We lauded the Zenfone 5 as a return to form for ASUS. However, the smartphone lacked a little something that would make it a compelling device. Enter the ASUS Zenfone 5z with a few tweaks to the already compelling Zenfone 5. These tweaks though small and seemingly insignificant change the overall experience of using an ASUS Zenfone 5 all together. The z in the 5z definitely puts some zeal into the Zenfone 5 series. That said, given the similarities between the ASUS Zenfone 5z and the Zenfone 5, we’ll be exploring the main differences between the two in this review – you can refer to the In Depth review of the Zenfone 5 for the other details.
The Zenfone 5z is possibly what we can consider the true ASUS flagship. It has the specifications to take on the other super flagships out there. It’s takes the formula of the 5 and ups the ante to make it even more compelling and geared towards super users. A simple change in the processor truly changed the outlook of the device; making it one of the most complete overall packages available.
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (8 Cores)
(4×2.7 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
Expandable with MicroSD (Up to 2TB)
|Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)||Adreno 630|
|Display||IPS LCD panel
6.2-inch (~402 ppi)
Full HD+, 18:9 ratio (1,080 x 2,246pixels)
|Operating System||Android 8.0 Oreo with ZenUI 5.0|
|Battery||Non-Removable 3,300mAh Li-Ion
Fast Charging (Quick Charge 3.0)
|Connectivity||Dual SIM (Hybrid Slot)
Wi-Fi IEEE802.11 b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
12-Megapixel (f/1.7, 24mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm)
8 Megapixel (f/2.0, 12mm, 1/4″, 1.12µm)
Gyro Electronic Image Stabilisation
Phase Detection Autofocus
4K Video recording (30fps)
24mm focus length
1.12µm pixel size
Gyro Electronic Image Stabilisation
Full HD video recording (30fps)
The Zenfone 5z is possibly the best poster child for the case of a processor making a huge difference in the overall user experience. While we don’t usually compare benchmarks, the 5z is a prime case where benchmarks did indicate better overall performance. The higher scores across the board translated to a smoother, more enjoyable overall user experience.
The top of the line Snapdragon 845 processor in the Zenfone 5z super charges the device and allows it to perform well across the board. However, the increased performance ability does come with a slight dip in battery efficiency. That said, it doesn’t stop the 5z from chugging its way through a full day. It’s a device where multitasking and gaming performance has truly been improved.
There was a barely noticeable improvement in the 5z when it came to connectivity and call quality. The more capable Snaprdragon 845 allowed faster internet speeds and more stable call connections overall. However, this improvement would be barely noticeable to the average Joe aside from the faster download speeds. Aside from that, call quality was good with clear and audible audio. That said, the 5z still suffers in loud environments where the earpiece becomes barely audible. This is a problem faced by most handsets but is more apparent on the Zenfone due to its loud front firing stereo speakers. But the volume doesn’t translate to the earpiece. That said, in normal, everyday environments, the calls are fully audible and crystal clear.
The multitasking ability of the Zenfone 5z is about what you’d expect from any super flagship device. The Zenfone 5z is able to handle quite a little bit more multitasking as compared to the 5. The higher amount of RAM is possibly responsible for it. That said, although the amount of RAM does affect the performance, it did so marginally. The snappy quick response of the Snapdragon 845 really made a difference as jumping between apps and also doing split screen multitasking was a whole lot smoother. Even jumping between heavy apps such as Adobe Premiere Clip and Photoshop CC was smooth and without lag. Split screen with Youtube and Waze was also not a problem on the 5z. In fact it felt a lot smoother than some of the flagships out there.
The Zenfone 5z’s gaming prowess shines through thanks to capable Snapdragon 845 processor and Adreno 630. The pairing of the two processors allows most modern mobile games to be played with maxxed out settings. This includes games like Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds (PUBG), Arena of Valor (AoV) and Blizzard’s Hearthstone. While playing PUBG, there were no lags, screen tears or even ghosting. The power packed internals made the overall game experience a really enjoyable. The smartphone also didn’t heat up much even during long gaming sessions.
That said, ASUS’s power saving algorithm shines through in the Zenfone 5z. I’d attribute most of the battery performance to this rather than the larger battery size of the Zenfone 5z. Simply because the implementation is a lot smarter than most of the solutions out there. It isn’t overly aggressive in clearing and closing the background applications. The Zenfone 5 easily lasted over 10 hours daily with my constant checking of social media and also synchronising more than 5 email accounts. This outperforms a whole load of flagships out there today.
This is where the Zenfone 5z actually surprised me. You’d expect the photo quality to the same on 5z as the Zenfone 5, but it’s not. The Zenfone 5z produced pictures that were more vibrant, sharper and had a little bit more detail in them. While it was a little surprising initially, a little digging revealed that the Snapdragon 845 has a more capable image processor which allowed for better post processing by the phone itself. This performance bump was also obvious when using the many filters and augmented reality features of the camera.
The other thing that actually pleasantly surprised me during the review period was the built in Artifical Intelligence in the camera. I’ve been a real skeptic when it comes to using AI assisted technologies in smartphone cameras. But ASUS seems to have been able to tweak the AI so that the pictures appear a little more natural. You don’t have problems with over exposure or over compensation with brightness. It finds a medium which makes the pictures feel a lot more lively without sacrificing the “realness”.
The Most Value for Your Money
Overall, the Zenfone 5z is the complete package. What it lacks in design appeal it makes up with performance. The biggest factor to its success will be its pricing which hits below almost any other flagship in the market. It brings more value to a sub RM2,000 phone than nealry any other device on the market. It brings top of the line performance at a price point that we’ve not seen in a while. The Zenfone 5z will be a boon to people looking to maximize the performance they can get on a smaller budget. With improvements across the board when it comes to the performance, the 5z breaks new ground in delivering the most bang for buck. It proves that you don’t have to pay the price of an entry level gaming laptop to get a great smartphone.
We are giving this device our Writer’s Choice award in acknowledgement of its incredible value for the consumers.
Also published on Medium.