The Good The simple design and solid build of the Asus ZenFone 5 are impressive. Asus ZenUI comes with new cool features that enhance the Android experience.
The Bad The camera shutter is a bit slow, even in bright daylight.
The Bottom Line ZenFone 5 may come with other budget phones, such as the Redmi Xiaomi Redmi, but to get the best out of your phone, be sure to get the 2GB version to avoid any performance issues.
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The Asus ZenFone 5 comes with many features: it has a sleek, minimalistic design that is both ambitious and expensive PadFone range, but it sells for an extremely affordable no-cost price: around $ 190, £ 130 or $ 200. This all sounds great, and it does, but keep in mind that you need a 2GB of RAM to avoid potential performance issues.
Asus ZenFone 5
Apple iPhone 11
Samsung Galaxy A50
Samsung Galaxy S10E
Motorola Moto G7
|Price||—||$870 Walmart||$294 Amazon||$650 Amazon||$200 Amazon|
Sitting in the middle of the Asus ZenFone series, the 5-inch phone has 4-inch and 6-inch siblings, ZenFone 4 and ZenFone 6. ZenFones runs on an Intel Atom processor instead of the usual ARM chips from Qualcomm or MediaTek that you normally find in more expensive phones.
Currently ZenFone 5 is available in some Asian countries – China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam. The ZenFone series is also expected to be sold in the UK, though it is only available through a few small online stores. Other countries have not yet been announced.
Editors’ note: After I came across sluggish performance in my original ZenFone 5 review model, Asus has sent us a new unit with updated firmware and 2GB of RAM (a retail model sold in Singapore). Due to the improved performance that has caused previous releases, I have updated this review and rating accordingly.
The Asus ZenFone 5 is a looker (pictures)
Featuring a PadFone aesthetic design, the ZenFone 5 is simple and clean. It has rounded edges, a curved soft-touch plastic backrest, and touch-sensitive buttons below the screen. The 5-inch HD display has a resolution of 1,280×720 pixels, for a density of 294 pixels per inch, which is respectable but far from HTC One M8 ‘s 441ppi.
The only thing that stands out is the metal belt under the touch buttons, impregnated with the contour of the concentric circle found on PadFone Infinity series. It’s not very obvious and doesn’t affect the grip of the phone, but I really like that it gives the ZenFone 5 a premium touch for its low price.
The back cover is removable, but the 2,110mAh battery is built-in. All you can do if the back cover is off is access to dual SIM card slots and microSD cards. The back of the unit also has an audio speaker and an 8MP camera.
The ZenFone 5 feels solid enough and weighs just 5.11 ounces (145 g). Asus has made a good phone here, and it shows.
Internally, the ZenFone 5 has a dual-core 2GHz Intel Atom Z2580 processor instead of the usual Qualcomm or MediaTek effort. This is complemented by 8GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. Your standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options are available, but NFC is missing.
Software and features
ZenFone 5 runs Android 4.3 with special skin called ZenUI Layered over OS. ZenUI has been redesigned with a cleaner, smoother look. The company says its engineers have made more than 200 different OS modifications, all with improved performance.
The first thing you will see when you turn on the ZenFone 5 display is an updated lock screen with a timeline for future meetings. Another feature is a reminder program called “Do It Later”, which helps you keep track of important tasks such as replying to SMS messages. You can easily do this by selecting an answer later that will add it to the “Do It Later” application. This also works for articles you want to read and missed calls.
Like the HTC Sense UI, Asus built-in applications, such as calendar, email, phone, and messaging, have a color code. I’m not sure that shading is useful even in the HTC Sense UI, since you almost don’t need to use color to recognize the application you are using if they are not visually similar in layout (which they are not). It looks good, however.
ZenFone 5 also comes with Asus Open Cloud technology that integrates all your cloud storage services into one application (such as Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, or Asus’s own web storage).
Packed with an 8MP camera, ZenFone 5 uses Asus’ PixelMaster Camera technology, which, according to the company, provides professional-quality photos. The camera has an aperture of f / 2.0 and a five-element lens.
In the application itself for the camera Asus added a whole set of features – noticeable are the effect of depth of field, panorama, slope and HDR. Low-light mode is the best of the batch, allowing the user to take photos in very cloudy conditions, though it works best if you can mount the phone on a tripod (or keep it really stable). Turning on the flash in low light may be the best option.
Now, while all of these features sound pretty comfortable, the camera’s performance is less than impressive. Electronic shutter is slow – often you will not have the shot you want to take, especially if your subject is moving. Some images may overlap, resulting in an image with washed spots.
The Intel Atom Z2580 dual-core processor can run at 2 GHz, and its performance seems comparable to my experience with budget phones using quad-core MediaTek MT6589, for example Xiaomi Redmi .
On the Quadrant benchmark, the phone got 8,252 – poor compared to slightly more expensive HTC Desire 816 In the multi-threaded Linpack test, ZenFone 5 spat out a low score of 106.28 MFLOP.
Score shows that the Intel Atom processor is not that powerful, but the phone’s performance was satisfactory.
I didn’t have any problems with the quality of ZenFone 5 calls, but that’s another story when the handset is switched to loudspeaker mode. The rear speaker is soft enough – I could barely understand what was being said if I didn’t hold the phone to my ear, defeating the purpose of using the speaker.
Using the 2110 mAh battery, the phone lasted only one SIM card at a time. With two SIM cards, battery life is likely to be shorter. However, Asus has included several energy-saving settings that can help expand it.
Turning on the power saving mode will disable the network connection when the display is turned off. This means that background applications such as messaging programs will not work properly when this power mode is selected.
Considering that my first taste of the Asus ZenFone 5 was not so positive in terms of sluggish performance, Asus did a good job of solving the problems that were raised. The performance of the phone is quite smooth right now, and this phone is definitely worth picking up.
Compared with Xiaomi’s Redmi which is cheaper and has similar features (smaller 4.7-inch HD display, dual SIM card, 8MP camera), ZenFone 5 can put a Redmi budget. A more modern ZenFone interface has more appeal, but a lower Redmi price may have more appeal.