OEMs like Xiaomi and OnePlus have had a near-unrivaled run in the respective classes they operate in. This year, Asus has decided to step up and to check their march with competitive and aggressively priced offerings of its own.
While the recently launched Zenfone Max Pro M1 will lock horns with the Redmi Note 5 Pro in the affordable segment, the Asus Zenfone 5Z will serve as an alternative to the more premium OnePlus 6. On paper, the Zenfone 5Z conveniently measures up to the OnePlus 6 spec for spec, and even brandishes a few extras. And more importantly, it undercuts the 6 by a significant 5K margin.
Is it an option you can choose instead? We will try and answer that in our Zenfone 5Z Review.
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Specification
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Design and Build
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Display
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Performance and Software
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Camera Performance
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Camera Samples
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Battery and Audio
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Verdict
- Asus Zenfone 5Z Review : Pros and Cons
ASUS Zenfone 5Z (ZS620KL) specifications
- 6.2-inch (2246 × 1080 pixels) Full HD+ (19:9), 2.5D curved glass Super IPS display with 550 nits Brightness, Corning Gorilla Glass, DCI-P3 color gamut.
- 2.8GHz Octa-Core Snapdragon 845 SoC with Adreno 630 GPU.
- 6GB / 8GB LPDDR4x RAM with 64GB /128GB/ 256GB UFS 2.1 storage, expandable memory up to 2TB with microSD
- Android 8.0 (Oreo) with ZenUI 5.0, upgradable to Android P
- Hybrid Dual SIM (nano + nano / microSD) with Dual VoLTE
- 12MP rear camera with dual-tone LED Flash, Sony IMX363 sensor, Dual Pixel PDAF, 4-axis OIS, Pro mode, secondary 8MP sensor with 120-degree wide-angle lens, f/2.0 aperture
- 8MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture, OV8856 sensor, 83-degree wide-angle lens
- Fingerprint sensor (rear), Face Unlock
- 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
- Dual speakers with NXP 9874 Smart AMP, Hi-Res Audio 192kHz/24b-bit, DTS Headphone: X for 7.1 channel surround sound, dual microphones
- Dimensions: 153×75.65×7.85mm; Weight: 155g
- Dual 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 ac (2.4GHz + 5GHz), Bluetooth 5, GPS + GLONASS, USB Type-C (2.0)
- 3300mAh battery with ASUS BoostMaster fast charging and AI charging, 18W charger
ASUS Zenfone 5Z design and build
The Asus Zenfone 5Z has a familiar Glass body, with the primary distinguishing element being the Asus signature concentric rings pattern and the way the back panel reflects directional light falling on it. The back is flat but the dual chamfered edges on the metal side frame (when did we last see those?) make it easier to grip the phone.
The Zenfone 5Z is noticeably compact compared to the OnePlus 6 and also lighter. Lack of curves on the back panel make it appear a bit clunky, though.
On the front, Zenfone 5Z is dominated with a gorgeous full-view screen that has a wide-notch (that you can hide). Overall, the Zenfone 5Z feels like a premium and ergonomic phone.
As for build quality, there are no flexes or creaks in the body, but you’d still need to be careful with a glass body.
- At this point in time, the premium glass body on the Zenfone 5Z feels very familiar (but not redundant).
- When compared to the OnePlus 6, the 5Z is comparatively compact and lighter, but the flat back makes it appear noticeably thicker.
- The side metal frame has dual chamfered edges which make the phone comfortable to wield. All buttons, ports, and fingerprint sensor are easily accessible.
- Asus bundles a good quality TPU case in the box. You will also find good quality headphones there.
- The 3.5mm audio jack, loudspeaker and USB port (Type-C) are all present at the bottom
ASUS Zenfone 5Z Display
Since the 6.2-inch (19:9) screen on the Zenfone 5Z is IPS LCD- type, the full HD resolution feels sharper than an analogous OLED panel. The display has support for wide color gamuts, has closer to neutral whites, and the software includes an option to further tweak color temperature and saturation. On the downside, we found red tones to be more prominent on the screen (which is perhaps because of the wrong target color gamut).
Blacks are deep, contrast is high, and viewing angles are quite wide. The display can get bright enough for comfortable outdoor usage.
This is a good quality IPS LCD screen, one of the better ones we have seen this year. How well does it stack up against the AMOLED screen on OnePlus 6? Well, we’d say that the screen on the OP 6 feels marginally better to us (mainly because its better dynamic range and more balanced color profiles), but many users might prefer the sharper Zenfone 5Z panel instead.
- The Zenfone 5Z has a sharp and vivid full HD IPS LCD screen.
- Colors are vibrant and the contrast is quite high. You can change color temperature and saturation to an extent from display settings.
- Overall, the display is light on the eyes. There is no harsh blue tint.
- Display also has decent oleophobic coating to resist smuges.
- The display is protected by Gorilla Glass (Version unspecified).
- The notch is wide and the system and app notification icons are randomly displayed on its either side.
- You can tap anywhere on the status bar to expand it in order to view all active icons.
ASUS Zenfone 5Z Performance and Software
When you are competing with phones like OnePlus 6, there is no question of compromising on the performance front. The Asus Zenfone 5Z employs the Snapdragon 845 octa-core chipset and is the only phone in its class that can match up to the 6 in terms of quality of Storage (UFS 2.1) and RAM (LPDDR4X). of course, Asus has been very generous with the quantity of storage and RAM as well. As you’d expect, performance is flawless.
The software is what we should devote more time to.
The ZenUI 5.0 is closer to stock Android than ever before. Asus has stripped off mostly whatever was annoying about the Zen UI and tactfully retained the good part. We are actually quite happy with the new ZenUI avatar.
Asus also highlights some AI features. These aren’t exactly new features and I guess we have seen many of these in one or the other phone before AI became a mandatory phraseology for manufacturers. Nevertheless, we found ourselves using most of these enhancements.
Suggested Apps and Optiflex are particular ones we appreciate. Suggested Apps intelligently clubs together the apps you most frequently use at the bottom of the app drawer where they are easily accessible (as compared to when they are on the top). Optiflex makes apps that you frequently use launch faster.
- Asus uses the best available performance hardware, and the consequent performance is flawless.
- Asus also gives 100GB of free Google Drive storage for a year to all consumers.
- The ZenUI 4.0 software is light, smart, and feature rich. We quite like the custom skin. Some of the AI features are quite handy as well.
- The handset has DRM L1 certificate but doesn’t support HD streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
- The fingerprint sensor is fast and reliable. You can swipe down on the sensor to check notifications.
- Face unlock is reasonably fast and well implemented. When the phone recognizes your face, it shows notifications on lock screen (when the option is turned on, that is).
- The Zenfone 5Z is also among the rare few premium phones with FM radio.
- Just like the OnePlus 6, the Zenfone 5Z is also missing water resistance certification and wireless charging.
ASUS Zenfone 5Z Camera Performance
Surely many consumers won’t mind shelling out extra money for a phone with a better camera. Which is why the camera performance should be the most crucial deciding factor between the OnePlus 6 and Zenfone 5Z.
The Zenfone 5Z includes 12MP Sony flagship IMX363 sensor on the rear with large pixel size, wide f/1.8 aperture lens, and optical image stabilization (4-Axis). This is paired with a secondary 8MP camera with wide angle lens (120-degrees), that can be used for capturing wide view shots and also powers the portrait mode. The selfie camera, on the other hand, has an 8MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture lens.
ZenUI camera app quite features rich and uses AI to quickly recognize scenes (Food, Text, etc. ) in order to tweak image settings accordingly.
Now that we have broadly covered about the camera hardware, let’s answer the big question.
Is the Zenfone 5Z camera performance is better than the OnePlus 6 camera performance? Here is how it goes:
- Details are almost always better on images clicked from the Zenfone 5Z. OnePlus 6 camera generously bumps up ISO and thus lowlight images are quite soft (even though they look good on the phone’s screen).
- The colors are also closer to what’s natural on the Zenfone 5Z, but many a times images turn out underexposed.
- The portrait mode works better on the Zenfone 5Z (for both front and rear camera).
- OnePlus 6 has smarter metering and images are consistently well exposed. Its HDR mode is also more consistent and well balanced.
- The images on OnePlus 6 show better dynamic range compared to those shot on the 5Z.
- The Zenfone 5Z has an excellent pro mode. Enthusiasts can make good use of this. The Pixelmaster camera app is rich in features and options.
- The OnePlus 6 has a simpler interface that quotidian consumers will find easy to navigate through.
- The extra sensor is mostly underutilized on the OnePlus 6. On the Zenfone 5Z, you can use it to shoot wide-angle view landscapes (in good outdoor lighting). The second sensor is also accessible in the Pro mode.
- Selfies and video recording turn out better on the OnePlus 6.
Well, there are areas in which Zenfone 5Z is a clear winner (portrait mode, better details). And then there are situations in which OnePlus 6 proves to be more reliable. We often got the perfect shot in first go on the OP 6, something we can’t say for the Zenfone 5Z.
It was really difficult picking between the two. If you are an enthusiast, the kind that shoots with a tripod and is comfortable toggling setting manually, the Zenfone 5Z should be a better choice. If you like your camera to do the hard work for you and would prefer vibrant images even if the colors aren’t necessarily accurate and have been tweaked a bit, OnePlus 6 should be a better choice.
ASUS Zenfone 5Z Camera Samples
ASUS Zenfone 5Z Battery and Audio
The 3300mAh battery on the Zenfone 5Z can comfortably last for a day of moderate to heavy usage. The handset supports fast charging and the bundled 18W charger can refill the tank quickly.
Audio is one area where Zenfone 5Z shines. The handset offers loud and clear stereo speakers and Asus also bundles good quality headphones in the box. The phone also includes triple internal microphones for noise cancellation.
- The 3300mAh battery can comfortably last for a day. Fast charging is supported.
- AI charging can maintain battery health. This should come in handy for consumers who charge their phones overnight.
- Audio output is very good. Zenfone 5Z supports DTS and Hi-res audio.
- Asus also bundles decent pair of headphones in the box.
ASUS Zenfone 5Z Review – Should you buy it?
The Zenfone 5Z undoubtedly offers unprecedented value for money. Asus has surprisingly churned out an option that can match up to the OnePlus 6 and is also significantly cheaper. We are glad that Asus has fixed the software and mostly delivered on the camera promise.
The base model with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage starts at Rs. 29,999 and the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model costs just 32,999. The 8GB RAM and 256GB storage option costs Rs 36,999.
We wouldn’t go as far as saying that 5Z trounces the OnePlus 6, but it holds its ground well and you won’t feel like you are settling. In our opinion, it’s better than other OnePlus 6 alternatives like Honor 10 and Vivo X21.
If you think the OnePlus 6 is way too expensive, you can assuredly go for the Zenfone 5Z without missing out on much.
ASUS Zenfone 5Z Pros and Cons
- Great audio output
- Excellent performance
- Good quality display
- Great cameras for the price
- Good battery backup
- No water resistance
- No Gorilla Glass 5