Aside from the flagship smartphone battle, the competition among the mid-range devices are considered to be a tough stage. Time and again, we’ve noticed how smartphone brands are putting efforts into bolstering their mid-range lineup because let’s admit it, handsets under this category reach more audience than that of flagship units.
Taiwanese brand Asus is one of those companies who never fail to put the spotlight on mid-rangers every once in a while. And to debunk that middle child syndrome, they introduced the Asus ZenFone 5. Lets take a look on what it has to offer.
Design and Display
The Asus ZenFone 5 can easily be mistaken as a flagship device given its build and design which we can never deny that looks similar to the iPhone X. It has the same vertical dual rear camera design as that of the said Apple device, with an LED flash below along with the rounded fingerprint sensor and of course, the Asus logo. Its back physique which illuminates a circular pattern shines with its glass finish which you’d really want to flaunt everywhere but unfortunately, we recommend using a jelly case because smartphones with this kind of clothing is an automatic fingerprint magnet. Nevertheless, the rounded corners and edges as well as the glass-coated front and back faces with 2.5D curved glass of the Asus ZenFone 5 is such a nice sight to look at.
As we mentioned in our first impression, the Asus ZenFone 5 might feel like a hefty smartphone when you first use it especially if you’re switching from a smartphone that has a smaller screen and a smaller build, but that’s something you can immediately get used to.
The Asus ZenFone 5 is the first from the brand to carry the infamous display notch on top of its screen. We must say that the display of the Asus ZenFone 5 is one of its many strong feats, as its 6.2-inch FHD+ screen in 2246 x 1080 resolution showcases rich and vibrant colors. We also want to emphasize that Asus has planted a 6.2-inch screen in a 5.5-inch body which they achieved by slimming the bezels, which in turn resulted to an all-screen device with a 90% screen to body ratio.
Asus has also equipped some interesting features on top of the Asus ZenFone 5’s display including Smart Screen, a function that allows the phone to light up everytime and as long as the user’s face is in front of the screen. Another one is a feature made possible through intelligent sensors which automatically adjusts the color and brightness of the Asus ZenFone 5’s screen depending for comfortable screen visibility in any environment.
Upon initiating the Asus ZenFone 5, you’ll notice a DTS: Headphone X logo below the ZenFone emblem. This means that the Asus ZenFone 5 is specifically made with an enhance audio system which is essential not just for music, but also for a complete and immersive mobile movie viewing and gaming experience.
With the integration of the DTS: Headphone X feature, the Asus ZenFone 5 is capable of playing Hi-Res audio 24-bit/192KHz tracks which users can enjoy through the use of a Hi-Res Audio-capable earbuds that’s included on its package. The Asus ZenFone 5 has a five-magnet stereo speakers which we can say delivered well in our audio test.
We played a number of tracks in different genres and with a special audio feature, the Asus ZenFone 5 obviously delivered. It played music loud enough to fill a small room without the need of Bluetooth speakers. It also has an Outdoor mode option which plays tracks louder than that of the maximum level of the standard mode, although we found tunes played through the Outdoor mode a bit distorted.
Using its standard audio mode, though, the Asus ZenFone 5 played James Bay’s Let It Go very well as it maintained the balance between the singer’s voice and the background instruments. We also liked how it played the guitar riffs of Eagle’s Hotel California and the drum beats of The Knack’s My Sharona. Bass production is somehow acceptable although not that spectacular. The Asus ZenFone 5 also faired very well in playing acoustic songs and track with powerful vocals like Ed Sheeran’s Wake Me Up and Adele’s Hello.
The Asus ZenFone 5’s audio capabilities can also be enhanced according to user’s preference using the smarpthone’s AudioWizard, as shown below.
Asus ZenFone 5 Audio Wizard
User Interface and Performance
The Asus ZenFone 5 is yet another smartphone backed with artificial intelligence which explains why this device has a powerful, lag-free performance. In terms of technicalities, the Asus ZenFone 5 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor with an ample 4GB of RAM and 64GB onboard storage expandable up to 2TB via microSD. Take note that this device doesn’t have a dedicated microSD slot, meaning you have to choose between using a second SIM card or expanding your storage.
Asus ZenFone 5 Home Screen, App Drawer, and Notification Tab.
Using the Asus ZenFone 5 as our daily driver went as a seamless task. From simple tasks of switching between different mobile applications, sending e-mails, and scrolling to social media to moderate and heavy use of photo editing apps and graphics-rich mobile games, the Asus ZenFone 5 delivered very well, as expected from a smartphone running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 platform.
On top of this, the Asus ZenFone 5 has a number of interesting feature like the ZeniMoji, ASUS’s own take of emoji-inspired filters which can be used in video chatting. Similar to its younger sibling, the Asus ZenFone 5Q, the Asus ZenFone 5 has the Game Genie app to boost games and the ZenUI Safeguard feature for emergency purposes.
Among its AI-powered features other than for its cameras and battery include OptiFlex which is essential in optimizing the device to make applications launch faster, and a suggested app drawer which can be found on the home screen of the Asus ZenFone 5. Apps included on the suggested app drawer are intelligently chosen by the Asus ZenFone 5 based on user’s frequently-used apps. Another one is the AI ringtone which intelligently adjusts ringtone volume depending on environment noise level.
In terms of security and access, the Asus ZenFone 5 comes with a fingerprint scanner which most of the time helped us unlock the device in an instant, as well as the Face Unlock feature which delivered very fast and very well, except of course when used in places with dim lights.
Battery and Benchmark
The Asus ZenFone 5 doesn’t steer away from one of its brand trademark — having a long-lasting stamina. Based on actual usage switching from intensive social media use with either a WiFi or a mobile data connection, mobile gaming and photography, the Asus ZenFone 5 with its 3,300mAh stamina lasted for a day’s use of around 9 hours. This also mirrored the result that we got from the PC Mark of 9 hours and 4 minutes. Our standard video loop test on the other hand with zero volume, airplane mode, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi off, and 100% screen brightness gave us 18 hours of playback.
Battery settings and options.
PCMark Battery Benchmark Result
In terms of benchmark scores, the Asus ZenFone 5 obtained numbers of 124909 in AnTuTu, placing below the Xiaomi Mi 5s and the Huawei P10. In PCMark 2.0, the Asus ZenFone 5 scored 9955, while in 3DMark gaming benchmark, the said device got 954 in the Slingshot Extreme test.
AnTuTu result, AnTuTu ranking, PCMark result
3D Mark results
One of the Asus ZenFone 5’s strongest points is its camera which similar to newer models of smartphones, comes powered with artificial intelligence. This device’s rear cameras comprised of a 12-megapixel camera with a Sony IMX363 sensor with f/1.8 aperture that’s good in taking photos in low-light environments, plus an 8-megapixel 120-degree wide-angle secondary camera with LED flash. With AI, these cameras are capable intelligently and automatically adjusting the settings depending on the 16 scenes it can recognize. For its front camera, the Asus ZenFone 5 comes with an 8-megapixel f/2.0 selfie shooter with the standard SelfieMaster app for beautification filters.
Rear camera modes, front camera modes, SelfieMaster
As expected from a capable AI-powered smartphone, the Asus ZenFone 5 takes decent shots with just the right mix of color correction, saturation, and sharpness using its main sensor. The secondary and additional 8-megapixel camera, on the other had, takes pictures with evident noise, and lame colors. Other than its imaging capabilities, the Asus ZenFone 5 can record videos in 4K resolution.
The selfie camera, meanwhile, produces acceptable photos although similar to the Asus ZenFone 5Q and many other Asus handsets, using the beautification effect at the maximum level gives unrealistic and too-filtered self-portraits.
Indoor Auto mode
Indoor 4x zoom HDR
Indoor Auto mode
Indoor Auto mode
Indoor 2.5x zoom Auto mode
Outdoor Auto mode
Outdoor Auto mode gloomy shot
Outdoor Auto gloomy shot
Outdoor HDR low-light shot
Outdoor Auto Wide-Angle shot
Outdoor Auto gloomy shot
Night shot, Auto mode
The new ZenFones may not have drawn a lot of attention compared to the previous ones but that doesn’t mean that you should sleep on them. The Asus ZenFone 5 is just as capable as other mid-range smartphones in the market today, or more. The improved design and dual cameras now packed with AI, and the overall solid performance makes the ZenFone 5 a decent choice for all and sundry.
You can now get your hands on the ASUS ZenFone 5 for just Php 17,995.