thumb should comfortably rest on it. The volume button is quite high, so you have to shake the phone in your hand to reach it. The SIM slot is located on the left side along with one of the three noise-canceling microphones on this smartphone. At the bottom of the ZenFone 5Z, you will find a USB Type-C port, a speaker grille, the primary microphone and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. You can see antenna lines running through the frame, and the third microphone is at the top.

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Asus ZenFone 5Z – Display

The front of this device features a 6.2-inch full-HD + Notched screen that uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. It has an excellent viewing angle, and the screen is bright enough to be used outdoors. Asus uses the color temperature sensor of the camera to automatically adjust the screen to the current ambient lighting, a function that was expected to work. You have the advantage to switch this off and change the color temperature manually.

The display on the ZenFone 5Z supports the DCI-P3 color gamut and you can switch between this and a standard range, or you can adjust it to your preferences. There is also a Smart screen function that keeps the display when you look at it.

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Asus ZenFone 5Z – Software

Asus ships the ZenFone 5Z with Android 8.0 Oreo and ZenUI on top. Asus has not drawn up a timeline for updates, which many companies now do. The possibility of masking the notch with a black band is built-in.

Asus also promotes many AI-driven functions in the ZenFone 5Z, although the use of the term ‘AI’ in some cases is a lot. AI Charging uses machine learning to adjust the loading speed according to your existing patterns to prevent the battery from being charged, something other OEMs such as Sony have already sent for a while without marketing it as ‘AI.’

For example, if you connect the ZenFone 5Z at night, you do not need to charge quickly. The phone charges itself up to 80 percent, then pause and trickle charge until it’s full when you wake up. Asus says that this is better for the health of the battery. Alternatively, Scheduled Charging uses the times you set manually instead of what the phone learns about your usage patterns. The AI charging mode takes more than a week to learn your charging patterns, so it did not work on our evaluation unit. The Scheduled Charging option worked as expected.

BeautyLive, a feature we saw for the first time on the Asus ZenFone Live (Review), allows you to use beautification while streaming a live video. ZeniMoji is Asus’ view on Animoji and lets an emoji mimic your facial movements. Although it is not as good as Animoji on the iPhone X, it is better than Samsung’s implementation of the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9 + (Review). ZenUI Safeguard is a slightly improved safety feature that allows you to send an SOS along with your current location to emergency services or specific contacts by pressing the power button three times quickly.

ZenMotion lets you communicate with the ZenFone 5Z with the help of movements. You can double-tap to activate the phone or put it to sleep. You also can wake up the phone and start apps directly by drawing alphabets when the screen is off. As with Pixel smartphones from Google, you can swipe down on the fingerprint scanner to bring down the notification screen. You can mute an incoming call by dialing the phone or automatically answering it when you bring the device to your ear. In the Advanced submenu, you can set the child mode and a simple mode, which simplifies the user interface.

Like older Asus phones, the ZenFone 5Z has support for themes and comes with a Mobile Manager app that allows you to manage the sources of phones. You get some Google apps, plus Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Asus WebStorage. Although the WebStorage app can be removed, all others can only be disabled. Face recognition is available. It was easy to set up, but it is a bit slow to unlock the phone.

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Asus ZenFone 5Z – Hardware

Just like the OnePlus 6, the ZenFone 5Z is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC. This is an octa-core processor of the flagship type with a clock speed of 2.8 GHz. The ZenFone 5Z is available in 3 variants: 6 GB of RAM with 64 GB of storage, again 6 GB of RAM but with 128 GB of storage space and 8 GB of RAM with 256 GB of storage space. Our evaluation unit had 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage space on board.

Storage is expandable using the hybrid dual-SIM slot, and the 5Z can support cards up to 2 TB. The ZenFone 5Z is a dual-SIM device and supports both 4G and VoLTE on either slot. Connectivity options on the device include Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS,  dual-band WiFi 802.11ac,  GLONASS, and BDS. The ZenFone 5Z has support for FM radio, but there is no app icon for it. Instead, Asus has placed a shortcut in the notification drawer that is easy to miss.

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Asus ZenFone 5Z – Performance

The Snapdragon 845 in the heart of the ZenFone 5Z guarantees almost top performances. The only other smartphone currently on the Indian market with this processor is the OnePlus 6, which makes this phone its direct competitor. During the use of the ZenFone 5Z, we did not experience any delay or stuttering, and this SoC goes through apps and tasks like a hot knife through butter. With 6 GB of RAM, our rating units kept the apps running in the background, saving time when reloading those we have used before.

Asus says it uses ‘AI’ to predict which apps you would like to use and offers suggestions in the app drawer. It also has an OptiFlex feature that helps speed up the launch times for your selected apps by assigning the maximum possible resources.

We used benchmarks on the ZenFone 5Z and found that it scored respectively 2.451 and 9.111 in Geekbench 4’s single-core and multi-core tests. In AnTuTu the phone scored 271,861. The phone also managed 60 fps in GFXBench T-Rex and 33 fps in Car Chase. In 3D Mark, Slingshot Extreme Open GL clocked it 4.681 points. Asus’ emphasis on AI comes to the fore when performing benchmarks on the device because it subtly includes a notification asking you to enable AI Boost mode. We also tried this feature and saw a bump in benchmark scores.

The ZenFone 5Z can play most new game titles without breaking a lot of sweat. We played PUBG, Clash Royale and Asphalt 8 and they could all be loaded quickly. The phone showed no signs of stress during its execution. Clash Royale, the simplest of these tiles, had no problems with the ZenFone 5Z. Asphalt 8 went fine, even at the highest settings without any delay. PUBG could be loaded quickly, and the graphicsphic display was set to HD and framerate set to High by default. The game went well, and we did not notice stuttering during play.

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Asus ZenFone 5Z – Battery Life

With our daily use consisting of WhatsApp, an active e-mail account and playing a few games, the phone lasted us one day with 20 percent before 11 p.m. In our HD video loop test, the phone ran 10 hours and 42 minutes, slightly less than the OnePlus 6, which clocked almost 11 hours. We have found that playing games for more extended periods result in faster battery drainage.

You can choose between Performance, Normal, Energy saving, Superb saving, and a custom battery saving mode that lets you decide how the phone optimizes the battery life. The charger included with the Asus ZenFone 5Z has an output of 18 W, and it takes almost 1.5 hours to charge fully.

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Asus ZenFone 5Z – Camera

The dual camera settings on the ZenFone 5Z consist of a 12-megapixel primary camera and a secondary 8-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens. The primary camera has a f/1.8 aperture and dual-pixel technology for PDAF, resulting in fast autofocus. The selfie camera has a sensor of 8 megapixels.

The camera app on the ZenFone 5Z is relatively simple and user-friendly. You get a switch to switch between the two cameras at the back and multiple fast switches at the top for HDR, Depth Effect, Timer, and Flash. By swiping to the left of the camera screen, all available filters are displayed. With right swipe, you can switch to Pro, Super Resolution, Beauty, Slow Motion, GIF animation or Time Lapse mode. You also have the choice to lock a mode, which gives you quick access from the viewfinder.

The camera software on the ZenFone 5Z also includes AI features in the form of AI scene detection and AI Photo Learning. AI Scene detection is activated when framing a photo. The phone can recognize specific objects or scenes and set the camera accordingly. During the test, it turned out that the phone could identify animals, flowers, and people before we pressed the shutter button.

With the second function, AI Photo Learning, the phone suggests changes to a photo in the Gallery app. Asus states that if you apply the suggested edits, the smartphone makes a note of your preferences and uses the same settings for future recordings. Because it is AI-driven, it can take a week or two before sufficient samples are collected to learn the phone. We did not receive any suggestions during our assessment period.

Photos taken with the ZenFone 5Z are pretty good, and we noticed that it was quick to focus and get the lighting right during the day. It is also quick to measure the scene and enable HDR automatically. Photos had a good amount of detail and objects at a distance were still recognizable. Macro shooting is easy to make, and the phone manages a sharp image with a good separation between the subject and the background.

When you take pictures at night, the AI Scene function automatically switches to night view mode, shortening the shutter speed and turning on night HDR if necessary. The shots we made had a good amount of detail, and the sound was kept under control. During shooting with Depth Effect enabled, you can simulate different apertures. Face detection is enabled when shooting in this mode, and we discovered that while the outer edge detection was excellent, the ZenFone 5Z had problems with things like the gaps between a person’s fingers.

Selfies shot with the ZenFone 5Z looked good, and the front camera supports HDR. In low light, you can utilize a screen flash that is not very bright but sufficient to illuminate your face. The embellishment mode offers different parameters to adjust, or you can set it to automatic.

Video recording achieves max. 4K 60 fps with the primary camera of the ZenFone 5Z. You can use the wide-angle camera, but the footage sticks out at 1080p, just like the selfie camera. There is EIS for all cameras, which ensures stable output. 4K recordings were well stabilized, and there seemed to be no time constraints, allowing us to record more than 10 minutes. Keep in mind that the phone gets very hot when you record a video for a long time.

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Asus ZenFone 5Z – Specifications

ASUS ZenFone 5Z
Display6.2-inch IPS LCD display 1080 x 2246 resolution 18.7:9 aspect ratio Corning Gorilla Glass 5
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core
GPUAdreno 630
RAM6/8 GB
Storage64/128/256 GB MicroSD expansion up to 512 GB
CamerasRear

  • Main camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 24mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, 4-axis OIS, PDAF
  • Secondary camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 12mm, 1/4″, 1.12µm, no AF

Front: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm, 1/4″, 1.12µm

AudioDual Speakers (one in earpiece) 3.5mm audio jack DTS Headphone X
Battery3,300mAh Non-removable Fast Battery Charging USB Type-C 1.0 port
IP ratingNo
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, WiFi Direct, hotspot Bluetooth 5.0 NFC
SoftwareAndroid 8.0 Oreo ASUS ZenUI 5.0
Dimensions and weight153 x 75.7 x 7.9 mm 155 grams
ColorsMidnight Blue, Meteor Silver

Asus ZenFone 5Z Review – Final Words

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z may not be the first choice for many people when searching for a new smartphone. And that is just because ASUS has not been a significant player in the smartphone space, especially in other global regions. But it would be crazy to shoot the ZenFone 5Z. It is a great smartphone, even without taking into account the price of the device, making it an even better option. The ZenFone 5Z controls almost every box. That includes incredible battery life, a great camera, powerful processor, GPU, and an excellent display at a low price.

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Price history
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Price history for Asus ZenFone 5Z (Midnight Blue, 64 GB)(6 GB RAM)
Latest updates:
  • $649.99 - October 7, 2018
  • $499.00 - September 24, 2018
  • $748.50 - August 29, 2018
  • $499.00 - August 5, 2018
Since: August 5, 2018
  • Highest Price: $748.50 - August 29, 2018
  • Lowest Price: $499.00 - August 5, 2018
Last Amazon price update was: October 8, 2018 7:54 pm
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
9.1 Total Score
Asus ZenFone 5Z

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z controls almost every box. That includes incredible battery life, a great camera, powerful processor, GPU, and an excellent display at a low price.

Design
9.3
Display
9
Software
8.8
Hardware
9.2
Performance
9.3
Battery Life
9.1
Camera
9
PROS
  • Feature-rich user experience
  • Big, bright display
  • Beautiful design
  • Decent camera
  • Top-notch specs
CONS
  • Convoluted UI elements
  • No IP-certification
  • Buggy software
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