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Hands-on: ASUS ZenFone 5Z is powered by the Snapdragon 845, priced below $500

At MWC 2018 ASUS unveiled the new ZenFone 5 series. While only the ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5 Lite were formally shown off, ASUS has a third model in the works as well.

Published onFebruary 28, 2018

At MWC 2018 ASUS unveiled the new ZenFone 5 series. Only the ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5 Lite were formally shown off, but ASUS announced a third model in the works as well. The ASUS ZenFone 5Z sits at the very top of the product line, offering high-end specs (mostly) worthy of a true flagship device.

The ZenFone 5Z features the latest Snapdragon chipset, intelligent dual cameras, and a massive 6.2-inch display that still fits into a form factor you’d expect from a traditional 5.5-inch handset. On the design front, it appears to essentially rock the same looks as its less powerful brothers.

All this sounds great, but with strong competition from Samsung, Sony, and countless others, does the 5Z have what it takes to stand out from the crowd? We won’t really know until we get our hands on a review unit, but let’s take a closer look at what the handset brings to the table.

Big screen, little body

The first thing you’ll notice about the ZenFone 5Z is its display. Let’s get this out of the way: yes, there’s a notch. Yes, it shamelessly mimics Apple. Moving on.

The 6.2-inch Full HD+ display offers up a 19:9 aspect ratio, instead of the more standard 18:9 coming from many other “tall display” Android phones.

What makes this display stand out is just how little bezel surrounds it, with an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 90 percent. According to ASUS, the 5Z uses “intelligent display technology,” which basically means it uses sensors to automatically adjust the color temperature. It also prevents the screen from turning off when the user’s face is detected.

Plenty of power under the hood

The ZenFone 5Z is powered by a Snapdragon 845 with an Adreno 630 GPU. Other key specs include 6 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, dual-SIM support, and a 3,300 mAh battery with smart charging technology.

ASUS claims their charging system adjusts the charging rate by monitoring the user’s charging habits, slowing down the battery’s aging process. Their so-called “AI Charging” tech also keeps the phone from charging to 100 percent overnight, which apparently extends longevity as well. That doesn’t mean you won’t get a fully charged phone, it just means the phone will charge to 100 percent right before you wake up, once it gets to know your sleeping habits.

While the display’s resolution might be a little less impressive than the QHD screens found in leading flagships, the rest of the phone’s specs are certainly at a similar level to the competition.

Be sure to head over to our official ASUS ZenFone 5Z specs post where we dive a bit deeper.

Immersive Audio experience

The ZenFone 5Z has two five-magnet stereo speakers driven by dual amplifiers to ensure maximum volume while reportedly protecting them from damage with its built-in “smart” technology.

The ZenFone 5Z also supports Hi-Res Audio files encoded at up to 24-bit/192KHz sample rates and supports DTS Headphone:X for 7.2-channel virtual surround-sound when using headphones.

Smart features, but not really AI

AI is quickly becoming a buzzword, and ASUS is clearly taking advantage of that, with all of their features dubbed as either smart or AI powered. It claims to have an AI display, AI charging,  AI Scene Detection, AI Portrait, and AI Boost. Just like with the ZenFone 5 and 5 Lite, the problem is that these aren’t really using machine learning technology, they are just “smart.”

While a smarter phone experience is great, calling it AI is more than a little misleading. Still, the key takeaway is that the ASUS ZenFone 5Z has plenty of optimizations under the hood which help make your phone experience a little smarter. It’s just too bad they’ve resorted to misleading marketing to get the message across though.

A smarter dual camera experience

Dual cameras are all the rage these days, so it’s no surprise to see a dual-camera configuration on the ZenFone 5Z. The main camera is a 12MP shooter with a Sony IMX 363 processor, with an f 1.8 aperture and 83-degree field of view. The second camera offers a 200-degree field of view. Up front you’ll find a pretty standard 8MP shooter.

ASUS also offers a number of special features including scene detection, photo learning, beautification, and a pro mode. The pro mode allows users to change exposure, white balance, and ISO, and also gives you a range of shutter speeds from 1/10000 to 32 seconds. There’s also support for RAW.

Price and availability

ASUS has a history of announcing handsets and not releasing them until many months later, and it looks like this trend will continue with the ZenFone 5Z. The ASUS ZenFone 5Z will arrive this June, priced at $499 or 480 euros. This seems like a pretty reasonable price tag for the features offered, and puts it squarely in the territory of the HONOR V10 and OnePlus 5T.

What do you think of the ZenFone 5Z? Is it an exciting affordable flagship or nothing to write home about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.



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