Asus Zenfone 5 Review

by: May 29, 2014

- Build Quality
- Display
- Useful features


- Camera
- Battery life
- Sluggish performance

Our Rating
Bottom Line

You can't expect to win them all, especially at this particular price point.

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The ASUS Zenfone 5 is the middle child of ASUS’ low cost line of smartphones but for being a budget phone it comes packed with some very respectable hardware and specifications.  The design is very simplistic with rounded corners, flat sides, and a curved  back with a matte finish allowing the phone to sit very comfortably in the hand.  It’s made entirely of plastic with the exception of the metal band along the bottom chin to give the phone a slightly more premium look.  The 5 inch display coming in a 720p resolution pales in comparison to the 1080p panels on high end flagships but it’s still nothing to scoff at.  Colors are accurate, viewing angles are great, and graphics and text still look very sharp making this an overall enjoyable display.Asus Zenfone 5-24

Inside, the Zenfone 5 is being powered by a a dual-core Intel Atom processor clocked at 2 GHz backed by 2 GB of RAM instead of the usual ARM processors that can be found in virtually every android phone.  Performance through general day to day tasks such as swiping through home screens and opening up apps are smooth but the phone suffers from stability issues with certain apps and gaming is very choppy and sluggish making games difficult to enjoy.  These issues could most likely be alleviated with a software update but this is how it stands for now.

Around back is an 8 megapixel camera with ASUS’ PixelMaster technology and an aperture of f/2.0 making it great in low light.  The camera app itself while not the most simplistic comes a lot a manual controls for serious smartphone photography and a slew of different shooting modes like panorama, HDR, depth of field, and a dedicated selfie mode.  All of these features make the camera very fun to play with but the actual picture quality is decent at best.  Colors are very accurate and you can snap some great looking shots provided the lighting conditions are right but the camera suffers from poor dynamic range creating some overexposed lights and underexposed darks.

Asus Zenfone 5-18

Battery life also leaves a lot to be desire as the 2,110 mAh battery isn’t enough to make this phone last throughout a full day without carefully monitoring your usage.  Luckily, ASUS has included some power management options to help you get the most out of the battery should you go for an extended period of time without a charger.

On the software side the Zenfone 5 comes with Android 4.3 Jellybean with a promise of being updated to KitKat by ASUS but no word on when that will happen.  On top of Android is ASUS’s Zen UI that is very clean, flat, and colorful.  It comes packed with a lot of extra functionality without being gimmicky and adds to the Android experience without taking away the core features of Android.

Asus Zenfone 5-31

ASUS announced the Zenfone 5 with a price tag of $149.99 but if you’re inside the United States you’ll be hard pressed to find it for this price as it’s not officially available in the U.S. as of right now meaning you’ll have to pay a slight premium to import it.  Connectivity wise there is no LTE but it does support 3g on AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States should you decide to pick one up.  For a budget smartphone it’s got a lot of good things going for it like the solid build quality, a decent looking display, and a handful of very useful software features.  It does fall short in some areas like the performance and battery life which could potentially be improved with software updates but you can’t expect to win them all especially at this particular price point.

  • James Stewart

    I like these shorter reviews, the video says enough. So much competition at the low end these days! I think I’ll stick with my Moto G though. But love seeing competition at the ‘low end’ :)

  • Fauzan Adhi Rachman

    It sold like nut in Indonesia cause the moto g NEVER come officially. F***k yeah.
    it’s very cheap for a middle phone Rp 1,9 Million

    • Abnoynoy

      I like Indonesia. Everybody’s a millionaire.

  • blu167

    lots of people have commented on this video stating that the moto G was better but I still don’t get understand why. Anyone care to explain?
    This is how they stack up against each other:

    Zenfone 5 vs Moto G

    -2gb vs 1gb RAM
    -Dual SIM vs one SIM slot (even if you think its useless for you, its better to at least be able to use Dual-sim rather than not be able to do so at all)
    -Both have un-removable batteries
    -Both have 8/16 GB internal memory variants (plus Zenfone 5 offers a variant with 32GB internal memory in Taiwan)
    -MicroSD expansion (up to 64GB i think?) vs no MicroSD expansion at all
    -5″ screen vs 4.5″ screen (im not saying that one is superior to the other)
    -Both with 720p displays
    -Same weight class (about 145 grams)
    -Zenfone 5 listed at 5.5-10.3mm thick vs 11.6mm on moto G
    -Zenfone 5 is about 19mm longer (disadvantage for the zenfone imo. noticbly longer than typical phones with 5″ displays)
    -$130/$165 vs $175/$199 list price (not entirely about moto G but the zenfone prices are based on what Asus is pricing them at on their Taiwanese website)
    -8MP camera vs 5MP camera, plus zenfone has ‘Pixelmaster’ which sounds like a pathetic gimmicky marketing thing but is actually really useful (if youre interested read some articles/watch videos about Pixelmaster on the zenfones)
    -2MP vs 1.3MP front-facing camera (effectively no difference but still)
    -4.3 jelly bean with promised update to kitkat vs 4.4.2 kitkat (although im not sure asus will actually deliver on their promise)
    -Intel Dual core 2Ghz processor and Atom chipset vs quad core 1.2Ghz cortex-A7 and snapdragon 400.
    -From what i’ve read, Moto G battery life is pretty darn good whereas the Zenfone’s battery life is average (but I dont think its as bad as this video makes it out to be? one review i read stated that it lasted 6 hours while looping a 720p video on full brightness, etc. while flagships like the xperia Z2, gs5 etc. scored 9 hours. So its not great but its not abysmal either).

    So I mean I really dont understand why people still find the Moto G superior.

    I mean from what I see, the zenfone outclasses the moto G in almost every department – larger screen (if thats your thing, although a 5″ display usually wont be considered too big), similar weight despite larger size, Dual-SIM functionality, MicroSD expansion (HUGE plus for me), cheaper (if you happen to be able to buy it for their listed 150$ price), superior camera that arguably even is superior to some of the cameras on 2014 flagship devices due to its ability to make decent photos in extremely low light situations. And on top of that, i personally find that the Zenfone 5’s design is superior to the Moto G but obviously that’s not something quantifiable, unlike the specs i listed above.

    On the other hand, you have the Moto G which is already running on Kitkat, perhaps you could say that it has a better brand (although ASUS’ brandname isnt too shabby either), and its pretty clear that the snapdragon 400 and Cortex A-7 is superior to the intel setup. Then again, i’d imagine that the average person not willing to spend over $200 for a phone won’t be doing anything intensive of their phone. On top of that the Moto G’s already out whereas even in Taiwan the Zenfone’s launch date STILL keeps getting pushed back so yea..

    Overall though, I think the advantages that the Zenfone 5 has over the Moto G significantly outweigh the advantages that the Moto G has over the zenfone 5. So that’s why i dont understand why people keep claiming that the Moto G is better. If you have some time to wait for the Zenfone 5 to actually become available (at least in Taiwan, idk about other places), then it seems that the Zenfone 5 is the clear winner.

    • flipp0

      Battery life and overall system performance are incredibly important for most people. Moto G seems like a much more reliable device.

    • John

      The user experience, you know. That’s why people said that moto g is a better phone.

    • Exactly dude. I wanted to write something like this myself in many websites but was too lazy. You’re correct at every point. And for user experience, believe me ZenUI is far-far better than Stock. I know I am saying something, but I can backup it up if required!

    • Saurabh

      not only moto g, but every almost phone in this range is better….
      reason being BATTERY…..these zfones are the worst thing ever produced, its like take my ferrari having a fuel tank of 10 litres.
      So. even a tata nano is better than that.
      Its not about people , in future, some china crap will release phones better than redmi 1s in features with tons of problems, still fools will buy that, why cuz its cheap…..simple, that’s why companies sell their products in india, tremendously.
      Mentalities of people like u………..hails foreign companies…..nice buying …….lol

    • Manjunath B Nayak

      I am using this phone from 10th Aug 2014. I never felt it as sluggish for most normal uses and also few games like “Asphalt 8: Airborne” and other they all played pretty well considering its price. It is far superior to “MOTO G” in camera, performance and User Interface. It is taller than most other 5 inch phones. Overall for Rs10,000 (8GB) in India its a great deal in my opinion. It worked perfectly with my “Sony Ericsson MW600” with caller names and song names on the OLED display of blue-tooth headset. That is completely amazing thing for me.

      What I disagree with this review-
      1) Performance is great (far better to Moto G – as many people are comparing) for the price.
      2) Camera is superb for the price. Please don’t compare it with 8MP flagships of other brand.
      3) Battery is average on normal usage. Its not too bad.

  • aditya243

    This review is like a transcript of whatever the guy says in the review on youtube…Come on !!The written review should atleast be more detailed…BTW how come moto g with comparable(arguably better) specs gets a good rating while this one does n’t ?

  • One thing I found ‘missing’ from mine is the ability to recognize ANY pen/pencil as stylus (ala Sony Xperia Z Ultra). Months ago Asus claimed that the phone display is capable of recognizing regular pen/pencil as a stylus thus eliminates the need to use the ‘fat’ stylus. However I found mine did not work at all though it managed to work with gloved fingers. I wonder if I received a faulty unit or something.

  • winner254

    This phone is not at all sluggish. Android authority is publishing wrong information. Few games are not optimized for all platforms hence can see those artifact(View all videos in youtube to see gaming Performance). Overall a good phone than crappy motoG. Android Authority Accept ur fault in reviewing.

    • Takumi Fujiwara

      couldn’t agree with you more bro. i own a zenfone 5, the 1.6Ghz+2GB or RAM version and guess what? on some games like RR3, my zenfone 5 smoked my 1st gen nexus 7, rendering the game at high graphics by default, while my nexus renders it at low and still lags! i could play PSP, PS1 games and they are all smooth depending on the game and emulator compatibility! in benchmarks of Antutu (although they’re just numbers) my Zen scored around 22K while my nexus was just around 17. they call it sluggish? what games have they tried? i used to like Androidauthority as being a “reliable source of information” but now they just disgust me, making a biased review. lol!

  • Spencer Walker

    Please update review the lte version has a Qualcomm 400 sane as moto g now there is almost no reason to pick moto g over zenfone except maybe ui

  • rrssd

    Droptest zenfone please

  • Андрей МАЛАХОВ

    $155.99 Free shipping

  • Hanung Panji

    The problem is only Battery drain so fast….it only hold 3 hours when i use it to play game……

    This phone more like desktop than a smartphone….you know why….coz when you bring it outdoor you cant use it…coz the battery is empty in a blink…….zenfone sucks….

  • Denmark de Guzman

    i think the review will be better if josh did it.

  • Takumi Fujiwara

    I agree with some of the pros and cons but please! “sluggish performance”? are you mental? i did my own benchmark and did a real benchmarking on my Asus Nexus 7 and my Zenfone 5 (1.6Ghz, 2GB RAM) and guess what? on one of the most grahic intensive games, Real Racing 3, my nexus 7 1st gen renders that game on low by default while the zenfone renders it at high. Dead trigger 1 and 2 are both on high for both devices. i can even play PSP games on my zenfone without lag. you call that slug? lol. then go on find me a better phone at the same price point and mind, don’t give me something with 1GB of RAM! :p

  • Sabir

    I made Mistake buying This phone- Service Center is Hopless

    Asus Zenfone 5 A501CG

    I made Mistake buying This phone- Service Center is Hopeless

    It is was one of the biggest mistake I did buying this Asus Zenphone 5 . I was carried away by its Flip-cover feature but totally disappointed when I did not find this feature even after checking enabled box in setting . I Raised complain online Asus Customer Care. After few days I got responds and asked to go the Saleh Center Cunningham Road Bangalore Service Center .

    My nightmare started. First they are so slow and err-responsible to customer’s time. First they asked me to keep the mobile at center for three days.. I refused and asked reason for keeping for three days then they changed their mind and asked to wait for 2hrs but took almost 3hrs . The only they were doing keep updating and resetting my phone but it did not help at the end they told they need supervisor permission either to change the mother board or Software and asked me to wait for few days … after few days they sent an email mentioning the feature does not available to this phone and washed off their hands.

    After many time resetting and updating now my phone has got more problem with wifi connection , SMS notification , disconnecting during the call , and Censer flipcover does not work and the very flip cover feature still mystery.

    I really ignored many negative feedback but I thought mine will not be and went ahead and bought and I myself become victim like others least I had hope that Asus is well known company and their service Center will take care …but all turned to be nightmare and wast of time and money ..

    I would encourage you to never go for this mobile and regrets later..

    Reff: Complain tikets:
    Asus Service INR14C0200 / E9AZCY15C493 (2)
    ZenFone ASUS ZenFone 5 [ID=RTM20141212200629-210]

  • Eddy

    If the ZenUI is a moderate success and we get a fair translation of the US selling price, the Asus Zenfone 5 could offer a pretty good larger-screen alternative to the Motorola Moto G.