Asus Zenfone 6 First Impressions and Hands-on Review

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OnePlus got there first, but we have a series of Snapdragon 855 phones lined up for India. The next is Asus’ Zenfone 6 that has an uninterrupted display made possible with a unique take on flip camera.

By now the term “flagship killer” has been over abused, so let’s just say that Zenfone 6 is a no-nonsense phone that delivers premium features and high-end hardware at a very aggressive price. We went up close with the new Zenfone and Asus let us flip the camera to our heart’s content. And here are our Zenfone 6 first impressions.

Asus Zenfone 6 Price and Specification

Model Asus Zenfone 6
Display 6.4-inch Full HD+, IPS LCD, 92-percent screen-to-body ratio, 600 Nits, Gorilla Glass 6
Processor 2.8GHz Qualcomm octa-core Snapdragon 855
RAM 6GB/8GB
Internal Storage 64GB/128GB/256GB, Dedicated card slot
Software Android 9 Pie based ZenUI
Front and rear flip camera 48MP (f/1.79)+ 13MP (wide-angle), HDR+, Dual LED flash, Laser AF, PDAF
Dimensions and weight 8.4mm-9.1mm thick, 190 grams
Others 5 magnet stereo speakers with Dual NxP smart amplifier, Smart Key
Battery 5000mAh, 18W QuickCharge 4.0
Price*
  • 6GB RAM and 64GB storage- Euro 499 (approximately Rs 39,000)
  • 6GB RAM plus 128GB storage- Euro 559 (approximately Rs 44,000)
  • 8GB RAM and 256GB storage- Euro 599 (approximately Rs 47,000)

* Indian Price TBA

Asus Zenfone 6 Quick Review: The Flip Camera

The most exciting and unique element in the Zenfone 6 has to be its flip camera. Now, we have seen flip cameras before in phones like Oppo N1 or more recently on the Galaxy A80, but the Asus’ execution of the concept involves a stepper motor and that makes several interesting applications possible.

  1. The most obvious benefit is that you get to shoot selfies from the 48MP Sony IMX586. Besides, you get a 13MP wide-angle camera, hardware-backed for portraits, laser AF and more – all for the front camera.
  2. The stepper motor makes shooting Panoramas a treat! All you need to do is hold the phone straight, and the camera will sweep to capture a broad field of view. This is also true for verticle panoramas. Asus demonstrated an image of Eifel tower shot up close.
  3. Motion tracking is awesome for vloggers. The camera can detect your face and repositions itself just so you are always at the center of the frame.

Also Read: OnePlus 7 Pro review 

But what about durability?

Well, Asus India team has internally tested the module for more than 100,000 flips. These were under rigorous testing conditions and with regular wear and tear, the module should last even longer. And if you accidentally drop the phone with the camera module flipped open, the cameras will smartly, quickly retract itself to avoid damage.

So, yes, Asus seems to have thought this through. The only downside is that the Face Unlock takes an extra half second. The selfie camera takes a bit more time to position itself when compared to a pop-up camera, and the Zenfone 6 doesn’t have an option for direct face unlock. You will have to swipe up on the lock screen for the facial recognition to trigger.

The unit we experience wasn’t running the final camera software, which is why we’d refrain from commenting on the camera quality just yet. Some highlighted camera features include 480fps slow-motion videos, HDR+, fast focus,

Asus Zenfone 6 Quick Review: Design and Build

Needless to say, Asus has used premium materials to build its new Zenfone flagship. There is metal running along the sides and gorilla glass on front and rear. Retail unit will bundle a hard polycarbonate case.

The Zenfone 6 weighs 190 grams and the thickness varies between 8.4mm and 9.1mm – which is pretty reasonable for a 5000mAh battery phone.

Asus has used a regular capacitive fingerprint sensor on the rear because it believes it’s still a better and more reliable solution than an in-display sensor, and because it didn’t prefer using an AMOLED panel (more on that later).

Another handy addition is the new Smart Key, but we do wish it were a bit closer to the bottom, which would have made it a lot more accessible. The button can be customized for up to three actions – press, long press, and double tap. The obvious use could be to trigger Google Assistant. In fact, Zenfone 6 also has an option to privately listen to Assistant using earpiece.

All said and done, the Zenfone 6 is very handy, surely premium, and that uninterrupted screen expanse is always welcome.

Asus Zenfone 6 Quick Review: Display

Zenfone 6 has a 6.4-inch Full HD+ resolution IPS LCD panel with 92-percent screen to body ratio. The panel supports DCI-P3 gamut by default and in this mode, the colors are punchy and vibrant. In our initial testing, the white point appeared close to neutral. Asus says that it has put a lot of hard work in perfecting its IPS LCD panel, and the one on the Zenfone 6 doesn’t fall short of the best of AMOLED options available in the same class.

From display settings, you may switch to a ‘standard’ RGB profile where colors are understated and perhaps more Natural. We’d have to spend some more time with the handset to better judge the display, but based on our preliminary analysis, the screen is really good.

Also Read: Asus TUF Gaming FX705DY Review

Asus Zenfone 6 Quick Review: New Zen UI

For me as a user, the software is the most important parameter while making purchase decisions. No matter what sort of user you are or what your individual preferences be, it’s the software that you will interact with several times a day.

Practicing the philosophy of giving users what they want, Asus has drastically evolved its Zen UI software in the last year. The new Zen UI on the Zenfone 6 has been stripped really close to stock Android. The idea is to be true to the Android spirit and to add only necessary enhancements that most users need and can appreciate. The number of pre-installed apps has been reduced to 11 (the count includes basics like Gallery and dialer, and exclude mandatory Google apps).

Stock Android isn’t the only option to deliver refined and appealing interface design, as Samsung’s One UI has aptly demonstrated.  But yes, we see where Asus is coming from and totally agree the direction it’s heading to (which is similar to OnePlus approach with Oxygen OS).

In the brief time we spent with the Zenfone 6, we really liked the new Zen UI. Asus also claims that its Android framework optimizations will result in faster basic usage and lesser app opening time. Optiflex keeps track of apps that you frequently use. These apps are cached in memory for faster loading.

Asus Zenfone 6 Quick Review: Performance expectation and Battery

Since this is a Snapdragon 855 powered phone, performance is pretty well covered. In India, it will be available in three variants: 6GB RAM+ 64GB storage, 6GB RAM + 128GB storage, 8GB RAM + 256GB. The storage used is UFS 2.1, so the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro are still the only UFS 3.0 storage phones on the market.

The handset also has dual stereo speakers and retains the 3.5mm audio jack. All the other expected connectivity options like Bluetooth 5.0, Dual VoLTE and Dual band WiFi are present.

Zenfone 6 uses a 5000mAh battery with an 18W QuickCharge 4.0 adaptor that can charge up to 3300mAh capacity in 60 minutes. Asus says that it chose not to go for higher rated fast chargers because they increase battery degradation over a period of time and require the battery to be thicker. So, Asus traded faster-charging speeds to cram more battery.

Asus Zenfone 6 Initial Impression

At the time of writing our Zenfone 6 first impressions, we don’t know the exact price, but we expect it to be priced somewhere close to the OnePlus 7 in India (and this should be a really interesting battle!).

The Zenfone 6 is missing a few modern frills like an in-display fingerprint sensor and AMOLED screen, but the Flip camera adds enough X factor to compensate for these omissions. Besides, the uninterrupted and immersive IPS panel seems to be high quality, and many people actually find the capacitive sensors to be more consistent and convenient.

The new Zenfone also has excellent performance hardware, a very assuring battery, a premium design, and impressive software.

The camera quality remains to be tested and we will reserve our verdict till we have done that and experience the Zenfone 6 some more in our own space, but for now, we are getting great vibes.

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